NOTE.---I have called the ethical doctrine that takes universal bappiness as the ultimate end and standard of right conduct by the name of Bentham, because the thinkers who have chiefly taught this doctrine ill England during the present century have referred it to Bentham as their master. And it certainly seems to me clear---though Mr. Bain (cf. Mind, January 1883, p. 48) appears to doubt it---that Bentham adopted this doctrine explicitly, in its most comprehensive scope, at the earliest stage in the formation of his opinions; nor do I think that lie ever consciously abandoned or qualified it. We find him writing in his common-place book, in 1773--4 (cf. Works, Bowring's edition, vol. x. p. 70), that Helvetius had ``established a standard of rectitude for actions''; the standard being that ``a sort of action is a right one, when the tendency of it is to augment the mass of happiness in the community''. And we find him writing fifty years later (cf. Works, vol. x. p. 79) the following account of his earliest view, in a passage which contains no hint of later dissent from it:---``By an early pamphlet of Priestley's light was added to the warmth. In the phrase `the greatest happiness of the greatest number', I then saw delineated, for the first time, a plain as well as a true standard for whatever is right or wrong in human conduct, whether in the field of morals or of politics''.
At the same time I must admit that in other passages Bentham seems no less explicitly to adopt Egoistic Hedonism as the method of `private Ethics', as distinct from legislation: and in his posthumous `Deontology' the two principles appear to be reconciled by the doctrine, that it is always the individual's true interest, even from a purely mundane point of view, to act in the manner most conducive to the general happiness. This latter proposition-which I regard as erroneous-is not, indeed, definitely put forward in any of the treatises published by Bentham in his lifetime, or completely prepared by him for publication: but it may be inferred from his common-place book that he held it (see his Works, vol. x. pp. 560, 561).ME Book 1 Chapter 6 Section 3