If protection against themselves is confessedly due to children and persons under age, is not society equally bound to afford it to persons of mature years who are equally incapable of self-government? If gambling, or drunkenness, or incontinence, or idleness, or uncleanliness, are as injurious to happiness, and as great a hindrance to improvement, as many or most of the acts prohibited by law, why (it may be asked) should not law, so far as is consistent with practicability and social convenience, endeavour to repress these also? And as a supplement to the unavoidable imperfections of law, ought not opinion at least to organize a powerful police against these vices, and visit rigidly with social penalties those who are known to practise them?
Suppose that the purpose of the legislator is to favour the interest of the few at the expense of the many; and that his measures are so taken as to attain the result he aims at, in the shortest time, and with the least effort possible. The law will be well made, but its purpose will be evil; and it will be dangerous in the direct ratio of its efficiency.
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To a superficial glance at the condition of our own country, nothing can seem more unlike any tendency to equality of condition. The inequalities of property are apparently greater than in any former period of history. Nearly all the land is parcelled out in great estates, among comparatively few families; and it is not the large, but the small properties, which are in process of extinction. A hereditary and titled nobility, more potent by their vast possessions than by their social precedency, are constitutionally and really one of the great powers in the state. To form part of their order is every ambitious man aspires , as the crowning glory of a successful career. The passion for equality of which M. de Tocqueville speaks almost as if it were the great moral lever of modern times, is hardly known in this country even by name. On the contrary, all ranks seem to have a passion for inequality. The hopes of every person are directed to rising in the world, not to pulling the world down to him. The greatest enemy of the political conduct of the House of Lords, submits to their superiority of rank as he would to the ordinances of nature; and often thinks any amount of toil and watching repaid by a nod of recognition from one of their number.
by Debbie Lord for The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Mill’s chapter on the rule of dependencies draws on his life-long interest in colonies and empire. As a servant of the East India Company for thirty-five years, he was constantly preoccupied with imperial issues. He also became closely associated with those Philosophic Radicals who in the 1830s advocated colonial reform in general and systematic colonization in particular: notably Charles Buller, William Molesworth, Edward Gibbon Wakefield, and the enigmatic Lord Durham. Wakefield’s seminal if erratic mind fed the group with ideas on the economics of colonial development. Mill freely admitted his debt to Wakefield. He turned aside from the anti-imperial concepts of his father and Bentham, expressed in Bentham’s pamphlet For him the old mercantilist empire was near death, and not to be mourned, but a renovated and vigorous empire could be established on the mutual interests of self-governing colonies and the metropolis. This cause made him actively interested in the National Colonization Society, launched by Wakefield and his associates to create a new colonial society on liberal principles, built on British capital and British labour. The new empire was expected to ensure markets and sources of supply for Britain and relieve her population pressures, economic stagnation, and the miseries of an industrial society.