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Political Thought in England from Locke to Bentham By Harold Joseph Laski Characters: 35281

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


With the accession of George I, there ensued an era of unexampled calm in English politics, which lasted until the expulsion of Walpole from power in 1742. No vital questions were debated, nor did problems of principle force themselves into view; and if the Jacobites remained in the background as an element invincibly hostile to absorption, the failure of their effort in 1715 showed how feeble was their hold on English opinion. Not, indeed, that the new dynasty was popular. It had nothing of that romantic glamour of a lost cause so imperishably recorded in Scott's pages. The first Georges were heavy and foreign and meagre-souled; but at least they were Protestant, and, until the reign of George III, they were amenable to management. In the result, an opposition in the classic sense was hardly needed; for the only question to be considered was the personalities who were to share in power. The dominating temper of Walpole decided that issue; and he gave thereby to the political struggle the outlines in which it was encased for a generation.

It is a dull period, but complacent; for it was not an unprosperous time. Agriculture and commerce both were abundant; and the increasing development of towns shows us that the Industrial Revolution loomed in the near distance. The eager continuance of the deistic controversy suggests that there was something of novelty beneath the calm; for Tindal and Woolston and Chubb struck at the root of religious belief, and Shaftesbury's exaltation of Hellenism not only contributed to the Aufklarung in Scotland, but suggested that Christian ideals were not to go unchallenged. But the literature of the time is summarized in Pope; and the easy neatness of his verses is quaintly representative of the Georgian peace. Defoe and Swift had both done their work; and the latter had withdrawn to Ireland to die like a rat in a hole. Bishop Berkeley, indeed, was convinced of the decadence of England; but his Essay towards Preventing the Ruin of Great Britain (1721) shows rather the effect of the speculative mania which culminated in the South Sea Bubble upon a noble moral nature than a genius for political thought. Certainly no one in that generation was likely to regard with seriousness proposals for the endowment of motherhood and a tax upon the estate of bachelors. The cynical sophistries of Mandeville were, despite the indignation they aroused, more suited to the age that Walpole governed. It is, in fact, the character of the minister which sets the keynote of the time. An able speaker, without being a great orator, a superb administrator, eager rather for power than for good, rating men low by instinct and corrupting them by intelligence, Walpole was not the man, either in type of mind or of temperament, to bring great questions to the foreground of debate. He was content to maintain his hold over the respect of the Crown, and to punish able rivals by exclusion from office. One by one, the younger men of talent, Carteret, Pulteney, Chesterfield, Pitt, were driven into hostility. He maintained himself in office by a corruption as efficiently administered as it was cynically conceived. An opposition developed less on principle than on the belief that spoils are matter rather for distribution than for concentration. The party so formed had, indeed, little ground save personal animosity upon which to fight; and its ablest exertions could only seize upon a doubtful insult to a braggart sea-captain as the pretext of the war it was Walpole's ambition no less than policy to avoid. From 1726 until 1735 the guiding spirit of the party was Bolingbroke; but in the latter year he quarrelled with Pulteney, nominally its leader, and retired in high dudgeon to France. But in the years of his leadership he had evolved a theory of politics than which nothing so clearly displays the intellectual bankruptcy of the time.

To understand the argument of Bolingbroke it is necessary to remember the peculiar character of his career. He had attained to the highest office under Anne at an exceptionally early age; and his period of power had been distinguished by the vehemence with which he pursued the ideal of a strict division of parties and the expulsion of all alien elements from the government. But he had staked all his fortunes upon a scheme he had neither the resolution to plan nor the courage to execute; and his flight to France, on the Hanoverian accession, had been followed by his proscription. Walpole soon succeeded alike to his reputation and place; and through an enormous bribe to the bottomless pocket of the King's mistress St. John was enabled to return from exile, though not to political place. His restless mind was dissatisfied with exclusion from power, and he occupied himself with creating an alliance between the Tories and malcontent Whigs for Walpole's overthrow. The alliance succeeded, though too late for Bolingbroke to enjoy the fruits of success; but in effecting the purgation of the Tory party from its taint of Jacobitism he rendered no inconsiderable service. His foundation, moreover, of the Craftsman-the first official journal of a political party in England-showed his appreciation of the technique of political controversy. Most of it is dead now, and, indeed, no small part of its contemporary success is due to the making of comment in terms of the immediate situation, as also by its consistent use of a personal reference which has, save in the mass, no meaning for today. Though, doubtless, the idea of its inception was derived from journals like Defoe's Review and Leslie's Rehearsal, which had won success, its intimate connection with the party leadership was a novel element; and it may therein claim a special relation to the official periodicals of a later generation.

The reputation of Bolingbroke as a political philosopher is something that our age can hardly understand. "A solemn trifler," Lord Morley has called him; and it is difficult to know why his easy declamation was so long mistaken for profound thought. Much, doubtless, is due to that personal fascination which made him the inspiration of men so different as Pope and Voltaire; and the man who could supply ideas to Chatham and Disraeli cannot be wholly devoid of merit. Certainly he wrote well, in that easy elegance of style which was the delight of the eighteenth century; and he is consistently happy in his choice of adjectives. But his work is at every point embellished with that affectation of classical learning which was the curse of his age. He sought no general truths, and he is free from the accusation of sincerity. Nor has he any enthusiasm save that of bitter partisanship. He hated Walpole, and his political writings are, at bottom, no more than an attempt to generalize his animosity. The Dissertation on Parties (1734) and the Idea of a Patriot King (1738) might have betrayed us, taken alone, into regarding their author as a disinterested observer watching with regret the development of a fatal system; but taken in conjunction with the Letter to Sir W. Windham (1717), which was not published until after his death, and is written with an acrid cynicism fatal to his claim to honesty, they reveal the opinions as no more than a mask for ambition born of hate.

The whole, of course, must have some sort of background; and the Letters on the Study of History (1735) was doubtless intended to supply it. Experience is to be the test of truth, since history is philosophy teaching by example. But Bolingbroke's own argument supplies its refutation. His history is an arbitrary selection of instances intended to illustrate the particular ideas which happened to be uppermost in his mind. The Roman consuls were chosen by annual election; whence it is clear that England should have, if not an annual, at least a triennial parliament. He acknowledges that the past in some degree unknown determines the present. He has some not unhappy remarks upon the evils of an attitude which fails to look upon events from a larger aspect than their immediate environment. But his history is intended less to illustrate the working of principle than to collect cases worthy of citation. Time and space do not exist as categories; he is as content with a Roman anecdote as with a Stuart illustration. He is willing, indeed, to look for the causes of the Revolution as far back as the reign of James I; though he shows his lack of true perception when he ascribes the true inwardness of the Reformation to the greed of the monarch for the spoils of the clergy. At bottom what mainly impresses him is the immense influence of personal accident upon events. Intrigue, a sudden dislike, some backstairs piece of gossip, here is the real root of great changes. And when he expresses a "thorough contempt" for the kind of work scholars such as Scaliger and Petavius had achieved, he shows his entire ignorance of the method whereby alone a knowledge of general principle can be attained.

A clear vision, of course, he has, and he was not beguiled by high notions of prerogative or the like. The divine right of kings is too stupid to be worth the trouble of refutation; all that makes a king important is the authority he exerts. So, too, with the Church; for Bolingbroke, as a professed deist, has no trouble with such matters as the apostolic succession. He makes great show of his love of liberty, which is the true end of government; and we are informed with a vast solemnity of the "perpetual danger" in which it always stands. So that the chief end of patriotism is its maintenance; though we are never told what liberty is, nor how it is to be maintained. The social compact seems to win his approbation and we learn that the secret of the British constitution is the balance of powers and their mutual independency. But what the powers are, and how their independence is preserved we do not learn, save by an insistence that the safety of Europe is to be found in playing off the ambitions of France and Austria against each other; an analogy the rejection of which has been the secret of English constitutional success. We learn of the evil of standing armies and the danger of Septennial Parliaments. We are told that parties are mainly moved by the prospect of enjoying office and vast patronage; and a great enough show is made of his hatred for corruption as to convince at least some critics of distinction of his sincerity. The parties of the time had, as he sees, become divided by no difference save that of interest; and herein, at least, he shows us how completely the principles of the Revolution had become exhausted. He wants severe penalties upon electoral corruption. He would have disfranchised the rotten boroughs and excluded placemen from Parliament. The press was to be free; and there is at least a degree of generous insight in his plea for a wider commercial freedom in colonial matters. Yet what, after all, does this mean save that he is fighting a man with the patronage at his disposal and a majority upon the committee for the settlement of disputed elections? And what else can we see in his desire for liberty of the press save a desire to fight Walpole in the open, without fear of the penalties his former treason had incurred?

His value can be tested in another way. His Idea of a Patriot King is the remedy for the ills he has depicted. He was sixty years old when it appeared, and he had then been in active politics for thirty-five years, so that we are entitled to regard it as the fruit of his mature experience. He was too convinced that the constitution was "in the strictest sense a bargain, a conditional contract between the prince and the people" to attempt again the erection of a system of prerogative. Yet it is about the person of the monarch that the theory hinges. He is to have no powers inconsistent with the liberties of the people; for such restraints will not shackle his virtues while they limit the evil propensities of a bad king. What is needed is a patriot king who will destroy corruption and awaken the spirit of liberty. His effective government will synchronize with the commencement of his reign; and he will at once dismiss the old and cunning ministers, to replace them by servants who are wise. He will not stand upon party, but upon the State. He will unite the forces of good counsel into a single scheme. Complaints will be answered, the evildoers punished. Commerce will flow on with uninterrupted prosperity, and the navy of England receive its due meed of attention. His conduct must be dignified, and he must acquire his influence not apart from, but on account of, the affection of his people. "Concord," says Bolingbroke in rhapsodical prospection, "will appear breeding peace and prosperity on every hand"; though he prudently hopes also that men will look back with affection upon one "who desired life for nothing so much as to see a King of Great Britain the most powerful man in the country, and a patriot King at the head of a united people."

Bolingbroke himself has admitted that such a monarch would be a "sort of standing miracle," and perhaps no other comment upon his system is required. A smile in Plato at the sight of his philosopher-King in such strange company might well be pardoned. It is only necessary to point out that the person whom Bolingbroke designates for this high function was Frederick, Prince of Wales, to us the most meagre of a meagre generation, but to Bolingbroke, by whose grace he was captivated, "the greatest and most glorious of human beings." This exaltation of the monarch came at a time when a variety of circumstances had combined to show the decrease of monarchical sentiment. It bears upon its every page the marks of a personal antagonism. It is too obviously the programme of a party to be capable of serious interpretation as a system. The minister who is to be impeached, the wise servants who are to gain office, the attack on corruption, the spirited foreign policy-all these have the earmarks of a platform rather than of a philosophy. Attacks on corruption hardly read well in the mouth of a dissolute gambler; and the one solid evidence of deep feeling is the remark on the danger of finance in politics. For none of the Tories save Barnard, who owed his party influence thereto, understood the financial schemes of Walpole; and since they were his schemes obviously they represented the triumph of devilish ingenuity. The return of landed men to power would mean the return of simplicity to politics; and one can imagine the country squires, the last resort of enthusiasm for Church and King, feeling that Bolingbroke had here emphasized the dangers of a régime which already faintly foreshadowed their exclusion from power. The pamphlet was the cornerstone in the education of Frederick's son; and when George III came to the throne he proceeded to give such heed to his master as the circumstances permitted. It is perhaps, as Mr. A.L. Smith has argued, unfair to visit Bolingbroke with George's version of his ideal; yet they are sufficiently connected for the one to give the meaning to the other. Chatham, indeed, was later intrigued by this ideal of a national party; and before Disraeli discovered that England does not love coalitions he expended much rhetoric upon the beauties of a patriotic king. But Chatham was a wayward genius who had nothing of that instinct for common counsel which is of the essence of party government; while it is necessary to draw a firm line between Disraeli's genial declamation and his practice when in office. It is sufficient to say that the one effort founded upon the principles of Bolingbroke ended in disaster; and that his own last reflections express a bitter disillusion at the result of the event which he looked to as the inauguration of the golden age.


The fall of Walpole, indeed, released no energies for political thought; the system continued, though the men were different. What alone can be detected is the growth of a democratic opinion which found its sustenance outside the House of Commons, the opinion the strength of which was later to force the elder Pitt upon an unwilling king. An able pamphlet of the time shows us the arrival of this unlooked-for portent. Faction detected by the Evidence of Facts (1742) was, though it is anonymous,[16] obviously written by one in touch with the inner current of affairs. The author had hoped for the fall of Walpole, though he sees the chaos in its result. "A republican spirit," he says, "has strangely arisen"; and he goes on to tell how the electors of London and Westminster were now regarding their members as delegates to whom instructions might be issued. "A new party of malcontents" had arisen, "assuming to themselves, though very falsely, the title of the People." They affect, he tells us, "superiority to the whole legislature ... and endeavor in effect to animate the people to resume into their own hands that vague and loose authority which exists (unless in theory) in the people of no country upon earth, and the inconvenience of which is so obvious that it is the first step of mankind, when formed into society, to divest themselves of it, and to delegate it forever from themselves." The writer clearly foreshadows, even in his dislike, that temper which produced the Wilkes affair, and made it possible for Cartwright and Horne Tooke and Sir Thomas Hollis to become the founders of English radicalism.

[16] It was probably written by Lord Egmont.

Yet the influence of that temper still lay a generation ahead; and the next piece of impor

t comes from a mind which, though perhaps the most powerful of all which have applied themselves to political philosophy in England, was, from its very scepticism, incapable of constructive effort. David Hume was thirty-one years of age when he published (1742) the first series of his essays; and his Treatise of Human Nature which had fallen "dead-born from the press" was in some sort compensated by the success of the new work. The second part, entitled Political Discourses, was published in 1752, almost simultaneously with the "Inquiry concerning the Principles of Morals." As in the case of Hume's metaphysical studies, they constitute the most powerful dissolvent the century was to see. Yet nowhere was so clearly to be demonstrated the euthanasia into which English politics had fallen.

Hume, of course, is always critical and suggestive, and even if he had no distinctive contribution to make, he gave a new turn to speculation. There is something almost of magic in the ease with which he demolishes divine right and the social contract. The one is an inevitable deduction from theism, but it protects an usurper not less than an hereditary king, and gives a "divine commission" as well to a constable as to the most majestic prince. The proponents of the social contract are in no better case. "Were you to preach," he remarks, "in most parts of the world that political connections are founded altogether on voluntary consent, or on a mutual promise, the magistrate would soon imprison you as seditious for loosening the ties of obedience; if your friends did not before shut you up as delirious for advancing such absurdities." The original contract could not be produced, and, even if it were, it would suppose the "consent of the fathers to bind the children even to the most remote generations." The real truth, as he remarks, is that "almost all the governments which exist at present, or of which there remains any record in story, have been founded originally on usurpation, or on conquest, or both, without any pretence of a fair consent or voluntary subjection of the people." If we then ask why obedience is possible, the sufficient answer is that "it becomes so familiar that most men never make any inquiry about its origin or cause, any more than about the principle of gravity, resistance, or the most universal laws of nature."

Government, in short, is dependent upon the inescapable facts of psychology. It might be unnecessary if all desires could be individually fulfilled by making them, or if man showed to his fellow-men the same tender regard he has for himself. So happy a condition does not exist; and government is the most useful way of remedying the defects of our situation. A theologian might say that Hume derives government from original sin; to which he would have replied by denying the fall. His whole attitude is simply an insistence that utility is the touchstone of institutions, and he may claim to be the first thinker who attempted its application to the whole field of political science. He knows that opinion is the sovereign ruler of mankind, and that ideas of utility lie at the base of the thoughts which get accepted. He does not, indeed, deny that fear and consent enter into the attitude of men; he simply asserts that these also are founded upon a judgment of utility in the thing judged. We obey because otherwise "society could not subsist," and society subsists for its utility. "Men," he says "could not live at all in society, at least in a civilized society, without laws and magistrates and judges, to prevent the encroachments of the strong upon the weak, of the violent upon the just and equitable."

Utilitarianism is, of course, above all a method; and it is not unfair to say of Hume that he did not get very far beyond insistence on that point. He sees that the subjection of the many to the few is rooted in human impulse; but he has no penetrating inquiry, such as that of Locke or Hobbes, into the purpose of such subjection. So, too, it is the sense of public interest which determines men's thoughts on government, on who should rule, and what should be the system of property; but the ethical substance of these questions he leaves undetermined. Politics, he thinks, may one day be a science; though he considers the world still too young for general truths therein. The maxims he suggests as of permanent value, "that a hereditary prince, a nobility without vassals, and a people voting by their representatives form the best monarchy, autocracy and democracy"; that "free governments ... are the most ruinous and oppressive to their provinces"; that republics are more favorable to science, monarchies to art; that the death of a political body is inevitable; would none of them, probably, be accepted by most thinkers at the present time. And when he constructs an ideal constitution, irrespective of time and place, which is to be regarded as practical because it resembles that of Holland, it is obvious that the historical method had not yet come fully into being.

Yet Hume is full of flashes of deep wisdom, and it would be an avoidance of justice not to note the extent of the spasmodic insight that he had. He has a keen eye for the absurdity of Pope's maxim that administration is all in all; nothing can ever make the forms of government immaterial. He accepts Harrington's dictum that the substance of government corresponds to the distribution of property, without making it, as later thinkers have done, the foundation of all political forces. He sees that the Crown cannot influence the mass of men, or withstand the new balance of property in the State; a prophecy of which the accuracy was demonstrated by the failure of George III. "In all governments," as he says, "there is a perpetual intestinal struggle, open or secret," between Authority and Liberty; though his judgment that neither "can ever absolutely prevail," shows us rather that we are on the threshold of laissez-faire than that Hume really understood the problem of freedom. He realized that the House of Commons had become the pivot of the State; though he looked with dread upon the onset of popular government. He saw the inevitability of parties, as also their tendency to persist in terms of men instead of principles. He was convinced of the necessity of liberty to the progress of the arts and sciences; and no one, save Adam Smith, has more acutely insisted upon the evil effect on commerce of an absolute government. He emphasized the value of freedom of the press, in which he saw the secret whereby the mixed government of England was maintained. "It has also been found," he said in a happy phrase, "... that the people are no such dangerous monsters as they have been represented, and that it is in every respect better to guide them like rational creatures than to lead or drive them like brute beasts." There is, in fact, hardly a page of his work in which some such acuteness may not be found.

Not, indeed, that a curious blindness is absent. Hume was a typical child of one aspect of the eighteenth century in his hatred of enthusiasm, and the form in which he most abominates it is religious. Why people's religious opinions should lead to antagonism he could no more understand than why people should refuse to pass one another on a road. Wars of religion thus seemed to him based upon a merely frivolous principle; and in his ideal commonwealth he made the Church a department of the State lest it should get out of hand. He was, moreover, a static philosopher, disturbed by signs of political restlessness; and this led to the purgation of Whig doctrines from his writings, and their consistent replacement by a cynical conservatism. He was always afraid that popular government would mean mob-rule; and absolute government is accordingly recommended as the euthanasia of the British constitution. Not even the example of Sweden convinced him that a standing army might exist without civil liberty being endangered; and he has all the noxious fallacies of his time upon the balance of power. Above all, it is striking to see his helplessness before the problem of national character. Mainly he ascribes it to the form of government, and that in turn to chance. Even the friend of Montesquieu can see no significance in race or climate. The idea, in fact, of evolution is entirely absent from his political speculation. Political life, like human life, ends in death; and the problem is to make our egress as comfortable as we can, for the prime evil is disturbance. It is difficult not to feel that there is almost a physical basis in his own disease for this love of quiet. The man who put indolence among the primary motives of human happiness was not likely to view novel theories with unruffled temper.

Hume has an eminent place among economists, and for one to whom the study of such phenomena was but a casual inquiry, it is marvelous how much he saw. He is free from the crude errors of mercantilism; and twenty years before Adam Smith hopes, "as a British subject," for the prosperity of other countries. "Free communication and exchange" seems to him an ordinance of nature; and he heaps contempt upon those "numberless bars, obstructions and imposts which all nations of Europe, and none more than England, have put upon trade." Specie he places in its true light as merely a medium of exchange. The supposed antagonism between commerce and agriculture he disposes of in a half-dozen effective sentences. He sees the place of time and distance in the discussion of economic want. He sees the value of a general level of economic equality, even while he is sceptical of its attainment. He insists upon the economic value of high wages, though he somewhat belittles the importance of wealth in the achievement of happiness. Before Bentham, who on this point converted Adam Smith, he knew that the rate of interest depends upon the supply of and demand for loans. He insists that commerce demands a free government for its progress, pointing out, doubtless from his abundant French experience, that an absolute government gives to the commercial class an insufficient status of honor. He pointed out, doubtless with France again in his mind, the evils of an arbitrary system of taxation. "They are commonly converted," he says with unwonted severity, "into punishments on industry; and also, by their unavoidable inequality, are more grievous, than by the real burden which they impose." And he emphasizes his belief that the best taxes are those which, like taxes upon luxury, press least upon the poor.

Such insight is extraordinary enough in the pre-Adamite epoch; but even more remarkable are his psychological foundations. The wealth of the State, he says, is the labor of its subjects, and they work because the wants of man are not a stated sum, but "multiply every moment upon him." The desire for wealth comes from the idea of pleasure; and in the Treatise on Human Nature he discusses with superb clarity the way in which the idea of pleasure is related at once to individual satisfaction and to that sympathy for others which is one of the roots of social existence. He points out the need for happiness in work. "The mind," he writes, "acquires new vigor, enlarges its powers and faculties, and by an assiduity in honest industry both satisfies its own appetites and prevents growth of unnatural ones"; though, like his predecessor, Francis Hutcheson, he overemphasizes the delights opened by civilization to the humbler class of men. He gives large space in his discussion to the power of will; and, indeed, one of the main advantages he ascribed to government was the compulsion it puts upon us to allow the categories of time and space a part in our calculations. He does not, being in his own life entirely free from avarice, regard the appetite for riches as man's main motive to existence; though no one was more urgent in his insistence that "the avidity of acquiring goods and possessions for ourselves and our nearest friends is ... destructive of society" unless balanced by considerations of justice. And what he therein intended may be gathered from the liberal notions of equality he manifested. "Every person," he wrote in a famous passage, "if possible ought to enjoy the fruits of his labor in a full possession of all the necessaries, and many of the conveniences of life. No one can doubt but such an equality is most suitable to human nature, and diminishes much less the happiness of the rich than it adds to that of the poor." It is clear that we have moved far from the narrow confines of the old political arithmetic. The theory of utility enables Hume to see the scope of economics-the word itself he did not know-in a more generous perspective than at any previous time. It would be too much to say that his grasp of its psychological foundation enabled him entirely to move from the limitations of the older concept of a national prosperity expressed only in terms of bullion to the view of economics as a social science. But at least he saw that economics is rooted in the nature of men and therein he had the secret of its true understanding. The Wealth of Nations would less easily have made its way had not the insight of Hume prepared the road for its reception.

What, then, and in general, is his place in the history of political thought? Clearly enough, he is not the founder of a system; his work is rather a series of pregnant hints than a consecutive account of political facts. Nor must we belittle the debt he owes to his predecessors. Much, certainly, he owed to Locke, and the full radiance of the Scottish enlightenment emerges into the day with his teaching. Francis Hutcheson gave him no small inspiration; and Hutcheson means that he was indebted to Shaftesbury. Indeed, there is much of the sturdy commonsense of the Scottish school about him, particularly perhaps in that interweaving of ethics, politics and economics, which is characteristic of the school from Hutcheson in the middle seventeenth century, to the able, if neglected, Lorimer in the nineteenth.[17] He is entitled to be considered the real founder of utilitarianism. He first showed how difficult it is in politics to draw a distinction between ethical right and men's opinion of what ought to be. He brings to an end what Coleridge happily called the "metapolitical school." After him we are done with the abuse of history to bolster up Divine Right and social contract; for there is clearly present in his use of facts a true sense of historical method. He put an end also to the confusion which resulted from the effort of thinkers to erect standards of right and wrong independent of all positive law. He took the facts as phenomena to be explained rather than as illustrations of some favorite thesis to be maintained in part defiance of them. Conventional Whiggism has no foothold after he has done with its analysis. His utilitarianism was the first efficient substitute for the labored metaphysics of the contract school; and even if he was not the first to see through its pretensions-that is perhaps the claim of Shaftesbury-he was the first to show the grounds of their uselessness. He saw that history and psychology together provide the materials for a political philosophy. So that even if he could not himself construct it the hints at least were there.

[17] There are few books which show so clearly as Lorimer's Institutes of Nations (1872) how fully the Scottish school was in the midstream of European thought.

His suggestiveness, indeed, may be measured in another fashion. The metaphysics of Burke, so far as one may use a term he would himself have repudiated, are largely those of Hume. The place of habit and of social instinct alongside of consent, the perception that reason alone will not explain political facts, the emphasis upon resistance as of last resort, the denial that allegiance is a mere contract to be presently explained, the deep respect for order-all these are, after all, the fabric from which the thought of Burke was woven. Nor is there in Bentham's defence of Utilitarianism argument in which he would have recognized novelty. Herein, at least, his proof that morality is no more than general opinion of utility constructs, in briefer form, the later arguments of Bentham, Paley and the Mills, nor can their mode of statement claim superiority to Hume's. So that on either side of his work he foreshadows the advent of the two great schools of modern political thought. His utilitarianism is the real path by which radical opinion at last found means of acceptance. His use of history is, through Burke, the ancestor of that specialized conservatism begotten of the historical method. If there is thus so much, it is, of course, tempting to ask why there is not more. If Hume has the materials why did he fail to build up a system from them? The answer seems twofold. In part it is the man himself. His genius, as his metaphysics show, lay essentially in his power of destruction; and the man who gave solipsism to philosophy was not likely to effect a new creation in politics. In part, also, the condition of the time gave little stimulus to novelty. Herein Hume was born a generation too early. Had he written when George III attempted the destruction of the system of the Revolution, and when America and France combined to raise again the basic questions of politics, he might have done therein what Adam Smith effected in his own field. But the time had not yet come; and it was left to Burke and Bentham to reap where he had sown.

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