Front Page Titles (by Subject) IV.: PORTUGAL. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
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IV.: PORTUGAL. - 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.
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Minute of the Portuguese Cortes, ordering a translation to be made of all Mr. Bentham’s works—Lisbon, 13th April 1821.
Read by Secretary Freire a letter presented by Senhor Sepulveda, to whom it had been addressed by Senhor Carvalho, member of the regency of the kingdom,* along with the works of Jeremy Bentham, offered by their venerable author to the Portuguese nation: in which letter it was said, that the writer could not give a more authentic testimony of the value he set upon so generous and flattering an offering, than by accompanying it with a wish, that, in their practice, the cortes may take for their guidance the liberal doctrines of the principal and earliest constitutionalist of Europe.
Penetrated with those sentiments of esteem, that are so justly due to the illustrious Bentham—to that sage, by whose luminous ideas the whole civilized world has been enlightened, and to whom its free nations should erect a monument of gratitude, for the indefatigable zeal with which he has made application of those ideas to the service of the great cause of liberty and good government—the assembly has resolved, not only, that of this his offering honourable mention be made in their journals, but also that direction be given to the Regency to cause to be translated and printed all those his works, and that, by one of the secretaries of this august assembly, a letter be written to him, conveying to him the grateful acknowledgments of the cortes, accompanied with the intimation, that those his gifts were addressed to the assembly by one, and presented by another, of the persons who planned and took the lead in consummating those glorious measures, which gave commencement to our political regeneration: and that to the said Bentham be sent an authentic copy of the paragraph in our journals, in which expression is given to this resolution of the sovereign assembly. Hermano José Braamcamp de Sobral, Presidente—Joao Baptista Felgueiras, deputado, Secretario—Agostinho José Freire, deputado, Secretario.
(A true copy)
da Costa Posser.
Order of the Cortes to the Regency for that purpose—Lisbon, 13th April 1821.
Most illustrious and excellent Sir,—
The General and Extraordinary Cortes of the Portuguese nation, desirous of giving a testimony of the particular satisfaction with which they have received the valuable present, made to them of his works, by the illustrious citizen of the world, Jeremy Bentham, and at the same time of contributing to the utmost of their power to the diffusion of the luminous and transcendently useful mass of information contained in those his so interesting productions,—have given orders for the transmission of them to the Regency of the kngdom, for the purpose of its causing a translation of them to be made, and printed at the national printing office, and with superior dispatch published. Your Excellency will accordingly make communication of this to the Regency, that due execution may be given to it.
God preserve your Excellency!
Palace of the Cortes, 13th April 1821.
(A true copy)
Joaquim Guilherme da Costa Posser.
Senhor José Baptista Felgueiras, one of the Deputies to, and Secretaries of, the Cortes, to Mr. Bentham, on conveying the above.—Lisbon, 24th April 1821.
The General and Extraordinary Cortes of the Portuguese Nation, having received the obliging present of those your alike celebrated and interesting works, which have been addressed to them by one, and presented by another, of those well-deserving citizens, who have borne a distinguished part in the glorious achievement of the political regeneration of the Portuguese monarchy,—have resolved, that their grateful acknowledgments for so valuable an offering be made to you, and that they be accompanied by the copy of a minute in their journals, in which honourable mention thereof is made: and moreover, that those same works be translated and published, in such sort as to render manifest to all eyes the extraordinary regard and particular attention with which, by this sovereign assembly, acceptance has been given to those most important writings of the illustrious friend of man, and conspicuous advocate of the cause of nations. God preserve you, Sir!
Given at Lisbon, at the palace of the Cortes, this 24th day of April [1821.]
Joao Baptista Felgueiras.
Mr. Jeremy Bentham.
On the Cover was the direction following:—“A o Sñr Jeremias Bentham, Londres, do Deputado Secretario das Cortes Geraes e Extraordinarias da Naçao Portugueze, Joao Baptista Felgueiras.”
Senhor Felgueiras, as above, to Mr. Bentham—Lisbon, 22d December 1821.—Received 25th January 1822.
Most illustrious Sir,—
In conformity to a resolution, passed by the Cortes, of the 26th November last, which I had the pleasure to communicate to you the 3d instant,* I have the honour to transmit to you a collection of the journals of the Cortes, as far as they are published, down to the present time, and in which are contained the Nos. down to No. 229: and they will be conveyed to you through the medium of the Portuguese mission in London; from whence also the succeeding ones, as they come out, will be transmitted to you, in pursuance of the resolution of the Cortes. I avail myself with much pleasure of the opportunity thus afforded me of expressing to you those sentiments of particular consideration and esteem, with which I am, Sir, your most respectful and affectionate venerator,
Joao Baptista Felgueiras.
To the most illustrious Jeremy Bentham.
Lisbon, Palace of the Cortes,
On the outside cover, in another hand, was what follows:—“By the first conveyance;—On the second, the letter will be accompanied by a package, which will be sent by the first opportunity by sea.”
17th April 1822.—In the list of these testimonials [No. 4,] mention is made of the special offer, on my part, to the Portuguese Cortes, to draw up a code of the description in question for that nation in particular: and of the acceptance given to that same offer by that same Cortes. In the preceding column is Mr. Secretary Felgueiras’ letter to me of the 22d December, announcing a copy of the Portuguese journals, in which mention is made of a resolution of the Cortes, as having passed on the 26th November 1821, and been communicated to me, by a letter of his, dated the 3d of the then next ensuing month. Neither the collection of journals so announced, nor the letter by which it is announced, have ever yet reached me.† From the Portugese mission in London I have just received assurance, that neither that copy of the journals which was destined for me, nor another which was destined for that mission, were yet come to hand. The Diario do Governo is an official daily paper, by which, publication is given to state papers from the Cortes, as well as from the various subordinate offices. No. 284 of that paper, dated the 30th of November 1821, lies before me. In it is a translation of that same letter of mine. It is preceded by a notice, of which the following is a literal translation:—“The following paper is that which was referred to in the 241st sitting, as reported in the Diario of Tuesday last, No. 281.” “Translation of the Letter which the venerable jurisconsult, Jeremy Bentham, addressed to the Cortes of Portugal, and of which an account was given by Mr. Deputy and Secretary Felgueiras, in the sitting of the 26th of November.” This 26th is the same day, on which, according to his abovementioned letter, the resolution was passed, ordering the copy of the journals to be sent to me. It seems, therefore, that on this same day, on which the account was so given by him, the resolution, containing the acceptance of the offer, was passed: and that the order for the transmission of a copy of the journals, being a natural consequence, was included in it. Of this resolution, mention cannot but have been made in some No. of the Diario published between that same 26th November, and that No. which bears date on the 30th: but all the endeavours of my personal friends, to which (I am assured) have been added those of the Portuguese mission, to find here in London a copy of the No. thus desired, have been fruitless. At the end of little less than three months, reckoning from the 25th of January 1822, in which Mr. Secretary’s above-mentioned letter was received by me, irresistible circumstances forbid my delaying any longer the completing of the impression of this proposal, imperfect as is the state, in which these testimonials are thus brought to a close. Jeremy Bentham.
At the end of the translation of my letter, is an apology from the Cortes, for the interval that had elapsed, namely, between the 26th—the day on which the account had been given of it, as above, and the 30th—the day on which the translation was published in the Diario. The following is a literal translation:—
“N. B.—The above letter was not published on the day above designated, from the translations not having been finished in the office of the Cortes. The short-hand writer reported this delay, being officially directed to be prepared on the day announced.”
Reference being made as above to the letter from the individual to the Cortes, and a conception of it, not quite correct in several particulars, having been conveyed by an English re-translation inserted in an English newspaper from the Portuguese,—the following copy of the original one may be thought, perhaps, to be not altogether out of place:—
Jeremy Bentham, London, to the Portuguese Cortes—7th November 1821.
Portuguese Cortes! Worthy rulers of a regenerated people! Worthy rulers, only because faithful servants!
Our correspondence is a singular one: the world’s eye is upon it. It is an useful, it is an instructive one. I continue it.
Once already I have put your virtues to the test: nobly have they stood it. One trial still remains.
Once more must I bring to your view the never to be forgotten phrase—greatest happiness of greatest number—all-comprehensive and sole justifiable end of government. On a collection of works, by which the light of that all-commanding principle has, with more or less intensity, been shed on almost every part of the field of government, the seal of your approbation has been already stamped. All together, however, they form little more than an outline, nor that anything better than a rough and incomplete one. That outline, would you see it not only corrected and completed, but filled up?—filled up by a body of proposed law, conceived, and, as to all the most important parts of it, expressed, not in detail only, but in terminis? Speak the word, and you shall have it.
In the first place, a proposed penal code; in the next place, a proposed civil code; in the last place, a proposed constitutional code—this is what I have to offer you. In all of them, the circumstances in which Portugal stands will be kept steadily in view: these circumstances, so far as they can be learned from your judicial customs and existing ordinances, more particularly such ordinances as, in the intervening interval, shall have emanated from the regenerated legislature. To these will be added, whatever information, from any appropriately intelligent citizen of yours, I may be fortunate enough to have found within my reach. Where, owing to the fluctuating nature of the incidents, by which the demand for legislation is produced, arrangements proposed in terminis would be inapplicable, general directions or instructions will be substituted. Finance law will suggest to you examples.
Subjoined to this address is an appendix. In Part I. are Testimonials: in Part II. Reasons for acceptance. It is for your table this appendix:—not for your ears.
As to testimonials, those, which you yourselves have given me, are worth all others put together. Still it may be some satisfaction to you to see, that in your own opinion in favour of this your proffered servant, there is not anything, with which that of other countries, more particularly his own, seems likely to be in discordance. Of the reasons for acceptance, the matter (I have said) is for your table. Length, and respect for your time, have rendered the separation necessary. To your ears, however, I venture to submit the heads of it.
No: I will not, as yet, seek to burthen you with it. It is, however, ready, and the next post shall bring it to you.
Legislators! such is the mite I offer to cast into your treasury. But before the cast, or the mite itself, can have been made, something on your part must have been done—something to this effect you must have said to me: “Friend of man, send in these works of yours; they shall be laid upon our table. Rejection in toto—consideration in detail—sanctionment, of one part or of another part—at one time, at another time, or at no time—all this will depend, for it cannot but depend, upon the judgment formed by us, as to what is most conducive to the greatest happiness of the greatest number of the people under our charge. For thus much, however, the Cortes pledges itself, in so far as it is in its power to pledge itself: each of these your proposed codes shall, on its arrival, by the earliest opportunity, be taken for the subject of our deliberations.”
“Well but,” says somebody, “this present of his—why all this talk about it? why not send it to us at once?”
Legislators! it is not made: and because it is not, therefore it is that I thus offer it.—Without acceptance, such as that I have spoken of, I am not sure that it ever can be made: what I am sure of, is—that it cannot be made either so promptly or so well. At the age of three-and-seventy, the current of the blood runs slow: something is wanting, something from without to quicken it.
One short word more. Let there be no mistake. Acceptance is what I call for; acceptance—nothing more: no such thing as preference, much less exclusive preference. As to rival works, not to exclude, but to multiply them, would be my wish: rival works, from any hands, but more particularly from native ones. Of the sincerity of this wish, proof more than in abundance is already in your hands. It may be seen at length in one of those former works, by the acceptance of which your character has already shed its lustre on the untitled and title-scorning name of
*∗* For the words untitled and title-scorning, the words in the Portuguese are—simples e humilde. The accordance (it may be seen) is not, in this instance, altogether a perfect one.
The Portuguese Cortes to Jeremy Bentham.—Received through the Portuguese Mission at London, 22d April 1822, since the impression of the above. Acceptance given to his offer of an all-comprehensive Code: Acts and Journals of the Cortes to be accordingly sent to him successively.
The General and Extraordinary Cortes of the Portuguese Nation,—presentation being made to them, in the sittings of the 26th of November last, of a letter addressed to them by you, making offer of, and requesting acceptance for, three proposed codes—one civil, another penal, and another constitutional, accommodated, all of them, to the circumstances of Portugal; adding the mention of an appendix, intended to be sent by the then next conveyance,—have resolved that, in an act of the Congress, mention be made of that highly valued offer, which the Cortes have accepted with particular pleasure, inasmuch as the well-known lights and experience of so celebrated a jurisconsult, and illustrious friend of mankind, will thus come in aid of an undertaking of our own, in which that same field is comprehended: as also, that a translation of the afore-mentioned letter be published in the daily paper of the government, and with the original in front of it in the Journal of the Cortes: and that transmission be made to you of a collection of the acts and journals of the Cortes, as also of the several continuations thereof as they come out. All which, by order of the Cortes, I have the pleasure of communicating to you for your information. God preserve you, Sir!
Joao Baptista Felgueiras.
Lisbon, Palace of the Cortes,
The Portuguese Cortes to Jeremy Bentham.—Received through the Portuguese Mission at London, 22d April 1822. Translation ordered of his Letters to Count Toreno, on the proposed Spanish Penal Code.
Most illustrious Sir,—
The General and Extraordinary Cortes of the Portuguese Nation, to which I gave an account of your letter of the 30th of January of the present year, have heard with pleasure the obliging expressions which it contains, and received with thankfulness the present sent by you of a work intituled “Letter to Count Toreno, on the proposed Penal Code, delivered in by the Legislative Committee of the Spanish Cortes:” and they have resolved that, on that occasion, transmission shall for the second time be made to you, of the letter of the 3d of December of the last year, and that to the minister of foreign affairs orders be given to take the necessary arrangements, in such sort that this correspondence, as also the successive continuations of the journals of the Cortes, shall, with all promptitude and certainty, be transmitted to you through the Portuguese legation at London, in conformity to the resolution of the 22d of December 1821. All which, by order of the Cortes, I have the pleasure to communicate to you for your information. God preserve you, Sir!
Joao Baptista Felgueiras
Lisbon, Palace of the Cortes,
[* ]This body was composed of four members: The Conde de Sampaio, President, and Messrs. Carvalho, de Sao Luis, et Soto Maior.
[* ]March 15th, this letter of the 3d of December has not yet come to hand.
[† ]See No. 5, which was afterwards printed in Appendix.