By Leslie Stephen, The Perfect Library
"The English Utilitarians - quantity I" from Leslie Stephen. English writer, critic and mountaineer (1832-1904).
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The philosopher may then become the mouthpiece of the new order, and innocently take himself to be its originator. His doctrines were fruitless so long as the soil was not prepared for the seed. A premature discovery if not stamped out by fire and sword is stifled by indifference. If Francis Bacon succeeded where Roger Bacon failed, the difference was due to the social conditions, not to the men. The cause of the great religious as well as of the great political revolutions must be sought mainly in the social history.
There is a certain unity even in the general thought of any given period. Contradictory views imply some common ground. But within this wider unity we find a variety of sects, each of which may be considered as more or less representing a particular method of treating the general problem: and therefore principles which, whether clearly recognised or not, are virtually implied in their party creed and give a certain unity to their teaching. One obvious principle of unity, or tacit bond of sympathy which holds a sect together depends upon the intellectual idiosyncrasy of the individuals.
And Becket, remained like ultimate categories of thought. When the growth of social conditions led to new temptations or the appearance of a new criminal class, and particular varieties of crime became conspicuous, the only remedy was to declare that some offence should be 'felony without benefit of clergy,' and therefore punishable by death. By unsystematic and spasmodic legislation the criminal law became so savage as to shock every man of common humanity.  The legislators were clumsy, not intentionally cruel; and the laws, though sanguinary in reality, were more sanguinary in theory than in practice.