Chapter 1, Footnote #04
Utility contra utility?
``The principle of utility, (I have heard it said) is a dangerous principle: it is dangerous on certain occasions to consult it''. This is as much as to say, what? that it is not consonant to utility, to consult utility: in short, that it is not consulting it, to consult it.
Addition by the Author, July 1822.
Not long after the publication of the Fragment on Government, anno 1776, in which, in the character of all-comprehensive and all-commanding principle the principle of utility was brought to view, one person by whom observation to the above effect was made was Alexander Wedderburn, at that time Attorney or Solicitor General, afterwards successively Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and Chancellor of England, under the successive titles of Lord Loughborough and Earl of Rosslyn. It was made not indeed in my hearing, but in the hearing of a person by whom it was almost immediately communicated to me. So far from being self-contradictory, it was a shrewd and perfectly true one. By that distinguished functionary, the state of the Government was thoroughly understood: by the obscure individual, at that time not so much as supposed to be so: his disquisitions had not been as yet applied, with any thing like a comprehensive view, to the field of Constitutional Law, nor therefore to those features of the English Government, by which the greatest happiness of the ruling one with or without that of a favoured few, are now so plainly seen to be the only ends to which the course of it has at any time been directed. The principle of utility was an appellative, at that time employed by me, as it had been by others, to designate that which, in a more perspicuous and instructive manner, may, as above, be designated by the name of the greatest happiness principle. ``This principle (said Wedderburn) is a dangerous one''. Saying so, he said that which, to a certain extent, is strictly true: a principle, which lays down, as the only right and justifiable end of Government, the greatest happiness of the greatest numberhow can it be denied to be a dangerous one? dangerous it unquestionably is, to every government which has for its actual end or object, the greatest happiness of a certain one, with or without the addition of some comparatively small number of others, whom it is matter of pleasure or accommodation to him to admit, each of them, to a share in the concern, on the footing of so many junior partners. Dangerous it therefore really was, to the interestthe sinister interestof all those functionaries, himself included, whose interest it was, to maximize delay, vexation, and expense, in judicial and other modes of procedure, for the sake of the profit, extractible out of the expense. In a Government which had for its end in view the greatest happiness of the greatest number, Alexander Wedderburn might have been Attorney General and then Chancellor: but he would not have been Attorney General with £15,000 a year, nor Chancellor, with a peerage with a veto upon all justice, with £25,000 a year, and with 500 sinecures at his disposal, under the name of Ecclesiastical Benefices, besides et cæteras.