Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XI.: 1792-1795. Æt. 44—47. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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CHAPTER XI.: 1792-1795. Æt. 44—47. - 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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1792-1795. Æt. 44—47.
Correspondance with Lord Lansdowne.—Made a Citizen of France.—Correspondence with Roland, Chauvelin, Delessert, &c.—Opinion of Speaker Abbott.—Notices of Contemporaries: Dr Lawrence, Bryant, Beckford, Baron Regenfeld, Bishop Barnard, Salisbury, Wickham, Young.—Death of the Duke de la Rochefoucauld.—Correspondence with Dumont, Sir G. Staunton, Law, Romilly, Anderson, Dundas.—The State of Europe.—Financial Projects.—William Pitt.
At this period I find Lord Lansdowne writing to Bentham with great satisfaction, on the subject of a purchase he had lately made in Hampshire:—
“You that have wings to fly, and do not fly, to the greatest scene which can come within the human comprehension, deserve everything which you describe, and everything which can befall you. I never knew a sensible physician, who did not acknowledge, that change of air, scene, and exercise, was a certain remedy for every disorder of body and mind which was curable; but such a scene as this, must not only even at present, but for evermore, by furnishing the mind with such food for reflection, as must lift him one hundred feet above all other men. We, whose wings are clipped by a variety of relations in life, must content ourselves with such occupation as a cottage which I have just bought, between Christ Church and Lymington.
“I will certainly lay the books on the Table, as you recommend; but you must be conversable, as the persons I have to please are not easily imposed upon, and insist upon the truth. I write in great haste, but I am in great hopes of persuading you to secure a superiority under which I may be the first to feel.”
“Our new acquisition in Hampshire has so completely captivated us, that we have nothing left to wish. Sea air, as pure as can be imported from America—for it completely looks down the Channel; thirty feet of gravel—the smoothest of all sands for miles—a mine of antediluvian shells to philosophize upon; Christ Church, &c. &c. This cottage is, therefore, quite at your service—but what is there here to keep pace with all we hear?—a pavilion; wines innumerable; a table so plentiful, and yet so refined; such selection of company; the resistance of ladies overcome; and the great point of a precedent granted.
“It would seem as if the ancient volupté of France was banished by the Republicans, and took up its seat at the side of the Bird-cage Walk, St James’s Park. Allow old friends to congratulate you upon this new road for happiness; and be so good to tell your brother, whenever he wants to rest his appetites from such profusion, I hope that he knows where he will be extremely welcome.—Adieu.”
Bentham to Lord Lansdowne.
“1792, August 8.
“O the tyranny of aristocracy!—give it a furlong, and it will take a mile,—a veto stopped me once from going to Brussels: and now comes a Lettre de cachet ordering me to Paris. The Belgic work was hot enough: my blood was to be reserved to dye the handkerchiefs of the Parisian amphitrites. See what comes of keeping bad company. It is an observation I have collected from high authority, nothing short of instantaneous obedience will satisfy Kings and Monsters. A conspiracy is formed against me between ‘persons who are always in the right,’ and the ci-devant servants of persons who can do no wrong:—but wherefore? why serve me like Uriah! I have no wife. No consideration for the shock which the loss would give to Mr Dundas, who, for this fortnight past has been waiting for ‘an early day to solicit permission to see the Pavilion at the side* of St James’s Park.’
“What is said about the Budding-Machine, I take to be a libellous method of accusing me of not accusing the reception of it—but did not I an age ago?
Those monsters, and an ex-Minister, jammed in a soi-disant cottage, and amongst all four ‘nothing left to wish for’—a pretty story indeed! I would as soon believe the most miserable of all miserable cottagers had nothing left to wish for. Pauvre miserable! thou art not the only me-content, if thou art the only honest one!—as if, for example, a cottage as far from London as the old castle, could supersede the necessity of one at half-an-hours’ distance, like the one at Streatham for example, or that at Hendon.
“A low bow for the antediluvian shells: but the gardener laid me in t’other day a stock of brooms, and while there is a ‘single stick’ left, there will be food enough for philosophy, which must forget itself strangely ere it can think of going to fish for antediluvian shells among sea-monsters. As to precedents, there need be no want of them—I speak of those in point, and unexceptionable ones: the thing wanting is a disposition to make use of them. At present, the Pavilion is turned into an hospital for refugees—Vaughan consigns me a cargo on Saturday: I have obligations of the same sort to Dumont: and now, while I am writing, comes a note from Romilly, announcing similar ones for to-morrow; and what, after all, if I should have to house poor L. Rochefoucauld instead of his housing me? What a terrible thing is hunger! While the great Inn in Berkeley Square is shut up, it will send French dogs to eat dirty pudding at my poor ale-house. Be pleased to observe that action lies (ask Jekyll else) for shutting up the doors of houses of call when travellers are hardpinched: and to take notice that, if they do not thrive with me, I shall put them on board a Hoy, and send them to Christ Church to fatten upon antediluvian shell-fish. In the meantime, as I have scarce French enough to cry, kindly-welcome, gentlemen, would not Mr Debary be prevailed on to lend me his little ragamuffin now and then, to serve as waiter and interpreter. If I had him here, with such another as himself, I could make them earn their living at one of the colonel’s sawing-machines.
“As to ladies and offences—for the first moment, possibly, but for the second no living being, cat, dog, man, lady, monster, ever gave me offence that had not studied it.”
On the 26th August, 1792, several distinguished foreigners were honoured with the title of Citizens of France, by the National Assembly. Among this number was Jeremy Bentham. The law is to this effect:—
“LAW CONFERRING ON SEVERAL FOREIGNERS THE TITLE OF FRENCH CITIZEN.
“Of the26th August, 1792,
“The National Assembly, considering that the men who, by their writings, and by their valour, have served the cause of liberty, and prepared the emancipation of nations, ought not to be regarded as foreigners, by a people rendered free by its knowledge and its courage:
“Considering that, if five years of domicile in France suffice to give to a foreigner the title of French Citizen, that title is far more justly due to those who, whatever be the land they inhabit, have consecrated their arms and their cares to defend the cause of the people against the despotism of kings; to banish prejudice from the world, and to extend the limits of human knowledge:
“Considering that, if it be not permitted to hope that men will become, in the sight of law as in that of nature, one sole family—one sole association; the friends of liberty—of universal fraternity, ought not to be the less dear to a people which has proclaimed its renunciation of all conquests, and its desire to fraternise with all nations:
“Considering, in fine, that, at the moment when a National Convention is about to fix the destinies of France, and probably those of the human race, it belongs to a generous and free people to welcome all intelligence,—and to grant the right of access to this great work of reason,—to men rendered worthy of it by their sentiments, their writings, and their valour:
“Declare, that the title of French Citizen is conferred on Doctor Joseph Priestley, on Thomas Payne, on Jeremy Bentham, on William Wilberforce, on Thomas Clarkson, on James Mackintosh, on David Williams, on Joseph Gorani, on Anacharsis Cloots, on Cornelius Pauw, on Joachim Henry Campe, on Henri Pestalozzi, on George Washington, on John Hamilton, on James Madisson, on F. G. Klopstock, and on Thaddeus Kosciusko.
“On the same day, a member demands, that M. Gille, a German publicist, be comprised in the list of those on whom the Assembly confers the title of French Citizen. The demand is adopted.
“In the name of the nation, the Provisional Executive Council orders and requires that all Executive Bodies and Tribunals cause these presents to be recorded on their registers, read, published, and placarded in their departments and seats of authority, and to be executed as law. In testimony of which, we have signed these presents, and have affixed the seal of the state. In Paris, the 6th day of the month of September, 1792, in the fourth year of liberty.
“And sealed with the seal of the state.
“Certified to be in conformity with the original.
The seal represents Louis XVI. on his throne, the canopy supported by two angels standing. The motto is—“Louis XVI., by the grace of God, and by the Constitutional law, King of the French.”
The letter to Bentham, from the Minister of the Interior, communicating the decree, is:—
“Paris, 10th October, 1792,
“I have the honour, Sir, to send you herewith a document bearing the seal of the state, of the law of the 26th August last, which confers the title of French Citizen on several foreigners. You will read there that the nation has placed you among those friends of humanity and of society, upon whom she has conferred this distinction.
“The National Assembly, by a decree of the 9th September, has charged the executive authority to communicate this law to you. I obey it, requesting you will be convinced of the satisfaction I feel of being, on this occasion, the minister of the nation, and of joining my individual sentiments to those which are testified to you by a great nation, in the enthusiasm of the first days of its freedom.
“I pray you to acknowledge the receipt of this letter, in order that the nation may be assured that the law has reached, and that you equally recognise the French among your brethren.
“The Minister of the Interior of the French Republic,
“To Mr Jeremy Bentham, London.”
The French Ambassador in London conveyed the preceding documents, with this letter from himself:—
“London, 16th October, 1792.
“I have the honour, Sir, to transmit to you a letter which the Minister of the Interior has directed me to convey to you. The French nation, in inscribing your name in the list of those whom she calls to the full enjoyment of her new rights, has honoured herself as much as she honours you; and you will permit a fellow-citizen, who did not require this solemn declaration of the opinion of his country in order to esteem your virtue and applaud your merit, to felicitate you on the honour which has been done you.
“The Plenipotentiary Minister of the French Republic,
Bentham answered the communication of the French government in these terms:—
“JEREMY BENTHAM TO THE MINISTER OF THE INTERIOR OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC—RESPECT,
“The letter of the 10th instant, by which you notify to me the honour done me by the last National Assembly, in placing me among the small number of foreigners upon whom it was pleased to confer the title of French Citizen, requires that I should acknowledge its reception, and declare whether I consider Frenchmen as among my brethren.
“To a question so marked by frankness, I must frankly reply. If, in recognising the duties attached to so honourable a distinction, I considered myself released from any of these I have contracted towards the country in which I was born, I should give but feeble evidence of my fidelity in the discharge of new engagements. Thus, if unfortunately I were forced to choose between incompatible obligations imposed by the two positions, my sad choice, I must own, must fall on the earlier and stronger claim. Happily, from the point of view whence I have always rejoiced to regard this question—delicate as it is interesting—the incompatibility appears ideal,—purely ideal. It cannot exist in my eyes between the permanent interests of the two nations—whatever be the difference of their local position—whatever the diversity of their laws. And this conviction is no vain compliment to you: it is not the outbreak of a momentary enthusiasm, but the reasoned result of a bold and vigorous investigation.
“The different forms of the two governments present no obstacle to my thoughts. The general good is everywhere the true object of all political action,—of all law. The general will is everywhere, and for every one, the sole external index by which the conformity of the means to the end can be decided. Professions the most opposed are conciliated—nay, they are prescribed by the varieties of position. Passions and prejudices divide men: great principles unite them. Faithful to these—as true as they are simple—I should think myself a weak reasoner and a bad citizen, were I not, though a royalist in London, a republican in Paris. I should deem it a fair consequence of my being a royalist in London, that I should become a republican in Paris. Thus doing, I should alike respect the rights and follow the example of my sovereign, who while an Anglican in England, is a Presbyterian in Scotland, and a Lutheran in Hanover.
“Having given this explanation, I have only a word to add,—one word with reference to the question, whether I consider all Frenchmen as my brethren?—Indeed, I do: every Frenchman is a brother to me; when, indeed, was he otherwise?
“But if anything could weaken the enjoyment which the acquisition of so honourable a title brings with it—it would be the sight of so many unfortunate beings who have to deplore its loss. Because they have ill estimated the movement of the general will, they are crushed with all the weight of its indignation. The marked difference which separates their political opinions from mine, weakens in no respect the sentiments of sorrow which their position inspires. But it is in civil troubles that motives equally pure lead to conduct the most opposed. In my estimate, these victims are too few to be proscribed as a measure of precaution—but too many to be sacrificed as a measure of punishment. It was after having fought to the number of ten thousand that the insurgents of Chatillon were received with kisses of fraternity, and promises of amnesty from their generous conquerors. And these insurgents were the aggressors; but the poor refugees have only committed the offence of not emancipating themselves suddenly from the prejudices of ages—and their imperfections are but the consequence of mistakes as to the advent of an epoch they had not foreseen. If I am not deceived, it would be easy to draw up a declaration—even an oath—by which, without wounding their conscience or their weakness, the Republic might obtain every security in the nature of things obtainable. Such a motion, were I in a position to make it, would I be the first to propose. Even were I certain that there was not one among them that was not the irreconcileable enemy of the established order—not one who, if he dared, would not make me his first personal victim, I would not the less propose such a measure—not the less defend it. For every punishment that is not needed is really a lawless punishment; and in cases of civil war, the end is answered when the minority is subdued: and merely to prove that there is a desire to do mischief without proving the power of doing so, is to prove nothing to the purpose.”
M. Delessert writes to Bentham from Amsterdam, the 30th Nov. 1792:—
M. Delessert to Bentham.
“The Hollanders are much divided in opinion: but in the manner of exhibiting their opinions, they show the apathy and slowness of the national character. Much excitement is necessary for the smallest movement. It is not as in France, where a song can create a revolution. A Dutchman with his coffee without sugar, his pipe and his Geneva, is happy as a Frenchman in his Assemblée d’élection. The people is surrounded by abundance, has no grievances, and should be disposed to remain neuter, and to allow the upper classes to settle all political squabbles. They are, however, generally disposed to support the prince. The stadtholder had managed to attach them to him during the last troubles, and has cultivated their affections. In some towns the contrary is the case. In Amsterdam, and almost everywhere else, the merchants are for the most part patriotic, and desire and hope for change.
“There are some discontented members in the Assemblies of the States; but the burgomasters and the other magistrates are all on the side of the prince. The officers of the military bodies entertain the same sentiments. As for the troops, they are mostly Germans, and know nothing but to obey.
“The heads of the patriots seek to agitate what the exiled are intriguing in France. The efforts of the one can only be successful by those of the other, and the French must aid them by efficacious coöperation. I do not know what are the dispositions of the French Government. Here an invasion is feared and expected. The decree which frees the navigation of the Scheldt and the entrance of vessels belonging to the Republic into that river, announces that they care not about conciliating Holland, and would willingly have a pretext for a quarrel. England might retain them; but her declaration to the States has produced little effect. It is thought too forbearing. An armament might have given some weight to it.
“If the French enter, there is little to oppose them. Everybody opines that the means of opposition are worthless. There is an army of 30,000 men to defend an extensive country and badly fortified holds. The troops are ill practised to resist warlike and triumphant soldiers. The fleet is decaying, and the help of England unavailing to stop an invasion by land. The inundation of the country may be had recourse to; but this is as detrimental to the inhabitants as it would be to foreigners. Domestic dissensions would make it difficult of adoption, and the approach of the winter would render it impossible.
“And even though the French should invade the country, and change the government, and drive away its chief, they would not succeed in propagating their principles. The customs, or, if you will, the prejudices of the people, present the same obstacles which are found in Brabant. You know that the Belgians are divided, as of old, into Vonhists and Vandernootists. These last are supported by the aristocracy and the clergy, who are still very powerful. They are energetic, and desire the ancient government. They would be embarrassing to the French.
“It would seem as if the confederated powers had determined to carry on the next campaign with vigour. Mollendorf is mentioned as the general. The Empress of Russia guarantees his states to the King of Prussia, and promises her assistance in case of rebellion. He is causing all his troops to advance, while Austria brings her last resources into action.
“The French reckon on the bravery of their troops, encouraged by their success. Discipline and confidence are reëstablished in their army. They have a great advantage over their enemies. They have made a territory beyond their own the theatre of war.
“These preparations menace us with a long succession of calamities. War and intestine division threaten all the countries of Europe. England alone can establish peace. Her power, her wisdom, the neutrality which she has observed, designate her as the mediatrix. Even her interest calls on her to interfere. Liberty and licentiousness, which traverse Europe together, may trouble her repose.
“Spain and Holland are deeply interested in this pacification, and must seek to promote it. France herself must desire it—the victories exhaust her. In fine, she may wrong fortune, and ought to bear reverses.
“It is said that your ministry is busied with these negotiations. How glorious would be their success for England!—how satisfactory for humanity!
“The resources of the imagination are exhausted to find excuses for the retreat of the Prussians. Not content with those which the faults of the campaign present,—they go so far as to believe that Dumouriez was able to turn to account the weakness of the King of Prussia, and his well-known foible for the illuminati. Odd stories are told of visions and apparitions which have appeared to him.
“Nobody knows what will be the fate of the emigrants who pass through this country by thousands on their way to England. The government will not allow them to remain, and has notified in the newspapers that they are not to consider themselves protected against pursuits or reclamations (recherches ou reclames.) Remembrances to Romilly and Trail.”
In writing of Charles Abbott, Afterwards Lord Colchester, Bentham says:—
“Not long after the publication of the ‘Fragment,’ a person, related to me by marriage, accosted me, and spoke to me nearly in these words:—‘You are just able to keep body and soul together without practice; I am not: I must think of myself in the first place, I will think of the public in the next place.’ In my remembrance the prophecy is still fresh: I should not expect the like in his. The word was not a hasty one: he has kept to it: how well, let the Finance Reports of 1787 and 1788 declare. To form anything like an adequate conception of the merit of that work, those which have succeeded under the same title should be compared with it. Further than he went towards reform, the system would not have permitted him to go, or it would not have permitted any one to go: the wonder was, how he could go so far, and be afterwards what he was. Under Pitt’s administration it was barely possible: what would it have been under such as we have had since? Farther than he went few but himself would have been inclined to go, few besides Pitt would have permitted him to go: he went as far as he could, and in no small degree further than many a learned and eminent person wished.”
Of men more or less known to public fame, and who at this period were among the acquaintances of Bentham, I have gathered the following sketches, which fell from him spontaneously when allusion was made to them:—
“I remember Dr Lawrence—a man of harsh physiognomy: there was a roughness in his tout ensemble. We met at Phil. Metcalf’s. There was a silk gownsman who had never any business, but who went by the name of Omniscient Jackson. I gave the title to Macculloch (Dr), who was all omniscience, and preterea nihil.
“Bryant* was an acquaintance of mine. If be found in Judea a man whose name began with Col, he would swear he was the builder of Colchester.
“I remember hearing a trait of young Beckford’s profusion. When about to sleep at an inn, he ordered it to be papered for him, at an expense of £10, like Wolsey, who travelled with a set of gold hangings.
“Dr W. Hunter was the Garrick of lecturers.”
Dr Swediaur brought Bentham and Baron Regenfeld together. “Regenfeld was the eternal Secretary of the Austrian Legation. He spoke English so well that he might be mistaken for an Englishman, and he got an illegitimate son of his into the English navy.
“Through Regenfeld I got acquainted with the Tokay, which grew on his estate. He said he had still a finer wine, which he called the Essence of Tokay, and which could not come hither, the place of its production being so far inland. In my eagerness for exterior information, how glad I was to lay hold of Regenfeld,—and indeed of anybody coming from that large place called abroad.
“Bishop Barnard was an unbeliever. I met him at Owen Cambridge’s, who had a house of which he was very proud, near Pope’s, at Twickenham. The bishop was much among the aristocracy,—a man of the world, and a clever man. At the same party was Baron Nagel, from whom I learnt the word Bywork, (bywork,) a word we want for a picture. I made a little quizzacious attack upon the bishop, which he took very well,—no offence in the slightest degree.
“Salisbury† is now compelled to write for the papers. He ruined himself by gossiping,—holding people by the button, and wasting his time.
“Wickham was afterwards Under Secretary of State, and Honourable. He and Charles Abbott had a project to make me fall in love with his sister. I went there once; and after dinner an appearance of business left me alone with his wife and daughter. The net was spread, but the fish was not caught.
“Arthur Young owned a landed estate of the value of from £300 to £400 a-year. He is preserved from oblivion by various works, the usefulness of which has not been obliterated by the hand of time. He held a situation of no inconsiderable altitude in the good opinion of George the Third. He was the editor of the ‘Annals of Agriculture,’ and among his correspondents, if what I have heard say be true, was the monarch, who borrowed, for that purpose, the name of Robinson. In the Number for January 1, 1787, there is a letter on ‘Duckett’s Husbandry,’ entitled ‘by Mr Ralph Robinson of Windsor,’ (p. 65-71;) there is another, dated March 4, 1787, (p. 332-6.) These were among his amusements:
Another amusement was architecture,—to which Kew bears witness.
M. de Liancourt thus speaks of the murder of the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, in a note of October 10th, 1792:—
“The horrible news which I have just heard of the assassination of M. de la Rochefoucauld,* my cousin, and my friend—the worthiest and the most respectable of men—the most faithful friend of justice, and the public weal—has so overwhelmed me with affliction, that I cannot come to you—cannot enjoy the pleasure I had reckoned on.”
And in a letter dated 23d October, 1792, Dumont writes:—
Dumont to Bentham.
“I have employed several days in reading your MSS., (on the Penal Code,) and especially the Table. Though I had the highest opinion of the work, it surpasses all my expectations. It will annihilate all that has been before written on these subjects. I shall have to ask many explanations from you, but I shall not weary you till my return from the country. Till then, I shall work out detached parts, and I have already commenced operations. As there is a regular plan in the whole, there is no inconvenience in translating separate portions. I thank you again for this work, which drags me forth from my inertness, and saves me from the torments of ennui.
“I have seen M. de Narbonne, who arrived yesterday, saved by miracle. What has been reported respecting the death of M. de la Rochefoucauld, is happily false—but it is very true that Clermont Tonnère has been killed. One shudders at the details of the cruelties of the people. La Fayette is accused. He will not recognise the new government. The deputies who were proceeding to his army, have been imprisoned at Sedan, Kersaint among the number.”
On the 4th October, Gallois writes to Bentham:—
“I pray Mr Bentham that he will allow M. de Talleyrand and me, to present to him, with M. de Montmorency, M. de Beaumetz, who has the strongest desire to make Mr Bentham’s acquaintance—for he has learnt to study and to value his works, from having been a member of the Legialative Committee of the Constituent Assembly.”
A letter from Sir George Staunton, dated Madeira, October 15, 1792, has this passage:—
“I understand this island is increasing in population, and decreasing in religious fervour. Very few friars have been made for some time, and not a nun these twenty years. None can be professed without a permission from the court of Lisbon; but if the zeal had been very strong, the license would probably have been obtained from so bigoted a princess as the Queen of Portugal. She gave much more latitude to the Inquisition than the Marquis of Pombal had allowed in the reign of her predecessor, and a persecution was commenced against Freemasonry; but there being a great number of persons of that confraternity among the principal natives of this island, a strong remonstrance was sent to Lisbon, and, probably through the influence of the Chevalier de Pinto, an edict has been published restricting the imprisonment in the Inquisition to two months, and forbidding any punishment without the previous approbation of the sentence by one of the Secretaries of State. This check has stopped the career of the Inquisition; and the Freemasons can drink three times three, without the danger of any other death than that of drunkenness.”
Of date the 3d November, there is the following from—
Beaumetz to Bentham.
“I am going, my dear fellow-citizen, to try to establish at Paris the difference which exists between the character of a travelling citizen, and that of an emigrant which I detest, and which I cannot consent to accept even from an unjust law—some persons assure me I shall be hanged as a form of explanation—others tell me the contrary. I am going to see how matters are. I regret quitting England, and particularly regret the loss of that intercourse which you had promised me, and for which I had prepared myself by the study of your writings. I assure you it is a real pain—a pain of the heart, to leave a country where I have met with so much goodness, and where I have found nothing but what attached me to it. Nobody treated me better than you,—and there was nobody I desired to see so much as you,—and there is nobody I quit with so much regret as you—while, in my project of another visit to England your are reckoned for much. Assure me, then, that my presence will not be unwelcome. And accept the assurance of all the sentiments with which you have inspired me, and which I devote you with all the frankness of a good republican.”
On the 5th November, Romilly says:
“Chapelier, Beaumetz, and Montmorency all set out yesterday for Paris, thinking it better to expose their lives to Marat, and Marat’s friends, than to incur perpetual banishment and confiscation of their property.”
Benjamin Vaughan writes this lively note on the 8th November:—
“The English citizen V. to the French citizen B.; alias, the city mouse to the court mouse.
“You and your company are certainly more of a treat than your good dinners, (though so very good.) But till Mr M. comes to town, I am obliged to keep an eye to our kittens in —; who are always frolicking when the mouse is absent: consequently, it is more convenient to me to see you, than to be seen by you. Name your day, with your brother and Cn. Ry., (omitting Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday,) and give me the earliest notice.
“My young architect is named Alexander: his residence, Weston Street, Tooley Street. I know not who is the mayor, or who the committee, at Rochester; but any navy or Kent people will inform you. The bridge is not to be rebuilt, but only widened, and perhaps the two middle arches thrown into one.
“I shall leave to the other citizen Russe, to go to Portsmouth, and bring back knowledge, on condition that he tells it all when he returns. The papers on this subject will be returned to-morrow.
‘Vale et me ama.’ ”
In a note of Dumont, (23d November,) he concludes thus:—
“Adieu! I quit Bentham for Bentham, and am occupied this morning with a chapter that enchants me.”
The intercourse between Bentham and Mr Law,* had its origin in the correspondence which follows:—
Bentham to Mr Law.
“Q. S. P.,January, 1793.
I have just heard from my friend Mr Wilson, of Lincoln’s Inn, that, on his meeting you at your brother’s, you were pleased to express an inclination to become acquainted with the author of the Defence of Usury. The author of the speculative Defence of Usury, has an unfeigned ambition to become acquainted with the author of the practical and practised Mocurrery system. With these dispositions, third persons and formal introductions seem superfluous. In the morning, I never see anybody, whom I can possibly help seeing;—but everybody must dine. If you will favour me with your company to dinner on Monday or Tuesday, I will take care there shall be nobody else—perhaps not even my brother, whom, at another time, I flatter myself you would not be displeased to know; or, if it be more agreeable to you, I will accept of a tête à tête dinner from you with equal pleasure. When two people are together, they have their own talk; but when they are to have a third, they don’t know what talk they are to have. I mention those two early days, for afterwards it is very uncertain what command I shall have of my time. My usual hour is five, but any other is equally convenient to me. If neither of those days should suit you, I dine at home to-day; my brother has a mechanical man to dine with him, but he can dispose of him as he pleases, and we should form two distinct parties, which would be but little in one another’s way.—I am, Sir, &c.”
Mr Law to Bentham.
“Weymouth Street,January, 1793.
For so I must address you, after your most liberal letter,—I will wait upon you to-morrow at half-past four, that I may not suffer anxiety, for I feel a woman’s eagerness to meet a gentleman of such an enlightened mind. I send you Adam Smith, 3d vol., with some notes that may convey an idea of a—Yours most faithfully.”
Bentham consulted Romilly on the publication of his pamphlet, Truth v. Ashhurst. Romilly’s opinion is conveyed in these words:—
“Lincoln’s Inn,January, 1793.
I have got your manuscript copied, but I have not sent it you, because I wish to make two or three extracts from it; and I have been so much taken up with other business, that I have not had time to do it. I have had leisure, however, to read it again, and to form a decided opinion, that the publication of it is not likely to do good, and may do harm. The praise given to the French would, I have no doubt, throw discredit on all the truths it contains. If, however, you disregard my opinion, and resolve to publish it, I will return it you immediately. If you can lend me the proceedings of the Irish Catholics, I will be much obliged to you for it.”
The pamphlet is dated December 17, 1792. Romilly’s judgment decided the non-publication at the period when that judgment was given, and the pamphlet first saw the light in 1823.* The reference to the French is so slight, as scarcely to give a colouring to Romilly’s reasoning; but the attacks on English judges and English judicature, made no doubt the printing of such a work, in no small degree, perilous to the author.
Replying to a very cold, touchy, and reproachful letter of Dr Anderson’s, in which he accuses Bentham of conduct both unfriendly and ungentlemanly, on the ground of his having communicated to Dr A.’s son, some particulars of a lawsuit, with which Bentham had no reason to suppose him unacquainted, Bentham uses this language:—
Bentham to Dr Anderson.
“When your imagination painted your old friend in such terrible colours, you had forgot two things: one is, that no man, who was born white, becomes coal-black all of a sudden; the other is, that no man does mischief without a motive.
“What motive had I to do you mischief? What provocation had you given me? You have now given me provocation, and I have not the smallest particle of desire to do you mischief more than I had before; the regret of having been the unintentional cause of uneasiness to you, is the only sentiment that dwells with me. It so happens, too, that my brother, whose opinions of you, and dispositions towards you, were never other than friendly, saw my letter before it went. He happened to be sitting by me while I was writing it; I handed it to him, and he returned it to me without a comment. Forgive me, forgive yourself, and believe me now as ever, your faithful friend.
“P.S.—I send this letter open through your son; if he does what I should do in his place, it may save both of you a tedious and useless correspondence; if he think it worth his while to wish for further explanations, he can get them through me with infinitely less trouble than from you. I am sure it will be more pleasing to him to see you in good humour than in bad, and, therefore, I shall not show him your letter unless he and you both insist upon it.”
The letter, however, had not its intended effect—. The reply is endorsed by Bentham “Implacable;” and I believe correspondence thereupon ceased.
A letter to Mr Law of February 2, 1793, and his reply, are characteristic of both:—
Bentham to Thomas Law.
“Queen’s Square Place.
If you have any curiosity to see a native of Siberia, not of Russian, but of the aboriginal Siberian race, such a personage will dine with me, in company with the chaplain to the Russian embassy, on Wednesday. At the same time and place will appear Mr Wilson, in some measure for the sake of staring at the Siberian, but much more for the sake of admiring Mr Law, in hopes of his being attracted hither partly by the sort of bait above-mentioned, partly by the opportunity of settling with the said Mr Wilson the proposed meeting in Weymouth Street. At the same time, you would see two or three other friends of Mr Wilson’s and mine, who are ambitious of making your acquaintance, and whose acquaintance, a man of your views and feelings cannot but be glad to make.
“The precipitation with which you terminated your too short visit, left me no time to think of two requests I had to make to you—the one that you would have the goodness to keep in store for me the memorandums I understood you had made, relative to the subject of my Defence of Usury; the other, that if your partiality for my productions should lead you through what I have written on the Judicial Establishment, you would do it pen in hand, and allow me the opportunity of profiting by any remarks it might suggest to you.”
Thomas Law to Bentham.
Your polite note is so full of kindnesses, that I know not which most to thank you for. That of your promise to fix a day to favour me with your company, and to prevail on Mr Wilson to come also, I prefer. Your brother, the colonel, was enjoying practical gratifications, whilst we were indulging in speculative ones. He was even with us. I am obliged by his card, and am desirous of having the honour of his acquaintance. Alas! I am obliged to go for a few days to Ireland, and to set off on Tuesday next, my brother having particularly desired me to see him in Dublin. Your pamphlet on the Judiciary Establishment is gone to be bound, and it will receive my greatest attention, for, in Asia, courts are much wanted, and good laws. I was reading it, when Colonel Bentham was amusing himself with the Essay on Woman. His Panopticon would, me-thinks, be a good building for a jealous man. The genuine native of Siberia I should behold with eagerness as a rare animal, but mere curiosities, in general, have very little attraction. Cui bono is my question. Your brother is pleased with novelties. Immediately upon my return, I shall claim your promise, and hope that your brother will accompany you.—I remain,” &c.
A Frenchman, named Duquesneau, a shoemaker by trade, had married a servant of Bentham’s. On the 3d February, 1793, a king’s order was issued, banishing the said Duquesneau, and directing him to leave the nation within three days. Bentham took him into his house. The man was supposed, but without any the slightest grounds, to be connected with the republican party in France. Bentham was at this time engaged in his Panopticon negotiations, and was assuredly not likely to obtain favour by interfering on behalf of this poor foreigner. I find in Bentham’s handwriting the following endorsement on the king’s warrant:—
“King’s Order of Banishment to Duquesneau, under the Alien Act,—acting functionary Huskisson, afterwards cabinet minister. The order being groundless, J. B., Q. S. P. [Jeremy Bentham, Queen Square Place] attended at the Alien Office to prove it so to be. Huskisson was haughty and unreasonable, but yielded, though with a bad grace.”
The royal thunder, directed against Monsieur Duquesneau, the shoemaker, was thus spent in vain. This letter of Bentham to Henry Dundas explains the case:—
Bentham to Mr Dundas.
“Queen Square Place,
Marie Duquesneau, a Frenchwoman, who, for about a fortnight or three weeks, has lived with me in the capacity of cook, has just brought me an order, signed by his Majesty, and countersigned by Mr Dundas, directed to a person by the name Monsieur Duquesneau, who, she says, is her husband, enjoining him, in pursuance of the late act, to quit the realm on or before the 6th instant, which is the day after to-morrow. She appeared to me in great affliction, saying that her husband had lived in this country these ten years, and prefers it to his own; that he is a journeyman shoemaker by trade, and can have a very good character from the master for whom he has worked for these last four or five years. Upon my questioning her whether her husband may not have been meddling with politics, and whether that may not have been the occasion of his receiving such an order, she assured me to the contrary with great earnestness, saying that he is altogether at a loss to conceive how government should be so much as apprised of his existence, unless it be by means of a man who obtained £50 of him, on pretence of taking him into partnership, and who, he apprehends, may have taken advantage of the late act, in the view of getting rid of him and his demand. Certain that nothing can be more foreign to your intentions than to convert an instrument of public security into an engine of private injustice and oppression, I take the liberty of conveying to your notice the statement which has been made to me. My intention is to give him the offer of living at my house, as above, from the day in which the order begins to be in force—viz. Wednesday—to the end that if he really be a dangerous person, the officers of government may know where to meet with him, and if not, that he may not be in the power of his adversary to get him sent away, or committed without the knowledge of his friends; and if not, that he may find protection with me, against any project for hurrying him, or getting him even thrown into jail, without the knowledge of his friends.
“P.S. The person suspected to have been the author of the information is one Frederick Grote, a German, a jeweller, whose promissory note to Duquesneau, dated 11th January, 1792, for £37, 1s. 6d., I have now before me. The ground of suspicion is, that upon some words happening lately between them on account of the non-payment of the money, Grote said to Duquesneau, he would take care and do for him.
“The person for whom Duquesneau works, is a Mr John —, a master shoemaker, No. 44, Castle Street, Oxford Market, whose certificate in his favour lies before me.”
I give a copy of this royal order, as a sample of the manner in which foreigners might be sent out of the country without reason given:—
“Our royal will and pleasure is, that you, Monsieur Duquesnau, [the name is misspelt,] not being a natural born subject of this realm, nor having received letters-patent of denization from us, or any of our royal predecessors, nor having been naturalized by act of Parliament, do, on or before the sixth day of this instant February, depart this realm, and you, the said Monsieur Duquesnau, are hereby commanded to depart this realm accordingly.
“Given at our court of St James’s, the third day of February, 1793, in the thirty-third year of our reign.
“By his Majesty’s command.
The Bishop of Killala and Achonry (Law) was the instrument of publishing Bentham’s book on Law Taxes in Ireland. His brother (Thomas) writes—
Thomas Law to Bentham.
“Weymouth Street,April, 1793.
May the publication have all the good effects you wish it—the benevolence and truth of your arguments ought to influence Ministers, but alterations are not easily caused. My India views are now the objects of delight to the mighty Dundas—he has been very candid and liberal—he acknowledges that he was not aware of the extent of the trade from Bengal carried on clandestinely—in short, Monopoly is giving way, and my rising resources are admitted. I expect 20,000 tons of sugar next year. How many manufacturers, merchants, seamen, ship-builders, and agents will be employed by these means! How India and Great Britain will be enriched!”
“Weymouth Street, 1st April, 1793.
I am just favoured with your letter, and shall be most happy to read your publication. The Protestants in Ireland are most enraged at this Government for making them be just to the Roman Catholics. I am preparing a speech for Wednesday—this is the beginning. If you tell me it is nonsense I will burn it. We feel philanthropy, but have many obstacles to oppose. At what hour in the morning shall I wait upon you?
“P.S.—I send you this immediately, that, if you please, you may invite him for to-morrow morning, and come to give instructions. Dumont dines here to-morrow. He wants your papers to resume his labours.”
Bentham writes thus gaily to his brother on the subject of Panopticon in May, 1793:—
Bentham to his Brother.
“You must not stay lounging there beyond this week. Next week Pitt and Dundas are to come to see Panopticon together: and nobody can say how soon in the week; for the whole-school-days end this week, and though they don’t break up yet awhile, the next week and so on, will consist chiefly of half-holidays. If you don’t come in time to make the Rarce-show, I must turn you off, and take the jiggumbobs into my own hands. My fainting fits, at the thoughts of losing the dear body, are cured. I am assured distinctly that Panopticon would not be at all affected by it; but what is better, there is no danger of having anybody else to deal with; their myrmidons give out by authority that Dundas’s exit is no nearer than it was when he came in; and that Pitt himself knows no more who is to be the successor than the Pope of Rome. They professedly keep the seals dangling in the air to catch renegadoes: if they would lend them me awhile, I would set them a-dancing at the end of a fishing-rod before the bed-chamber window at a certain house.—Pounce would go the glass, as if the citoyen had been dashing at a mouse. Various of Pitt’s friends, yes, manifold, I am told, have been at him with mallets, beating Panopticon into his head: your duke, I suppose, mediately, if not immediately, of the number. Nobody can be better known anywhere, I am positively assured, than your humble servant is, and always has been, in the cabinet,—sins and blasphemies of all sorts, of course, included: so much the better, as they don’t seem to stand in the way of his salvation. What my enemies, if I have any, say of me, I am not told; but the account my friends give of me is, that I am mad; for which I make them a low bow; for madness, forsooth, being interpreted, means vartue: this last offer seems to be regarded as an egregious instance. Chuckle-heads, who have been used all their lives long to see chess, and battledore, and shuttlecock played at for nothing,—can’t bring themselves to conceive that anybody in his senses should be able to find amusement in a game that anybody has ever been paid for playing at. The offer, such as it is, seems to have come seasonably enough, and not to be in any great danger of being rejected. The deficiency seems to have been very generally felt, and openly enough recognised; and it was observed, that if nothing be gained, nothing can be lost by the experiment.”
The obscure, and sometimes contradictory phraseology,—the redundancy of words,—the awkwardness and frequent inversion of style,—and the various other imperfections of language which characterize our acts of parliament, were evils to which Bentham frequently sought to provide a remedy. A letter of his to Dundas on this important matter ought to be preserved.
Bentham to Mr Dundas.
“May 20, 1793.
Taking up in the country the newspaper of Saturday, I see the public service threatened with a resignation, which has but too strong an appearance of being a speedy one. Fortunate as I had thought myself in the notice with which I understood my Panopticon proposal to have been honoured, permit me to express the anxiety I cannot but feel at the apprehension of seeing it turned over into any other hands. The intimation I received some time ago, that a determination had been mads in its favour between you and Mr Pitt,—that the discussion of it with me, only waited for the first vacant day that could be found for it, and that the whole day (convivial hours included) would be bestowed upon it, will, I hope, be considered a sort of engagement to save me from the misfortune of so undesirable a change. Had that expectation been realized at an earlier period, I had thought of profiting by it, to speak of another object of my ambition, which, as it is, I must take the liberty of stating to you in the compass of a letter, and therefore, narrowly and imperfectly, lest the mention of it should come too late.
“Meaning to get good payment for making others work, there is a line in which it would be matter of amusement to me to work hard in my own person, and that for nothing. The tender of my humble services in that line may be considered as a tribute of acknowledgment, or the employment as an object of solicitation, as you please.
“The penmanship of the statutes, I have observed, has, every now and then, become the subject of a dissatisfaction, which has been repeatedly and publicly expressed. With what degree of justice, is a question I never thought of proposing to myself with reference to the present or any other particular conjuncture. My inclinations on that head bear no reference to conjunctures. Between twenty and thirty years have passed over my head since the notion came across me, that the business of that department did not stand, in general, upon so good a footing as it might, nor, as I flattered myself, it might one day be in my power to place it on, were it to be intrusted to my charge. This, if a presumptuous, was no idle thought; for how little soever may have been done by nature, I question whether there be that man living in whom zeal and industry have been more assiduous in that line. The business of tracing out the several circumstances and contingencies for which provision may require to be made in the tenor of a law, is a business I have been so long used to travel over for my amusement, and that in almost every direction, that the operations of it are become rather a mechanical process than a matter of study; so that, though in any instance I should have the misfortune to find myself differ in opinion from those under whose authority I had to act, I should still have the satisfaction of doing so much for their accommodation as to furnish them with as ample a stock of considerations in the way of precaution, and objection, and defence, as they would have curiosity to see, or pastime to attend to. The business, too, of weighing words and syllables, is a business which has occupied as much attention on my part, as it can have occupied on the part of the most experienced chancery draughtsman, or special pleader.
“Something in the way of legislation may be deemed wanting for Hindostan. Divested of all local prejudices, but not the less sensible of their force, and of the necessity of respecting them, I could, with the same facility, turn my hand to the concerns of that distant country, as to those of the parish in which I live.
“The books which I take the liberty of sending you as specimens, in addition to what you have already, you certainly will not read; but should it be thought worth while to dip into them, with this particular view, they will lie in readiness for the purpose. That on the Judicial Establishment—that on Parliamentary Tactics—that on the Emancipation of French Colonies—and the just printed one on Law Taxes, remain, for different reasons, as yet unpublished. Some of them might lead you to take me for a Republican—if I were, I would not dissemble it: the fact is, that I am writing against even Parliamentary Reform, and that without any change of sentiment. To make the trial of my services with the least risk, and to the greatest advantage, the following is the course I would take the liberty to suggest.—Let a business of any kind, with such instructions as were thought necessary, be put into my hands;—let the same business, with the same instructions, be put into the hands of any other person. Each having drawn his bill, let the other be called to give his observations on it; but that my comment might be the freer, my wish would be, that the person whose composition was the object of it, might remain unknown to me. In this way, a very instructive experiment, might, I conceive, be made, and that without any éclat; there would be no placing nor displacing; whoever is in possession of the emolument, might continue so, and while that remained entire, any part of the duty would be the less missed.
“Indeed, this is the only footing on which I could think of offering my services; for it is accuracy only, and not expedition, that I could undertake for; the obligation of getting a given business despatched by a given time, would, for some time at least, if not for ever, be too much for me. My success in this line, should I be thought to have met with any, will have been the result—not of any incommunicable talent, but of a method which I should have little doubt of being able to transmit to any young man of tolerable abilities, who would find adequate inducements for giving himself the trouble of obtaining it. When I had brought the matter to this point, my object would have been accomplished. My reward would be, the satisfaction of having made improvements take root in so important a branch of science; that reward being already reaped and gone, then would be the time for the ordinary emolument, the salary, whatever it be, to revive for the benefit of my successors. Pupils are not wanting to the Conveyancer, to the Special Pleader, or to the Chancery Draughtsman; instruction in the superior line of parliamentary penmanship, would, I presume, be still less in danger of going a-begging, if suitable encouragement were to be annexed to it. The £600 a-year which I have heard spoken of as the salary, I must confess, I do not look upon as anything like adequate, so long as salary is thought fit to be annexed to office. The situation ought to be, not a step to, but a step above, professional practice. Superior talent ought not to be liable to be called from so superior a public duty to the petty concerns of private clients. Responsibility, and on that account, official title, and high dignity, with a salary proportioned to the dignity, ought to accompany a function of so much real importance. Having divested myself of all interest, I speak without bias on the head of emolument, and, therefore, with the less reserve. I hope I speak clearly enough on that head not to be mistaken. What I do solicit, is the labour; what I could not so much as accept, were it ever so much pressed upon me, is the emolument or any part of it. I could easily show you that the disclaimer is a necessary one, and not chargeable with either affectation or even oddity; but I have already attempted but too much upon your time.—I have the honour to be, &c.”
On 4th June, there is the following, from
Benjamin Vaughan to Bentham.
“Will you forgive me?—Wilberforce came to me yesterday, to give me nearly carté blanche over a slave-bill, and then dined with me, and carried me to the House for that and Lambton’s motion; but neither having place, I went back to read my packet letters, and superintend insurances to many thousand pounds amount. I could say much more; but come on Saturday se’ennight, and I will introduce you and your brother to M. de Narbonne. The Bishop of Autun also dines with me, with Grey, and perhaps Sheridan.—Yours affectionately.
“All well at Paris, 27th May, and plenty of corn in France.”
Bentham had his hopes excited almost as often as they were depressed, by the vicissitudes to which his Panopticon scheme was exposed. In a letter of August 1793, he writes:—
“I have just seen Nepean. The Ministry are afraid to act under the Peniteutiary act, but will bring in a bill to get me Battersea Rise next session; and, in the meantime, recommend it to me, to try what I can do, under these circumstances, towards getting it immediately by consent of the proprietors. I am this instant sitting down to try my eloquence upon them.”
Romilly gives the following account of the Bridewell, or House of Correction at Edinburgh:—
Romilly to Bentham.
“Edinburgh,2d September, 1793.
Much as I detest writing letters, especially in a place where I have so many different ways of passing my time as I have here, I should reproach myself if I were not to give you some account of a Panopticon which is building in this city. As I have never heard you mention it, I think it is possible that you may be entirely unacquainted with it. It is built entirely of stone, and though it was begun only a year ago, the shell of it is nearly finished. The plan is Adam’s; and I am informed that he admits that he took the idea of it from your brother. It is a semicircular building, and differs from your plan very materially in this respect, that the cells in which the convicts are to work, are not placed at the outer extremity of the building, but look upon the annular well, in the centre of which the Inspector’s room is placed. At the outer extremity are cells, in which the convicts are to sleep, and in which they are to be in solitary confinement; and between the two ranges of cells there is a passage into which the doors of both cells open; but as these doors are not facing each other, there is no thorough light, as in your design, nor the same free circulation of air. The whole side of the working cells, which lies towards the Inspector’s room, is open, and to be grated with iron; and the Inspector has no means of seeing into the cells but from the light of the annular well, which, the workmen told me, was to be covered with a glass skylight. There are four stories of cells, and only two Inspectors’ rooms, which being placed each between two stories, as in your plan, have a perfect view into every part of all the working cells. I am afraid you will so little be able to understand my description, that I must endeavour to draw some kind of plan for you:—
“I think the want of air seems to be one great objection to this plan; and another is, that the convicts, in the cells where they sleep, are not exposed to any inspection; it may not be very difficult for them to make their escape, especially as these cells are at the outermost part of the building. It is true that seems to have been provided against by pretty strong walls; but Mr Blackburne, who had a great deal of experience on this subject, had, I remember, very little confidence in the thickness of walls. It is true that both the objections I have mentioned are in some degree weakened by the situation of the building, which stands on the side of Calton Hill, between the new and old towns, and under the immediate view of a great neighbourhood; and there is always not only a free circulation of air, but wind.
“I am passing my time here very pleasantly, principally however in a society which you would not at all relish—lawyers. Indeed, I doubt whether this would be a very safe country just at this moment for you to be found in, for I heard the judges of the justiciary court, the other day, declare with great solemnity, upon the trial of Mr Muir, that to say the courts of justice needed reform was seditious—highly criminal,—and betrayed a most hostile disposition towards the constitution, of which the courts of justice form a most important part.”
To Philip Metcalf,* Bentham gives this very cheering account of his ministerial negotiations:—
Bentham to Philip Metcalf.
Many thanks for your kind remembrance and attentive zeal. I have but just received your favour of 29th here, and have already written to Sir Charles, tendering my services, but recommending as amicus curiæ, the waiting to see the experiment tried on the great scale.
“I am at present occupied in drawing a bill, at the recommendation of authority, for Mr Pitt to bring in upon the opening of the session. Lord Spencer and I parted, as we met, good friends; but nothing was to be done with him. He said, what parliament enacted, he must submit to; but it would be a prejudice to him, as it might throw a damp on his plan of letting land in the neighbourhood on building leases,—under which circumstance, it was not his business to volunteer (as he called it) a concurrence, and that it would be deserving ill of the neighbourhood, by whom his father had been blamed for the facility of his acquiescence. For all this, I am afraid I must have his land, for when circumstances come to be considered, it seems to be inevitable.
“It is some time since I received intimation of the Lord Chancellor’s [Longhborough] approbation, which I hope will carry me safe through the House of Lords. This relieved me from some anxiety; since his lordship had not only conceived ideas upon the subject, but published them—ergo, was somewhat of a rival; and I am not sure whether he may not have a gulp or two to take before he can relish mine. Dundas was to have brought him to Q.S.P., and a day was fixed for it; but they never came. I have, however, a note from him, promising to come.
“Ministry and I go on smoothly; the only contests we have had, have been of an opposite nature to what are usual in bargains. They put a negative on the Life Insuring article, as inconsistent with some rules of theirs, as likewise upon the engagement to pay indemnification-money in case of subsequent delinquencies, as unnecessary and not calculated to answer the purpose. But I stood stanch, and made them knock under, as to both articles, with the colonel’s zealous approbation, who has not yet had the knout to my knowledge, whatever he may deserve, though he is as much afraid of Woronzoff as if there were one in Harley Street in pickle for him. All turned upon character, forsooth; it was upon that they depended; had not my character, which was perfectly known to them, been what it is, they would, as I was told over and over again, have had nothing to say to any such proposal. A damnable doctrine, for which they ought to be impeached; but I did not tell them so, there being no time for quarrelling about collaterals. I have dealt fairly by them at any rate; for I sent Dundas, long ago, the whole cargo of my reforming pamphlets; some of which were too Jacobinical to be trusted with so orthodox a man as you.
“Apropos of Jacobinism, I begin to fear with you it has taken too strong root in France to be exterminated. Could the extermination be effected, I should think no price we could pay for such a security too dear; but whether war or peace would give the best chance for it, may be the matter of very honest difference. My concern is to see the men and money that might be employed in driving at the heart of the monster, diverted to the purpose of making distant conquests, which, according to my notions, could they be had for nothing, would be worse than useless. You know that every island we take costs money to govern and to defend, without bringing in a farthing of revenue, or of benefit in any other shape. This is the thesis of one of my Jacobinisms, which one of these days I hope for the honour of laying at your feet. But just now it seems as if the pressure of the exigency nearer home, were acting on my side, and that Grey and Jervis may have employment enough nearer home, without going to the West Indies to look for it. As to the colonel, he goes on very well with his gimcracks. Such of the trade as have seen his wheels, are in raptures with them, and declare that when once they make their appearance, no others will be made. But now is the season for experiment; for ’till it can be done in Panopticon, it will be hardly worth while to open shop. The paper is full,—adieu my dear Metcalf, believe me, with all affection and thankfulness, yours ever.”
In answer to a gentleman who applied to Bentham, requesting his interest at the Admiralty, in favour of his brother, who had been accused of Jacobinism, Bentham says:—
The conflict betwixt the desire of seconding your wishes, and the despair of effecting it, has retarded my answer to your letter, to a degree which I cannot think of without compunction. Had I yielded to the first impulse that it gave me, I should have gone open-mouthed to the Admiralty, saying, O ye generation of vipers! A little reflection informed me that I had no means of impressing any of the lords, much less Lord Chatham, with any idea of any such case. As to Lord Chatham, you may judge of the sort of chance I should have of being listened to by him,—I who have not come across him these dozen years, when you recollect his refusal to listen to a proposal of my brother’s, promising the greatest advantage to the service, without any risk, on the ground of his being a Russian spy. As to any other lord, it is a question with us whether they durst interfere in so invidious a business; it is pretty clear to me that they would not like it, and I have no acquaintance there but what is too recent and too slight to warrant my so much as asking a favour, much less the demanding justice. Your brother, as I am happy to find, has in his favour the recommendations as well as wishes from all that know him, from those in particular whose recommendations on such an occasion have, of all others, the best claim to regard. Supposing all this to be ineffectual, can there be the smallest chance that anything I could say would be of use? I, who cannot so much as pretend ever to have set eyes on him in my life, and who can have no motive to wish well to him, nor reason to think well of him, but what is afforded by a man who is the object of so unfortunate a prepossession as what you speak of. If no such prejudice exists against him, what room can such a body of recommendation allow for fear? If such a prejudice does exist, and that so strong a one as to overpower such a body of recommendation, could the interference of a stranger like myself present any ground for hope?
“I beg you will be assured, that no opportunity that, to my judgment, promises any chance of being of use to you or yours, will be omitted by me, and that I am, with the truest regard, yours ever.”
A letter to Bentham, dated from Dresden, January 15, 1794, gives a sensible and interesting view of the politics of Europe at that period:—
I hope you will not impute my long silence either to indolence or forgetfulness. Neither I assure you is the case. The truth is, that in this melancholy war of opinion, where the passions of individuals enter so much into all political reasonings, I thought it imprudent for one even in my humble diplomatique station, to hazard any observations which might appear unfavourable to the conduct of government, in the measures adopted in the present most arduous and interesting contest which the history of mankind can produce. It is somewhat singular, that in two countries, whose politics are at present so very opposite, the same terms should be made use of, though in a sense very different, in regard to aristocracy and democracy. Moderantisme in England, as well as in France, leads persons to become suspects. If I were not most perfectly convinced of your discretion in not making any improper use of the few observations I may happen to make, I should even now hesitate to write; for the idea of doing anything inconsistent with propriety, with regard to my employ, hurts me very much. Indeed, the present crisis appears so very alarming, that every person, more or less, may be permitted to deliver his sentiments. No events in the course of last year’s campaign, even the most favourable, could be reckoned so decisive as to supersede the necessity of another. To carry on this, the concurrence of the Court of Berlin happens to be absolutely necessary. Notwithstanding his Prussian majesty’s aversion, in common with other sovereigns, to French men and principles, he seems nevertheless fully aware of the advantage of his present situation, and, very prudently for himself, appears desirous to relinquish the very honourable, though very expensive, cause of kings, and to substitute in its place the more lucrative idea of commercial hostility. Hence arises the expedition of Lord Malmesbury and M. de Lehrbach to Berlin, to prevail with his said majesty, by golden arguments, to give, this year at least, the same number of troops as he afforded last year, gratis, according to treaty with Austria. The unfortunate turn which the war has lately taken,—the loss of Toulon, and the total defeat—I might almost say, annihilation of Wurmser’s army on the Rhine, and the consequences that may yet result from these misfortunes, will undoubtedly suspend for the present all negotiations at the Court of Berlin. When to these successes we add the deplorable state of the royalists in Brittany, the increase in value of the French assignats, and the energy which the Convention has now assumed, by making, as they have well said, terror the order of the day—I think everybody must be convinced, that, in regard to another campaign, the resources of the French are increased, while those of the coalized powers are diminished. It is the peculiar misfortune of this war, that if it is difficult to go on, it is no less so to go back; and the present hostilities must terminate, if not in the extinction, at least in extreme humiliation to either of the parties concerned.
“It is, at this awful moment, much to be regretted that the possibility of misfortune has hardly been supposed, which might have been some check to the too free indulgence of the passions, and the reciprocal abuse which has resulted therefrom. God forbid that I should ever attempt to extenuate the criminality of the numberless horrors daily committed in France,—that I should hesitate to say that murder is murder, or that robbery is robbery—to defend confiscation—when to be rich is to be criminal,—or to panegyrize the activity of the guillotine. But I know there are some people who are somewhat uncertain whether these horrors are to be attributed to an original malignity in the French character, or to be considered as the effect of some cause not yet ascertained—the principle of the right of one nation to interfere in the internal affairs of another, is of a most dangerous nature. It was formally announced by the Emperor Leopold’s circular letter from Padua, repeated by the declaration of Pilnitz, and proclaimed aloud by the manifestoes of the Duke of Brunswick. Similar pretensions, on the part of the French, with regard to the Low Countries and to Holland, have been considered by everybody with becoming disapprobation. Whoever wishes to investigate the real origin of this melancholy war, ought particularly to consider, in their chronological order, the different facts and measures which have been adopted, and which imply the assertion of the above right. Without presuming to say what is really the truth, one may readily allow that hostilities are virtually commenced by a coup de plume, equally as by a coup de canon. It would be happy for mankind, if the dignity of courts would permit them, like individuals, to retract an error, and acknowledge, honestly, a mistake. When Leopold received M. de Noailles as French ambassador, after the acceptation of the new constitution by the king, he only acquiesced in the arrangement, but did not renounce the principle he had previously asserted. If this war is singular in its origin, the views in continuing it appear no less extraordinary. There is a negative unanimity indeed agreed on by all parties, viz., that the present individuals who govern France ought to be set aside; but what particular arrangement is then to follow, the legislative armies of the coalized powers have not yet explicitly exhibited. One declaration approves of the late constitution, while another proposes a different form of limited monarchy, only, however, to take place after a provisional restitution of despotism. The late reëstablishment of the old feudal forms and police in Alsace, Condé, Valenciennes, &c., seems highly impolitic, as if no act of common sense had passed any of the three assemblies, and when everybody allows the first carried some dignity along with it. In short, there is, in every public paper on this subject, a degree of contradiction which is unaccountable. In one sentence, a right to internal interference is solemnly renounced, while at the same time a following paragraph issues a congé d’elire. in favour of monarchy: but whatever may have been the origin or the object of the present atrocious hostilities, the manner of conducting the present war is out of the common way. The liberties taken in respect to foreign neutral nations, are great beyond example. Indeed, foreigners are not a little surprised at the arbitrary conduct of some of the agents of a free government at foreign courts; for independence is but an empty title, as soon as any power presumes to pass its opinions for the criterion of truth, in regard to the intercourse of one country with another. Of this there are many examples, from the proposal of erecting something like a Dutch tribunal to condemn the French regicides, to the effrontery at Florence, and the cacade at Genoa, inclusive. I question whether, at some future period, when facts remain, and passions will be evaporated, it will not be thought that, even for the sake of a good cause, we should not have kept such very bad company. Posterity may think it somewhat extraordinary for England, the first government, in point of liberty, in Europe, to coalize with the bigoted Spaniard, the ignorant Austrian, the barbarous Russian, together with the military mechanism of Prussia, in support of social order and legitimate government, and that, too, at the very time when the two last powers commit an act against an innocent and independent nation, which, in point of arrogance and depravity, cannot be equalled in history; I mean the scandalous partition of Poland,—an act equally hostile to social order and legitimate government. If the daily enormities committed in France tend to excite disgust in respect to popular governments, the iniquitous conduct of Russia and Prussia, with regard to Poland, reconcile, again, men’s minds to democracy. The political fiction of considering France as a garrison, in order to starve it, and the counterpart of the tale in converting Toulon into a country for the purpose of legalizing supplies, not permitted by the custom of nations to the towns in a state of siege, are circumstances which further distinguish the manner of carrying on the present war. The idea of starvation, in regard to an extensive country, may be accompanied with such frightful consequences as to shock the common feelings of humanity. The necessities of a garrison starved into capitulation may be immediately supplied by the besiegers; but in a country starved into submission, millions must perish before the circulation of provisions can effectually be reëstablished. In every point of view, as a well-wisher to my country, I am frightened at this war, as I think the danger resulting from it to us, increases in the ratio of its duration. I am afraid that our ministers have been hitherto much deceived with false intelligence, and many of our public agents have been rather too time-serving in accommodating their reports to ministerial volition. In this country, I can assure you, peace is much desired, if it could be procured on any kind of decent terms. The five thousand men which the Elector gives as his contingent, cost exactly as much as his whole army of thirty thousand men on the Peace Establishment; and, by all accounts, the resources of Austria are completely exhausted. The only resource remaining is confiscation—not of private property, indeed, but of some independent German States, protected by the laws of the empire, and poor Poland likewise furnishes a further fund. You will hardly believe that another act of the infamous tragedy is likely again to take place. Both the King of Poland and Siewers, have fallen lately under the empress’ displeasure, the latter being recalled. A new Diet is talked of to complete the suicide, and the name of Poland may soon cease to exist. Prussia still covets another Palatinate or two. The Empress of all the Russias has pretensions on Galicia, as formerly bearing that name; and the emperor, perhaps, in spite of himself, may be obliged, in his present state of humiliation, to accept some of the spoils of that unfortunate country in exchange. It is somewhat singular that, notwithstanding the present coalition, the national jealousy between Austria and Prussia exists, perhaps, more than ever. I was at Vienna when the news came of the taking the lines of Weissemburg by Wurmser. As this place had always been opposed by the Duke of Brunswick, the unexpected success elated the Austrians extremely, and even led them, I thought at the time, to make many unguarded and impolitic observations, not very favourable either to Prussian tactics, or Prussian sincerity. The retreat of Wurmser has afforded the Prussians their revenge—and, indeed, the retreat of that army was accompanied with such circumstances, the 26th and 28th of last month, as appears by a letter of General Kalchreuth’s, which I have read, as will remain a lasting reproach to the Austrian arms. In short, the soldiers would fight no longer, and, in running away, not only pillaged the peasants, but their own officers. The retreat of the Duke of Brunswick is variously talked of. By some it is said, that he has conceived too formidable an idea of the French army, to undertake any enterprise of consequence against them; and what may appear ridiculous, he is not exempted from a suspicion of Jacobinism. Whatever be the truth, Mollendorff is certainly to succeed him, but whether he is to have additional troops, or the debris only of the present army, the issue of the present negotiations must determine. But to pass from more general politics to what concerns more particularly ourselves. If you do me the favour to write me, might I request you to give me some account of this late soi disant convention at Edinburgh; and what appears to be the prevailing sentiment of the country in respect to Reform, upon which much may be said on both sides. For he who is really and sincerely attached to the present constitution, may say with truth, the more the elections are popularized, the greater is the tendency to Republicanism;—whereas, on the other hand, the French Revolution, notwithstanding its atrocities, has produced a kind of revolution in the human mind in Europe, and mankind think on many points as they never thought before. Government, therefore, by resisting all reform, may risk to be taken by assault, and the country exposed to all the horrors of a revolution. The society of Dresden is this winter much improved by the arrival of many Polish refugees of the first distinction. We have here at present Marechal Potocky, the principal leader of the party which carried the late revolution into execution. His brother, the General, General Zabiello, Prince Czartoriski, and several other members of the celebrated Patriotic Diet. They are most excellent characters; and in the present extraordinary times, are proscribed and calumniated as criminals, for having dared to sacrifice voluntarily a part of their privileges and property, in order to promote a greater degree of happiness among their fellow-citizens. I have the happiness to be frequently in their society, and, from the anecdotes I hear, I cannot help regretting the favourable moment that we lost, to humble the ambition of that female monster, the success of whose projects is so disgraceful to humanity, and which might have prevented many of the calamities which have since happened. Abbé Piatoli is also here. He had a principal hand in the Polish revolution. He is busy drawing up an account of that affair, from the beginning to its fatal termination; and perhaps on this subject, I may take the liberty at another time to take your opinion with respect to the manner of introducing this detail to English notice.”
In a letter from Trail, dated from Dublin castle, 1st February, 1794, he says:—
James Trail to Bentham.
“I have heard of your Defence of Usury,—of your Panopticon,—and of your Law Taxes,—all spoken of with approbation, without any intention of being civil to me, for it was without knowing of our acquaintance, and I must add, because truth compels me, without the least intention of applying any of the principles contained in your two last works to practice. The government must be convinced as well as the governors; and that is a work of time, to be accomplished only by books and conversation. Among the governed may be comprehended many, perhaps the great majority of governors: fifty or sixty years is not too much time to be allowed for a new idea, or principle, to be generally established and admitted. Indeed, if, as in France, the enthusiasm of the people can be inflamed, new opinions spread faster; but such rapid conversions are not very desirable. I hope you perceive by these observations that I have already imbibed an abundant portion of official prudence,—you will say indolence and quackery.”
There is a sketch of Colonel Bentham in the same letter. Never was a mind more inventive—more creative,—but never was a mind less disposed to work out laboriously its own conceptions. The philosopher had a portion of the same frailty. New subjects often distracted his attention; but the distraction was not a permanent one. He reverted back to the abandoned topic, and was never satisfied till he had completed and exhausted it.
“I request my best compliments and wishes to Sam, in whose mechanical labours (I should say inventions, for never was a term worse applied than labour to your worthy, indolent brother) I feel an uncommon interest,—being so perfectly sure, that any the least considerable of his numerous inventions would make his fortune, if he would only abjure all further improvements.”
Dumont addresses Bentham on the 8th May:—
“I want a word or two—only a word or two—and you must conquer your repugnance. I want not finished labours, but hints. Mark the way by a few posts, and I will follow you. Your ideas are all in ready money; so I can draw on you at sight. But I must consult you; for if I suspend my labours, the interest will cool, ennui will seize me, and the devil will do the rest.
—pendent opera interrupta, minæque
Murorum ingentes, æquataque machina cœlo.”
Virg. Æn. iv. 88-89.
Sir John Sinclair writes:—
“Edinburgh, 10th September, 1794.
I have already seen sheep with four horns, such as you describe, both from Sweden and Persia, and I have no doubt that they are of the primitive race; for one of them came from Mount Ararat, and the Armenians say, is the lineal descendant and representative of the ram that descended from the Ark of Noah. It will be necessary, however, to examine his tail as well as his horns, to ascertain whether he exactly resembles the sheep already in our possession. When he gets old, it would be a pity not to have him stuffed and preserved. I have ordered Cambridgeshire to be sent to Queen Square Place. There is no doubt but that the Guinea grass might be assimilated to our climate in three generations. I hope that you will contrive to give it as fair a trial as possible. I set out in three or four weeks for the Ultima Thule, but return in about a month, and will then be happy to have the pleasure of meeting you at Edinburgh.—Believe me, with regard, your very faithful, humble servant.”
Bentham’s answer to Philip Metcalf’s inquiry, from Brighton, (of 12th September 1794,) which was in these terms—“Dear Adelphi,—How goes on Panopticon? are you at work, or have you touched a little more of the ready by way of security? Tell me about the Chinese embassy, and, above all, give me a good account of yourself—” shows the then situation of the Panopticon scheme, and the gloomy state of Bentham’s feelings respecting it.
Bentham to Philip Metcalf.
“Hendon,Middlesex,Sept. 14, 1794.
Very badly; worse than badly: for it stands stock-still. A letter I had occasion to write by Long’s suggestion to Dundas, so long ago as this day month, has remained unnoticed, partly, I suppose, on account of Nepean’s illness, whom I have not been able to get to the speech of in all this time.
“Meantime, the whole undertaking does not know whether it is to live, or be starved to death. So long ago as August twelvemonth, I was to have had £10,000 from Government; three months afterwards, £10,000 more: it was all agreed upon—nothing wanting but signature, when the idea was started by Administration that Parliament was necessary. I have spent in one way or other about £6000 upon it; of which, after much ado, I got, as you know, £2000 Treasury currency—that is between £1800 and £1900. A letter I wrote to Pitt, at the suggestion of Nepean, for the first of the above instalments of £10,000, as soon as the bill had passed the Lords—that is, in June, remains unnoticed.
“It costs me at the rate of more than £2000 a-year merely to keep the men together; if one has the spare £2000 a-year, it is very well; but if he has not—?
“Some of the men I have discharged already: the greatest part will be discharged in about three weeks more; we may go on lingering with the rest a little while longer. When they are dispersed, how we are to get such another set again, if we should want them, God knows. Such a set, after the instruction they have had, scarce exists in London, nor, consequently, in the world.
“Things standing thus, we are deliberating upon two projects,—one is to try to mortgage, and go on with some of his inventions on a contracted plan, and in a private way, if Panopticon should linger longer; the other is, for Sam to go back to Russia, where, though absence has lost him his regiment, (better than any two in his Majesty’s service,) he is not without friends: a catastrophe of which, by the by, Mr Pitt had notice before it happened, and since it happened. Mr Pitt assured the D. of Dorset in June, that everything should be concluded to our satisfaction; the satisfaction, hitherto, has not been great. If Sam goes, there is an end of Panopticon in all its shapes, and of everything that hangs to it.
“Sam flies to company for relief: I to solitude and scribbling. He is gone down to his friends at Portsmouth. Vexation has not been of service to either of our healths. Q. S. P., to both of us, is like school to a truant schoolboy. The only comfort is, I have just now got possession of a new channel for coming at Dundas, through which, I have some reason to hope, I shall get him to speak, I should say, to write, (for speaking is as good as nothing,) before many days are at an end.
“As to the Chinese embassy, I know no more about it, than the Pope of Rome: had I been in sorts I should, before now, have known as much about it as other people. If I can muster up exertion enough, I will hunt out Staunton, and enable myself to give some satisfaction to your curiosity. Sir J. Sinclair brought him to see our lions, when Sam only was at home. Then a party was made for us both to dine with him at a common friend’s in the city, he wanting to see the lions a second time, with the other lion-owner. He had with him a young Jay, little more than fledged, and Colonel Turnbull his secretary. All of them seem pleasant people; with more sense and talent, or I am mistaken, than would easily be found in an equal set of English diplomatists. Turnbull, you know, I suppose is a famous son of the brush, and has lived a good deal in England. Chief-justice Jay is a good chief-justice-like looking man, of a sensible, shrewd countenance, rather reserved, but not unpleasantly so. He had been sitting up best part of the preceding night upon his despatches, which are to be made up by next Thursday; and under the urgency of the pressure he was obliged to miss the party he had made for Q. S. P. in the morning, and to leave dinner early. Sam and I both should like much to cultivate them all; but of course cannot attempt it before Thursday is over, and whether we can find spirits for it afterwards, must depend upon Dr Pitt.
“Men who are somewhat in the way of knowing, say that Windham is going into the D. of Portland’s place, and the Duke into some other; but all this, if there be any truth in it, you must have heard of long ago from better quarters.
“There was a grave assertion in the papers, not many days ago, of Broderick’s quitting, (which I should have been sorry for,) and Baldwin the Counsel taking his place. It was supposed to be a joke upon Baldwin; not a shadow of truth in it.
“Here you have your queries answered, and little over. Prosperous or unprosperous—sick or well—weeping or exulting, I am, dear Phil, ever yours,
Other letters of this period speak of “the faithless dilatoriness of the Ministry,” and of his diminished hopes of seeing his plan adopted.
Bentham addressed, at this time, this letter to Arthur Young:—
Bentham to Arthur Young.
Permit my ignorance to draw upon your science on an occasion that happens just now to be a very material one to me. I have a sort of floating recollection of a calculation, so circumstanced, either in point of authority or argument, as to carry weight with it, in which the total value of the landed property in this country (Scotland, I believe, included) was reckoned at a thousand millions, and that of the moveable property at either a thousand millions or twelve hundred millions. Public debt did not come, I believe, at least it ought not to come, into the account: it being only so much owed by one part of the proprietors of the 1,000,000,000 or the 1,200,000,000, to another.
“Upon searching your book on France, which was the source from which I thought I had taken the idea, I can find no calculation of the value of the moveable property, nor even of the immoveable, in an explicit form: on the contrary, in the instance of the immoveable, I find suppositions with which any such estimate appears to be incompatible. The Land-Tax at 4s. I find, you suppose, were it to be equal all over the country, (it is of England only, I believe, that you speak,) would be equivalent to as much as 8s.: on which supposition the rental (the tax at 4s. producing no more than 2,000,000) would amount to no more than £13,000,000, nor, consequently, the value at so many years purchase, say 28, to more than 364,000,000; or at 30 to 390,000,000; to which, in order to complete the calculation of the landed property of Great Britain, that of Scotland would have to be added:—
“1. A calculation, I should rather say the result of a calculation, of the value of the landed property of Great Britain, reckoned at [ ] years purchase,—(two prices, a peace price and a war price, could they be respectively of sufficient permanence to be ascertained, would be of use.)
“2. Do. of the value of the personal, i. e. moveable property of Great Britain.
“3. The amount of the population of Great Britain.”
To this letter he received the following brief reply:—
“Bradfield, October 5th, 1794.
“Dear Sir,—I take the rental of England to be twenty-four millions, exclusive of houses, and the annual product of timber, mines, &c.
“Houses,—twelve years’ purchase.
“No data strike me at present to discover the rental,—but these are questions I have not of late given my mind to.—I am, dear sir, faithfully yours.
“Apply to me on all occasions without apologies.”
Bentham wrote two letters to Charles Long of the Treasury,—one announcing, and the other accompanying his pamphlet, “Supply without Burthen.”*
Bentham to Charles Long.
“Q. S. P., October 1st, 1794.
You are now a holiday-making,—I wish you as much sport as you have afforded me satisfaction. To vary your pastime, which, perhaps, may be found not unsuitable to the place, permit me to present you with a riddle.
“What is that pecuniary resource, of which the tenth part would be a tax, and that a heavy one, while the whole is no tax, and would not be felt by anybody?
“The solution lies with the copyist; I hope it will be sent.—I am, dear sir, your most obedient and much obliged humble servant.”
“Hendon, Middlesex, October 13th, 1794.
“Sir,—If the pecuniary resource I ventured t’other day to submit to you, should be deemed ineligible or impracticable, perhaps in some other instance I may be more fortunate. I have two other such resources upon the anvil,—the one involving a burthen indeed, but that burthen coupled with an indemnity capable of balancing it, and sooner or later even of outweighing it: the other absolutely pure from all burthen from the very beginning. The first is already with the copyist: the principle of it has been exemplified in the first instance upon a single denomination of persons: but it is a pregnant one, and if approved may yield a score or two of other taxes. The other has been already travelled through, and wants only to be digested a little. Neither will trespass so much upon your patience, in point of quantity of reading, as the proposal about escheat: both together will not equal it in produce. Proposing without justifying is nothing: I could not bring myself to hazard either proposal, till I had, to my own conception, established it upon principles. Resources new in specie are hardly to be found; but it will be something if any such as are justly approved in specie can be rendered new in point of extent, or any that have undergone unmerited disgrace can be restored to favour and to practice by being placed in a new light.
“Thus occupied, I have thought it an escape not to have received a summons as yet about my own particular business: it has been laid upon the shelf for the chance, faint as it may be, of being of use by your assistance in a line of superior importance. I would, therefore, beg the favour of you to allow me two clear days notice: for it will take me one day to abridge the memorial, and another to get it copied.
“On the former occasion I trespassed on the gravity of your situation by the present of a riddle. Permit me now to reconduct you to the style of the subject by a grave apophthegm,—Supply without burthen is victory without blood. The application of it is what I have been pushing as far as time and faculties would carry me.
“If either use or amusement should, on your part, have paid for the trouble of reading all this, mine in writing it will have been overpaid.—I have the honour to be, with all respect, dear sir, your most obedient and humble servant.”
Of these financial projects, the following resumé was prepared by the author:—
Proposal for an unburthensome augmentation of the Revenue, by an extension of the Law of Escheat.* Proposal for an unburthensome augmentation of the Revenue, by an extension of the traffic in money on Government account, to divers modifications of demand, in addition to those to which it has already been extended, on the part either of Government,* corporate bodies,† or individuals‡ : whereunto might be added a tax on such as cannot be carried on with so much advantage on Government account, as on account of individuals.
To which is prefixed, an Inquiry, in answer to the question,—What lucrative occupations are capable of being carried on with advantage on the account of Government?§
Proposal for an unburthensome augmentation of the Revenue, as well as for the removal of divers impediments to industry, more especially inventive industry, and superior workmanship, by licences conferring the several faculties undermentioned, viz.:—
On the pamphlet on Escheat there is the following, dated 23d October, 1794, from
James Trail to Bentham.
I have a thousand apologies to make for not having sooner thanked you for the perusal of your paper on Escheat. I have been scarcely an hour at home, except for sleep, since I received it. I ran it over very hastily, and having no prospect of more leisure for some time, I sent it to Wilson with all the cautions and injunctions you prescribed.
“The plan appears much more reasonable on your development of it, than I had conceived it possible to have made it. I feel still startled at the proposal to vest in a public officer all property of which the state will, by your plan, be entitled to any share; and I doubt if the example of an executor or administrator will reconcile people’s feelings, or even their reason, to this part of the scheme. However, I am very glad you have written it, and sent it to Long, as it must impress every person that reads it, with a very favourable opinion of the faculties of the author. You labour, and with much ingenuity, but I doubt if with complete success, to prove that this mode of raising supplies will appear less burthensome or oppressive than a slight tax on collateral succession. After it has been established some time, that may really happen; but although you may convince a minister that it will happen, he cannot venture, on his own conviction, to make the experiment. You must convince the public, also, which, I fear, is impossible. The reluctance with which tithes, compared to rent, are paid, is a very strong illustration of your point. If the Church could occasionally be put into the actual possession of the tenth part of every field or farm, as the landlord occasionally is of the whole, the property in the Church would neither be disputed nor repined at.”
D’Ivernois, in sending to Bentham his volume on the French Revolution, expresses a wish that it should be known in Holland, and adds—“I have thought it necessary to put my name to the work. I had been silent, for it was natural for me to wish to withdraw both from the literary and political scene; but as many readers have asked whether it is not my object capriciously to blacken the French Revolution, I feel that I am bound to take upon myself the responsibility of an historian.”
Lord St Helens was at this period our ambassador at the Hague, and Bentham thus addresses him:—
Bentham to Lord St Helens.
“Q. S. P.December 5th, 1794.
“My dear Lord,—
On reading the enclosed, [D’Ivernois’ work,] it occurred to me that the example of the tragedies it displays might possibly be of use within the circle of your lordship’s mission; and that some member of the Government there might think it worth while to get it translated and printed there with that view. Two propositions seem to be placed by it in a strong light: that French principles are not more hostile to a monarchy than they are to any existing commonwealth, and that the first authors of a revolution grounded on such principles, or supported by such assistance, may depend upon being the second victims. If I may believe the enclosed letter from the author, a man of good character, with whom I have a slight acquaintance, the same idea of the utility derivable from the publication, had occurred to, and been recommended by, Mr Windham to your lordship. Should any steps have been taken in consequence, I hope the business will not be so advanced but that the corrections and additions, annexed to the present copy, may come in time. The other little pamphlet is by M. Chauvet, master of an academy of the higher order at Kennington. Some months ago I took the liberty of giving a relation of mine by marriage, Mr Abbott, a letter of introduction to your lordship; whether he ever had an opportunity of delivering it, I do not as yet know; for soon after his return to this country, he followed his wife to her long home.
“As for my own—my own affair,—I mean the castle in the air—
“ ’Tis now as whilom might be sung, adherent-stuck, suspended-hung;
coördinate as well as subordinate persons, well affected, and not unzealous, but the grand and universal damper and doer of nothing, who knows he is ruining me, and has ruined my brother, still insensible and immoveable.
“Mr Gally’s court, I hear, has opened for the winter; but that one of us who attends courts, whether for want of legal notice or for what other cause, has not yet begun to do suit and service.
“Believe me now and for evermore, with the most affectionate respect, my dear lord, your most devoted
A letter to Lord Lansdowne, dated Q. S. P., December 11, 1794, exhibits a new way of exacting the payment of old debts.
The most unfeeling and faithless of ministers and of mankind has not left me bread to eat. If it were of any use my existence should be supported a few days longer, you might pay, give, or lend me a miserable £12, being the price of certain books sent in to the library at Lansdowne House, in obedience to your lordship’s commands, in the year of the Christian era 1789. It was the collection of the Transactions of the French Provincial Assemblies, in twenty vols. quarto, or thereabouts.
“I have had great debates whether to apply in this manner, or to write a letter about blood and wounds, and putting the money into a sartin place, or to lay in wait and display the polish of a pistol, or to break into the butler’s room some night, and lay hold of whatever it afforded. At last, among a number of courses, all equally scandalous, this was preferred as steering clear of halters.
“All this will seem a dream to you; but if you will inquire whether such books are in your library, you will probably find them there; and if you inquire from what bookseller they came, you will hear of none, unless Mr Cross should happen to have among his bills, one of Elmsley’s to me for those books, and I think to that amount, which this hand gave, not long after, into your lordship’s.
“Were you to see me, you would find me looking, as well as talking, like Remeo’s apothecary; yet still, saving these my necessities, your lordship’s most devoted servant to command, till death, that is for a few days,
Lord Lansdowne answers the following day:—
“12th December, 1794.
“Dear Bentham,—I do not think you deserve the enclosed, but when you are upon the point of the cliff, I will promise you as much more. I have, I assure you, been in a great deal of pain for you, for I am afraid you have got among a set of r—s. I have been perpetually thinking how I could be of use to you; but I do not see that I can, except, perhaps, a little advice about men, and as to what may happen. The ladies are out of town. Why will not you and your brother come and dine here some Saturday with Romilly and Dumont, when it can do you no harm to talk your affairs over?
“Next Saturday I have a dinner of Americans, but the following Saturday is quite at your command.
“I am, though you do not deserve it, very sincerely yours.”
What follows, dated March 6, 1795, is rather an amusing, though, to the sufferer, a sufficiently annoying detail of official delays and difficulties:—
Bentham to Lord Lansdowne.
“You ask me, what success I have met with from the great man? meaning, I suppose, Mr Pitt. If I had met with success—that is, if I had settled with him—you would not have been four-and-twenty hours without hearing of it. The case is, that besides his procrastinating disposition, the chapter of accidents has been against me. On the 6th or 7th of last month, Mr Dundas, with the privity of Mr Pitt, wrote to Mr Long (Secretary to the Treasury) to meet him on the Monday, the 9th, at Mr Pitt’s, at half after ten, to settle everything. Mr Long having a cold, and sore throat, did not come till half after eleven,—and so nothing was done. Mr Dundas, at my solicitation, wrote therefore to Mr Long, to make another appointment for the same hour the next day. Mr Long having still the same indisposition, did not come till twelve,—so that opportunity was likewise lost. Mr Dundas thereupon finding the difficulty there was to find a sufficient time that would suit the joint convenience of himself, Mr Pitt and Mr Long, proposed, in concurrence with Mr Nepean, (who had conducted the business with me originally, to the stage at which, for want of parliamentary authority, it stopped,) that power should be obtained from Mr Pitt for him (Mr Nepean) and Mr Long to settle the business; and Mr Nepean devoted to that purpose the then next Sunday, (February 15,) the only day his regular business could possibly allow him to spare; and Mr Dundas was so sure of Mr Pitt’s coming into it, that he told me on the Friday before, I might take for granted the meeting would be held with me that day, and that the business would then be done. Mr Dundas, however, reckoned without his host; for on the Monday or Tuesday after, he told me that Mr Pitt would not turn it over to anybody else: but that he had promised him, that the first hour he could spare from those branches of public business that admitted of no delay, he would set about it himself—Sunday and the fast days that were then approaching; meaning the Wednesday and the occasional fast. These fast days, however, are over, and still the business is not done; yet everybody joins in assuring me, that Mr Pitt means really to do it. In the meantime, this unfortunate business of Ireland has come across them, and cannot have failed to furnish extraordinary occupation to their thoughts. They show at the same time a readiness to admit of our services in other matters. Mr Nepean t’other day introduced my brother to the Duke of York as commander-in-chief, for the purpose of examining his invention of an amphibious baggage-wagon, to answer the purpose of wagon and boats without increase of weight. My brother accordingly waited on the Duke, at York House, by appointment the next day, Sunday se’nnight, February 22, with the model. The Duke saw it,—approved it highly, and gave him orders for making some in the great, and talked of coming to Q. S. P. to see Panopticon and the other things. The very next day, without any warning, he came—saw—admired, and told Nepean afterwards that he should bring the king, who would probably have been here before this, if my brother had not desired a day’s notice, which was accordingly promised. No baggage wagons, however, will my brother make till he has got orders for them from Lord Cornwallis, the new master of the ordnance, to whom Nepean has already spoken of him, and has promised to introduce him in person by the first opportunity for that purpose. Mr Pitt and Mr Dundas have likewise intimated to Mr Nepean, a disposition to listen to my brother’s plans of improvement in relation to the navy: and for a beginning, have declared their willingness to turn over to him the Orion of 74—known as the worst sailer in the navy, which he has undertaken to make the best. He has likewise been sounded about quitting the Empress’s service, for the purpose of taking such a situation in our admiralty service, as would give him the power necessary for carrying his plans into effect. The arrangement of these matters waits for Nepean’s removal from his present office to his new situation of principal Secretary to the Admiralty, where he is to have great influence. We have already an order from the Board of Ordnance to make wheels, but the present situation of the works does not admit great despatch in the execution of it. What is remarkable is, that Pitt and Dundas should undertake for the alteration in the Orion, before Lord Spencer had been consulted about it. My brother’s introduction to Lord Spencer, has been deferred till Nepean, who is to do it, has been seated in his new office, which will render him the proper man for it. We are all along assured, from a variety of quarters, (for many people of weight among Mr Pitt’s friends have volunteered their services on the occasion,) that his procrastination has not proceeded from any dislike either to the men or to the measure; and it was but t’other day that Nepean said to my brother in so many words, ‘there are not two men alive that Mr Pitt has a higher opinion of than you and your brother.’ ”
“Pitt the second,” said Bentham, speaking of him to me in 1822, “had that quality,—the only quality necessary for a ministerial leader,—the quality of an orator. He had no plans—good or bad—wide or narrow. In fact, he came into office too young to have any,—just at the age when a man is intrusted with the conduct of his own private affairs. The Secretaries of the Treasury were Mr George Rose and Mr Charles Long. All that was wanting to the art of government was, that, from time to time, certain changes should be proposed, to prevent the machine from falling to pieces; and George Rose was generally employed to prepare and give an account of those intended and necessary changes. Mr Long was the arbiter elegantiarum—the master of the government ceremonies. The work that was to be done was concocted by Rose,—the secret superintendence of the workmen was managed by Long.”
The Duke de Liancourt writes to Bentham from Philadelphia, of the delight with which he had been studying the machinery, and the results of their system of prison discipline. He says, that he felt relieved on reaching a country where public opinion judged tolerantly of the variety of religious and political creeds. But he desires that his name may not be mentioned as the author of the remarks, lest he should awaken an attention he desires to avoid. He says, that the admirable management of the Pennsylvanian prisons has already brought about benevolent modifications of the penal code. He admires the care,—the attention,—the tact of the keepers: says that the jailor’s wife had succeeded to office on her husband’s death, and the discipline was quite as perfectly preserved as before. Whether from fear,—from conviction,—or from habit, order was admirably kept. He is struck with the superiority of the prisons, to every other public establishments. One thing only shocked the duke, namely, the total separation of the black from the white prisoners. And yet, says he, the directors of the prison are mostly Quakers and Abolitionists! So contradictory is man!
[* ] “A fac-simile—Was not there malice at the bottom of the original?—Did not the idea come from Derbyshire? This is writing libels—stopping at the end of the avenue, on pretence that the carriage could not come up, was acting one.”
[* ] Jacob Bryant, the author of “Analysis of Ancient Mythology,” &c.
[† ] Richard Anthony Salisbury, author of the “Icones Stirpium Rariorum.”
[* ] This occurred on 14th September. Dumont had (see below) been misinformed.
[* ] Thomas Law, brother to Edward, afterwards Lord Ellenborough. He had been a member of the Council of Revenue in Fort-William, and published, in 1792, “A Sketch of some late arrangements, with a View of the rising Resources in Bengal.”
[* ] See Works, vol. v., p. 233.
[* ] Bentham said, that Metcalf told him that the profit of distillation was only in the distilling duties—in other words, cheating.
[* ] Works, vol. ii. p. 583 et seq.
[* ] Already submitted.
[* ] Examples:—
1. Sale of perpetual redeemable Annuities, (the common mode of what is called borrowing.)
2. Sale of Life Annuities for lives of purchasers.
3. Sale of Annuities for long and short terms.
4. Sale of Annuities, with benefit of Survivorship—Tontine.
5. Sale of chances of large sums for small sums—Lotteries.
[† ] Examples:—
1. Business of the Amicable Society.
2. Business of the Equitable Society.
3. Business of the Friendly Societies.
[‡ ] Examples:—
1. Insurance of life against life.
2. Purchase of Life Annuities for sellers’ lives, on mere personal security, or doubtful real security. Quere—If the tax would be eligible being a tax upon distress?
[§ ] Example of profit by the conjunction of the business of buying Life Annuities for the lives of sellers, with that of selling Life Annuities for the lives of purchasers:—
N.B.—In this proposal are given inter alia:—
1. Reasons for apprehending that the Friendly Societies will, in general, scarce be able to make good the half of what they are likely to undertake for.
2. Reasons why the honour of Government is concerned in procuring a complete stock of the requisite data, without which all calculations, relative to the values of Life Annuities in general, and in the instance of the Friendly Societies in particular, must be fallacious—viz. a complete and authentic set of statistical Returns, showing the proportion of deaths to inhabitants in the several parishes throughout the kingdom.
3. Reasons why it would be of advantage as well to the individuals particularly concerned as to the public in general, that Government should take the business of the Friendly Societies into its own hands, that part which concerns the insurance against sickness only excepted.
[* ] At present, by a construction of common law, a man cannot lend a penny upon such terms, without risking his whole fortune.
In Ireland, relief is given to a certain degree against this inconvenience, by a statute of about ten years’ standing.
[¶ ] For Great Britain, between £200 and £300, in the least expensive case.
[** ] This would operate as a saving of so much capital.
N.B. Full indemnification to the several offices concerned.
The three legal restraints against which these three faculties afford relief, form together an almost total prohibition of inventive industry on the part of at least 19 individuals out of 20.
[†† ] In the instance of all four faculties, the license to be registered.