Front Page Titles (by Subject) Benjamin Vaughan to Bentham. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Benjamin Vaughan to Bentham. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 10.
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Benjamin Vaughan to Bentham.
“I presume the progress of conventions to have been natural at least, if not wise, in America.
“That country was without a government when it revolted from England. The several parts of it chose deputies to frame the respective governments of those parts; and the governments so framed differing from the simple form of the constitutive assembly, and being experiments, but designed to be experiments rigorously pursued, the public kept the power of modification in its own hands, by reserving to itself the right of deciding changes; either making a tacit or express provision for that purpose. Principles of a constitutional nature are so different from the common objects of government, that I cannot wonder that they were thought to admit of being referred to different bodies, or at least of being discussed under different regulations. A complex government is naturally farther removed from the people than an assembly composed of deputies only; to say nothing of the advantage of making the discussion more solemn, and having the people partaking in it, by keeping distinct from legislation what respects a constitution.
“As the people had nothing but charters, &c., in America before the revolution, histories of the revolution, like those of Ramsay and Gordon, (joined to the provisions of the constitutions themselves on this subject,) must be supposed likely to give the requisite information on this head, and Stockdale will furnish the above.”
Bentham went to Bowood at the end of 1791. Amusing enough are some of the exhibitions of his playfulness. He wrote to Lady E—G—the letters which follow:—
May it please your ladyship! I am the young man who was taken from behind the screen by my good Lady Warwick, in the room where the pianoforte is in Warwick castle, to wait upon your sweet person, and had the honour and happiness of accompanying you with the violin in one of Signor Bach’s sonatas. I hope your ladyship’s condescending goodness will excuse my freedom in addressing you, as I hereby make bold to do, wishing for the felicity of serving your ladyship in the capacity of musical instructor, or anything else I should be found capable of, being turned adrift upon the wide world, and out of place at this time. I served the Hon. Miss F—, whom belike your ladyship knows,—she being, as I am informed, your ladyship’s cousingerman,—for ten long years, and hoped to have served her ’till death, had I not been, with grief be it spoken, forced to quit her service by hard usage. She was a dear lady, and a kind compassionate good lady,—as I have heard everybody say, and to be sure so it must be, as everybody says so,—to everybody but poor me. To be sure it must have been my own unworthiness, therefore it would be very unreasonable for me to complain. I am sober and honest, willing to turn my hand to anything, and not at all given to company-keeping, as I am sure my said late honoured lady, notwithstanding what has happened, will be ready to say for me. Dr Ingenhousz, who is my lady’s head philosopher, being somewhat stricken in years, I was in hopes of being promoted to his place, when Providence should please to call him away, considering that we are all mortal; but my evil star has ordered it otherwise. The times being hard, I am willing to serve for small wages, having had nothing given me to subsist upon, in all the ten years, except the direction of a letter, and a message or two, and they were given me by other people. As to playing on the pianoforte myself, I thought it better not to trouble myself with any such thing, for fear of spoiling my teaching; by reason I have known your fine, tasty, fashionable, flourishing masters, who, instead of attending to their pupils, chose rather to keep playing themselves, for the sake of showing a fine finger. I am used to travelling, and am willing to attend your ladyship all the world over, as likewise to any part of England or Scotland; particularly the latter, which is the most delightful country upon earth.
“I hope your ladyship will pardon my making so bold; but I have a brother, a colonel by trade, who has a good mistress, who has given him leave to go about for awhile and see whether he can do anything to mend himself. As it has become the fashion for ladies to practise shooting, I think that he may find employment by teaching them that, or anything else in the art of war—think him qualified, as there would be no objection to his teaching,—although I can’t say I ever knew him draw a long bow,—to turn philosopher, as he has made greater bounces in his time than Philosopher Ingenhousr. Having learned metaphysics of the celebrated Miss V., would be qualified as usher to a metaphysical academy, but would prefer private service. These few lines conclude with humble duty from,
“Your ladyship’s most obedient,
“Humble servant to command.
“P.S.—O dear! O dear! well, what a lucky thing it was I happened to mention Scotland; it has brought the charmingest thought into my head that over was. Did your ladyship ever hear of a place called Gretna Green? They have a way of playing duets there, and such duets, it beats all the concerts in the world; Signor Bach’s music is nothing to it. There is no such thing as learning them at home: one must absolutely go there first to see the manner of it. There is a gentleman always, and a lady; and then a blacksmith in a black gown plays with his hammer dub-a-dubdub, and yet it is but a duet after all. Well, now, as your ladyship, I have heard, likes travelling, and Scotland is the delightfulest country in the world, how comical it would be if your ladyship were to take a trip next Saturday to Gretna Green, and I were to attend your ladyship, as, to be sure, you could never think of going such a journey alone, and I would come slyly, just as it was dusk, and meet you just behind the Green-house, and nobody should know anything about the matter, and I would have a chaise-and-four ready, and off we would go with a smack, smack, smack! to Gretna Green! And then Lady W. would cry—Where is Lady E.? and Lord W. would cry—Where is Lady E.? and nobody would know. And then all the servants would be called up, and there would be such doings, and all the while we should be playing duets at Gretna Green! and then we should come home again; and then there would be such a laugh; and then Lady W. would cry—How comical Mr Bentham is!—I do vow and declare there is never a man shall play duets with my E. but Mr B.
“P.S.—Pray dear, sweet, good my lady—there’s a dear lady—don’t say a word to any living creature about this, as it would quite spoil the joke.”
“Dover Street, 29th November, 1791.
This makes bold to inform you that my lady and I have made it up, and she has given me what is my due, and more too, and a dear, sweet, good lady she is; wherefore I have altered my mind, hoping no offence, and as I stay in my place, have no call to go with anybody to Gretna Green, unless it be with my lady. As everybody is willing to do the best they can for themselves, hope your ladyship won’t be angry, as a rolling stone gathers no moss, as the saying is; and it cannot be expected a person should leave a good place, unless it were to better himself. Should anything amiss happen another time, should be very proud to serve your ladyship, or anybody. My brother being still disengaged, if agreeable, could venture to recommend him—and am,
“Your ladyship’s very humble
“Servant to command.”
To Miss F—, Bentham writes:—
“Lord Lansdowne has trumped up a story about certain songs having been asked for by Miss F. Five times was the number mentioned, which consequently requires five letters. Being taxed with fiction, he unloaded his pockets before me of their contents, including about fifty letters, among which were to have been the five, or some of them; but is unable to find one. It is an old manœuvre, and will not pass upon anybody, not even upon me. The notice, however, having been given in form, with threats of disgrace in case of neglect, I must act as if it were true. Well, here it is—the same song—it has cost me hours after hours—pieces of days, as many as there are days in a week at least; and what will anybody be the better for it? When you ordered it, you did not want it; and now you have got it, you won’t make use of it. I am recommenced wild beast, and growl as every wild beast will do when you touch his chain. Not a syllable did I get from you before, nor shall I now,—not so much as the direction of a letter; and the notice, supposing it genuine, was to come in circumbendibus through two different channels. Here is the song, extracted from me, in the most dexterous manner; and not only that, but paper enough to singe a goose with, without anybody committing himself. I don’t like such sort of dealings, not I. I have read Cocker’s Arithmetic,—I like to see a debtor and creditor side fairly balanced,—needs must when — drives. Peace and quietness are my aim; but Lord L., who knows the necessities of an election, and who will never let me alone, insisted upon having, not only song, but letter; so you have him to thank for it. The old story—providence in plenty; but all of it on one side. The ice becomes the colder, I think, when the three Dianas get together: they are like snow, saltpetre, and sal-ammoniac: there is something Greenlandish, too, in the air of that old castle. Hear me, madam! If I don’t get something better, by return of post, than a note in solemn form, and that from one hand only, the whole correspondence goes, the next day, to, I need not say where—I leave to imagination to conclude the sentence. I thought we had got our quietus when the metaphysical disputations were adjourned to Lansdowne House; but fate would have it otherwise. My brother, who is too good to you, talks of sending you a Russo-French song, music composed, and given him by a Countess Golofkin, or Go-lovekin, as you may be pleased to call her,—which said song Miss F. will neither have the industry to learn, nor the punctuality to acknowledge the receipt of. I send it rather as a literary curiosity than for its excellence; but though his Visho-blagorodinship gives a toss of his head, and observes that such accomplishments there exhibited are common among the ladies of that country, found something original in it, and not unpleasing; and, at any rate, it is easy, which is no bad recommendation in this idle world—curiosity I call it, speaking as an Englishman. But it must be copied out first, which will give occasion to the said Miss F., after consultation with Miss V., and consent given by beg of Lady W., to Miss E. in her next epistle to Lord Henry, to desire him to tell Mr Favre to intimate her wishes to Lord Lansdowne, that his lordship would have the goodness to send somebody to Mr Bentham that he may remind his brother of it.”
I extract a passage from another letter:—
“Burke was one of our party,—saving aristocracy. ‘We are all aristocrats,’ says he, ‘I take for granted,’ looking round him. I answered, as Miss F. would have done, with a smile. Where my notions happened to coincide with his, which was in one instance, perhaps, out of a quarter or half-a-dozen, I chimed in with him; where we differed, I held my peace: why should I have let it go, and broken that of the company, by running a tilt against a man who was strewing flowers on my head, not to mention the good he seemed disposed to do to the cause. Be that as it may, I kept my tongue in order; but to little purpose, for democracy sniggered in his countenance.”
Of Burke, Bentham had begun to entertain a very mean opinion. He was engaged at this time in writing, for the Annual Register, articles on the war, and on general politics. Bentham thought him insincere and shallow, and wholly devoid of any concern for the happiness of the people.
Bentham sent to the Bowood ladies, with a copy of Panopticon, the letter which follows:—
“I send you a roasted lord for breakfast, or for after breakfast, as you please,—a courtly lord,—a deserter from your uncle. I roast him, however, not for being a lord, nor a courtier, nor a deserter, but for being a rival of mine, and because it will not be of so much prejudice to him, as it may be of use to me. I have sent a double portion, that you may give a slice, if you please, to another uncle, (I mean the cold one;) but upon the condition that, at any time, you should happen to be witness to his dropping of his own motion anything, or any word, that by any construction can be deemed a kind one, with reference to me; anything that could afford a willing interpreter a pretence for supposing that the dish could be at all relished for the cook’s sake. Should no such sign ever make its appearance, my instructions and humble petitions are, that you would keep the share designed for him till you see me metaphorically, or if you would permit it, literally at your feet.”
It appears that Dumont suggested to Bentham the desirableness of his addressing the National Assembly of France on the subject of Law Reform. I find, in Dumont’s handwriting, the translation of a letter which he drew up, in order that Bentham might address it to Garran, member of the National Assembly of France:—
“Cocceius, seeking help for the Prussian code, thought he had done much in looking over the whole extent of Germany. But your views, Sir, have embraced the whole world. Fifty ducats, extorted from the purse of the royal miser, was the price at which a Prussian chancellor valued that code of legislation which was entitled to the preference—such was the honour he did to the political knowledge of the whole empire. It remained for a Frenchman to conceive, that genius was not exclusively confined to certain geographical division, and that the most appropriate reward for services of this order was the certainty of obtaining the attention of the representatives of a great and free nation.
“I was far from home, Sir, when I learned by chance, in reading one of the Logographs, the distinction as flattering as unexpected, for which I am indebted to your eloquence. Little surprised that an English work had not awakened the attention of the Committee of the preceding Assembly, I abandoned, on reflection, that which, in zeal, I had undertaken, and from that moment thought no more of labouring for France. I feel that I should labour with redoubled energy if I could anticipate the chance of being useful by seconding the labours of so many enlightened men.
“I take the liberty to request, Sir, you will accept a copy of such of my works as have been printed. Two are incomplete for the same reason—one on Judicial Establishments, the other on Parliamentary Tactics; and, though printed, have never been sold. If your leisure should allow you to glance over any part of them, I should wish it were the preface to the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation—where the outlines of the character of my writings will enable you to judge how far they can usefully be applied to France.
“In the event of my being honoured by a commission on the part of the Assembly, to communicate to them my ideas upon the subjects in question, would it be unreasonable on my part to hope for a copy, by their order, of the documents it is necessary I should be furnished with for that purpose? I mean the Procès-Verbal of the late Assembly, the decrees of that Assembly in their systematical order, and the acts of the present Assembly as they came out: to which may be added the Logograph, as containing the fullest and exactest account of the debates—that is, of the reasons for and against every measure, without which, the bare acts would be but a very imperfect guide. The Procès-Verbal I took in, together with a number of other periodical accounts of the proceedings of the Assembly; but my copy, owing to various accidents, is too imperfect to answer the purpose. There are none of these documents, it is true, but what I could procure through the ordinary channels; but the truth is, that besides so great a part of my time, the French Revolution, since the commencement of it, has cost me, in one way or other, purchase of books and other printed documents,—printing of books never offered for sale, paying of copyists, &c. &c., considerably more than the amount of what, during the same interval, I have spent upon myself. I neither meant to ask, nor ever would accept, though it were offered me, any pecuniary reward, nor any other indemnification for any expenses I have been at, or may be at in future; but as far as concerns a copy of such documents as are at the immediate disposal of the Assembly, the idea of receiving them from the bounty of the Assembly, will, I hope, not appear to you an unreasonable one. This expectation, however, on which I do not by any means lay any stress, I beg leave to submit, without reserve to your better judgment and friendly determination. You will easily perceive, that, under such circumstances, the distinction is much more my object than a pecuniary saving to so inconsiderable an amount.”
On the 25th November, 1791, Bentham wrote to Garran a letter, of which the following is a translation:—