Friday, September 16, 2016


An article on "Marriage Settlements," published in the Cornhill Magazine some months ago, was lately charged by the Saturday Review with what, in the eyes of that periodical, is the worst of all offences against order and good morals, namely, the offence of being sentimental. It was rather an ill-advised charge for more reasons than one. If the writer in the Saturday Review will be good enough to look at an article in the Cornhill Magazine for September, 1863, called "Anti-Respectability," he will find that the substance of his own article, which charges us with undue sentimentality, is there set out in a style which closely resembles that of the article on Marriage Settlements to which he objects. When we agree so well on the main topic, why should he go out of his way to make a sideblow at us? Surely it was easy enough to attack the sentimental conception of social law, which is one of the great blemishes of French novels, without suggesting that a writer in the Cornhill Magazine, who had elaborately denounced that way of thinking, was guilty of it himself. If our critic had been as thoughtful as he is severe, the article itself would have shown him how little reason there was for his censure. He says:—
"A vehement attack was made by a public writer, a few months ago, upon the common institution of Marriage Settlements. Is it not absurd and shameful, he said, to take such elaborate precautions against waste of property by the man who is going to marry your daughter, when you cannot prevent him from 'debauching her mind,' maltreating her person, and inflicting other injuries compared with which the, squandering of her money is scarcely an injury at all? On what principle do you refuse to give him uncontrolled rights over her money, when you surrender her mind and her life without a condition? This seems about as reasonable as it would be to complain of the absurdity of bars and bolts and strong boxes, because they do not prevent the rogue from forging one's name to an acceptance. It is, indeed, impossible to prevent your son-in-law from debauching his wife's mind, whatever so dreadful-sounding a phrase may mean, but surely that furnishes no shadow of a reason why all care should not be taken with reference to injury of a kind which it is possible to prevent. The line of attack adopted with such a tremendous amount of sentimental vigour by this writer against marriage settlements is exactly parallel to the wider line against social institutions in general, and the attack may be successfully met by the same simple argument in either case. No stringency in the drawing of marriage settlements will ensure virtuous husbands, and no amount of social ordinances, framed on the most sentimental principles and pxecuted with the sternest rigour, will ensure a social organization without flaw or imperfection. We must content ourselves with doing the best we can."
He then proceeds to denounce, reasonably enough, the very same habit in novel-writers, which we attacked in our article on "Anti-Respectability," suggested by Mrs. Norton's story, Lost and Saved.

It is odd that an acute writer should misunderstand so completely the article which he attacks. Our article was not "a vehement attack on the common institution of marriage settlements." It admitted expressly that, so long as the common law principles as to the effects of marriage on the wife's property or proprietary rights prevail, marriage settlements in some such form as that in which they are now usually drawn are a necessary evil; but it was intended to show, and we venture to think did show, that the form into which they are thrown by the operation of those false principles produces serious inconveniences. In order to prove this, we compared with our own the provisions of the French law, and pointed out the fact that, whilst the French system gave due protection to the wife, it did not impose on either husband or wife the galling restrictions which English settlements generally do impose on a marriage which turns out well. We argued, in short, that the principles of our law were so bad as to render necessary a form of settlement which is a nuisance if the marriage turns out well, and a doubtful advantage if it turns out ill; and we inferred that they ought to be replaced by sounder principles. For this we are charged with "tremendous sentimental vigour."

The Saturday Reviewer takes one isolated bit of this argument, misses its point, and then calls the whole absurd. He sums it up thus:—
"Is it not absurd and shameful to take such elaborate precautions against waste of property by the man who is going to marry your daughter, when you cannot prevent him from 'debauching her mind,' maltreating her person, &c? This seems about as reasonable as it would be to complain of the absurdity of bars and bolts and strong boxes because they do not prevent the rogue from forging your acceptance." "No stringency in the drawing of marriage settlements will ensure virtuous husbands." "We must content ourselves with doing the best we can."
If we had required additional evidence in favour of our views on marriage settlements, it would have been supplied by the fact that a writer in the Saturday Review should use such things as these as arguments. He says a settlement may not prevent ill-treatment, but it does prevent extravagance. Therefore, it is a wise precaution. He does not understand us. Our argument was that the inconsistency between voluntarily reposing the highest form of personal confidence, and taking precautions which imply extreme distrust, proved that the legal principles which rendered such precautions necessary were unsound. Viewed as a precaution, a settlement is absurd, for it is voluntarily incomplete. There is a precaution which would effectually prevent both extravagance and ill-treatment, namely, the prohibition of the marriage. You can render it impossible for "the rogue" either to break open your strong box or to forge your acceptance, but you order a strong box with a patent lock at the very same moment when you give him a blank chequebook and tell him what balance you have at the bankers.

The Saturday Reviewer is obviously a victim to the very theory at which our article was aimed—the theory that a son-in-law is in the nature of a burglar, who cannot be kept out altogether, but may be hampered by difficulties when he has got in. To convert our critic's remarks into an argument, it would be necessary for him to show that parents are, as a rule, opposed to the marriage of their daughters ; and then, no doubt, inconvenient marriage settlements might be defended as affording some, though not a complete, protection against the dreaded event. If you have reason to believe a man to be a burglar, by all means keep him out of your house; but where is the sense of inviting him to dinner, with a stipulation that he is to appear at your table in handcuffs, and under the protection of two trustees in the uniform of Sir Richard Mayne?

That there is a gross inconsistency between the confidence reposed in a man by consenting to his marriage with one's daughter, and the restrictions imposed on them both by settlements, is self-evident. We explained it by showing that it is an awkward evasion of the monstrous doctrine of the common law, that a woman upon marriage loses her very personality; and we suggested that to have a sound principle and a convenient practical result, would be better than to have a bad principle evaded by an extremely inconvenient practical result; and for this we are called sentimental. The Indian Civil Law Commissioners say, in their late report, containing a draft civil code for India,— "We propose that a man shall not, through the mere operation of law, acquire by marriage any interest in his wife's property during her life, but that she shall continue to possess the same rights with reference to it as if she were unmarried, and shall have full power to dispose of her property by will." Are the Master of the Rolls, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, Sir E. Ryan, Mr. Justice Willes, and Mr. Robert Lowe rabid sentimentalists? All that we did was to point out some practical evils resulting from the principle which they condemn.

This, however, is not all. We are charged with being sentimental because we used the expression, "debauch her mind;" and this the Saturday Reviewer cannot understand,— “whatever so dreadful-sounding a phrase may mean," he politely remarks. This is one of the peculiar sniffs which is characteristic of the Saturday Review. It is a passing shrug, of the shoulders, and is meant to say, "I don't take the trouble to point out how or why; but it strikes me you are a fool." If the phrase at which it is directed is really absurd, or unintelligible, no doubt this is, or may be, an effective form of sneer; but where is the difficulty of understanding what is meant by debauching a woman's mind? To debauch, means to degrade, to corrupt, to vitiate, and mind means mind; and a woman's mind may be said to be degraded, corrupted, or vitiated if her husband gets her into bad habits by bad example, or bad influence. Suppose, for instance, he is often drunk, or introduces her to bad company, and she, under his influence and example, misbehaves herself, would there be any impropriety in saying that he had debauched her mind, by destroying good principles and habits of conduct, and introducing bad ones? Surely "debauchee" is an English word. It is formed like trustee, mortgagee, vendee, and a thousand other words of the same kind, and means one who has been the subject of the process of debauching, just as a trustee is the subject of a trust. Those, therefore, who invented the word "debauchee" must have supposed that people could or might undergo the process of being debauched; and the meaning of the word shows that the process is mental. Sneering is a divine accomplishment, and, when properly performed, confers infinite blessings on mankind; but when one is sneered at for using common English words in their common acceptation, a certain astonishment takes the place of that submissive admiration with which we ought to bow to our critical superiors. Sniff, but teach us. Why should not we speak of debauching a woman's mind in the sense hereinbefore particularly described?

So much for the justice of the charge of sentimentality in this particular case. The indignation which it inspires not unnaturally suggested the question, what it is that gives so special a sting to any colourable suggestion that one is sentimental? Suppose the fact were fully established, what would be the harm? What does being sentimental mean, and why is it a reproach? Sentiment is no more than feeling, and sentimental is the adjective of that substantive. So far, therefore, as etymology goes, sentimental ought to be synonymous with feeling (the adjective). In fact, the sense of the word is considerably narrower. It is a dyslogistic word, implying that the person or thing qualified, is distinguished by a misapplication of the tender emotions. A sentimental person is a person, in some unfavourable way, remarkable for the part which the tender feeling plays in his or her character. A person would not be called sentimental merely for having peculiarly strong feelings; nor even for having feelings easily excited and warmly expressed, unless the person who used the epithet meant to convey a shade of disapprobation by it. In short, to be sentimental means to display or indulge tender emotions in an improper manner; and thus the question what we mean by sentimentalism becomes an inquiry into the occasions on which, and the manner and degree in which, tender feeling ought to be expressed and encouraged.

As to the nature of the tender feeling in general, we can have no better guide than Mr. Bain, who, in his work on the Emotions and the Will [Chapter vi. p. 94-124] has discussed the whole subject. He describes, with great minuteness, first, the physical attributes of the feeling; the way, that is, in which the wave of nervous energy, by which we become conscious of it, operates on different parts of the body; secondly, the mode of consciousness which it calls up, or, in popular language, what it feels like; thirdly, its effects on the will and the intellect; and, lastly, its various species, of which he enumerates four, namely, the family feelings, the benevolent affections, admiration and esteem, and, lastly, the religious sentiment, of which he observes, it is one element. As regards its physical characteristics, it is "pre-eminently a glandular emotion;" not affecting the muscles, but "flourishing best in the quiescence of the moving members. It is stimulated either, in some cases, by sensations, such as soft touches, gentle sounds, and the like, or by very intense pleasures or pains. Profuse affection and large benevolence usually make part of very great rejoicing;" and when we are overcome with grief, we burst into tears. "In times of pleasure, tender emotion flows as a tributary to the stream of enjoyment. In the agony of pain, the same influence rises in mitigation of the suffering." Thus, the tender emotion is always pleasant in itself, though it may be excited, either as an auxiliary, or as a palliative. Though the pleasure which it gives is, at times, acute, its "capability of being sustained over long limits of time, and under a condition of the lowest vitality, is more remarkable than the degree attainable at any one moment. This renders it the refuge after toil, and the solace of the sick bed." Such is the general character of the emotion of tenderness. We need not follow Mr. Bain in his careful examination of its effects on the will and the reason, nor into his analysis of the part which it plays in the different relations of life. Its share in family affection, in promoting benevolence, admiration, esteem, and religion, is, as far as the general nature is concerned, notorious. It is quite enough to say that, after enlarging upon these points, Mr. Bain sums up, in a remarkable passage, the part which the tender emotion plays in the scheme of human existence. In the first place, in a moral point of view, it is useful because, "Being the principal well-spring of our regard to others, we may look upon it as one great foundation of natural goodness, and of the social duties and virtues. Through it we derive a real satisfaction in acting for others, which secures the spontaneous discharge of many of our social obligations." In the same way, it contributes to the support of the institutions of society. "Each man enjoys, through his connexions in society, a large measure both of positive gratification, and also of that undefined influence, whereby he is propped up against the burden and pressure of human life." It is also greatly used in the fine arts, in which its use gives direct pleasure.

This account of the tender emotion may help us to understand how it ought to be managed if it is to be beneficial to mankind, and what arc the abuses to which it is liable. In the first place, like every other emotion, it requires to be regulated. Human nature is wonderfully complicated, custom plays many parts in it, and every emotion has to be regulated with reference to all the rest, if it is to be beneficial. In the first place, emotions are, in themselves, painful or pleasant. In the next place, habitual experience of them produces permanent secondary effects on the character; and, in the last place, they exercise so powerful an influence over our conduct, that they may almost be said to determine it. They are the active element in the greater part of our conduct,—reason, habits, laws, religious, moral and social checks being the passive or restraining element. A man feels desperately angry, and so long as that sentiment is in force, he is impelled to gratify it by such means as present themselves. If he is a soldier in battle, he fires his musket at his enemy's head, or sticks his bayonet into his body; if he is living in a civilized way at home, he brings an action against him, or abuses him in the newspapers, or denounces him by word of mouth to their common friends; but, in any case, the anger is the steam, and the musket and bayonet, the newspaper or the conversation at the club, is the safety-valve, weighted by the laws of war, the law of libel, or the usages of society, as the case may be. A man, totally destitute of feeling, of every kind, could no more act than a mill could go without wind. Hence, the inquiry into the use and abuse of an emotion will be found to resolve itself into three questions:— What are its direct effects? What are the effects of its habitual indulgence on the character? These may be called its secondary effects. What are its effects upon conduct, which may be called its practical effects?

The habitual use of the word “sentimental," in a bad sense, implies that the tender emotion may be so indulged as to produce bad effects; and thus we shall get a tolerably complete notion of sentimentality, if we are able to ascertain the cases in which the direct effects, the secondary effects, and the practical effects, respectively, of the tender emotions, are injurious.

First, as to its direct effects. Mr. Bain is probably correct in saying that they are always pleasurable. The feeling of tenderness is specifically pleasant, and, therefore, it is a good thing to feel it, unless there is some special reason to the contrary. The pleasure of tenderness is like the pleasure of lying in a warm bed on a cold night—an excellent thing in itself, unless the use of it is immoderate and improper under the circumstances. In what cases is it immoderate or improper? This question cannot be answered directly, inasmuch as there is no way either of measuring the quantity of emotion (in pounds, for instance; or by the number of vibrations a second of the nerves) which a person feels at a given moment, nor any rule by which it can be determined how much he ought to feel; but though the question does not admit of a decisive, peremptory answer, it does admit of an observation which considerably illustrates the subject. It will be found, by observation, that a display of tender feeling is generally stigmatized as sentimental, or considered improper and excessive, when it appears probable, from the circumstances of the case, that it is not the natural expression of an involuntary feeling, called up by circumstances, but an act of self-indulgence, done for the sake of the pleasure of the emotion itself. No one calls Prince Arthur a sentimentalist, as he had plenty of cause for his sadness; but the young gentlemen in France who were as sad as night, for very wantonness, might well have been described by that word, if it bad been invented in Shakspeare's days. Any one who watches with care the common use of language, will be surprised to see how accurately popular feeling and the common use of language apply this principle. Analyze any popular writer, any well-known scene, which would generally be called sentimental, and ask why it is so stigmatized, and the answer will always be, because it appears, from the turn of the sentences, or the extent to which the author dwells upon a painful subject, that he had ceased to think naturally and simply about the fact, real or supposed, which originally drew out the feeling, and had begun to think about himself, and how cleverly he could describe the sources of tender emotion, and how pleasant it was to stimulate their action.

This will explain how sentiment may be, and often is, theatrical and affected without being insincere. When Mrs. Siddons frightened herself into hysterics by her own acting, there can be no doubt that she really was in a state of genuine emotion. One of the great charms of Mr. Carlyle's History of the French Revolution is the clear perception which he has of the fact, that the fierce, violent nonsense of many of the famous scenes in the revolution was sincere as well as nonsensical. The swearing, the swaggering, the protesting was genuine in its way, though the actors in the strange melodrama seem to have had continually before their minds' eyes the reflection that they were wonderfully fine fellows for figuring in such a performance. The volunteers who went to fight on the frontiers had a natural love for the bombast with which they were fed, and licked it up as a dog does a pat of butter; but they really did mean the greater part of what they said, and their reason for going beyond what they meant was, that they liked the sentiment which their position created so much, that they could not resist the temptation of increasing their enjoyment by exaggerated language.

Perhaps the strongest illustrations (if some living authors are excepted) supplied by literature of delight in the mere sensation of tenderness, and of systematic indulgence in it, are to be found in the works of Sterne and Rousseau. In every page of Tristram Shandy and the Sentimental Journey, Sterne revels either in tenderness or in picturesqueness, and whichever he happens to be indulging in for the moment, his motive appears to be the same. The emotion itself, apart from its suitableness to the matter in hand, is delightful to him. He likes to make himself and some of his readers cry about Corporal Trim or Le Fevre's death-bed, just as a man might like to eat something particularly nice. Rousseau's sentiment is, perhaps, less specific, and more genuine; but he does so thoroughly enjoy the process of describing himself and his own feelings, he is so passionately eager after sympathy, that he, like Sterne, feels for the sake of feeling. He sits down deliberately to be tender, and, when he has done it, he rubs his hands, and says, "Ha, ha, I am warm; I have seen the fire."

There is no difficulty in explaining the fact that the taste for indulging in this particular kind of enjoyment is usually considered somewhat contemptible. The reason is, that people feel, and feel rightly, that there is something mean in valuing that which is in itself so serious, and so closely connected with the highest objects of life, for the mere specific pleasure by which it is accompanied. The occasions which excite tender feelings are, generally speaking, those in which a high-minded and generous person would be inclined to forget himself and his own sensations, in the effort by which those sensations are produced, and instead of trying to heighten his feelings by such devices as elaborate language and luscious descriptions,-would not care about them at all, and would express them only so far as might be rendered necessary for the sake of others. For instance, the description of a death-bed is solemn and affecting, so long as it is confined to the statement of matters which the writer reasonably supposes to be interesting to those whom he addresses. Every expression which is put in either because he enjoys the interest of dwelling upon the matter, or in order to heighten the emotion of himself or his reader, is justly chargeable with being sentimental. In real life, the distinction may instantly be detected. It is impossible to mistake what is now-a-days called sensation writing when you see it. Whether it takes the shape of minute detail, or ghastly calmness, or conscious unconsciousness, the trail of the serpent is over it all.

The general maxim that, in real life, people ought not, as a rule, to permit themselves to dwell on the specific pleasure which attends tender emotions, but ought, when such emotions are excited, to think principally of the object which excites them, explains many of the most characteristic features of our national manner. It shows, for instance, why it is that we are usually so careful to repress all public demonstrations of feeling, indeed all demonstrations of feeling, except those which are witnessed only by persons who fully share in them. The justification of such expressions of feeling is that they are necessary for the purpose of enlisting the sympathies of the person to whom they are made. If they were made publicly, they would of necessity be submitted to people who did not sympathize with or care for them. This would make no difference if the mere pleasure of the feeling itself were the object; and the fact that it does make all the difference shows that the pleasure attending the sense of the emotion is one which our habits of thought and feeling incline us to keep in the background. It is only on the rare occasions in which they are fairly overpowered by their feelings, that people, at least in this country, display emotion publicly. In other parts of the world, where the same restraint is not practised, the satisfaction taken in the actual sensation and expression of tenderness is more prominent, and is more commonly recognized as a legitimate source of pleasure.

The case of literature, and especially of fiction, is different and peculiar. The object of a poem or novel is to give pleasure, and to give, amongst others, that sort of pleasure which is derived from the excitement of the tender emotion. Hence the pleasure of tender feeling must be contemplated directly and expressly by poets and novelists; and this, no doubt, constitutes a real exception to the general rule, that the pleasure of tenderness ought to be enjoyed incidentally. The exception, however, is subject to the proviso that tenderness ought not to be put into a literary work in larger quantities than would be wholesome in that portion of real life which the literary work influences. Thus, a short song produces a slight effect on the mind while it is being sung, and serves as an artificial means for exciting tender feeling at pleasure. There is no harm in making it as tender as may be. It is like a pill, which a man can take when he wants it. A three-volume novel takes a good deal more time to read, and operates on a larger surface. It is read for its general effect, and describes a variety of things. The quantity of tenderness which ought to be put into it will vary according to the total effect which it is likely to produce, but there generally ought to be some.

Passing from the direct effects of the tender feelings to their secondary effects, or effects on the character, the question is, Which of those effects are injurious, and deserve to be distinguished by dyslogistic epithets? The good effects of the tender feelings on the character are obvious. They are mixed up with every part of our nature, which is in the least degree benevolent or amiable, but they have also some connection with other qualities.

There is a great question, in which there are contradictory commonplaces and facts which it is not easy to harmonize as to the true relation between tenderness and strength of character. The rough obvious notion that strikes every one at first sight, is, that tenderness goes with weakness, and that a person altogether free from it would be stronger than his neighbours; but this first impression is encountered by a whole family of commonplaces, which assert the opposite. It is a common form for eulogistic biographers in the present day to speak of the "manly tenderness" of eminent men, to set forth their fondness for children and women, and to tell stories of their having cried over affecting scenes and the like. A good deal of this language is more or less conventional, and some of it is no doubt borrowed from the contrasts which novelists delight to introduce into their books; but it is perfectly certain that there are many facts which favour such language. The most energetic and the bravest of men have generally had a great deal of tenderness in them. Luther is a memorable instance; and the same may be said of two very different men, who were brave and energetic, if ever men in this world deserved those epithets. These were Sir Charles Napier and his brother, Sir William. It would be easy to give scores of illustrations of the same kind. Though this is true, it is not entirely satisfactory. Great men, no doubt, are great all through. It requires a combination of great intellect with strong feelings and vehement passions to make one; but it must be confessed that coldness has a strength of its own as well as warmth. There is a sort of man who, without being in the least degree unkind, or, to outward appearance, callous, is inwardly as impenetrable and imperturbable as a nether millstone. There are people who not only appear, but actually are, extremely kind, who would make great sacrifices and great exertions for their friends, and who, if their friends were hanged at eight, would go to breakfast at nine (after seeing their bodies cut down) with perfect appetite and composure. There is a vast deal of wear in a constitution of this kind. Such people do not fret, and are apt to take the various events of life in a complacent, quietly victorious manner. David's behaviour when his child by Bathsheba died, showed a certain touch of this temper—a temper which never cries over spilt milk, and does not know the meaning of regret.

Perhaps the worst result which the absence of the tender feelings produces on the character is that sort of hypocrisy which lays claim to them. When closely considered, this illustrates the observations already made. It is a great mistake to suppose that a hypocrite's feelings are not in a sense genuine. They are rather artificial than fictitious. A man who professes to have fine feelings, probably has, in general, a certain real taste for the pleasure of sentiment, considered as a pleasure. While Becky Sharpe was actually pleading before her eyes in an interesting way, old Miss Crawley really did for the moment feel kindly towards her. The hypocritical sentimentalist is emphatically a sentimentalist in the bad sense of the word. Having little real tenderness, he gets up an artificial tenderness, because it is intrinsically pleasant. Joseph Surface illustrates this, though his sentimentality was rather what we should now call sententiousness; but, for the time, he probably believed more or less in his own platitudes. Rousseau and Sterne illustrate, in its highest degree, the effects of treating tenderness as a luxury; and their well-known histories show what a purely selfish luxury such an indulgence may be. In our own days, such characters (never very common) are probably somewhat rarer than they formerly were. There never was so critical an age as the one in which we live, nor one which directed its criticism so unsparingly against that particular form of hypocrisy, which takes its rise in the abuse of tenderness. Our hypocrisy upon such matters runs in the opposite direction.

Though the pressure of the fear of ridicule and the general habits of society is so strong that it is by no means common, in these days, to have in people's manners well-marked evidence of the abuse of the tender feelings, there is much reason to fear that those feelings are, in fact, indulged in excess, and do exercise considerably more influence over the conduct of mankind than is desirable. The proofs of this abound in every direction. In almost every subject, in literature, in politics, in religion, in the tone taken by the public questions of all sorts, there is abundant evidence that great and increasing weight is attributed to the sentimental view of things. People appear to act, upon almost every occasion, on the principle that a pleasant feeling is rather an end to be desired for its own sake, than an index, pointing to the attainment of a desirable object lying beyond. A thousand proofs of this might be given, but our limits confine us to a few. One signal one is to be found in the influence which novels exercise, not in their proper and natural sphere as amusements and works of art, but as irregular and informal arguments. A novel is, from the nature of the case, an appeal to feelings, and to feelings for their, own sake. A novelist never lays down a proposition properly limited and supported. He confines himself to drawing pictures, which act powerfully, but always more or less indistinctly and indirectly, upon the feelings. Novels can hardly ever be thrown into the form of propositions capable of being distinctly attacked or defended. In so far as they are arguments at all—and they certainly operate as such very powerfully—they are arguments by way of association. They associate a strong feeling of disgust, or sympathy, or pity, with a particular class of facts; and they suggest to idle readers, or to any reader in an idle mood, conclusions which they do not really prove. Capital punishments, to take a single illustration, have often been attacked by novelists. The mode of attack generally is to describe the process of putting a criminal to death, in such a manner as to terrify, or even, perhaps, to sicken the reader. Hence, when he hears of capital punishments, he remembers the description which he has read, and shudders himself into the conclusion that things so terrible ought to be done away with. The question, whether the association supplies an argument against or in favour of the punishment is one which, from the nature of the case, a novelist cannot discuss. It is out of his province to appeal to the reason; he acts upon the will—but by the force of association more powerfully than the most elaborate arguments could act upon it. This explains what is the sting of the imputation of being a sentimental writer. It is a way of charging people with being either weak, or dishonest, or both. It implies that a man tries to gain his ends not by legitimate means, but by appeals to the passions, by trying to dissuade people from doing what is disagreeable merely because it is disagreeable, and not because it has a general tendency to produce a balance of pain over pleasure, or, in other words, because it is wrong. That a particular rule produces pain is no argument at all against it; for every rule does and must do so. The only relevant assertion is, that it produces pain on the balance; and, for this purpose, it must not only be debited with the pain, but credited with the pleasure, which it produces. A sentimental book is like a cooked account. Its object generally is to make things pleasant, and, as such, it shows that the person who states it, is either weak, ignorant, or fraudulent.

The spread of moral or intellectual luxury in our days is marvellous and portentous. It is the great standing temptation to which almost every educated person is exposed; and there is every reason to fear that it is on the increase. In the immediate pleasure of amusing the intellect and soothing the feelings, we are perpetually losing sight of those higher and more permanent satisfactions which are the proper objects of the efforts of rational human creatures—the satisfaction of investigating the truth, and applying true principles in all their force to human affairs. We give up the satisfaction of spreading our butter as far as it will do, for the sake of trying to trick ourselves into the belief that our bread and butter is or ought to be turtle-soup and venison.

Cornhill Magazine, July 1864.

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