Front Page Titles (by Subject) III.: SPAIN. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
III.: SPAIN. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 4.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Cross of Malta. Patriotic Society of the Friends of the Constitution. Letter, introducing an instrument, constituting Mr. Bentham an Honorary Member—Madrid, 18th Sept. 1820.—(N. B. Though this Society was not of the number of the constituted authorities, its freedom, added to its numerousness, rendered its testimony but the more valuable.)
The patriotic society of Friends of the Constitution, established in the Malta Coffeehouse of this Corte, have, in a public meeting, heard read, from the tribune, the work, addressed by you to all liberal Spaniards: and, as a testimonial of the gratitude with which the people of this capital in general, and this society in particular, have received and appropriated this one of the literary fruits of your illustrious mind, have the honour of transmitting to you the title of honorary associate, saluting you with sentiments of the most intimate fraternity.
The Citizen President Patricio Moore.
Andrei Rogo, del Canizal,Secretary.
Citizen Jeremias Bentham.
Don Augustin Arguelles, Minister of the Interior, requesting the opinion of Mr. Bentham on the subject of Jury Trial.—Madrid. No date. Received through the Spanish Mission, 22d January 1821.
Dear and most esteemed Sir,—
I have received, through various channels, your different works on matters of law and politics. Sincerely grateful for such a distinction as this, I feel more and more regret, that my ill fortune deprived me of the pleasure of knowing you personally when I was in your country in 1806-7, and my friend and countryman Mendoza de Rios, who was your friend also, was very desirous that I should visit you, and even spoke to me about it: but a severe indisposition, that tormented me during the two years of my abode in London, deprived me of that pleasure. Though I had proposed to myself to write to you on various matters connected with the events of Spain, I was obliged to abandon the intention for want of time. That which I infinitely desire, and should deem a singular favour, would be that you should communicate to me your ideas on the institution of the jury. Out of England, the genuine character of this tribunal is not well understood. A clear and circumstantial exposition, of the mode of proceeding in criminal cases by jury, would be very useful: and, at the same time, I should desire, if possible, that you should tell me your opinion on the following queries:—
“In a country where a jury has not been established, and in which there are party-divisions, can it be introduced without that party-spirit’s mingling with their verdict?”
“What precautions ought to be taken, to secure the impartiality of the jury under such circumstances?”
I trust that your goodness, and your ardent love of liberty, will pardon this my presumption, availing myself of this opportunity to offer you my respect and friendly consideration, entreating you to dispose, in any way most agreeable to you, of the esteem and attachment of your most obedient servant,
P. S.—I write to you in my own language, as many years have elapsed since I wrote in English.
Don José Canga Arguelles, Minister of Finance, expressing the desire of the Gobierno (composed of himself and the other six Ministers) to receive from Mr. Bentham, in pursuance of an offer of his, the draught of an all-comprehensive and rationalized Code, as described in Part I.—Madrid, 20th February 1821.
Mr. Jeremy Bentham—Sir,
Don Diego Colon has transmitted to me the letter you wrote to him, offering to form a complete code of laws for Spain. It belonging to the minister of grace and justice to take cognizance of the object to which it refers, I have delivered it to him, in order that he may arrange with his Majesty such resolution as he may deem fit.
This is all that it has been competent to me to do in this business: but I cannot but declare to you, with the greatest satisfaction on my own part, that the wishes which animate you to serve my country so usefully, are highly grateful to the Gobierno—and that, for my own part, I have for this long time entertained the highest respect for that mass of intellectual light, of which you have given such resplendent proofs, and which has obtained for you the estimation and honourable name you bear, among all who know how to appreciate merit and distinguished talents. On this consideration, I remain at your disposal, Sir, your most respectful and obedient servant,
(Signed) Joseph Canga Arguelles.
El Conde de Toreno, Deputy to the late Cortes, requesting Observations from Mr. Bentham, on the subject of the proposed Penal Code—6th August 1821.
Paris, le 6 Août 1821.
Monsieur J. Bentham—
Monsieur, Notre commun ami Mr. Bowring veut bien se charger de vous faire passer le volume ci-joint, qui comprend le projet du code penal présenté par le comité à la deliberation des Cortes, qui doit avoir lieu l’hiver prochain. Vous y verrez des choses bonnes, d’autres fort mauvaises. N’allez pas pourtant vous effrayer, Monsieur, des articles qui parlent sur la religion: celà ne passera pas: le tems des persecutions en Espagne n’existe plus, et, malgré toutes les lois, il y a dans le fait une tolerance très grande. Je soumets. Monsieur, à vos lumières, et à la profondeur de votre esprit et de vos connaissances, ce projet. Ayez la complaisance de me faire passer vos observations, d’ici aux derniers jours de Septembre, que je dois retourner en Espagne: je vous en serai extrêmement redevable: j’en profiterai dans la discussion. A qui pourrais-je en effet mieux m’adresser, qu’au constant défenseur de l’humanité, et au profond écrivain de tant d’ouvrages célèbres sur la legislation?
Soyez sûr, Monsieur, du plaisir, et même du devoir, que je me ferai, d’écouter vos conseils dans cette matière, et de l’empressment que je mettrai toujours de vous offrir l’hommage de mon admiration, et de ma profonde consideration.
Le Comte de Toreno.
Paris, 6th August 1821.
Mr. J. Bentham—
Sir, Our common friend Mr. Bowring has the goodness to undertake to forward to you the accompanying volume, containing the project of the penal code, presented by the committee, for the deliberation of the Cortes, at its next winter’s meeting. You will see in it some good things, others very bad. Do not, however, frighten yourself, Sir, about those articles which speak of religion: they will not pass: in Spain, the time of persecutions is no longer in existence: and, spite of all laws, a very extensive toleration has place in fact. I submit this proposed code, Sir, to the consideration of your enlightened mind. Do me the favour to convey to me your observations on it, between this and the last days of September, at which time I shall be on my return to Spain. I shall be highly obliged by your so doing. I shall make my profit of them in the course of the discussion. An address of this sort—to whom could it be made with more propriety, than to the constant defender of the principles of humanity, to the profoundly thinking author of so many celebrated works on legislation?
Be assured, Sir, of the pleasure, and even of the sense of duty, with which I shall attend to your suggestions on this subject, and of the eagerness with which I shall embrace every occasion, of offering to you the homage of my admiration and of my high consideration.
Le Comte de Toreno.
Extract from the Report of the Prison Committee of the Cortes, recommending the application of Mr. Bentham’s Plan of Construction and Management, styled the Panopticon Plan, to all Prisons throughout Spain and her Dependencies—28th September 1820.
The select Committee, named by the Cortes for the purpose of its presenting a plan of regulation and improvement for the prisons of the kingdom, has carefully examined the measures proposed by Messrs. Villanova, Calderon, and Canabal, relative to this object, as also the expositions presented by Don Joseph Guyar, with the accompanying documents.
With the same scrupulous attention, the Committee has also examined the work of the jurisconsult, Jeremy Bentham, translated by Don Jacoba Villanova, by whom has been added an appendix, and various notes of primary importance; and the Plan for Prisons, which, with the work aforesaid, he presented to the Cortes, and which they received with particular acknowledgment.
Desirous to avail itself, on this occasion, of whatsoever appropriate assistance should be found obtainable,—the Committee communicated to the government (gobierno) the information, which the Economical Society of Madrid had addressed to the king through the Home Department: on which occasion, with its accustomed zeal and intelligence, that Society bestows the highest eulogium on the work of the above-mentioned Bentham, and on the observations and appendixes subjoined by the jurisconsult Villanova: expressing its entire approbation of the application of the Panopticon principle, in relation to the establishments appertaining to the prisons of the kingdom.
The Committee, after inspection made of these documents, could not do otherwise than agree in great measure with his beneficient ideas for the service of humanity, which, having been outraged in the highest degree in the buildings hitherto used for the imprisonment of culprits and condemned criminals, calls for the most prompt and efficacious measures of alleviation.
The Committee has obtained a full conviction of the truth of those principles which, with so much wisdom, have been delivered and applied in detail by those intelligent friends of mankind.
☞ Thereupon follows a discussion, continued through nine pages, and occupied principally in the exhibition of the deplorable state of prison and prison management in Spain.
Page 10 commences with a proposed law, in twenty-six articles, the whole ranged under three titles.
Article 1. In all the capitals of the provinces of the kingdom, and in those towns in which are the seats of judicatories having cognizance in the first instance,—shall be constructed prisons, upon the Panopticon plan, or as nearly approaching to it as possible.
Article 25. For the construction of these prisons, the government shall turn to the best account the value of the existing ones, and propose to the Cortes, in the estimates for the expenditure of the home department, the sums which it shall propose to allot to this object, as also the charitable funds,* which it regards as capable of being employed to the purpose of these establishments.
Article 26. All these measures and provisions shall extend to the provinces of Ultramaria.
Don Toribio Nunez, Deputy from Salamanca to the present Cortes, requesting for Spain and its Cortes the assistance of Mr. Bentham on all matters of legislation.—Extracts.—Salamanca, 20th Dec. 1821.
Occupied successively by the political affairs of this city and province, and by the consideration of the penal code, submitted to our extraordinary Cortes, and lately referred to a commission of this literary University, of which commission I am a member,—I have been unable sooner to answer your valuable letter. You are, however, assured of my gratitude, by your correspondent, who transmitted it to me from Victoria, and with whom I hope to have further intercourse at Madrid. In that letter, you ask me to give you some account of my past life, and of the accident which brought me acquainted with your works. The praises, which you bestow upon me, are due rather to your principles and analyses, than to the new arrangement in which I have presented them in the “Ciencia Social.”† In the concluding part of your letter, you relate to me some particulars concerning the course of your studies, and concerning the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and you desire to know what were my studies at that of Salamanca.
Respect and gratitude compel me to oblige you in everything: and the pleasure I feel, at finding myself in familiar conversation with my adored master, of whose existence I doubted, makes my own satisfaction inseparable from the fulfilment of my duty towards you. * * * *
The appearance of your works, published in the French language at Paris, coincides with this epoch; but as I had retired from Seville, with the profits of the business I had carried on there since the death of the duchess, and was living amidst relations and friends in the mountains of Castille,—I heard nothing of them until the passage of the French army through Salamanca to Portugal, in 1807, when your principles of civil and penal legislation were brought among other books for sale. To describe to you their effect upon me is impossible. Suffice it to say, that, in spite of the inconsistencies which I found in them, and which I have always attributed to your editor, I saw so much light, that I hailed, as a favourable prognostic for the prosperity of my country, the perfidy of the monster, who by irritating our national honour, set in motion our enthusiasm.
The delight I had formerly tasted in dispensing benefits was replaced by the anticipation of that which I should derive from seeing diffused through my country those principles which teach the science of governing, and of introducing useful reforms without injury to actual rights. In your works I saw the causes of the failure and of the evils of the French Revolution, which had excited our youthful attention. I began immediately to inform myself of the means, by which my country might be freed from the horrors which afflicted it. I found all made easy by the operation of your principles: but unfortunately they were unknown in Spain. Even now an acquaintance with them is by no means general. Yet, notwithstanding our inveterate prejudices on the one side, and notions à la Française on the other, a knowledge of them is extending itself; and, among the deputies elected for the next Cortes, I am convinced there are many initiated in your precious mysteries. I hope you will not find it inconvenient to transmit to your disciple, Nunez, the code which, I am assured by our amiable friend Bowring, you have been preparing expressly for Spain. Do not doubt that the lights you have diffused will be of great service to us; that the number of your appreciators will be great among the new deputies; and that among them will be found many lawyers who revere you, and many learned physicians, who are imbued with your luminous system. * * * *
May heaven grant that my knowledge, corrected by your’s, my integrity, and my prudence, may correspond with my good intentions; as, with your aid, I hope they will: and if, with this disposition, I implore whatever instruction my enlightened master can still give me, I am persuaded he will not refuse to assist with his advice his “beloved” disciple * * * *: and the nation to which he has the honour to belong, and to which such proofs of your affection have been already given, * * * *.
I must confess to you, that, if information does not rapidly spread, I fear we must wait a long time before we shall see the fruits it ought to produce; and certainly, until we do see them, we are in danger. I seek not to discourage you, nor to diminish your cheerfulness: God forbid!—Genius of good! you will not deny to us the instructions which we hope from your philanthropy: and we, on our part, will sedulously endeavour to propagate them. Your instructions will conduct us, in our search for those demonstrative proofs, by which all minds shall be brought into unison. You alone have realized the project of Socrates—you have justified the assertion of Galileo—you have made palpable the opinion of Locke—and have given consummation to the laudable commencements of Beccaria.
Adieu! may you live long for the benefit of the human race, and for the enjoyment of that glory, which it has been given to no other mortal to acquire!
[† ]The instrument is from an engraving, with blanks for names and dates.
[* ]These funds are composed of bequests made for charitable purposes.
[† ]A work entituled ESPIRITU DE BENTHAM Sistema de la Ciencia Social.—Ideado por el Jurisconsulto Inglis Jeremias Bentham y puesto en ejecucion conforme a los principios del Autor original por el Dr. D. Toribio Nuñez, Jurisconsulto Español, Salamanca: Imprenta nueva: Por D. Bernardo Martin, 1820: 8vo, pages 140.