Front Page Titles (by Subject) VIII.: GREECE. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 4
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VIII.: GREECE. - 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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Prince Alexander Mavrocordato, Secretary to the Provisional Government of Greece, to Jeremy Bentham; introducing No. 2.
Je m’estime heureux d’être chargé de vous faire connaître les sentimens de gratitude et de reconnaissance de mon gouvernement, pour les observations que vous nous avez envoyées sur notre loi organique. Il était digne d’un ami de l’humanité, d’un des plus respectables philosophes de notre temps, d’apporter l’attention de son génie au bonheur d’une nation, en qui quatre cents ans d’esclavage et de misère, n’avaient pû parvenir à effacer le sentiment de ses droits, et de ses devoirs.
Continuez, donc, Monsieur, de nous éclairer par vos conseils, de nous diriger par cette raison superieure, qui immortalise vos ouvrages, et que votre suffrage, cité en faveur de notre cause, en devienne le plus ferme appui, comme il est déjà le garant le plus certain, de notre triomphe.
Veuillez bien agréer, Monsieur, l’assurance de ma parfaite estime, et celle de la haute considération avec laquelle j’ai l’honneur d’être, Monsieur, votre très humble et très obéissant serviteur,
(Signé) A. Mavrocordato.
Tripolitza, Juin 22 (Juillet 4) 1823.
A Mons. M. Jeremy Bentham,
I think myself happy in being charged to communicate to you the sentiments of gratitude and thankfulness of my government, for the observations you have sent to us on our fundamental law. It was worthy of a friend of humanity, of one of the most respectable philosophers of our time, to direct the attention of his genius to the well-being of a nation, in which four centuries of slavery and misery had not been able to efface the sentiments of its rights and its duties.
Continue, then, Sir, to enlighten us by your counsels, and to guide us by that superior intelligence which immortalizes your works, and let your good opinion, when quoted in favour of our cause, become the firmest basis, as it is already the surest guarantee, of our triumph.
And accept, Sir, the assurance of the high esteem and consideration with which I have the honour to be, &c. &c. &c.
(Signed) A. Mavrocordato.
Tripolitza, June 22 (July 4) 1823.
To Mr. Jeremy Bentham,
Πϱοσωϱινὴ Διοίϰησις τῆς Ἑλλάδος.—Ὁ Πϱόεδϱος τοῦ Βουλευτιϰοῦ πϱὸς τὸν Κύϱιον Ἱεϱεμίαν Βενθάμ.
Ὁ φιλελληνιϰώτατος Κύϱιος Βλαϰιαῖϱος, ϰαὶ φίλτατος συμπολίτης μας Κύϱιος Α. Λουϱιώτης ἐπϱόσφεϱαν, ἐξ ὀνόματός σας, εἰς τὴν Βουλὴν τῆς Ἐλευθέϱας Ἑλλάδος, ἐπὶ ϰοινῆς Συνεδϱιάσεως, τὰς εἰς τὸ Πολίτευμά μας παϱατηϱήσεις Σας· ϰαὶ ἡ Βουλὴ τὰς ἐνεπιστεύθη εὐθὺς εἰς Ἄνδϱα, εἰδήμονα τῆς Ἀγγλιϰῆς Γλώσσης, διὰ νὰ τὰς ἐξελληνίσῃ ὅσον τάχιον εἰς ϰοινὴν χϱῆσιν ϰαὶ ὠφέλειαν.
Ἡ Ἑλλὰς ὀφείλει νὰ ὁμολογήσῃ εἰλιϰϱινῶς ϰαὶ παῤῥησίᾳ πόσον ἐχάϱη ϰαὶ ἐμψυχώθη, βλέπουσα τὸν Νομοδιδάσϰαλον τοῦ διϰάτου ἐννάτοὺ Αἰῶνος νὰ διαϰόψῃ πϱὸς ϰαιϱὸν τὰς σοφάς του ἐϱγασίας, ἀφοϱώσας τὴν ϰοινὴν εὐδαιμονιάν τῆς Εὐϱώπης ὅλης, διὰ νὰ πϱοσηλώσῃ τὴν πϱοσοχήν του ϰαὶ τοὺς ϰόπους του εἰς μόνην τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν τοῦ Ἑλληνιϰοῦ Ἔθνους.
Ἡ Βουλὴ πϱολαμβάνει, ϰαὶ δημοσίως Σᾶς ϰοινοποιεῖ δἰ ἐμοῦ τὴν εἰλιϰϱινῆ της χαϱὰν ϰαὶ βαθεῖάν της πεϱὶ τούτου εὐγνωμοσύνην, βέϐαιος οὖσα, ὅτι ἔχουσα τοιοῦτον Συνεϱγάτην, ὅστις ϰαὶ τὰς χϱείας γνωϱίζει τοῦ ἀνεγειϱομένου Ἔθνους ἀπὸ τὴν πολυχϱόνιόν του πτῶσιν, ϰαὶ ἱϰανώτατος εἶναι νὰ εὕϱῃ τὴν ἀνήϰουσαν ϑεϱαπείαν, ϑέλει φθάσει ϰαὶ συντομώτεϱον ϰαὶ εὐτυχέστεϱον εἰς τὸ μέγα ἔϱγον τῆς ἠθιϰῆς του ἀναπλάσεως, ὅθεν ϰϱέμαται ἡ ἀληθής του ϰαὶ μόνιμος δόξα.
Ἡ Βουλὴ, ἡ ὁποία νομίζει ὄχι μιϰϱὸν εὐτύχημα τῆς Ἑλλάδος νὰ ἀναγεννηθῇ εἰς τὰς ἡμέϱας, ϰαθ’ ἃς ζῆτε, πεποίθησιν σταθεϱὰν ἔχει, ὅτι ὠφελουμένη ἀπὸ τὰς τωϱινάς Σας παϱατηϱήσεις, δὲν ϑέλει ϰαὶ εἰς τὸ ἑξῆς στεϱεῖται τῶν σοφῶν Σας ὁδηγιῶν, ὥστε ϰαὶ ἀπὸ τὰς μετὰ ταῦτα βοηθουμένη, νὰ ἀσφαλίσῃ τὴν ἀναγέννησιν τῆς φιλτάτης Σας Ἑλλάδος, μὲ τὴν ἀϰαταμάχητον εὐνομίαν, τὸ μόνον ἀσφαλὲς πϱοπύϱγιον τῆς ἐθνιϰῆς της εὐδαιμονίας.
Αὐτὰ Σᾶς ϰοινολογῶ, Κύϱιε, ἐϰ μέϱους ὅλης τῆς Ἐθνιϰῆς Βουλῆς· ὅσον τὸ ϰατ’ ἐμὲ, εὐτυχὴς εἶμαι, ὅτι ἔλαϐον αὐτὴν τὴν ἔντιμον Διαταγὴν νὰ ϰοινοποιήσω τὰ τοιαῦτα εἰς Ἄνδϱα, πϱὸς τὸν ὁποῖον πϱοσφέϱω ἰδιαιτέϱως τὸ βαθὺ σέϐας, ϰαὶ τὴν ἀνήϰουσαν ὑπόϰλισιν.
Ὁ Πϱῶτος Γϱαμματεὺς τοῦ Βουλευτιϰοῦ,
Τῆ ιϐ′ Μαΐου τοῦ αωϰγ’
Provisional Government of Greece. The President of the Legislative Council to Mr. Jeremy Bentham.
Mr. Blaquiere, that distinguished friend of the Greeks, in conjunction with our beloved fellow countryman, Mr. A. Luriottis, has delivered, in your name, to the Legislative Council of Liberated Greece, in general convocation assembled, your observations on the subject of our form of government: the council has thereupon committed them to the care of a person skilled in the English language, with directions to translate them, with as much dispatch as may be, into Greek, for the common use and benefit of the nation.
It is a duty incumbent on that nation to make an open and sincere declaration of those sentiments of affection and delight with which she beholds the preceptor of the nineteenth century in the school of legislation, suspending the course of those labours, which were embracing the general happiness of Europe, for the purpose of devoting them, in a more particular manner, to the service of Greece.
The Council has been the first to feel, and takes this public mode of communicating to you, through me, its heartfelt delight and profound gratitude; confident that, with such a coadjutor, whose comprehension of the exigencies of a nation raising herself out of a long-continued depression, and of the most appropriate mode of providing for them, is so consummate, she will make her advances with proportionably greater speed and better fortune, in the great work of that moral regeneration, upon which her truest and most permanent glory depends.
The Council, in whose estimation it is matter of no slight happiness to Greece, that it is in your lifetime this great work is in progress, cherishes the persuasion, that after having thus been already favoured with your well-timed observations, it will not for the future have to lament the want of your fostering guidance; so that henceforward, by your assistance, it may secure the revival of your beloved Greece, by an unsubvertible good government—the only inexpugnable bulwark of national felicity.
This, Sir, is what, by these presents, I communicate to you, on the part of the whole National Council. On my own part, I regard it as matter of good fortune to myself to have received so honourable a commission as that of making a communication of this sort, to a man for whom I personally feel such deep respect, and all becoming reverence.
First Scribe of the Council,
Tripolitza, May 12, 1823.
Prince Alexander Mavrocordato, Secretary to the Provisional Government of Greece, to Jeremy Bentham: introducing the two Greek Envoys.
Je suis particulièrement chargé par mon gouvernement de vous recommander la mission qui, chargée d’éclairer la nation Anglaise, et par elle toute l’Europe, sur le véritable état des choses en Grèce, et de détruire les calomnies que nos ennemis n’ont que trop répandues contre les principes et le but de notre entreprise, a besoin de vos sages conseils, et de l’appui de vos suffrages en faveur de notre cause, afin d’arriver à son but.
Persuadé de la noble et généreuse assistance que vous voudrez bien accorder, par l’influence de vos talens, à une cause que vous avez déjà si victorieusement défendue, je vous prie, Monsieur, d’agréer d’avance la gratitude du gouvernement provisoire et de la nation Grecque, ainsi que celle de mon estime particulière, et de ma plus haute considération.
(Signé) A. Mavrocordato.
Tripolitza, le 24 Juin, 1823, V. S.
A Mons. M. Jeremy Bentham,
I am especially charged by my government to recommend to you the mission which, being ordered to instruct the English nation, and through it, the whole of Europe, as to the true situation of things in Greece, and thus to destroy the calumnies which our enemies have but too widely spread against the principles and the object of our struggle, will have need of your judicious counsels, and the support of your suffrages in favour of our cause, in order that we may reach the [desired] end.
Anticipating that generous assistance which you will kindly grant by the influence of your talents on behalf of a cause you have so victoriously defended, I pray you, Sir, to accept beforehand the gratitude of the Provisional Government of the Greek nation, as well as that of my individual esteem and highest consideration.
(Signed) A. Mavrocordato.
Tripolitza, June 24 (July 4,) 1823.
To Mr. Jeremy Bentham,
Jeremy Bentham to the Greek Provisional Government—Letter 1. In answer to the foregoing.
Legislators of regenerated Greece!—
Whether for the sort of encouragement with which you have been pleased to honour me, any such praise is due as that of discernment, it belongs to the world at large, not to him who is the object of it, to pronounce. Of the magnanimity manifested by an address of this complexion to a man whose position is so completely destitute of everything which could render him an object of such notice to ordinary minds—to a man from whom no service can possibly have been looked for in any shape but that in which a small particle of it has already been so richly remunerated,—there can be but one opinion: such is the honour your body has conferred on itself, and by nothing more that I could say, could any addition be made to it.
As to me, to the illustration conferred on me by such a letter, has been added the most singular one of its being delivered by the hand of the very person, by whose signature, in his character of president of your body, it was authenticated; a man whose warrant I have already for calling him by the endearing name of son. “Orlando,” said I to him t’other day in French, “thus, and thus only, can I address you. Monsieur Orlando?* My lips close against the words. Monsieur Solon? Monsieur Pericles? Monsieur Epaminondas? Monsieur Philopœmen? Who ever heard any such barbarisms?” “Let me but call you father,” was the answer, “and call me what you please.”
Κύϱιος Bentham, indeed? Legislators! To others, if you please: to me, as you love me, no more Κύϱιος. Common as the word is, there is a glare of legitimacy upon it that hurts my eyes. Give it to my imperial correspondent; give it to the Αὐτοϰϱάτωϱ—the modern Alexander; from him, peradventure, you may have a note of thanks for it: but, in this case, or you may lose your labour, it should be in the superlative—sublimated into Κυϱιώτατος.
Oh yes! when you speak to me, add ἡμέτεϱος to it,—or, as you now say, μας. This I have already merited: this, if from you, would be my most honourable title. If to do so be in the power of labour, no hired servant ever merited it better, unless by the pleasure so intimately combined with it, the merit, as in the eyes of certain casuists, would be annihilated. Seventy years ago, I devoted myself to the service of mankind: and now, at length—for by you am I enabled—now, at length, nor yet altogether without prospect of success, do I behold myself occupied in the performance of that vow.
This will be delivered to you by the worthy comrade of our Luriottis, Edward Blaquiere, by whom his title of φιλλεληνιϰώτατος, as given to him in yours to me, continues to be so well merited.
Farewell, legislators! May success ever attend your labours in the council, as it has done those of your heroes in the field. Should any modern Xerxes presume to offer obstruction to them, may his fate be that of the ancient one. Already, in thus writing to you, I have perhaps written too much. I resume the pen which yours found me writing with for you. What remains is—to subscribe myself, and with somewhat more truth than is common in such subscriptions, your δοῦλος.
(Signed) Jeremy Bentham.
Queen’s-Square Place, Westminster,
To the Sovereign Legislative Council of Greece.
Πϱοσωϱινὴ Διοίϰησις τῆς Ἑλλάδος.—Ἡ Βουλὴ τῶν Ἑλλήνων πϱὸς τὸν Φιλέλληνα Κύϱιον Ἱεϱεμίαν Βένθαμον.—Πεϱίοδος β′, ἀϱιθ. 1122.
Ἂν ἡ λαμπϱὰ ϰαὶ Εὐδαίμων Ἂγγλία σεμνύνεται διότι σὲ ἔχει Πολίτην, ἡ Μητέϱα τοῦ Λυϰούϱγου ϰαὶ Σόλωνος, ἡ δυστυχὴς Ἑλλὰς χαίϱει, διότι εὐτύχησεν νὰ ἀπολαύσῃ εἰς τὴν ἀναγέννησίν της τὸν Σοφώτατον ϰαὶ φιλανθϱωπότατον Νομοδιδάσϰαλον.
Τὰ τέϰνα τῆς φίλης Ἑλλάδος ἀνθολογοῦντα ἀπὸ τὸν Πολυανθῆ λειμῶνα τῶν ποιημάτων σου, ἀναπτεϱοῦνται πάντοτε εἰς τὸ ὕψος, τὸ ὁποῖον νὰ φθάσωσιν ἀϰόμη δὲν δύνανται, τὰ Μέλη τοῦ βουλευτιϰοῦ ἀναπτύσσοντα τὰς δυνάμεις των, ϰαὶ ϰατὰ τοὺς ἐπιστημονιϰούς σου ϰανόνϰς, συντελοῦσιν εἰς τὴν βελτίωσιν τοῦ πολιτιϰοῦ τῆς Ἑλλάδος Συστήματος.
Χαῖϱε λοιπὸν φίλε τῆς Ἑλλάδος! ἔχεις ἀξίαν ἀμοιϐὴν τῆς Ἀϱετῆς σου, τὴν ὁποίαν ἀπολαμϐάνεις ἡδονὴν διὰ τὴν εὐδαιμονίαν τῶν φίλων σαυ. Χαῖϱε! ϰαὶ
“Βάλλ’ οὕτως αἴϰεν τι φόως Δαναοῖσι γένηαι.”
Ὁ Ἀντιπϱόεδϱος Θεοδώϱητος.
Ὁ Πϱῶτος Γϱαμματεὺς τοῦ βουλευτιϰοῦ
Provisional Government of Greece. The Greek Senate to Mr. Jeremiah Bentham, Philhellenist.—Letter 2. Noticing his Letter 1.—Period 2d, No. 1122.
If splendid and happy England is proud of having you for a citizen,—unhappy Greece, the mother of Lycurgus and Solon, rejoices that she has had the good fortune to obtain in her regeneration a most able and humane law-giver.
The children of friendly Greece, gathering flowers from the flowery meadow of your works, are continually soaring to a height which they have not as yet been able to attain. The members of the senate are developing their powers; and, according to your scientific rules, are co-operating in the amendment of the political system of Greece.
Hail, then, friend of Greece! you possess a reward worthy of your virtue, in the pleasure which you receive from the happiness of your friends. Farewell, and
“Strike thus, that you may procure some salvation for the Greeks.”—Homer, 282.
Jo. Scandalides,Chief Secretary of the Senate.
Napoli, August 11, 1824.
Provisional Government of Greece. The Secretary-General to J. Bentham, Esq.—Period 2d, No. 254.
It is with great satisfaction suffering Greece has observed, that, while she took up arms to assert the rights of her political existence, the enemies of the public good, and the friends of their own narrow interests alone, have, with all their sophisticated attempts, not been able to attach the slightest blame to the sanctity of her cause; but, on the contrary, their intrigues have caused the veil to be withdrawn which has hitherto concealed the truth from the eyes of the many.
She cannot, however, refrain from expressing her thanks to those persons whose feelings of humanity have prompted them, from the beginning, to interest themselves in her defence of those indisputable rights which belong to her, and have shown, in various ways, that they wished to behold the light which was kindled and kept alive by Thrasybulus and Epaminondas—the light of freedom—again burning upon her sacred soil, and which the right of the stronger had extinguished for so great a length of time.
Sir, your noble sentiments were long ere this well known to our nation. But your timely proposal of the plan of a political and constitutional code—which, as being the offspring of so distinguished a political philosopher, will happily organize the infant constitution of Greece—has still more clearly evinced your friendly sentiments for the Greeks. But, besides this, your proposal for educating three young Greeks at your expense, offers still further motives to the sincere gratitude of the Greek nation, and the great satisfaction of that government, whose sentiments I am charged to interpret: for from this it is evident that you wish not only the political existence, but the moral welfare of our nation.
I am charged also to assure you, that my government desires you will not cease continually to watch over her operations, and to afford her the benefit of those deep political views of which Greece at present stands so greatly in need, in order to be led happily to the sacred end of her independence; an end which the respectable friends of the Greek cause will not cease to accelerate by all possible means that are consistent with the general good of human nature; and while tradition and history will preserve immortal the revered names of such persons, the gratitude which exists in the hearts of the Greek nation will remain indelible.
The Provincial Secretary-General,
(Signed) P. G. Rodios.
The 12th of August 1824, O. S.
Letter 2. To the Greek Provisional Government: with the Buenos Ayres Tactic Code, &c.
Ci-joint est un present que je prends la liberté de vous offrir. Ce n’est pas ce qui auroit été un ouvrage de ma façon, un simple projet, et rien de plus: c’est un réglement, qui déjà pendant trois années a dirigé tous les procédés d’une assemblée legislatrice. Cette assemblée est celle de la république de Buenos Ayres, dans l’Amerique Méridionale. L’éxemplaire pour lequel je prie l’honneur de votre acceptation, en est peut-être le seul qui existe présentement en Europe. La date, comme vous voyez, n’y est pas. Il m’a été envoyé par son auteur, Bernardino Rivadavia, dans une lettre, datée du 26 Août, 1822, laquelle, par je ne sais quel malheur, ne m’est parvenue qu’au 5 Avril dernier (1824.) Il y a environ une quinzaine que j’ai eu la satisfaction, si inesperée, de le serrer dans mes bras ici à Londres, où il est venu pour quelques affaires, gouvernant toujours par les élèves qu’il a formés, et la reputation unique qu’il a acquise. De tous les états formés, ou plutôt qui se forment, sur les débris des monarchies Espagnoles et Portugaises en Amerique, le seul, qui a pris jusqu’ici une assiètte ferme et heureuse, est celui dont on peut le dire le fondateur: aussi est-ce le seul auquel le gouvernement Anglois a donné des marques non-équivoques d’estime. Je viens d’en voir, qui, pour n’être pas publiques n’en sont pas moins essentielles et authentiques.
Législateurs! Je vous envoye ce réglement, et je ne l’ai pas même lu. Voici pourquoi. Dans le moment, nul besoin pressant, ne me portait à le lire, et je me suis contenté d’en faire faire une traduction Angloise, que je garde. Présentement, ce n’est que depuis quelques heures que l’idée de le mettre a profit de cette manière se m’est presentée. Le navire est au point de partir. Si, après l’avoir lu, il m’etoit arrivé de trouver, ne fût-ce qu’un seul point, sur lequel je ne fus pas d’accord avec l’auteur, je n’aurois pas pû vous l’envoyer sans réserve: et cette réserve, je ne l’aurois pû faire sans en donner les motifs, ce qui auroit entrainé des longueurs point du tout convenables. Cependant, au moins d’avoir des raisons suffisantes pour être persuadé, que le tout ensemble est d’accord avec mes principes, je n’aurois pas eu la hardiesse d’y attacher, pour ainsi dire, mon cachet en vous en faisant l’offre. Dans le moment, je trouve une copie que j’en avais fait tirer de la lettre qui l’accompagna: elle pourrait vous faire voir si c’est sans fondement que je me fie à sa conformité avec mes principes.
“Bon pour la théorie, mauvais pour la pratique,” aphorisme qui se contredit lui-même, mais qui n’en est pas moins en faveur auprès ceux dont les interêts particuliers se trouvent contrariés, par une mesure contre laquelle il n’y a pas autre chose à dire. Quoiqu’il en soit, le présent n’est pas du nombre des cas où ce sophisme puisse espérer à trouver acceptation: car il y a déjà trois années au moins, pendant lesquelles cette base de toutes les loix a soutenu avec éclat l’épreuve de la pratique.
Les offices qu’occupait Rivadavia, lorsqu’il a redigé ce réglement, et qu’il a continué d’occuper jusqu’au moment de son départ pour Londres, sont ceux de ministre de finance, ministre de l’intérieur, et ministre des affaires étrangères.
J’ajouterai peut-être un ou deux autres morceaux de même main, dans la pensée, que, peut-être, par occasion, ils pourront, à vos yeux, être utiles à consulter au moins, si non à servir de modèle.
Quant à moi, je viens de faire passer dans les mains d’un Grec bien instruit, pour être traduite, la première feuille d’un projet d’un code constitutionel pour un etat quelque ce soit; ouvrage qui m’a déjà coutè plus de deux années de travaux sevères, qui heurcusement approchent à leur terme. Il sera imprimé ici en Anglais, en Grec, et peut-être en d’autres langues. L’Espagnol ne sera pas oublie.* Les occasions qui pourroient s’offrir pour vous en offrir des exemplaires, en nombre suffisant, ne seront pas perdues. Législateurs, vous leur donnerez le sort, que vous prescrira votre sagesse.
(Signé) Jeremy Bentham.
Londres, Sept. 21, 1824.
Legislators! Annexed is a present which I take the liberty to offer you. It is not merely what a work of my making would have been—a simple project, and nothing more; it is a regulation, which already, during three years, has directed all the proceedings of a legislative assembly. This assembly is that of the Republic of Buenos Ayres, in South America. The copy, for which I beg the honour of your acceptance, is probably the only one that now exists in Europe. The date, as you see, is wanting. It was sent me by its author, Bernardino Rivadavia, in a letter dated the 26th August 1822, and which, by some means, did not reach my hands until the 5th April 1824. It is now about a fortnight since I had the unlooked-for satisfaction of clasping him in my arms here in London, where he is come on some business, still governing, however, by the pupils which he has formed, and the reputation which he has acquired. Of all the States formed, or rather forming, out of the wreck of the Spanish and Portuguese monarchies in America, the only one which hitherto has taken a firm and happy footing, is that of which he may be called the founder: it is, too, the only one to which the English government has given unequivocal marks of esteem. I have recently seen evidence of it, which, though not public, is not less authentic.
Legislators! I send you these regulations, and I have not even read them. This is the reason: there was no immediate motive for my doing so, and I have contented myself with causing an English translation to be made, which I retain. Meanwhile it is only within these few hours that the idea of thus putting it to use occurred to me. The ship is on the point of sailing. If, after having read it, I had chanced to find, were it only a single point, on which I did not agree with the author, I could not have sent it you without a reservation, and that reservation I could not make without giving you the reasons, which would have drawn me into discussions of inconvenient length; nevertheless, I am persuaded I have sufficient motives for thinking it agrees with my principles on the whole, or I should not have had the hardihood to attach as it were my seal to it, by making you the offer of it. I have this moment found a copy which I had taken from the letter which accompanies it. You will see by it whether I have not justly trusted to its conformity with my principles.
“Good in theory, bad in practice,” is an aphorism which contradicts itself, but which is not the less in favour with those whose particular interests are thwarted by a measure against which there is nothing else to say. However, the present is not amongst the number of cases in which this sophism can hope to find acceptance; for three years at least have passed, during which this basis of all laws has sustained with éclat the proof of practice.
The offices which Rivadavia filled when he drew up these regulations, and which he continued to fill, up to the moment of his departure for London, were those of minister of finance, minister of the interior, and minister of foreign affairs.
I shall add, perhaps, one or two sentences by the same hand, in the idea that, in your eyes, they may appear useful to consult, if not to serve as models.
With regard to myself, I have just delivered into the hands of a well-informed Greek, for the purpose of translation, the first sheet of the project of a constitutional code applicable to any state—a work which has already cost me more than two years of hard labour, which is fortunately approaching a close. It will be printed here in English, in Greek, and perhaps in other languages. The Spanish shall not be forgotten. Any opportunities that may offer to transmit you copies shall not be lost. Legislators, you will give them that fate which you in your wisdom may think they merit.
(Signed) Jeremy Bentham.
London, September 21, 1824.
Theodore Negris to Jeremy Bentham, desiring his assistance towards forming a Civil Code.
Dans l’intention de travailler à la formation d’un code civil pour ma nation, je sens le besoin d’être guidé à ce travail. Votre rare mérite à cette science profonde, et votre amour pour le bien de l’humanité, si connus du monde, me faisaient chercher l’occasion de m’addresser à vous. Ce fut la connaissance que j’ai eu l’honneur de faire dernièrement de l’illustre ami de la Gréce, M. le Colonel Stanhope, qui vient de me la procurer. J’en profite, Monsieur, pour vous dire en peu de mots que je me propose de travailler sur le Code Civil des Français, en y substituant toutefois tout ce que je croirais plus conforme à notre regime constitutionnel. Quant à l’ordre des matières, je ne crois pas pouvoir trouver un meilleur code que celui-ci.
C’est là, Monsieur, le plan du travail que je me propose d’embrasser. Je me fais un devoir de le mettre sous vos yeux, afin de savoir votre opinion à cet égard, et profiter de vos lumières pour tout le detail de l’ouvrage.
Le code civil étant de nature à influer indirectement au moral des hommes, comme il influe directement au sort de la société, il est essentiel pour notre régénération qu’il ne s’éloigne point, s’il est possible, des principes immuables de la raison. Le seul moyen d’y parvenir est d’obtenir encore votre assistance et votre direction, que vous ne me refuserez pas sans doute, vû qu’il s’agit de contribuer à la guérison des plaies d’un peuple, jadis illustre pour ses lumières, et renommé pour les avantages qu’il a procurés à la société.
Quant à ce qui concerne les autres moyens dont je pourrais avoir besoin dans ce travail, M. le Colonel a bien voulu prendre connaissance.
Au reste, je saisis cette occasion pour vous donner l’assurance des sentimens de haute estime et considération distinguée, avec lesquelles j’ai l’honneur d’être, Monsieur, votre très-humble et très-obéissant serviteur,
(Signé) Th. Negris.*
A Monsieur Mon. J. Bentham, &c. &c. &c.
Intending to labour in the formation of a civil code for my nation, I feel the necessity of a guide in this undertaking. Your rare merit in this profound science, and your love for the cause of humanity, are so well known, that they compel me to seek a motive for addressing you. The acquaintance which I had lately the honour to make with that illustrious friend of Greece, Colonel Stanhope, has procured me this gratification. I avail myself of it, Sir, to tell you, in a few words, that I propose to work on the French Civil Code; substituting, nevertheless, all that I think more conformable to our constitutional regime. With reference to the arrangement of subjects, I do not believe I can find a better code than this.
This, Sir, is the plan of the work that I purpose to undertake. I think it my duty to place it before you, in order to ascertain your opinion on this head, and to profit by your remarks in all the details of the work.
The civil code being of a nature indirectly to influence the moral conduct of man, as it directly influences the situation of society, it is essential for our regeneration, that it should wander as little as possible from the immutable principles of reason. The only means to obtain it is to have your assistance and your direction, which, without doubt, you will not refuse me, seeing that it will contribute to heal the wounds of a nation, formerly illustrious for its knowledge, and renowned for the benefits which it has conferred on society.
With regard to what concerns the other matters of which I may stand in need in this work, Colonel Stanhope has kindly taken charge of. I take this occasion to assure you of the high sentiments of esteem and distinguished consideration, with which I have the honour to be, Sir, your very humble and very obedient servant,
(Signed) Th. Negris.
To Mr. Jeremy Bentham, &c. &c. &c.
Jeremy Bentham to Theodore Negris, in answer to his letter No. 6.
Ἱεϱεμίας Βενθὰμ τῷ Θεοδώϱῳ Νέγϱῃ, χαίϱειν.
C’est avec un plaisir bien sincère que j’ai reçu, par les mains de notre illustre et excellent ami l’Honorable Colonel Leicester Stanhope, la lettre dont vous avez bien voulu m’honorer. Je recevrai, si je suis encore en vie, avec une satisfaction correspondante, votre travail dont vous me donnez l’espérance sur le code civil; et j’y porterai l’attention, dont, au dire de notre susdit ami, il ne peut manquer d’être digne. A l’en croire, c’est un vrai bonheur pour la Grèce, de contenir dans son sein une main, si bien assortie à une espèce de travail littéraire, dont l’importance laisse en arrière à une distance infinie toutes les autres.
Quant au Constitutionnel—un code, sur lequel j’ai travaillé à-peu-près deux années, manque peu d’être en état d’être envoyé en manuscrit à Paris, à votre excellent Docteur Corai,* qui a eu la bonté de promettre d’en faire une traduction en Gréc moderne, laquelle sera imprimée à Paris, et je crois avec l’Anglais à coté, pour les exemplaires en être distribués en Grèce.
Vous m’obligeriez, Monsieur, en me donnant quelques renseignemens sur les endroits qui seroient les plus convenables à cet égard, et les personnes dans ces endroits auxquelles il seroit le plus convenable de les adresser.
Aprés la situation de Premier Ministre, lequel, dans le corps legislatif est dans mon code le premier fonctionaire, à-peu-près comme chez les Etats Unis Anglo-Americains, le President—la plus importante est celle de Ministre de la Justice: et c’est avec une satisfaction peu ordinaire que je crois voir, dans la personne de l’auteur destiné du code civil, un legiste, et homme d’état si capable de la remplir.
Ayant oul dire, que par ci et par là en Grèce, il existe plusieurs exemplaires de mes ouvrages edités en Français par mon ami Dumont, ou au moins de l’ouvrage principal, nommé Traité de Legislation, Civile et Penale, en trois volumes, en 8vo, il m’est triste d’apprendre, qu’aucun au départ de Stanhope, n’en avoit jamais passé dans vos mains. Par la présente occasion, j’ai fait ce que j’ai pû pour combler une partie de ce vide, et je me mets en devoir pour en trouver d’autres. Un exemplaire d’un traité sur les Preuves Judiciaires, dans lequel j’ai tâché de couvrir le champ entier de ce sujet jusqu’ici vierge, est actuellement dans mon pouvoir: mais par cette occasion, qui est pressante, je ne sais pas dans le moment si je pourrais trouver ici des exemplaires de l’un ou de l’autre des deux autres de mes ouvrages ci-dessus indiqués. Je vais envoyer tout ce qui, dans le moment, est en mon pouvoir, de ceux qui sont en langue intelligible. Quant a ceux qui sont en Anglais, ce n’est pas le moment pour chercher à en encombrer vos tablettes.
La presente est accompagnée d’une liste à-peu-près complette de ceux de mes ouvrages qui ont jusqu’ici sorti de la presse. Ils ne sont pas tous encore publiés.
Dès que ce paquet vous soit parvenu, je me fie à votre amitié pour saisir la première occasion de m’en faire recevoir la nouvelle.
(Signé) Jeremy Bentham.
I have received by the hands of our illustrious and excellent friend Colonel Leicester Stanhope, with very sincere pleasure, the letter with which you have been so good as to honour me. I shall receive, if I am still alive, with corresponding satisfaction, the work which you allow me to hope for on the civil code; it shall have my best attention, of which, according to our said friend’s account, it cannot fail of being worthy. It must be truly an honour to Greece, to possess a pen so appropriately qualified for a literary labour, whose importance leaves all others at an infinite distance.
As far as the constitutional part is concerned, a code upon which I have laboured nearly two years, is very nearly in a state to be sent in manuscript to Paris, to your excellent Doctor Corai, who has had the goodness to promise to make the translation into modern Greek, which will be printed at Paris, and I believe with the English annexed, in order that the copies may be distributed in Greece.
You will oblige me, Sir, by giving me some information respecting the most eligible places for that purpose, and also the persons at those places to whom it will be proper to address them.
After the situation of prime minister, who, in the legislative body, is in my code the first functionary, nearly similar to the President of the Anglo-American United States, the most important is that of the Minister of Justice; and it is with no little satisfaction, I perceive, in the person of the author of the civil code, a legist and statesman so well able to fill that office.
Having heard, that here and there in Greece there are several copies of my works, written in French by my friend Dumont, or at least of the principal work, entitled, “Traité de Legislation Civile et Penale,” in three volumes in 8vo, I regret to find, that at the period of Colonel Stanhope’s departure it had not been seen by you. By the present occasion I have tried to repair that loss, and shall also avail myself of future opportunities. A copy of a treatise on judicial evidence, in which I have tried to lay open the whole field of argument, is now finished; but by this opportunity, which is a hurried one, I am in doubt whether I shall be able to forward copies of either one or the other of these works. I shall send all I possess which are in a language familiar to you. With regard to those which are in English, it will not be worth while to encumber you.
The present is accompanied by a nearly complete list of such of my works as have already issued from the press, but they are not yet all published.
As soon as this packet comes to hand, I trust to your friendship to take the first opportunity to let me know you have received it.
(Signed) Jeremy Bentham.
Letter 3. To the Provisional Government of Greece: with part of a Constitutional Code.
Legislators,—On the 25th of October last, 1824, I had the pleasure to receive the two letters with which you were pleased to honour me, both dated from Napoli de Romania; the one, of the 11th August 1824, with the signatures of the vice-president, and chief secretary of the senate; the other, of the next day, with the signature of the provisional secretary-general, P. G. Rodios, according to the translations with which I was favoured by your three deputies here.
The favourable mention which you are pleased to make, of such of my papers as you had then received, fills me with shame and regret at the thoughts of the imperfect state in which I was obliged to send those fragments. My hopes were, that they might prove somewhat better than nothing: and it was in that hope that I ventured thus to put to hazard any little reputation which may belong to me.
Since that time, to wit, by a letter dated 24th September 1824, or thereabouts, I ventured to address to you, together with an explanatory paper or two, an ordinance in Spanish relative to the tactics of the legislature of the republic of Buenos Ayres, in late Spanish America. For my pardon for this liberty, I trusted to the accompanying assurance given me by the illustrious draughtsman, that it had been framed in conformity to the principles developed in a work of mine, which for these fourteen years has been before the public in French.
I now take the further liberty of begging your acceptance of a concisely expressed, but, in so far as my conception is correct, an all-comprehensive plan, for the education, location, and remuneration of the functionaries of any republican government, in all their several official situations. Without any addition at the expense of the public, the same plan is calculated to serve for an entire system of national instruction, so far as regards those whose condition in life requires, while their pecuniary circumstances enable them, to improve their minds by intellectual culture. I have therein, I hope, made tolerably well apparent the inseparable connexion which, in the case of official men, I have found to have place between the strictest frugality and the highest degree of aptitude, with reference to their several situations. Principle, title, and motto—Official aptitude maximized—expense minimized. I know not whether, in any such compressed form, it will be found translateable, with correspondent concision, into your present language. From first to last, in preparing these papers, I have kept a more especial eye on what has been represented to me as being the situation of that country—I need not name it to you—which is in so preeminent a degree dear to me.
This plan is contained in four out of the twenty sections, or thereabouts, of the twenty-eight chapters, or thereabouts, into which the matter of my proposed code, in its present state, stands divided. Alas! it is not even yet completed: still, so far as regards the proposed text, it wants but very little of being so. Reasons, expository matter, and instructions for the legislator, are settled in substance, and may from time to time follow, according as time and occasion permit. My hope is, that, in some degree, the proposed text will be found to contain in itself the essence of the reasons by which it was suggested. I inclose the titles of the several chapters and sections of the whole, as they stand at present.
A circumstance which, in no inconsiderable degree, has contributed to the retardation, is the necessary and most intimate connexion which has place between the code of judicial procedure, and that part of the constitutional code which regards the judiciary branch of the official establishment. In that same procedure code, I have already made considerable progress. In it my endeavour has been, to apply upon a national scale, as far as circumstances will allow, those simple principles by which the conduct of a kind and prudent father is guided, in the judgment exercised by him on the conduct of his children. If I live to finish it, it will be the first code of procedure that ever had the ends of justice for its sole, or so much as its main, object: all others having had for their main object the advancement of the sinister interest of their makers—the ruling functionaries; more especially those of the judiciary class, and those their professional associates, from whom they spring: and to this cause may be attributed all that harshness, obscurity, unnecessary complicatedness, and expensiveness, by which all the procedure codes as yet in existence are more or less strongly marked.
Another paper, which I now add, is designed to serve as a substitute to a short section in the former edition—if I may so call it—of my Code: it is that which regards the re-eligibility of the members of the legislative assembly, composed of deputies of the people. The object of it is, to supply, for that most important of trusts, a constant stock of competitors, composed of tried men, whose degrees of aptitude, absolute and comparative, have been manifested by experience; instead of placing things, as is customary, upon such a footing that, whether the first choice be fortunate, or ever so unfortunate, the people find themselves, notwithstanding the forms of election, under a sort of necessity to continue it. This point I flatter myself with having secured; and at the same time, without depriving the people of any part of that advantage, which is looked for in the continually increasing experience and wisdom of those who have distinguished themselves among their colleagues.
Postscript relative to the ten Greek Youths brought to England, Anno 1824, by Mr. Blaquiere.—(It will be read to the Legislative Council, or otherwise disposed of—for example, by being sent to a Government newspaper—as they may be pleased to direct.)
In regard to the Greek youths, whom Mr. Blaquiere brought hither for education, I have observed in one of the Greek newspapers, a little misconception, which it seems incumbent on me to rectify. Three is there mentioned as the number for which I have undertaken to provide. Two, and two only, is the number to which my engagement applied. This appears from the printed work published here in London, by Colonel Stanhope, intituled, “Greece in 1823 and 1824,” in which is inserted the commission given to him on that subject by me; as also from my correspondence on the subject with your deputies here, as contained in two letters, one from me to them, dated March 1824, the other from them to me, dated March 1824: and the time mentioned as that during which my engagement for their maintenance and education here was to continue, stands limited to three years. The expense to me will be from about £160 to about £180 a-year—dollars 850, more or less, per annum.
No disappointment will, I flatter myself, be experienced on that account. Ten is the number of youths whom M. Blaquiere took charge of. Regretted, to the degree that may be imagined, one of them died on the passage. Of the nine that arrived, one has been taken charge of by a friend of mine, with whom I am likely, every now and then, to see him: my friend being highly delighted with him, and entertaining, in relation to his intellectual proficiency and political usefulness, the most sanguine expectations.
The two, whom, upon hearing the report of the trust-worthy persons with whom they have been stationed for the purpose of learning to hold conversation in English, I have taken charge of, are Stamos Nakos, son, if I am not misinformed, of an eparch of Livadia, and Eustratios Rallis. Not many days ago, under the charge of one of the masters, they went to the school, the character of which, as abundantly made known to me, constituted an inducement, without which I should never have ventured to take upon myself so serious a charge.*
Three are thus accounted for. The other six remain under the care of those of our distinguished Philhellenists who have so long combined their benevolent labours under the aggregate name of the Greek Committee.
Receive once more, venerable legislators, the ardent good wishes of your laborious and devoted servant,
Queen’s-Square Place, Westminster,
Letter accompanying the Certificate of Jeremy Bentham’s Election as a Member of the Philanthropic Society at Tripolitza.
Σεϐαστὲ Ἄνεϱ,—Ἄν ϰαὶ δὲν ἐδυνήθην νὰ ϰαϱπωθῶ πϱοσηϰόντως ἀπὸ τὰ σχεδὸν ἀϱχέτυπα τῆς πολιτιϰῆς φιλοσοφίας συγγϱάμματά σου, διὰ τὴν ὁποίαν πϱαγματεύονται ὑψηλὴν ὕλην, ϰαὶ πολλῷ ἀϰόμη ὑψηλοτέϱαν εἰς τοὺς σημεϱινοὺς Ἕλληνας, δὲν ἠμποϱῶ μ’ ὅλον τοῦτο ν’ ἀποσιωπήσω ὅτι ἀπὸ τὴν ἀνάγνωσιν τούτων ὠφελήθην, ϰαὶ ὅτι ἡ ὠφέλεια αὕτη δὲν μένει πολλάϰις χωϱὶς ϰαϱπὸν εἰς τὰς νομοθετιϰὰς τοῦ Ἔθνους μου ἐϱγασίας, εἰς τὰς ὁποίας ἡ Πατϱίς μου μ’ ἔστειλε συνεϱγόν. Κατὰ χϱέος λοιπὸν ἀπαϱίτητον, σοὶ ὁμολογῶ ἀπείϱους χάϱιτας, ϰαὶ σοὶ ἐπεύχομαι ὑγείαν ϰαὶ μαϰϱοϐιότητα διὰ τὴν ὀϱθὴν διευθέτησιν ϰαὶ ὠφέλειαν τοῦ πολιτιϰοῦ ἀνθϱώπου.
Ἐϰ τῶν ἀντιπϱοσώπων τῆς Κϱήτης,
(SUBSTANCE OF THE ABOVE.)
Honoured Sir,—Though not able to avail myself of your writings to their full extent, I have received much instruction from their perusal, and I trust they will be permanently useful to my country. Allow me, then, to communicate to you my own thanks, and the thanks of my countrymen, and to hope your life may be prolonged many happy years. I have the honour to subscribe myself, Sir,
The Vice-President of the Island of Candia, &c. &c.
Napoli, 11-23 August 1824.
Ἀϱιθ. τοῦ Πϱωτοϰόλλου.
Κατατάττεται Ὁ Κύϱιος Ἱεϱεμίας Βενθάμης εὶς τὴν πϱώτην τάξιν τῆς Φιλανθϱωπιϰῆς Ἑταιϱίας.
Ἐδοθη ἐν Ναυπλίῳ τῆιδ′ Αὐγουστου Αωϰδ Δ′τῆς Ανεξαϱτησίας.
The name of Jeremy Bentham is inscribed in the first class of the Philanthropic Society.
Given at Napoli, 14th August 1824.
Jeremy Bentham to Alexander Mavrocordato.
Encouragé par Bowring, je me hazarde à vous adresser de cette manière, mon fils, pour vous présenter quelques petits conseils, qui conviennent, ce me semble, à votre position, et dont les motifs ne peuvent pas être méconuus. Pour fondement, je suppose (car dans toute autre supposition, il ne vaudrait pas la peine de lire davantage)—je suppose qu’à l’égard de quelque partie de mon projet ue code constitutif, il n’y auroit pas de repugnance à en faire plus ou moins d’usage. Or c’est en vous que je crois voir le chef déstiné de la république. Dans mon code le chef ne s’appelle que Premier Ministre, soumis entièrement au corps legislatif, comme celui-ci est au peuple en sa qualité de corps constitutif. Nonobstant cette double sujettion, voilà, ce me semble, un poste qui ne serait pas à dédaigner par quelque individu que ce soit, même par celui qui sans cela serait le chef et le seul chef. Car vous voyez, ou bien vous verrez, comme il a sous ses ordres tous les sous-ministres dans les départemens desquels, pris dans leur ensemble, est compris le total de l’autorité administrative; et comme c’est à lui à les deplacer aussi bien qu’à les placer: et qu’il n’est pas, comme le chef des Etats Unis, éntravé par un senat, lequel, tout en lui allégeant, et rendant, pour ainsi dire, ineffectif, le joug de la responsabilité, lui ôte en même tems à l’égard du placement d’une grande partie des fonctionnaires en sous ordre vingt-une sur vingt-deux parties: puisqu’il ne peut rien faire dans ce genre sans le consentement de la majorité de leur nombre, c’est à dire de quarante: ainsi il ne tient qu’à eux d’exiger que sur chaque vingt-deux places chacun d’eux place un de ses protégés, en lui laissant la vingt-deuxième.
Quant à cette double sujétion ci-dessus, je n’y vois rien qui devroit vous donner le sentiment d’un gêne incommode; ni par rapport à l’intêrét de l’état, ni par rapport à votre intêrét en particulier. Il me semble, que si vous avez le bonheur de posséder le degré de popularité que l’on dit que vous possédez, vous n’en souffreriez rien en effet. Car, au gré du peuple en son entier, je ne saurois m’imaginer comment un homme, qui, sous une forme de gouvernement provisoire, est en effet le chef de l’êtat, puisse mieux mériter, qu’en le placeant ce même peuple, au moyen du pouvoir constitutif, sur la tête de la puissance legislative; laquelle, sans cette subordonnation, auroit le pouvoir absolu, puisqu’elle n’est pas éntravée par aucune puissance coordonnée, par aucun autre corps politique, ni par un veto dans les mains d’aucun individu. Cela étant, si pour accepter la position que je vous déstine, vous avez un sacrifice à faire en apparence, ma pensée est, que dans votre particulier ce ne serait qu’en apparence puisque ce que vous perdriez en pouvoir nominal et ostensible, vous en gagneriez l’equivalent, et même d’avantage, en influence effective; si cela est, la diminution de pouvoir effectif ne serait pas pour vous: elle ne serait que pour vos successeurs. Vous l’auriez pour la vie ce pouvoir si solide, à moins que le corps legislatif ne s’avise à vous deplacer: mais si vous vous conduisez de façon à conserver l’estime du peuple, le corps législatif, soumis comme il est au pouvoir constitutif de ce même peuple—ce corps dont chaque membre peut en tout tems être deplacé par ses commettans—n’oseroit pas vous déplacer.
Au reste, quant à ce pouvoir, que j’appelle dislocatif, que je donne au peuple, non seulement à l’égard des membres du corps législatif, et cela, mais aussi à l’égard du premier ministre, ne craignez pas qu’il n’en abuse à votre prejudice. Oui, si en deplaceant un premier ministre, il pourrait en même tems en mettre un autre à sa place; car, dans ce cas, il ne sauroit manquer tel et tel boutefeu, constamment emploié à les engager à deplacer le fonctionnaire actuel, sans raison valable, et seulement pour l’avantage, à lui boutefeu, de s’emparer de la dépouille ou de la faire donner à quelqu’un avec lequel il agit en concert.
Mais, d’après le code dont il est question, aucun meneur du peuple ne sauroit se faire un profit particulier, de cette façon ni d’aucune autre: ainsi, si jamais il se trouvoit quelqu’un assez hardi pour en faire la proposition, ce ne pourroit être que dans la persuasion que le bien de l’état demande ce changement d’une manière imperieuse: persuasion, dans laquelle, pour réussir, il lui faudroit la concurrence, active et soutenue, de la majorité du peuple.
On verroit, il est vrai, le corps législatif et le corps constitutif, c’est à dire le peuple, au-dessus de vous: ainsi, ce n’est que provisionellement que l’on vous verroit placé pour le vie; puisque non seulement le corps législatif mais aussi le corps constitutif, auroit toujours le pouvoir de vous deplacér.
Mais, au lieu d’un pouvoir adverse, le pouvoir du corps constitutif seroit pour vous une sauvegarde: car si, par avoir bien servi les intérêts du peuple, le corps legislatif s’aviserait de vous deplacer, il ne manqueroit pas d’encourir le ressentiment du peuple, et par là, l’influence individuelle des membres de ce corps seroit reduite à nullité.
Et ce pouvoir du corps constitutif, quelque grand qu’il paroisse, puisqu’il renferme celui de déplacer tous ses fonctionnaires—qu’estce en effet? Ce n’est qu’un pouvoir purement défensif, et il n’y a aucun motif par lequel il pourroit être conduit à en abuser. Oui; s’il s’y trouvoit attaché le pouvoir de placer, ne fût-ce qu’un seul individu, dans une situation, douée, soit d’un grande masse de richesse, soit d’un grand pouvoir; dans ce cas, il en auroit et la tentation et le moyen; car, dans chaques corps de votans il y auroit quelque meneur, qui, pour acquérir, soit pour lui-même, soit pour un associé, l’objet désirable, s’efforcerait d’en faire dépouiller le possesseur. Mais sous le code proposé, hormis les sièges dans l’assemblée legislative, ni le corps constitutif en son entier, ni aucune de ses sections, n’a la moindre place à donner; de toutes les places, le patronage se partage entre vous et le ministre de la justice; et ces places dans l’Assemblée, il n’y en a aucune, qui donne au possesseur dans son particulier le moindre objet de convoitise: le seul objet de la sorte, dans la collation duquel il possède la moindre influence directe, c’est l’office de premier ministre: et dans l’exercice de cette fonction il n’a qu’un pouvoir fractionnaire, n’étant à cet égard rien par lui-même:—rien, sans avoir avec lui la majorité de ses collègues. Je finis à la Romaine—Vale et me ama.
Encouraged by Bowring, I venture to address you in this manner, my son, for the purpose of suggesting to you a few considerations which present themselves to my view, as being applicable to the position you are in. Of the liberty I am thus taking, the motives are too obvious to be in danger of being misunderstood. For a postulate I assume—for, but for this supposition, all motive for reading further would be wanting to you—I assume that, in regard to this or that part of my project of a constitutional code, there will not be on your part any insurmountable repugnance to the making more or less use of it. To this supposition I add another, namely, that in you I behold the destined chief of the republic. In this code of mine, the appellation of the chief single-seated functionary is simply Prime Minister—his situation altogether subordinate to that of the legislative body, as that of the legislative body is to that of the people, in their quality of constitutive body. Notwithstanding this two-graded subordination, here, in my view of the matter, is a situation not likely to be an object of disdain, even to a person who otherwise would be a chief, and even the sole chief; for, you see, or at least may see, how it is, that under his direction are all the several ministers, in whose departments, taken in the aggregate, is comprised the aggregate of the administrative authority, and in what way it is in his power to dislocate them (as I call it) as well as locate them; and that his authority is not, like that of the chief of the United States, clogged by that of a senate, which, while on the one hand it lightens to such a degree as almost to render inefficient the yoke of his responsibility, strips him, at the same time, of one-and-twenty out of two-and-twenty parts of his power of location, with regard to each of a great part of the whole number of functionaries whose situation is subordinate to his. For (the number of the members of the senate being forty) nothing in this way can he do without the consent of a majority of that number, that is to say, one-and-twenty at the least; a consequence of which is, that it rests at all times with each of them to obtain a situation of this sort for one of his protégés, on condition of leaving to the president (such being their title of their chief functionary) the undisturbed nomination of one other, and no more than one.
As to the above-mentioned double-graded subordination, so to style it, I see nothing in it that will, when viewed in its true light, present to you the image of a troublesome yoke; troublesome either with reference to the interest of the community at large, or with reference to your own personal interest in particular. It seems to me, that if you have the felicity of possessing that degree of popularity which you are said to possess, the yoke, such as it is, is one from which you will not feel any real inconvenience; for it seems not to me in what way it is possible for a man who, under a popular form of government, is in effect as well as in name the chief of the state, in any other way more effectually to recommend himself to the favour of the whole body of the people, than by putting and keeping that same body in effect over the head of the legislative authority—that same authority which, but for this subordination, would be in possession of absolute power, not being shackled by any other authority that is co-ordinate to it, by any other body politic, nor by a veto in the hands of any single person. This being the case, if so it be that, by giving your acceptance to the situaation which I have thus marked out for you, a sacrifice of any sort would be to be made by you, my notion of the matter is, that in your own individual instance any such sacrifice would be in appearance only; the case being, that for whatever you lost in nominal and ostensible power, you would gain more than the equivalent in effective influence: in which case, the diminution of power would not apply to you; it would be confined to your successors. This power, substantial as it is, you would possess for life, in every other case than that of the legislative body’s taking upon itself to displace you; but if you do but so comport yourself as to preserve the esteem of the people, the legislative body, subject as it is to the constitutive power of this said people, liable as every member of it is to be displaced by that part of the people of which his electors are composed, would not dare to attempt to remove you.
Nor yet, in regard to this power, which I call the dislocative power, and which I give to the people, exercisable not only on the members of the legislative body, but also on the prime minister himself, fear not its being abusively employed to your prejudice. Yes, if, after displacing a prime minister, it were also in their power to put another in his place; for in that case seldom would there be any want of this or that demagogue, whose constant object and employment it would be to engage them to displace the functionary in office, whoever he was; to displace him without any sufficient reason, and for no advantage to anybody but this same demagogue, whose object it would be, either to possess himself of the spoil, or to get it bestowed upon some one with whom he was in league.
But under the code in question, no such sinister profit could any leader of the people make, either in this way or in any other, the sole power of filling up the gap remaining with the legislature. Thus it is, that, should there ever appear a person bold enough to bring forward any such proposition, it could not be any otherwise than under the persuasion, that the good of the state presented an imperative demand for the proposed change; a persuasion by which no effect could be produced in any other case than that of its being shared in by the majority of the people.
True it is, there would be the legislative body—there would be the constitutive authority; that is to say the people, in a situation superior to your’s; insomuch that it is but provisionally that you would be seated in it for life, since, as above stated, not only that same legislative body, but that same constitutive body, will always have it, each of them, in its power to displace you.
But instead of a power adverse to your’s, that of the constitutive body would be a safeguard to it; for if on account of your having done good service to the interests of the people, the legislative body were to take upon it to displace you, it could not fail thereby to incur the displeasure of the people; by which means, each individual whose conduct had been adverse to you, would find his influence in the body reduced to nothing.
And this same dislocative power, thus given to the constitutive body, vast as it appears, since it includes in it the power of displacing every other functionary in the state, what is it in effect? It is nothing more than a purely defensive power, not exposed to the action of any motive, of the operation of which the abuse of it would be a natural consequence. Yes, if attached to it there were any power of placing, though it were no more than a single individual, in a situation endowed with a large mass, either of the matter of wealth, or of the matter of power: in either case, the people would at once be in possession of the means and the motive for making a mischievous exercise of such its power; for, as above, in each body of voters there would be some leader, who, to obtain, either for himself or for some associate, this object of desire, would be making it his business to endeavour to despoil the possessor of it. But, under the proposed code, no situation whatever, except that of a seat in the legislative assembly, has the constitutive body, either in its entirety, or in any of its sections, the power of conferring. Of all official situations, the patronage would be divided between you and the minister of justice; and of these same seats in the assembly, there is not one which gives to the possessor in his single capacity any the least object of general desire; the only object of that kind, in the conferring of which any member of the legislative body possesses so much as the smallest degree of direct influence (with the exception of the situation of minister of justice) is that of prime minister, and in the exercise of this function, the member possesses no other power than what may be called a fractionary one, he being as nobody taken by himself—as nobody except in so far as he has along with him the majority of his colleagues.
I conclude in the Roman style, “Vale, et me ama.”
[* ]He was, in Corfu, Mr. Hamilton Browne’s master for the Greek language.
[* ]At this time, all that in England was known of that gentleman was, that in his own country he had filled the highest situations of public trusts.
[* ]May 1827. Of the two volumes of which it consists, an impression (a translation of the first) is far advanced: translator, Dr. Puigblanch, late professor of Hebrew at Alcalá, and subsequently, Deputy from Catalonia to the last Spanish Cortes.
[* ]Theodore Negris, who was at this period Minister of Justice, was one of the few men who had formed a correct estimate of the wants of his country; and since his death no individual has appeared to supply his place by forwarding, or even by recommending the adoption of any code of laws, which has long been, and still is, one of the primary necessities of Greece. Negris had the sagacity to see the necessity of a prompt attention to this subject, and the virtue to urge the early consideration of it on all whom he could influence. But his power was inconsiderable, even when he possessed office, and he died soon after the dispatch of the above letter.
[* ]By the ill health of that excellent man, this design was frustrated.
[* ]Nakos, having for a considerable time been labouring, to an alarming degree, under the indisposition called, in familiar language, mother-sickness, and his mother, at the same time, under the corresponding malady, was, at their joint request, sent back to Greece, under the care of the then Greek envoys, Messrs. Orlando and Luriottis; but, when he went, it was with a declared intention to come back again, if he could find means, after a residence of a year or two in his native land. Rallis, before he had passed at Haslewood his term of three years, had made such progress, and conducted himself so well in every respect, that he received from the masters an invitation to continue his residence at the school, in quality of usher, which invitation he accepted.