Love and duty

Daily Reading for June 16 • Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, 1752

In general a man ought not to do other people’s duty for them; for their duty was appointed them for their exercise; and besides, who will do it in case of his death? Nor has a man any right to raise in others such a dependance upon him as that they must be miserable in case of his death, tho’ whilst he lives he answers that dependance.

* * * * *

Hobbs’ definition of Benevolence, that ’tis the love of power, is base and false, but there is more of truth in it than appears at first sight; the real Benevolence of men being, I think, for the most part, not indeed the single love of power, but the love of power to be exercised in the way of doing good; that is a different thing from the love of the good or happiness of others by whomsoever effected, which last I call single or simple Benevolence. How little there is of this in the world may appear by observing, how many persons can bear with great tranquillity that friend or child should live in misery, who yet cannot bear the thought of their death.

Fragments from the autographs of Bishop Butler, now in the library at the British Museum. Found at

Past Posts