Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XIV.: 1801—2. Æt. 53—4. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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CHAPTER XIV.: 1801—2. Æt. 53—4. - 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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1801—2. Æt. 53—4.
Correspondence continued: Robert Watts on Prices; Dumont, with Notices of Talleyrand and French Politics.—Sir William Pulteney and Wilberforce on the Panopticon.—Wilson.—Sir T. M. Eden.—Bentham’s Visit to Paris, Fontanes, Duke de Brancas, Garnier.—Correspondence with Romilly, Trowbridge, and Collins.
The correspondence of Bentham with the Rev. Robert Watts of Sion College, exhibits some curious examples of the rise of prices in the articles of clothing, which are worth recording, and may serve as means of comparison with the present state of things. What appears most remarkable, is—the low nominal value of labour: that a boy’s coat, with buttons, and all other materials, should be made for one shilling, appears almost incredible:—
Bentham to Dr Robert Watts.
“Q. S. P.,September 8, 1801.
The importance of the public object, the pursuit of which has suggested the liberty I am taking by this address, will, I hope, plead my excuse for the trouble I am attempting to give you by it, unknown as I am in person, and perhaps even in name. Being engaged in some inquiries relative to the rise of prices, with the privity, and not altogether without the assistance of the Treasury, I obtained, not long ago, some valuable information on that head from Bethlem Hospital. It was confined, however, to provisions and fuel; and my subsequent endeavours to extend it to clothing and other articles, were not equally successful.
“In looking over t’other day my stock of pamphlets, I happened to light on those sermons preached before the Society for the propagation of the Gospel, in so many different years, [1772, 1777, and 1780,] at the end of two of which, among other statistical matters, I found accounts of the prices of the clothing furnished to the Charity Schools in the respective years. It struck me that, supposing these accounts to have been published regularly, or even frequently, from the commencement of that respectable institution, or for that part of the time which constitutes, in a more particular manner, the subject of my inquiries, viz. the period commencing with the present reign, the series of them might go a considerable way towards filling up the gap left in the above-mentioned document.
“Observing Mr Rivington to be the printer to the Society, I accordingly sent to his shop but now, in the view of furnishing myself with the sermons, &c. for such years as might serve me for that purpose. The answer being, that they had no copies with the documents, Sion College occurred to me as the place, of all others, in which I might reckon on the existence of a complete collection of those documents, if anywhere.
“The favour that I have accordingly to request, is—to know whether any such collection exists; and in what state in respect of completeness, in the library under your care; and whether I might be favoured with permission, and at what day or hour, by myself or clerk, to visit the library for that purpose.
“Enclosed is a copy of the information furnished by the documents in question, for two of the years, (1772, and 1780,) that of 1777 being silent on the subject; from this, my object will be more clearly understood; and any answer you may be disposed to favour me with, will leave a more precise standard to refer to.—I have the honour to be, with all respect, Reverend Sir,” &c. &c.
Mr Watts sent these extracts from sundry documents.
“An Account of Charity-Schools, lately erected in Great Britain and Ireland, &c. 8th edition. London: 1709.” 4to.
Page 50.—The charge of clothing a poor boy of a Charity-School in London:—
The charge of clothing a poor girl of a Charity-School in London:—
Note.—The different stature of children is allowed for in this account; and 50 children, between the ages of 7 and 14, (one with another,) may be clothed at this rate in London.
In the ninth edition of the same account, London, 1710, 4to., p. 54, is the same list of prices, with the exception of the boy’s cap, which is there charged at only 10d.: so that the whole charge amounts to only 15s. 1d.
At the end of the Annual Sermon for the Charity-Schools for the year 1779, the prices for clothing men, women, and children, are the same as in the list for 1780, except as follows:—
Ditto 1793, 1794, 1796:—No prices inserted.
Dumont writes to Bentham from Paris, 27th November, 1801.
Dumont to Bentham.
“The first time I saw Talleyrand, his reception was ministerial, which distressed me a little. This did not last; and I dined with him the same day. There was a large party; and after dinner, apart, he breathed to me some of those condensed sentences for which he is so distinguished, and which are of so much weight. He was very inquisitive about you. I asked for a private interview; but as a fortnight past without hearing from him, except by me making some polite offers of service, which were meant more for L. H. [Lord Henry Petty] than for me, I went to his magnificent hôtel and waited for him nearly four hours, from a concurrence of circumstances in which there was no intention on his part. When he returned from his ride on horseback, his valet-de-chambre, who had done me the honour of cordially welcoming me, conducted me to his toilette chamber. The first moment is always of overwhelming coldness—the second repairs everything; there were present two or three of his principal clerks, particularly M. Hauterive to whom you owe gratitude for his admiration of you. I had the best of your MSS. about me. Talleyrand made you, of his own motion, the subject of conversation, and with a degree of interest—with that wonderful sagacity—those studied, but most striking, expressions which give so peculiar a character to all he says. It was a well chosen moment. I exhibited the catalogue, and he showed the utmost pleasure on learning that a great part was nearly ready to appear. He would have had all printed at once. Hauterive and I thought it was enough to begin with four or five volumes. The means of execution were talked of: Talleyrand recommended an intelligent bookseller, who should take charge of the undertaking, and turn it to account. It was thought desirable not to talk about it, as the old school of Legislation, now occupied in the Civil Code—making laws by pages—would be disquieted and discontented; that Sieyes, though unacquainted with what you have said of this declaration of the rights of man, would have sagacity enough, having seen the extracts which have appeared in the Bibliotheque Britannique, to doubt whether his system and yours would move on together, and that the five or six Sieyists who are left would agitate on all sides to decry—to howl—to insurrectionize a certain horde of barkers: in fine, that it would be best the work should appear under the favourable auspices of your name, without any previous clamour. I am sorry, my dear friend, to be forced to cut the details short, but our conversation lasted above an hour, and was most interesting with reference to the object. The conclusion come to was, that Hauterive should see the said bookseller, and make some arrangement with him—an arrangement I willingly facilitated, as I asked for nothing; and gratuitous bargains are not very embarrassing to those who make them. Five or six days after these conversations, that is to say yesterday, the Citizen Minister sent to tell me that all was settled;—unfortunately I was absent, and they only left me a word in writing; but I dine to-day with Talleyrand, and shall have all the details. I do not think the printing can be kept secret, for the Abbé Morellet and Gallois knew that I had the intention of publishing. Besides, everybody: is acquainted with the Bibliotheque Britannique—known to everybody who can be deemed a reader—and every reader speaks of the extracts, and of you. I have seen the new editions of [Beccaria on] Offences and Punishments, to which Rœderer has added Diderot’s notes (in which I see with astonishment that he has anticipated you, on two or three occasions, where you differ from Beccaria.) In order to increase the value of the work, St Aubin has added a sort of synoptical table, or rather index, of a certain number of chapters—mutilated fragments—an abominable chaos—though they have had the courage to say that the MS., from which the translation was made, is in the author’s handwriting. The Abbé told me he found it among the papers of the Duke de la Rochefoucauld. All that I believe is, that he had made some extracts from the Principles of Morals and Legislation, and that his work has been taken for yours.
“I heard in the Legislative Assembly the speech of Portalis, minister of Religion (des cultes,) on the subject of the Civil Code. It was fine, very fine—so fine, that I could understand little of it. All that I learnt was, that on speaking of civil laws—or making a programme—nobody should pronounce the words nature, family, father, child, marriage, &c., without a sentimental tirade—an harmonica for accompaniment—for the auditory expects this; and, but for the place, would have clapped their hands. He answered an objection, clear and luminous, which has been made against the Civil Code, that it contains no grand conceptions: he answered that there was danger in grand conceptions: and the answer edified everybody. He taught us also, that the division of the Roman Law, Rerum and Personarum, ought to be preserved on account of its simplicity—that it comprises everything—which nobody can deny.
“I am impatient to know whether you have the same curiosity to see Paris—when difficulties are got over? What I can tell you is, that you will have the pleasure of witnessing a general security—a vigilant, but unperceived police—a general satisfaction with the Government, especially as compared with the past, and a hope of better things, which already may be deemed a half-attainment of them.”
And on the 23d December, 1801, Dumont says:—
“I have not yet settled matters with the bookseller. Talleyrand has shown more than official zeal in the matter—really the liveliest interest in the publication of a work of which he has the highest opinion. He has offered himself to pay the costs of a complete edition, if Bossange fears the speculation. But Bossange seems willing directly to undertake it. He has brought me the outline of a project, offering me 300 copies for my payment, keeping himself the property of the MS. But Talleyrand does not approve of this; he will have the property remain in my hands, so that, if there be other editions, the profit may be proportioned to the extent of the work. On the other hand, comparing the success of philosophical works, and the small number of readers in France, &c., friends whom I have consulted, think it will be long before a second edition will be required—and there we are. The Minister is at Zion, and probably nothing will be settled till he comes back. Certain it is, that the sale of 200 copies, (for I calculate I must give away 100 to serve the work,) subjected to the deductions of the bookseller, and to other uncertainties and embarrassments, will leave little enough, particularly with the necessity of staying in Paris to superintend the printing. It matters not—it is no interested speculation; and I shall decide to accept it if a powerful friend, without whom I shall do nothing, has no objection. I have read my preface to an enlightened friend—I have read some chosen passages. They have given the highest satisfation; and your name has an influence great enough to obtain a considerable circulation. M. Duquesnoi, a man of sense, has just translated your publications respecting the Poor. I have not seen the translation; but I fear the book is not of a character to have any great success at Paris, for whose meridian it is not calculated.
“But now to the weightier affairs. I opened the subject of your financial project. I represented it in the best terms. I introduced the Panopticon. I was listened to with interest; but the subject has not been again referred to. The first step is always difficult. Many details would be necessary, to point out to you the march of affairs,—the impediments to progress,—the immensity of occupations,—the embarrassments of the Civil Code. When we were walking on the banks of the Thames, I was always supposing things which showed my ignorance of the state of the country,—the inaccessibleness of men,—the delays of business. I could safely say to you, come here for your amusement,—for promenades,—for spectacles; but I could not add, come here for the object we have in view,—come for a purpose of immediate utility. The success of the work may bring important consequences: we must wait for its impression, in the double sense of the word. I could personally aid for circulating much in the world (which begins to be sorely wearisome to me;) I have a thousand means of hastening its influence, and of gaining time. But my advice is, that you should delay. You will lose nothing. The mud of Paris makes it disagreeable at this season. Spring is preferable in all respects. Adieu, my dear master.
“I had forgotten the most essential. Talleyrand desires I will send to London for the following books, to which he prays you to add anything on political economy lately published. The books should be in perfect condition,—good editions, and well bound, if that will not take too much time. M. Otto will forward them, and pay for them:—‘Wealth of Nations’—Smith. ‘Political Economy’—Stewart. ‘Political Arithmetic’—A. Young. All his political works—Price. ‘Estimate,’ &c.—Chalmers. ‘Asiatic Register.’ ‘Annual Register,’ from its origin up to 80.
All his works—Bentham. ‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’—Smith, and his posthumous pamphlets. Morgan, Vansittart, Rose, Beeke, and Best. Pamphlets on the Famine. ‘Journal of Arts, Patents,’ and subscription. ‘Monthly Magazine,’ complete, and subscription. Small Map of the National Debt, in the form of a calendar. ‘Statistical Table of Europe,’ and any other articles at option and discretion.”
Bentham to Dumont.
“January 1, 1802.
“My dear Dumont,—
I sent you by Tuesday’s post a crusty letter, (though not more so than you deserve,) in which the essential part was the response to your ‘essential’ half-sheet about the book commission. What think you of an accompaniment I have thought of for the books? A set, or say two sets, of my brother’s patent, but never sold, fireirons, of which the characteristic and special property is levity.* One might be kept by T. [Talleyrand,] the other, if he thought fit, be passed on to B. [Buonaparte.] The use of them would be to serve as a specimen, though a trifling and hors d’œuvre, and uncharacteristic one, of the Panopt. system.
“But another, which is not only characteristic, but really important, is the art of wheel-making machinery, to the working of which neither dexterity in any degree, nor good-will is necessary. Several wheels exist here still, and a couple of pairs might be sent as specimens. They are of a size to serve for a small child’s carriage. Lord Glenbervie had a set, anno 1794 or 1794, for a carriage for his child. There exist still a pair or two of coach-wheels of the size of ordinary coaches, made by a system of machinery, in the great of which the other was, as it were, the model. A system of wheels made by such a system of machinery, would be particularly commodious for a general and connected system of national roulage upon a plan analogous to that of our mail-coaches; for the multiples of each of the several component parts being precisely of the same dimensions one as another, the spoke, (le rayon,) for example, or the segment of the filly, (le circonference,) in case of an accident to any such part, might be replaced by a spare part of the same sort, either kept at the several houses of call, or carried in the carriage itself for that purpose: and if, as with us, it were deemed advisable to prescribe dimensions for wheels by law, with a view to the good keeping of the roads, such a system of machinery would afford the means of conforming to such prescription with peculiar accuracy, especially if iron railroads were adopted, (as grooves for the wheels to run in, almost without friction,) as they begin to be with us.
“The article of wheels, you are to know, was taken up by my brother, in the first instance, not as being the most advantageous application of machinery to wood work, but as that which affords the greatest variety of different conformations; so that, to pass on from that to such an article as window-frames, for example, in which he had made considerable progress, would be to descend from a more difficult task to a less difficult one. Sawing to a degree of unexampled fineness, and planeing to an unexampled degree of breadth of shaving, he had accomplished long before, besides a variety of et ceteras too long to mention, or even to recollect,—would not the envoi do more harm, by showing empressement on my part, than good, by furnishing an occasion for a fresh mention of the subject? You will judge. I would avoid writing: you may mention it as a reason, my unwillingness to put him to the trouble of an answer. My plan about the pamphlets, if I can pursue it, is to do by them as by my own copies of them,—bind them up from four to five, to a dozen or more, in a volume, with a short title to each at the back, which is thereby sometimes covered with lettering. This, besides ornament, saves a deal of trouble in looking them out for use. Besides the purchasable, I believe I shall send the unpurchasable, viz. 1. Pan.; 2. Jud. Est.; 3. Poor; 4. Tact.; 5. Emanc. The misfortune is, these require looking out; but that is not so impossible now as heretofore. As you could not find time, so much as to answer me which was the most eligible newspaper, I have begun with the Moniteur from 1st Nivôse, 1st January, 1802, subscribing for three months, which cost me forty-five instead of the twenty-five francs at Paris. I have taken steps towards getting it from the commencement of the present reign; but at the De Boffe’s rate, as above, it would cost between £20 and £30. Those who, at different times, have had from me, gratis, so many different copies of works which they could not have had at any price, might, I should think, help me in a matter of this sort, and without any expense to themselves: but it is for you to judge. Of the fire-irons above spoken of, a few sets have been sold at different times, though never in any shop, and I believe the price has never been under six guineas. At the best, they would be very expensive to make, and are no more than a bauble for the rich.
“P. S. No correspondent commission has been received in regard to the payment for the books; the gentleman, on sight of your letter, said, that whenever such commission came, he would be sure to pay for them. Consequently, till it comes, nothing will be done. This is what I had above half expected.”
“16th February, 1802.
“Herbert this morning, on taking to M. Chauvet’s the returnable volume of Bib. Brit., and my book-keeping papers for his edification, was told by him of his having received from you on Saturday, a letter, (13th,) in which you say that ten sheets of Code Civil are printed. This advance made, and not a syllable all this while to me! I cannot help being apprehensive, or, in one sense, I may be hopeful of learning, that some letter, either of yours or mine, has miscarried. Come, let me give you t’other scolding bout: you are a naughty boy—a shatterbrain—an etourdi, like a child in leading-strings. How do you write letters upon letters, such as all of us should be equally delighted to read, and such as might be equally visible to all of us; yet instead of its occurring to you to make such things circulate, you put them into private letters as A B and C, mixed with private matters in such manner as to be uncommunicable. I have scolded you already two or three times, and hereby scold you again for the third or fourth time, forasmuch as you, neverhaving the fear of God or your master before your eyes, have taken care never to ask anybody whether such a person as Dr Schwediaur, a German physician of Paris, now or ci-devant of the Institute, exists, Gallicè Swediar, and where a letter would reach him?
“Somebody or other had heard that Lord Henry [Petty] was tired already, and was on the point of coming home. Is it so?
“I have for these seven or eight weeks past, been obliged to turn aside from public affairs, to less public or private ones: I have still work for a month longer at it.
“In the Moniteur, 12th Nivôse, there is a paragraph from Petersburg, about a Count Saw . . . . (the rest is worn away in my copy) having a commission to set up a Code manufactory; and strangers, it is said, are to be taken into consultation. Could not you, when your Code is out, get a copy sent from the proper quarter to this man, whoever he is, or to any other more proper quarter there, with a letter saying, it is by a man whose brother is still in that service, &c. Suppose you were to get the copy first handsomely bound: let us know the expense, and I will repay to your order with thanks, &c., as they bind better probably at Paris than at Petersburg.
“I have seen Duquesnoi’s prospectus of the Poor Book. One of these days, if I had a friend at Paris, I should have a copy of it by some means or other. Romilly has heard at Holland House of your intended publications—his hypothesis is, that the intelligence came from Lord Henry. He mentioned a parcel of lords as curious and expectant on the subject—aristocrats as well as democrats.
“I want thousands of books from Paris, but know not how to get them. The unedited works that I have never published here, I should have no objection to send a few copies of to a French bookseller, if a demand for them should ever grow up out of the published French ones.”
Dumont to Bentham.
“Paris, 7th March, 1802.
“I was in the wrong, my dear Bentham, but not so much as you supposed. Talleyrand has been absent for six weeks, so that nothing was finally settled. Since his return I have seen little of him. I have missed him. I waited for him. I lost mornings in waiting, and then he reproached me for seeing him so little; but if you knew my occupations, you would judge if I have time for antechambers—to say nothing of ennui. The printing of the book goes on; but in consequence of certain conversations, and seeing the absolute want here of surer ground-work for legislation, and the embarrassments resulting from it, it occurred to me that I ought to place the Pandicia in the first volume. I have not given it this name, but have called it a General View of a complete course of Legislation.* I had laboured hastily upon your MSS. when there was much to finish and to attend to. I wanted the division of offences—I forgot that it existed in 4to,—and had reserved it for the bonne bouche. But I was forced to introduce this long chapter, and am not dissatisfied with what I have done. See if I have been idle—preparing the MS., twice correcting the proofs, living in the world, dining out every day, soireé every night, visits active and passive—and ask of your friend, how the most busy of men had had leisure to write letters of amusement or frivolity, and to attend to other affairs? Besides, I have been ill—have had rheumatism for my host, a new visiter, and an alarming one; it installed itself on my left side, stopped my labours, forced me to call in a physician who leeched me, and I am better. Do not mention this to my friends. They would be alarmed, and there is no ground for alarm; but I have suppressed the greater part of my dinners and my soireés—health has served for a reason and a pretext, and I employ both only enough for my amusement, and just to acquaint myself with what is going on.
“On the Pandicia, I must tell you, my dear master, that I found it excellent to throw at the head of these starlings (etourneaux) of legislation, to show them what an ensemble means; to teach them the difference between a man who knows ponere totum, and him who only grasps a very small part of a great whole. If there be anything calculated to strike an enlightened man—a man of mental power and extensive views, it is this general Map of Legislation. If this panorama does not produce its effect, and place its author at an infinite distance above all who have preceded him, I know nothing of the matter, and cannot say what should be done.
“We are printing the Principles of the Civil Code—these and the Penal Code are nearly complete—with the exception of the 4th book, on indirect means. You know that I found among your papers a bundle of MSS. on this subject—too precious to be lost—and I am infusing them into the work.
“Lord Henry [Petty] enjoys Paris much. He has thoroughly succeeded in society—is much sought for, much caressed, and much delighted.
“People begin to talk about our book. I kept the matter a secret, that I might not be annoyed in conversations, but it is the scent of the play. Its effect will be great. It is spoken of from aloft as a work of the highest importance. Talleyrand is deeply interested. Yet what a life—what a galley-slave life is an editor’s! Correct as he may, faults will remain to tear his soul in pieces—an & is wanting—a word is omitted—a letter misplaced—stops in confusion. Truly a corrector of the press is a galley-slave!
“Your fire-irons are superfluities. I have no opinion to give. I am not familiar with such instruments. But I have spoken of Panopticon. It was coldly received. They said ‘Yes! it ought to be erected, and they would think about it when the time came.’ The time anticipated is the time of peace. It is premature to suggest anything that looks like establishment, or that demands confidence. Come here if you will—come before I leave, at the end of May. You shall have theatres, public amusements, promenades, the Boulevards—as much or as little of the world as you please; but I say nothing about whist. The proofs that nothing is to be done now, is, that I forgot to mention the subject before. Address—Rue des Saussaies, No. 4, Fauxbourg St Honoré.”
Bentham to Dumont.
“Q. S. P., 16th April, 1802.
“You would oblige me much, my dear Dumont, by sending me, by the earliest conveyance you can find, a copy of the two volumes which, I hear from Romilly, are already printed. Expense, though it were to amount to a guinea or two, would be no object; but if it could be done without considerable enhancements of the expense, I would be glad to have two or three.
“I let slip unawares the occasion of Chauvet. I knew that somebody was going to Geneva; but I did not know that it was by the way of Paris, nor that it was he. I am concerned to think of his departure: such a man makes a gap. By a sort of instinct, I was prompted to call upon him, for the purpose of taking leave. Reason joined with indolence in stopping me: such leave-taking serves for nothing but to increase regrets.
“You will imagine how I stared at seeing, in the Moniteur, an article of intelligence about the Institute, with my name to it. The next thing I shall expect, is the appointment to a mandarinship, from the Emperor of China. You must have been intriguing like ten dragons; unless the use of my name was to make up the two ciphers, for the benefit of an efficient figure, to be chosen of the two German compilers: compilers I take for granted since they are Germans, which I also take for granted from their names, not having the honour to know either of them (probably as being myself so completely unknown) beyond their names. Successful or unsuccessful, I do not mean at present to impose on you the task of developing all these intrigues: it will afford us amusement when we meet. When you leave Paris, I hope it will be to come here, for a time at least; though, on reflection, I fear the contrary. You may have observed, in some of our papers, an article about Romilly’s being Solicitor-general. I had the intelligence, as I thought, from his own office, and went to congratulate him, and found it groundless.
“With respect to the fire-irons, &c., you seem to have considered me as attaching to them a degree of importance much beyond what I really attached to them in my own mind. A favourable opportunity appearing to present itself, it occurred to me, that what is of no use here, might possibly be found of some small use there. As to the intrigue about the Institute, since it is begun, e’en let it take its course. But I want no other.
“My whole time is absorbed, and for these two months I suppose will be, by a pursuit, of which you are unapprised; and which there is neither time nor use in explaining to you at present.
“As far as I can judge, from dipping in here and there,—for as yet I have given it no regular reading,—Duquesnoi’s translation seems very well executed. Should any of the Prefects fill up any of the tables,* it would be a great satisfaction to me to receive them.”
Smarting under the ill usage he had received in the Panopticon business, and worn out with the intolerable delays which retarded any decision on the matter, Bentham applied to Sir William Pulteney, urging him to bring the matter before the House of Commons.
Bentham to Sir William Pulteney.
“Queen’s Square Place,
In common with the rest of the public, I remember, so long ago as the time of Mr Fox’s East India Bill, looking up to you as, beyond comparison, the most watchful and efficient, as well as among the most independent guardians of the Constitution.
“At present, feeling a sort of call upon me, to contribute my humble part towards bringing before Parliament, what presents itself to my view as an anti-constitutional misdemeanour of the first magnitude—no less than a wilful, corrupt, and obstinate exercise of dispensing power (not to speak of a long train of comparative peccadilloes) on the part of some principal members of the departed administration, in conjunction with one or two of the present; in looking round for a parliamentary leader, I can see no man to whom, on such an occasion, I could address myself with anything like equal confidence.
“Though, in my individual capacity, the principal part of the mischief of the offence has fallen upon me, I do not consider myself as having, in the common acceptation of the term, a personal interest in the inquiry; having had reason given me to expect, that under the present administration, such reparation as I may be capable of receiving, will not be refused;—but, as to their willingly concurring in setting on foot an inquiry relative to the public crime, you will judge whether any such support would rationally be to be expected.
“Time and reflection have, to such a degree, cooled my feelings on the subject, that your opinion on the question, whether or not it would be best for the country on the whole—in a constitutional point of view—that the business should be brought to light, or suffered to rest in its present obscurity, would contribute, in no small degree, towards determining me whether to go on with it, or let it drop.
“Amongst other members of Parliament I can take upon me to mention not only Mr Wilberforce, and Sir Charles Bunbury, but the Speaker and Mr Nepean, as being fully impressed with the persuasion, that the treatment given to the individual has been, in an unprecedented degree, oppressive and unjust,—and the conduct of the late administration, in respect of it, altogether indefensible. The two former gentlemen have been spontaneous and active, and, as they have assured me, not unsuccessful in their applications to the present administration for redress; but you will go before me in conceiving that, for different reasons, neither of them are men to be applied to for such a purpose as that in question here. Sir Charles has, indeed, been kind enough to offer to say anything that I would wish him to say in Parliament; but it was not in the nature of the case, that his views on the occasion should have gone beyond the particular concern in which I am personally interested.
“Mr Nepean proffered himself at the time, as willing, upon occasion, to avow and support in Parliament a plan of adjustment, which he had already negotiated with the late Treasury and Mr Long. He made no secret to me of his looking upon their conduct, on that occasion, as calling for parliamentary inquiry,—and of his readiness to declare his opinion of it to the face of Mr Pitt; Mr Pitt being then minister, and then, and always his personal friend. In a narrative which I have almost finished, I refer all along to his testimony. But for a man in his most laborious office,—and unused to public speaking,—for a secretary of the Admiralty to take the lead on a great question of constitutional law, and that might come to involve a long operation of committe-work, is, of course, not to be thought of.
“As to the Speaker [Abbot]—ever since his being in that situation—I have kept aloof from him, as a suitor from a judge. But he has never been either backward or secret in his expression of the sense he has always entertained of the conduct of the late Administration towards me,—and having, contrary to my wishes, heard (through my brother) of my having something upon the anvil, which was not destined to be kept secret, he accosted me t’other day with the spontaneous expression of his wishes for my success.
“None of the gentlemen above-mentioned have any conception of the anti-constitutional offence; none of them having ever had any communication of a concealed letter, by the publication of which it would be brought to light. I should have excepted Mr Nepean; but he, though struck with the gross errors he saw it full of, and accordingly, as a member of the Administration, having been anxious for the suppression of it, yet, not being a lawyer, nor, at the time, so much as suspecting the criminal consciousness (or, as our English lawyers call it, the mala fides) with which be afterwards saw but too much reason to believe it accompanied, it certainly did not, at the time, present itself to him in so serious a light, any more than it did to me, till I came to bestow a more particular attention to it in that particular point of view.
“To the Opposition, an investigation of this sort would be such a game to play as you can much better conceive than I can; but having, all my life long, been as much above party in one sense, as I have been below it in another, it is but natural I should address myself, in preference, to a man who is superior to it in every sense.
“I write this, therefore, Sir, to beg to know, whether—supposing the charge to be as above described, and the evidence sufficient, in your judgment, for the support of it—you would feel inclined to take it up, and take the lead in bringing it before Parliament. In the event of your answering in the affirmative, I would transmit to you, in the first instance, a half-sheet of paper, in which the most important of the articles are recapitulated; with or without another short paper or two, such as may serve to throw some fuller light on the business, without consuming too much of your time, in this early and uncertain stage of it.
“But as no person whatever but my amanuensis has seen what you will then see, I hope you will not refuse me the favour of your assurance, that, without my special consent, whatever I communicate to you on the subject, shall not be suffered to meet any other eye or ear but yours. The small remnant of the present Parliament is, of course, altogether out of the question; but though, for obvious reasons, a regular notice cannot be given as from Parliament to Parliament, it would be a point for consideration, whether an intimation to that effect might or might not be an eligible preparative.
“The more speedy the answer, the greater will be the favour to, Sir, your most obedient and humble servant,” &c.
Sir William Pulteney to Bentham.
“London, 30th April, 1802.
I was favoured with yours of the 28th, by last post, and I return thanks for the civility of your expressions concerning me. I had occasion, some years ago, to read, with much satisfaction, a work of yours which did credit to your talents, and I particularly agreed with your opinions and reasonings, against all taxes on the proceedings of Courts of Justice.
“I am certainly not indifferent to anything which regards the admirable constitution of our country; and no part of my conduct in Parliament has hitherto masked any views which regarded myself personally; but I am too much engaged in business relating to my own private affairs, to undertake that sort of public business which is suggested in your letter, as it may require an attendance of some length in a committee, if an inquiry should be granted. If the business should come forward in the House, I shall certainly give it the most impartial consideration. I am, Sir,” &c.
Dumont to Bentham.
“Paris,May 2, 1802.
“A quarter of an hour’s tittle-tattle with you, dear Bentham, were it only in broken phrases. I send you the two volumes—which I have had much trouble in completing: they have their own reasons for not printing the last sheet till they print the titles.* I do not send you the preface—it is all by me—it is all about you. Is it for this you offer me the three guineas? You do me too much honour. I have said what I ought to say for the success of the work—but less than I should have said, had I not feared an editor’s excess of zeal—besides, there is a certain modesty with which one must speak of one’s friends: are they not part of one’s self? is not one suspected of self-appropriating a portion of the laud one gives them? However, the book is asked for—impatiently. I am entreated to announce, however. I stand on the pride of a man who knows that his work is a work of merit—and that pride is useful too. Talleyrand is looking round for workmen capable of working our mine; but they are rare. You will be sometimes pleased—sometimes displeased. I have done my best: reproach me not: I may not always have thoroughly seized your meaning: I may have weakened you. Had more time been mine in Paris, I might perhaps have improved the style. On the whole, I anticipate great success—not immediate, but enduring.
“The Institute is not an intrigue: I have some friends among them. They proposed to nominate you: I said not No! and so the matter stands. When you were nominated, I wished you to succeed, and told my friends that I thought it strange a mere German compiler should be thought of in preference. But Talleyrand says, the mode of election is so absurd, that an unknown man of mediocrity has better chance than ability of the highest merit. I cannot explain all this to you—it would be too long; but I foresee that your election cannot be secured: and, if you are not elected, draw no deductions.
“Our book will bring controversy with it: but paper war will not damage us;—it is better than the peace of the dead.”
Bentham to George Wilson.
“Q. S. P., May 22, 1802.
A-rummaging among some old lumber, out came a parcel of copies of a little tract, which I believe you saw at the time of its being first hatched. I don’t know whether you have e’er an one. I send two—one of which you will keep or burn, as you think fit: the other you may send to your neighbour the Master of the Rolls, [Sir W. Grant,] in your own name, or in my name, or in no name at all—as you please. Reading t’other day the account in the Times, of his speech about the peace, he seemed to me an animal sui generis amongst lawyers, and indeed amongst parliamentary men. I wish he had the Chancellor to snuff candles for him, or do anything else, if there be anything else he is fit for. The notions of the Master about colonies approach nearer to what I call reason, than those of almost anybody else I have met with. I did not know the Millennium had been so near.
“Two volumes of Dumont’s book are at Q. S. P., all but the preface, which he would not send, either because it was not finished, or because it is about me. The other is to be out as soon as the month is.—Yours ever,
“P. S. I will sell you as many as ever you have a mind for at a halfpenny a-piece, withoutinsisting on ready money.
“I mean of the Colony pamphlet. As to Dumont’s book, it is not mine. But if waste paper is scarce with you, you shall have a copy when it comes.”
“Lincoln’s Inn,Thursday 27.
I have given your pamphlet to the Master of the Rolls, and told him you sent it him in consequence of his speech, because you were pleased with his notions about colonies. He is obliged to you, and thanks you; but he is a cold and silent man, and whether he likes the pamphlet or not, neither you nor I will ever know.
“It appears to me to contain important truths very strongly put; but the French Government was not, and is not ripe for their reception. Neither are the Government or people of England.—Yours sincerely.
“P.S. I long very much to see Dumont’s book. Trail’s permission to return is at last gone, and we may expect him in a month. I have written a note to Miss F—. Is your brother in town?”
The following letter to Dumont, written by fits and starts, and on different scraps of paper, exhibits Bentham’s habit of suspending his ideas on “pegs,” to use a phrase he was accustomed to employ:—
Bentham to Dumont.
“27th-30th June, 1802.
“Avocats-Courtisannes, &c. &c.—
“Oh, yes—wonderous merit, truly! If I had called a cat a cat, would that have been any warrant for your making me call him so? My picture of a lawyer was not half finished: I had not laid on half the colours I had in store for him.
“Millions of thanks for the kindness of the offer, and the means you afforded me of profiting by it.
“I have said in my wrath something like what David said in his. All Frenchmen are independable upon—all except Dumont: and Dumont, too, is a Frenchman.
Εαπεν ὃ Δημοδοϰος· Χιοι ϰαϰοι· ουχ ὁ μεν, ὁς δ’ ου·
Παντες, πλην Πϱοϰλεους:—ϰαι Πϱοϰλεης Χείος.*
“My Greek displayed, I except your excuses, naughty boy! and pardon you.
“You are a pretty fellow, ain’t you? So beautiful you, I did not know you from myself. A compliment so fulsome, my fear was, lest in that character you should not be able to swallow it; and, lo! mixing it up with bile of your own, you convert it into an injustice. Seriously, though; whatever parts there may be in it of yours, with very few exceptions I have not been able to distinguish it from my own. If I had nothing else to do, it would be matter of amusement to make the rummage you are for putting me upon, and give suum cuique.
“28th June, 1802.
“Received your two letters, one dated 27th Mai, the other posterior to it, with no other date than Lundi: I suppose the 7th of this month, June—if it was not rather the 31st of May; for in that of the 27th you speak of your departure as fixed for that day four days. In your letter of Lundi, by Mr Studdings, you speak of your having sent, along with the complete copy in three volumes, ‘Le troisième volume defait.’ What means ‘defait?’ Literally it seems to mean, first done up, (i. e. sewed,) and then undone. I suppose it means here, not done up—i. e., as we say, in sheets. Be this as it may, done, undone, or not done, no such thing have I from Mr Studdings. His servant brought the complete copy in three volumes, loose. H. K. asked him for the other odd volume, translating to him that part of your letter—but he knew nothing of the matter. His master had then already been in London a fortnight, he said, and the day he brought it was 23d June. Since then I have heard nothing from Mr Studdings: so that the third volume, if sent, must have served him for waste paper. Sending the next day, (according to your worship’s order,) the two first volumes of my entire copy to Romilly, I sent him a license, if he thought it worth his while, to dun Mr Studdings for the other. So much for Mr Studdings.
“Your Lundi letter promises a dozen copies through Deboffe. Instead of those dozen, came, on the 25th, half a dozen from Abauzit, with a promise of the rest soon. This was I suppose by a fresh occasion, unthought of when you mentioned Deboffe. Abauzit had the honour to be mine, &c., ‘avec tous les sentimens d’un homme heureux, regénéré pas la lecture de mes ouvrages.’ What does this mean?
“He is a Ministre du Saint Evangile, is not he? Have I his soul to answer for, then, as well as other souls?
“I should like much to see your paper wars with Morellet and Garnier; and if you had been good for anything, you would have told me that I should see them, and how. Is there no young man in Geneva that would be glad to take a copy for so great a man as Monseigneur Dumont? Paper to make war upon us et tu Brute? As for your man of merit, I have been sadly disappointed with him. He has thrown a little more light upon the subject here and there, but I doubt a good deal more darkness. His levity, presumption, ignorance—blindness frequently, with every mark of wilfulness, is prodigious. To be sure, I have not yet read half his volume, but I don’t know how to get on with it. Text and commentary together will make such a hodge-podge, as we must endeavour, one of these days—if Providence grants us life and grace—to supersede.
You may expose his want of instruction, but as to instruction from him, I doubt neither you nor the public will get any. You will find in him neither the candour nor the discernment that are necessary for that purpose. From what I saw of him already, I set him down in the list of incurables. Can you tell me whether he had seen ‘Emancipate your Colonies,’ ‘Law Taxes,’ ‘Defence de l’Usure’ or ‘Defence of Usury,’ or, ‘Judicial Establishment’? Notwithstanding all I have said, I would send them to him—such of them as he has not seen.
“We are looking for it every day, with all our eyes, like astronomers for a comet; but we have the Moniteur of 7 Messidor before us, and still not a syllable of a puff from him, or anybody. Will he put his name to it, I wonder? Many puffers (I see) do:—if a puff without a name is worth one pot of beer, a puff with his name is worth two.
“You see the Moniteur, I suppose, regularly: and thence you have seen the annonce of the book,—the simple, or rather imperfect annonce, with my name only, and not yours. The bookseller is a noodle. The lettering at the back of the book is,—[Traités de] ‘Legislation [par] Bentham.’—Bentham, Legislation Penale et Civile,—would have been more expressive.
“On second thoughts, I am inclined to think I misunderstood your expression, ‘Gallois s’est chargé de l’annonce dans le Moniteur.’ Perhaps, by the simple annonce above mentioned, he has acquitted himself of the charge. And this was all the charge you meant. But for this, what need of Gallois?
Nec Deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus.
Was not the bookseller equal to the task of copying and sending to the newspaper the title of the book? We shall see, one of these days, what the Journaux say of it. In the meantime, if you are good for anything, you will let me know whether people say anything at all about it at Paris, where I presume your citizenship is not altogether without correspondence.
“By the by, do you know that my citizenship went to the keeper of the voting-book, and voted a freehold interest in the consulship to Buonaparte.
“Henry Thornton on Paper Credit—
“This is a book of real merit,—a controversy with him would be really instructive. I have tumbled it over but very imperfectly, that not being the order of the day; and for fear of calling off my attention, and absorbing my capacity of exertion. But one of these days I may not improbably grapple with him. Admitting all his facts, with thanks,—agreeing with him in almost all his conclusions,—but disputing with him what seems (as far as I have as yet seen) to be his most material conclusion, viz., that paper money does more good than harm. Here is a book of real instruction, if the French are wise enough to translate it: the style clear, plain, without ornament or pretension; the reasoning close.
“Archimedes [Sir S. Bentham] received (through he knows not what channel, I suppose Abauzit) two copies of a book, which goes at Q. S. P. by the name of ‘Dumont Principes.’ Whatever was the design of this anonymous, not to say insidious, present, the effect of it was destroying subordination in a regular, quiet family,—making younger branches insult the elder,—snapping their fingers and vaunting their independence.
“I had like to have forgot the Institute, I declare,—a pretty kettle of fish there we have made of it. You must now draw in your horn, and put your microscope in your pocket. You will not have the face to set about making observations upon man, now that auspices are wanting from above.
“Has Abauzit fingers capable of holding a pen? If so, and he is a true apostle, you might set him to take off some of your enemies off your hands.
“Thank you for your account of him. His name was as well known to me as any name, viz., by its connexion with his works, which, however, I know only from extracts.
“Benthamite? what sort of an animal is that?—I can’t find any such word in Boyer’s Dictionary. As to religion—to be sure a new religion would be an odd sort of a thing without a name: accordingly there ought to be one for it—at least for the professors of it. Utilitarian (Angl.,) Utilitairien (Gall.) would be the more propre. Consult the Physical Class of the Institut: which, by the by, I am truly sorry to hear you say, is on its decline, or at a stand at least.
“You have nothing particular to do here: when you have seen Lord H. safe to whatever place he would be safe at, you ought to take another trip to Paris, to see how matters are going on there. You might by that time take the opportunity of buying Dumont Principes at so much per pound. Imported here, they might be put into one of the new invented Quasi-Medica kettles, boiled young again, and regenerated into poems and sermons. You brag of your paper, but, besides its letting the fingers through, it will not hold the ink—a device of yours, I suppose, for stopping the career of my amendments.
“Place and Time,*&c.—
“I have not compared anything with the original brouillon, and probably never shall: but, as far as I can judge, it is a happy thing that there happened to be so much room to spare. The Promulgation des Raisons edified me very much: it was a favourite topic, and I was very glad to see it, and see it so well managed; putting the specimen after the general matter, was an idea altogether excellent. Place and time being of the nature of that sort of general speculation that one likes, and, at the same time, fixed and specialized by the applications made of it, will, I should think, be found rather amusing than otherwise, and, by giving a sort of vernis philosophique, make an excellent finish. I have filled my paper—a duty I never neglect: so now, my good boy, good by to you.
“You see from the Moniteur that there are several of them setting up at Petersburg—in Bavaria—to say nothing of probable ones in little Republics. Of the six copies received already, I think of sending two to Lord St Helens, leaving him to do with them what he pleases. Even Rumford, would be a proper channel, I suppose, for anything to Bavaria: but it is against my habits—my principles—my everything, to propose it to him. By Peltier, I suppose, it might be done, if you thought it worth while to mention it.
“Should it fall in your way, I wish you would give a commission to any German capable of undertaking it, to transmit to me whatever critique may come to be made upon Dumont Principes. I would not grudge a few pounds (nor, in short, any sum that it could amount to) in this way, for my menûs plaisirs. I would not serve you as X. Y. Bellamy had liked to have served us.
“Diatribes contre la Loi—
“How rare and extravagant is that proposition about suppressing advocates, &c. It is as if a man would propose to keep meat sweet, by keeping maggots off from it. He has made me ashamed almost every now and then of my own opinions and my own wishes, by the bad arguments he has given for them.”
Bentham sent to Wilberforce his statement of the grievances to which he had been subjected on the subject of Panopticon; and in answer to the inquiry whether he should publish, Wilberforce replies† :—
William Wilberforce to Bentham.
“Broomfield,September 3, 1802.
“My dear Sir,—
I have run over your packet very hastily—it has found me lying under an arrear of business which I am impatient to clear away, but I would not wait the full time you allowed me to keep your papers, in order to find a day of leisure, which experience has instructed me to fear might disappoint my hopes. Without further delay, therefore, I will express to you what occurs to me on this hasty perusal. Excuse any marks of precipitation which my letter may contain, and impute them to my being obliged to write hastily, if just now I write to you at all. Yet I honestly confess to you, I am tempted to lay down my pen at the very outset, from a fear lest you should misconstrue my motives, and lest my advice should be wholly thrown away. But I will persist: if without effect, it will be a satisfaction to me that I have acted with rectitude and kindness in making the endeavour.
“It is but too natural for any one who has been for so long a period as you have been, a sufferer from that ‘hope deferred which maketh the heart sick’ to feel acutely, and to express himself warmly. But he will yet allow a person who has a sincere and deep sense of the hard treatment he has sustained, and both on public and personal grounds, a cordial wish to see the actual accomplishment of his long-meditated plan, to speak to him with that frankness, to which only the epithet of friendly can be justly applied. I might return your papers with a short note of acknowledgement, with less trouble than it will cost me to say what I am about to communicate; and as from my indifferent health and little leisure, my time is by far that possession of which I am most covetous, you may judge from the share of it which I willingly allot to you, that I am much interested on your subject. That you should lose a little of your temper, too, after having lost so much of your time and money, is not to be wondered at. I fear, had I been in your situation, I might not have borne my ill-usage with so much philosophy; at least I am sure I should not, except from being enabled to calm my mind by those soothing as well as consoling cordials which religion alone can furnish. But let me honestly ask you, what is now your object? and let me earnestly conjure you to consider whether, both on personal and still more on public grounds, you ought not to adopt a different tone and course of conduct from that which you seem disposed to assume.
“The objects of your personalities are the Duke of Portland, Mr Pitt, Rose, Long, Addington, and Lord Belgrave, and Lord Pelham. Now, I will not argue with you, concerning the justice or injustice of your censures, in the case of some of these gentlemen; but can you doubt, that it will with the world be a sufficient answer, of which every man’s own mind will anticipate the actual suggestion, that Mr Pitt, having the whole machine of government to superintend, during a period such as never before was witnessed in the history of this country, may be forgiven, if he neglected one subject, though of importance, which was not within his immediate department? You cannot have lived so long in the world, without knowing how superficially men inquire, and how much they judge from formed prejudices, and preconceived opinions, in all these cases, wherein individuals state that they have been injuriously treated in their transactions with government. But I will speak out. Mr Pitt’s real faults in this matter are two. First, and chiefly,—procrastination. Secondly,—suffering himself too much to be influenced by some of his friends: Lord Spencer I chiefly allude to, whose land was to have been compulsively purchased from him for the site of the Panopticon. By the way, it is only justice to Lord Spencer to say, that probably it was owing to his agents, through whom great men like him see and hear, as well as speak, that this influence was used to prevent the original agreement about the land from being fulfilled. He is a liberal, generous man, with the high spirit of a nobleman, and would not have resisted, I think, unless misinformed and misled; nor had he, probably, any idea, that he was stopping the work, and that land would not easily be found elsewhere. But how do you treat Mr Pitt? You speak of him, as though he had been fully aware of all the delay that would take place, in consequence of his procrastination (whereas it is the very nature of that disease to infuse a hope of sure, and perhaps early, but only not of immediate performance;) and still more, as if he had been aware of all the suffering and losses which would fall on you in consequence of it. Now, can anything be more unjust? A thousand parallel cases might be put to prove it so; but this is needless. My object is only to convince you, that people will not be so forward as you may suppose, to impute it to Mr Pitt as a matter of extreme blame, that he put off your affair from year to year, as little intending it, no doubt, as you yourself did. For the Duke of Portland, I will say nothing; nor will I say anything against him. Your ludicrous caricature of him might excite a laugh at his expense; but it would do you yourself a more real injury, by conveying an idea that you were writing more from the feeling of resentment, or to gratify the sensations of a lively genius, or to gain the praise of a witty satirist, than to obtain tardy justice for yourself, and for the public an establishment of great usefulness, and even indispensable necessity. I will fairly own to you, that I shall be silent on the Duke of Portland’s subject; because he has behaved so very ill in a transaction, in which I have unintentionally been a party concerned, that I have long and seriously doubted, and still doubt, whether I can be excused from making his conduct the subject of parliamentary discussion. As for Messrs Rose, Long, Vansittart, Addington, &c.—I mean the Secretary of the Treasury—what will people think? Why, that the principals in their departments, not having made up their minds on your business, they had been the immediate instruments in putting you off from time to time; and, perhaps, that they had sometimes deceived either themselves or you, or both, by not opening their eyes to what was likely to be the consequence of admitting any procrastination at all, in a case where there already had been too much delay, and where the grounds of decision were clear and satisfactory. But people will, as they ought to do, make allowances for men in their situations, overburthened with business—worried by suitors of all sorts—liable like the rest of the world to be out of spirits, or out of humour—to be peevish from a fit of the cholic or the headache. Remember, my dear Sir, that the very circumstance of all these different men having treated you so ill, will of itself make against you. Remember, their friends will say, they had no private interest in preventing Mr Bentham’s scheme from going forward: they had, &c. &c.;—but there is no end of what I might say. Observe only, I have said nothing of the private characters of these gentlemen, nor have I spoken in the language of private good-will, which I bear for all of them; but I will declare, that after a long and intimate knowledge of them all, I believe them men of integrity, good nature, liberality—not without their faults, but in a situation wherein an angel could not give universal satisfaction. But I must say a few words about Lord Belgrave, though I really recoil from the task I have undertaken, of expressing what has occurred to me on your packet; for though I scribble en galop, my time is nearly consumed, and my fingers wearied, and yet I have scarce made a beginning. My only doubt, I see, will be whether to throw my incomplete remonstrance under the table, or to send it; or rather one-tenth of it, (for I shall not get through one-tenth of what I wish to say,) in its crude and unfinished state. Lord Belgrave is one of the best and most amiable young men in this kingdom, of talents too, which, had not his high birth and ample fortune been in the way by damping exertion, would have made him distinguished in any line in which he had sought for eminence. Now you yourself say, that his surveyors assured him his property would not suffer in value from your Panopticon. In fact, I am persuaded he would be influenced by no such consideration; but he too easily believed the Panopticon would be a bad neighbour! And is that a mistake for which all respect, all regard should be banished, and you should hold him up, as far as in your power, to ridicule,—the severest punishment to an ingenuous mind? But, farther, you speak with levity at least, if not ridicule, of his religious character. Where any man, by the inconsistency of his conduct with his professed principles, gives just ground to suspect him of hypocrisy, let him be charged with it; but let him, by whom the charge is brought, be careful lest a suggestion is excited, that it is not hypocrisy, but religion, which is the real subject of offence. And is it for Mr B., the reformer of the vicious,—(and in no character has he ever appeared to me in a more amiable or dignified light, than when exercising the resources of his ingenious mind for so laudable a purpose,)—is it for him to laugh at any one as a propagator of Christianity? Excuse me, my dear Sir, if I feel a little warmly. I have often fought your battles with warmth: I mean still to do so;—and the very same motives which prompt me so to do, generate that warmth with which I must condemn the style and spirit in which you have resented the error of a most respectable and truly amiable character, on whom, in these days, as I verily think, this country may look with more hope and confidence than on any other man living, for the greatest of all services,—the elevation of the moral standard, and the preservation of our manners and habits from that taint of practical infidelity, in all its varied forms of vice and dissoluteness, which is the true Jacobinical contagion, the most pernicious plague that can infest society.
“But I must draw towards a conclusion—a word or two of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and of Lord Pelham.
“They will be excused if they delayed the first entire year of their administration to put the finishing stroke to your business, which was rendered, remember, a matter of greater difficulty and more labour to investigate, from the very delay, and the numerous proceedings of past times. And what do you expect to get by any publication, or any hostile proceedings of the spirit and colour to which I am objecting? Remember, my dear Sir, it is, above all other things, to be kept in mind—that, when once you threaten a man, in these days of modern honour, you make it, in the highest degree, difficult for him to comply with your wishes, because you render him liable to the imputation of having complied from intimidation. Unless a man has more than ordinary magnanimity, or more than common principle, he cannot bring himself, when bullied, as he would call it, to do that, which otherwise he might have done without unwillingness. Independently of all the sophistry of honour, there is a real objection to complying when threats have been used, because you render it likely that they will be resorted to in other cases, as the expedient by which the desired object will be most surely obtained. From experience I speak, when I assure you, that it does require more firmness than can well be summoned up, except on Christian principles, to hold on the same course one would have done, if such a vile imputation had not been made to fasten on one’s adherence to it. But, according to the common way of thinking and judging in the world, believe me, from the very moment of your having been known to use, to any of these gentlemen, the language of intimidation, they would be justified in stopping short. Now, what will you have gained, when, on a cool and subsequent review, you compute your acquisitions—the character of an acute, clever, biting satirist?—the revenge of great and undeserved injuries? The former you do not want—the latter (I will not stop to ask how far a just object of pursuit) you will not obtain. But what becomes of the Panopticon all this time? I have argued on personal grounds merely: but I cannot suppose you to have become indifferent to the accomplishment of a plan which, in itself of the highest public utility, a monument more truly glorious to the genius and perseverance, and public services of its accomplisher, than any with which it falls to the lot of almost any man to be honoured by the favour of Providence,—a plan which, in itself, I say, deserving this high eulogium, may, still more, be the means of changing our long established system in all that regards Criminal Justice, and will be a precedent, taking it in all its bearings and connexions, abounding in more lasting and important benefits than almost any which any one could devise: and yet, as I believe, by the course you are pursuing, you are not only blasting whatever prospect there may be of effecting your plan, but opposing an almost insuperable obstacle in the way of establishing any similar institution: whereas I cannot but entertain a persuasion, (I should say, a confident persuasion, if, after all I have witnessed, I durst be confident,) that if you will take your measures with prudence, judgment, moderation, and temper, the next session of Parliament will not pass away without your bringing this long-suspended business to its termination.
“(I was interrupted, and I now resume my pen.) Give yet one other trial; and if it prove in vain, then I will no longer try to avert or suspend the storm you threaten; but in the effect of which, perhaps even then, you will find that you deceive yourself. I assure you, most solemnly, that, in what I have written to you, I have been influenced by a strong and sincere regard for the accomplishment of the object, and by motives of friendly concern for you, accompanied by an apprehension that your long-continued ill-usage may a little have warped your judgment on the one hand,—may have kindled too keen a desire of vengeance, and have made you desperate of the success of any farther endeavours. My advice would be, that you should yourself go on with the same diligence you have already used, to obtain whatever information may tend to show the evils of the system of Botany Bay, N. S. W., (there I can give you some aid,) or in any other way, furnish arguments in favour of Panopticon; that when Parliament meets, a few of your friends, and of any gentlemen who have made these matters the objects of their attention, should hold a council of war, and consider what course it will be best to pursue: I will myself gladly assist, and give you all the aid I can—I wish I durst hope it would be of any great effect. I am sure, however, that this plan is the only one likely to lay the foundations of the Panopticon. You hazard nothing by pursuing it; because you may, after the trial of it, resort to your own.
“I dare say you think that I was grown cool about your business; but really I never have been so; but when any one has such a multitude of different things as I have, all clamorous for that time, which, like any other insufficient supply, is dealt out to them in short allowance,—he too naturally neglects matters, however important, which are not brought before him, and in which he is not the principal party. I grew almost ashamed to see you, and I was quite hurt whenever we met, from the consciousness that you had suffered so much from men for whom I felt a friendly regard.
“But I must stop—I shall wear out your patience, without adding to my own; I will only say one thing, which I forgot to mention before,—that you have many connexions and friends, (the Speaker, Lord Redesdale, &c., &c.,) who will probably assist as your friends, if you do not assume an aspect hostile to the last or present Administration; but who, if you do, will shun you as tatooed, and not say a word in favour of the great object.
“Hoping that I shall yet shake hands with you in the centre of the Panopticon, and lay the top stone with a huzza! I remain, my dear Sir, yours very sincerely.
“P.S. I have been forced to scribble in order to save time. I wish I may be legible; but you will excuse the hierographical nature of my characters.”
A pleasant correspondence conducted with Sir F. Eden, author of the “History of the Labouring Classes,” &c., refers to many topics of interest:—
Sir Frederick Morton Eden to Bentham.
“Brighton, 3d September, 1802.
Permit me to thank you for the high gratification I have received from the perusal of a book lately published by Mons. Dumont. He has collected a glorious harvest of your sowing. If life is divided into pain and pleasure, you have certainly much enlarged our stock of the latter. I hope, however, the monopoly of it will not be confined to French readers; and that you will procure us the work in an English dress. How many books will it render useless! It might take as its motto,—ipsa utilitas justi prope mater et æqui. A few corrections seem necessary; M. Dumont has not done you justice in several places;—the abstract of the Panopticon is too concise. He does not explain the proposed ingenious mode of guarding the building by sentinels on terraces without, a plan adopted with great success about the French prison near Bristol. Have we any chance of seeing your Panopticon fairly tried? You seem to have been scurvily treated; and I am sure the misanthropic adage, socios habuisse doloris, will furnish no consolation to you.
“I see, in a late Moniteur, an account of a vessel of 500 tons, built entirely of 1½ inch plank, which appears to have succeeded. The article is worth your brother’s attention.—I am, dear Sir, yours very truly.”
Bentham to Sir F. M. Eden.
“Q. S. P.,September 4, 1802.
Capping, like yawning, is contagious. To an author, laudari a laudato viro, is among the most flattering of rewards. The Mons. Dumont you speak of, is our Stephen Dumont, Esq., of the Pells Office; like our Sir Francis D’Ivernois, a quondam citizen of Geneva,—he was a collaborator of Mirabeau’s, an artificer of many of his glories, but one of the furthest men breathing from being a sharer in any of his stains. A man who counts so many friends among his acquaintances, or is so perfectly without an enemy, I had almost said, exists not anywhere. He is not only known to everybody at Paris, but a good deal known here; but though as alien to anything of party as your humble servant, so it has happened, chiefly among oppositionists. He has already a controversy upon his hands, I find, about I don’t know what point, with the Abbé Morellet, (whom I reckon among my masters,) and another with Préfet Garnier, the new editor of Adam Smith. The man who is putting in puffs about it in the Moniteur is Tribune Gallois, who made the pacific oration on the peace: he was secretary under Talleyrand, when Talleyrand was minister there. Talleyrand wanted to have the thousand and one volumes all printed at once, and offered to bear the expense,—but this Dumont, I think very wisely, declined. He likewise wanted, before publication, to have it put into the hands of I know not who, who make a sort of a practice, if not a trade, of puffing. This was also declined,—but Gallois being a man in much estimation then, and a man who had taken a fancy to me in England, was not to be refused.
“What do you think of Spain taking off 300 copies? Thrice as many, I believe, as it was thought worth while to send to England. This was the number which, according to the calculation of the French bookseller, would find customers before the Inquisition would have time to fasten upon them.
“Portalis, hearing of some printed, but unpublished papers of mine, took a world of pains, in round-about ways, it being in war time, to get a copy of them for the purpose of his Code—that has been once thrown out, and is now to be regenerated, and sent me a copy of it before it was made public. Dumont fancied he saw traces of my ideas in the arrangement of that Code—I, for my part, could see none. Portalis is no more able than a pig to made a Code with reasons to it. What mortal alive could be, who should take a Code to make by a particular day, as a tailor would a pair of breeches? Everything I have said about reasons being a libel upon his new Code, whatever it be—what I expect is—to see the book published ere long at Paris, notwithstanding the pains that Talleyrand, and I don’t know what ministers besides, have taken to trumpet it.
“It adds a good lump to my stock of happiness to find that you look upon this motley English-French work as a manufactory of that article. It is certainly what I mean it for, though I scarce expected to see any finished goods come out from it in my lifetime. One thing, however, you have fallen somewhat short in—saying nothing about regeneration. A letter I received t’other day from a person of whom I know nothing but that he is a Genevan, tells me of his being ‘rendu,’ not only heureux,’ but ‘regénéré par la lecture de mes ouvrages.’ If he is, as I take him to be, a Protestant Calvinist clergyman, he must have been once regenerated already—if, then, he is regenerated by me, he must have been re-regenerated; and if so, what sort of a state must he be in now? However, if he is but happy, as he says he is, it is not worth while scrutinizing minutely into mode and figure.
“As to translation, Romilly, in a tête-à-tête between us t’other day, was talking to me about his undertaking it. The proposition was an odd one enough, from a man broken down with business, and wearing the marks of his labours but too conspicuously in his face. To do him justice—I mean in point of sanity—it must have been rather in the way of velléité than volition; and at the earliest, he could not have looked for any earlier period than the next long vacation for the commencement of it. As to my procuring an English dress for it, it might have lain Frenchified, as long as it lay naked, which was from a dozen years to twice as many, before I should have thought of taking any measures for such a procuration. How fortunate its lot, could this mass of law, by any astutia be construed to come under title Poor! Let us see. What act of charity more refined, than for one author, rich in reputation, to take in hand a poor brother of the trade, poor in everything—poor, more particularly, in that essential article—first of all necessaries to an author—to take him by the hand, and clothe his nakedness? Shall it be said that charity, in this her most delicate shape, is a virtue peculiar to France? That charity, after beginning among strangers, cannot so much as end at home? Poor as I am, I have my pride—though thus a mendicant, I am no vagrant—and this, as it is my first act of mendicancy, and that extorted from me by the mere temptingness of the opportunity, will be the last. You should have, in the first place, a release of all prior claims, signed and sealed by Romilly. In the next place, all the odds and ends, the disjecta membra poetæ that Dumont had to work upon, and which he has returned to me; and as the ends would not be of your own ‘gathering,’ you might go to work boldly without apprehension of the statute. Your censorial care would give the translation whatever ‘corrections’ the original scraps might not suffice for giving to it.
“To your kind inquiries about Panopticon, all I can say is, I have a letter before me from Lord Pelham to a friend of mine, [Sir C. Bunbury] dated 17th August, 1802, which says ‘at all events I will apply my mind to the subject, and endeavour to get something settled before the meeting of Parliament,’—not that Panopticon is much the nearer to its being set upon its legs. Your friend, Mr Vansittart, if experience be any ground of judgment, has now taken it in charge to prevent its being ever settled at that period or any other. In an answer to a letter of mine, written this time twelvemonth, viz. September 7, 1801, in which I say in humble strains: ‘If, from any cause, it should have happened that you have not yet turned the matter in your thoughts, you will, at any rate, I flatter myself, have the goodness to say something to me by which my expectations, in regard to time, may, in some measure, be directed.’ In answer to this letter, in another dated 10th September, 1801, he says to me,—‘I have not yet had an opportunity of consulting Lord Pelham, on whose decision the business must principally turn.’ Mr Vansittart knowing perfectly well, not only from the act but from my reference to it, that whatever is to be done, must be done, not by Lord Pelham, but the Treasury. ‘I will find out (says his Lordship in that same letter) what steps have been taken by the Treasury, before I send for his (Mr Bentham’s) papers,’ which, at his Lordship’s desire, had been in his Lordship’s hands for six weeks—so that nothing had been done at all. Judge from this, what is likely to be the fruit of his Lordship’s expedition of discovery.
“The best part of my case is, that I have got them—a good parcel of mere ins and outs together—in a sort of a trap, called Premunire; Romilly—their oracle as well as mine—has not the smallest doubt of it. If, therefore, which is not absolutely impossible, you should ever see poor Panopticon rescued from the damnation to which it is doomed, be sure that it is not to any merits of its own, but to the saving grace of Premunire, that it stands indebted for the change.
“Many thanks for your obliging memorandum for my brother. I take in the Moniteur—Dumont and his works are well known to him; Marquis Ducrest, before the Revolution, Chancellor and factotum to the Duke of Orleans; a man of real ingenuity in that line, as well as in other branches of mechanics; ergo, he will be, as he has been, either neglected or ill-used.”
Sir F. M. Eden to Bentham.
“Brighton, 8th September, 1802.
“My dear Sir,—
I think it is Lord Bacon who says (in his Essays) that we attempt some tasks, con diligenza; some con studio; and some con amore. I should bring with me the two latter if I were to enter the workshop of which you so kindly offer me the keys; but various circumstances would prevent me from labouring in it con diligenza. Two or three undertakings have already mortgages upon my industry: it would take me at least six months reading, and twelve months writing to furnish a decent commentary on an author,—
Qui, quid sit pulchrum, quid turpe, quid utile quid non Plenius ac melius Chrysippo et Crantoré dicit.
and in truth, if I possess any of the γνωθι σεαυτον, I apprehend that I am not competent to perform the duties of a literary master of the ceremonies to your ‘Legislation;’ and to introduce it with a splendid train of comments, criticisms, illustrations, and additions to English readers. I have not approfondi les choses sufficiently to add my flat to those of your opinions in which I should concur, or to attack those (if there be any) which I might disapprove. Your field, though it is an attractive part of the Champs Elysées, is too vast a one for me to cultivate. A very small part of it would employ my whole capital.
“But you must tell me ‘metaphors are not reasons.’ In plain English, then, I think I shall be fully employed from next November, in organizing a projected insurance office, to be called ‘the Globe.’* You will, I am sure, be somewhat interested in its fate,† for it has been treated much like your Panopticon, which has some features of insurance. It was, on many accounts, important to obtain a (non-exclusive) charter, (which, I think, I could satisfy you, upon your own principles, tends rather to destroy than to create monopoly,) and with this view, I applied to the Treasury early in 1799 offering as a bonus to Government, that the proposed Company should lay out £300,000 in the land-tax. Mr Long, in his answer from the Treasury, informed me that my Lords Commissioners approved the plan, and were of opinion, that application should be made to Parliament, for an Act to empower his Majesty to grant the proposed charter. This was done, and an act obtained that session. I conceived that the legislature having sanctioned the principles and plan, the law-officers had nothing to do but to dress our charter in legal flounces and furbelows; but, diis aliter visum, Sir John Retford thought otherwise; he entered in questions of policy rather than of law, endeavoured to vary our land-tax contract, and ended his paragraphs of objections, with this tol-de-rol-lol:—impose personal responsibility and penalties on the Directors;—but this cannot be done without the further aid of Parliament. After dangling a year and half (like poor Cranmer in Shakspeare’s Henry the Eighth) at the doors of the Council-office, ‘midst pages and pursuivants,’ we obtained a reference back to the law-officers to consider the amendments we offered; and at length, about January or February last, the Attorney and Solicitor General reported that we had obviated all objections; ‘but soft, by regular degrees, not yet.’ A meeting of the Privy-council for receiving this Report, is appointed for the 27th October. It was delayed six months, because the Chancellor was engaged with other business;—delayed till he could attend; and six weeks ago I learnt that he thought he ought not to attend in the Privy-council, because the charter would afterwards come before him as Chancellor. I almost incline to believe, we shall set to work without one of our tools—his Majesty’s Great Seal. In your law work, you have led two children through a Suit in Equity for a plaything; you must have given them the life of antediluvians to carry them through the process of a charter. It is recorded on a sepulchral urn, in the front court of the Foundling Hospital, that the person who solicited their charter, was thirty-nine years about it. I remember reading this inscription one morning, when I was exercising with a volunteer corps to which I belonged; and I confess I immediately said within myself, ‘Write me down an ass,’ for I too am a charter-hunter. The Bank, one of our opponents, have agreed to withdraw their caveat, on my consenting to strike out the most useful part of the plan: that for receiving deposits from the industrious classes, (a caisse d’economie, much wanted in this country,) and that for enabling the Globe to become treasurers to Friendly Societies. As soon, however, as we revolve on our axis, I shall endeavour to arrange a scheme, distinct from an Insurance-office, for this purpose (for it will not want a charter; and I hope you may be tempted to cooperate, especially if it should be brought to coalesce with your Panopticon.)
“I have much more to say to you, but am interrupted, and must conclude. You will see by the inside of my frank, that I meant to have answered your letter yesterday, but an engagement at Rottingdean prevented me. I will render your work on Legislation any assistance in my power, by such remarks as may occur on a second, third, or fourth perusal (for decies repetita placebit;) but though I am the Atlas of a Microcosm, I am wholly unable to bear on my shoulders your magnum opus which includes ‘the great globe and all which it inherits;’ but I will write to you again on this subject.—I am, my dear Sir, yours very faithfully.”
In a letter of Garnier, dated Versailles, 16th Vendémaire an. xi. (8th February, 1802,) to Bentham, he says:—
“It is impossible not to share your opinion as to the hardships of taxes on law proceedings. My self-love was highly gratified on finding that I had agreed with you in attacking Smith’s opinion on this matter, and in declaring, as you have done, that it is a sovereign injustice to burthen with an impost those who are forced to plead; for it is they who share least of that general security for which tribunals are instituted, and who, far from being called on for an additional charge, ought to have a claim to an indemnity. I published this opinion in one of my notes on Adam Smith, before I had read yours, and you will allow me to be proud of the unanimity.
* * * * *
“Your person and your writings are equally attractive to us. Each recommends the other; but you will not let us sufficiently know them. You show yourself for an instant, and then disappear.”
Bentham paid a short visit to Paris at the end of 1802. He dined with many distinguished Frenchmen at the Societé des Arts—Fontanes was in the chair. Bentham thought him very servile and very shallow. Among the guests was Gregoire, who told him he (B.) was to be made a member of the Institute, but he was supplanted by Charles Fox. There was also the Count de Lauvaquais, afterwards Duke of Brancas, who had been in England in 1775, or thereabout. He was a man of a singularly fine person, and wrote a memoir of a very pungent character, entitled “Memoire par moi pour moi contre—” It was full of eccentric phraseology; and when Bentham reminded him of a passage—“Ceux que sont solliciteurs pour être sollicitiés en retour penseront comme le soliciteur Blackstone,” he was vastly pleased. Bentham at this time renewed his acquaintance with the Duke de Liancourt and his son, who had been serving with the Duke of York in the Netherlands, and had all the habits of an Englishman. “He told me,” said Bentham, “that the duke was habitually drunk after dinner, and that the disasters of the army were solely owing to having him for a commander. So are millions of men sacrificed to gratify the pride of one!”
Bentham to Dumont.
“Paris, 19th October, 1802.
“The Woronzoffs being now omnipotent at Petersburg, and my brother being in good odour with them, the occasion seems not altogether an unfavourable one for Dumont Principes. The misfortune is, that, (as I understood at the time,) from the time of the appearance of ‘Judicial Establishment,’ I have been looked upon as a Jacobin by the Woronzoff here, through the good offices of my dear friend, Lord Grenville. The occasion was,—the adoption I then looked upon as necessary to make (though even against the grain, and even declaredly so, as you may recollect) of the principle of popular election as applied to Judges. Never having thought it worth while to commission my brother to remove that prejudice, the matter has rested. Four times (I understand) has our Woronzoff refused being principal minister there; but his brother, Alexander, (I see by the papers) is minister there for foreign affairs; three or four times a-week he has been dining at the Emperor’s. Lord St Helens, you know, is returned; I have not seen him, because now, as before, I see nobody; but my brother has, and he talked much about wishes to see me. Two copies of ‘Dumont Principes,’ unfortunately enough, did not reach Petersburg till he had left it.
“You may dismiss your apprehensions about Sir Fred. Eden. He did not really mean what I had suspected; and by another letter, he has entered into a long and confidential discussion of the circumstances that would prevent his finding time for it. Garnier,—did he receive my Colony Emancipation pamphlet, that I sent him by Romilly?—you never mentioned anything about it, in what you reported of your conversations. I am inclined to suspect he shies the subject; either on account of Buonaparte’s passion for colonies, or because he does not want to be known to have borrowed from it.
“If you happen to meet Cuvier, dun him, pray, for two sorts of seeds he spontaneously undertook to get for me.
“My ear-ache left me at Liancourt; my deafness, I don’t know where it left me, or whether it has quite left me.
This is the 19th October, and no tidings yet of the Romillys,—I wrote to them from Dover. I read through Morellet’s observations on the journey: poor Morellet! how easy to answer, but to what use?”
The pamphlet which Bentham had prepared on the subject of the injustice done him by the Duke of Portland’s ministry, in the matter of Panopticon, he sent to Romilly for his opinion, which elicited this letter:—
Romilly to Bentham.
“November 1, 1802.
I have received your papers, and I see no objection to any part of them, but their violence, and the very strong expressions that are used in them. On affoiblit tout ce qu’on exagere; and I really think there is exaggeration in what you say of the Duke of Portland. I think it is hardly possible that he could have understood the Act of Parliament as he says he understood it; but yet I do not think that it is a case to talk of a conspiracy formed to assume a legislative power, &c. One would be more anxious, I think, to avoid using too strong expressions in a case in which one is personally concerned than in any other, especially where one is complaining, in the transaction injurious to one’s self, not of that injury, but of an outrage on the public. That the pamphlet is, in point of law, a libel on the duke, and the more a libel for being true, cannot, I think, be doubted.
“You don’t ask my opinion upon the expediency of such a kind of publication; and, without knowing more of what has passed between you and the present ministers, it is impossible to judge of it,—but I should suppose that ministers were a kind of beings whom such a publication was likely to render implacable.—Yours ever.”
This friendly advice Bentham determined to follow, and thus acknowledged it:—
“2d November, 1802.
A thousand thanks for your kind anxieties, and the despatch (under circumstances such as yours) and good advice which was the consequence of them. The proof of the conspiracy,—sufficient or insufficient,—is in the part you have not seen: together with a parcel of precedents, or what at least appeared to me such, for the reasons there given. As to the violence, it would cost me nothing but the trouble of correction to give that up: but the question is, whether the substance could or could not be published safely, when purged from the violence. It was not my intention to have published this, but in the case of the flinging away the scabbard. The putting it into your hands at present was a sudden thought. It might have been better if I had not sent one-half till the other half had been in readiness to accompany it: but by a sort of mechanical movement, I put my hand forth to lay hold of you before the Philistines came upon you. The word libel, from your pen, alarms me into a further communication, from which I thought to have saved you. I mean the pamphlet I showed you the first sheets of, and which I thought to have sent to the judges, and some of the ministers, without further castration or deliberation; but now I shall stop the distribution of it till you either tell me whether there are any objectionable passages, (there cannot be many,) or tell me that you have no time to look at it. If so, I must take my chance for seeing the inside of the King’s Bench, for I cannot delay it many days longer, without much prejudice to the object of it. If there are any passages which you think it material to alter or omit, that may be done by reprinting as much as is necessary.—Yours, &c.”
Bentham sent to Sir Thomas Trowbridge at the Admiralty, the following remarks on the Chancellor’s speech on the Navy Bill, and the letter was also printed in the Times of 24th November. 1802:—
Bentham to Sir Thomas Trowbridge.
“On the occasion of the Navy Abuse Bill, I observe questions among the gentlemen of the Long Robe, on the subject of one of the clauses, which they say is a very cruel one, because the tendency of it is to make a man criminate himself.
“Their tenderness has suggested to me the following queries, to which it would be a great satisfaction to my mind if any such gentlemen, or any other, would have the goodness to furnish me with an answer.
“The Lord Chancellor hears causes every day, in the course of which a man is compelled, by his Lordship’s authority, to disclose facts, the effect of which is to deprive him of the whole of his estate; of the whole, at least, of that which, without impeachment of his probity, he has always looked upon as his. Query—How much greater is the hardship of being made, by the same means, to give such part of the estate a man calls his own, as he has acquired by a fraud upon the public, than that of giving up the whole of what a man possesses without fraud?
“Was there ever an instance, since the beginning of time, in which this rule was of any the smallest use to a man that was not guilty? Is it in the nature of things that it ever should be? A man who feels himself innocent—is he not anxious, on every occasion, as he values his character, to receive the benefit of it?
“Wherein consists the humanity of letting go the guilty, that thus they may keep on triumphing in guilt, preying upon the public, and injuring the innocent?
“Could any mortal alive ever find anything else to say in favour of this rule of common law—a rule, observed in some instances, and not observed in others—than that of its being established?
“Is there anything that should prevent the Legislature from suspending or even repealing in toto, if they should see cause, a rule that, when first laid down, was laid, God knows when, by God knows who, and for no reason that has ever been assigned by anybody?
“If it be so good a thing that a man should not be compelled or allowed to criminate himself, would it not be a still better thing, if nobody else were ever to be made to criminate him? A man’s passion for bearing false witness against himself, is it so violent that it would be dangerous to allow him the means of gratifying it?
Bentham to David Collins.*
“Q. S. P., 5th April, 1803.
“My dear Sir,—
I accept, as an eligible succedaneum, the kind token of your remembrance. I have never been fond of leave-taking. Between persons wholly indifferent, it is, to me at least, a burthensome operation; and in the present instance it would have been a painful one. A few years hence, however, (I hope, at least, they will be but few,) I shall not be to be put off so easily: I mean when you return to us in all the glory of triumphant colonization, laden with the spoils of the insulated continent—kangaroo and wombat skins. I wish heartily, for the benefit of our amusements, that Fourcrey and you, Frenchman as he is—and some say none of the honestest neither—may become intimate:—we may by that means be indebted to you for a new metal or two, or a new earth, to which I hope you will give your name, and become immortalized by a double title—in the annals of science as well as politics. In that I can wish you better fortune than fell to the share of poor Lord Sydney. He gave his name to what was taken for a new earth, but proved to be an old compound, and vanished into smoke. You will, at least, (I hope,) treat us with another ‘paradox,’ to match with the Ornithorhynchus: if fit for the pot or the spit, so much the better: beggars must not be choosers; but if wishes had the property of contributing to success, I would wish for some agreeable, as well as curious compound, in that way—something between fish, flesh, fowl, and good red-herring; or for a tid-bit—I speak for your own benefit, not for ours—as handmaids do not promise to be very plenty with you, what say you to a Mermaid? Such things have been found—here and there one—or there is no truth in history: and if she should be well proportioned and well conditioned from the tail upwards, a use might be found for her (I should think) on the spot; but that point I beg leave to refer to your superior judgment. As to her tail, it would be as good as kangaroo’s, with the help of a little lobster or oyster sauce; and her own fair hands might serve it upon table. Since I had the pleasure of seeing you, (I think it is,) that a systematic book on Chemistry has made its appearance, by a British writer, a Dr Thomson, lecturer in Edinburgh, 4 vols. in 8vo. I, who see nothing nor anybody, have not seen it yet; but I hear everybody speaking well of it. What I have seen of his, is a very good paper on combustion in Nicholson and Tilloch. Constantinople made Baron du Tott, (whose fair daughter I had the honour of saluting t’other day at Liancourt, in her character of wife to the eldest son of the ci-devant Duc,)—Constantinople, with the help of the Encyclopedia, converted that soldier into an engraver and cannon-founder. Why should not Van Diemen’s Land, or the next to it, convert Colonel Collins into a Chemist, a Mineralogist, a Botanist?
“Apropos of Botany, there is a certain promise—the more obliging as it was spontaneous and repeated—which I treasure up with the greatest care. I have quite committed myself upon the strength of it: having gone so far as to carve out of it sub-promises. One new frost country plant is worth a dozen tropical ones. I shall be saddled with actions if you fail me. Remember, therefore, that you and I are lawyers: and that with us lawyers the breach of a pact, though it be a naked one, is no joke.
“Apropos of law again, I send you, as the last token of my remembrance—a squib in my way—which will show you the gunpowder you are treading upon. If you feel bold enough to continue in your command after looking at it, you will at least feel it prudent to insure your life in some good office. The poor Attorney-general has been sadly ‘shocked’ (I find) by the title; but having at that time got no farther as yet than the preface, he confessed to a friend of mine, that what is there said of him—fact, law, and everything—is true. Your candour, with which I am so well acquainted, will acquit me of incendiarism: you will remember that it is to you I present the squib, not to any of your crew.
“As to prisons, your time for thinking seriously of them is not yet come: if it had been, you would not, in alluding to the Panopticon construction, have taken circularity for the characteristic principle of it. Position not form: centrality of the keeper’s lodge, with a commanding view of every part of the space into which a prisoner can introduce himself (by the help of peep-holes, blinds, or any other contrivance which will enable the keepers to see upon occasion without being seen,) such is the real characteristic principle. As for the circular form, the execution of it even here is attended with difficulties, which in general operate so as to increase the expense. In your situation—with your limited resources—I should expect to find these difficulties insurmountable. Logs, I should suppose, would be your materials, at least in the first instance: logs you are sure of: bricks depend (under Providence) upon lime-stone, lime-kilns, brick-kilns, and brick-makers. Logs grow in strait lines, or thereabouts: not in circular portions of the circumference of your circles. Your circle, if of logs, would, at any rate, be a polygon, if it were not a square. But why should it not be a square? If you have an open yard, as I suppose you will, the boundary wall may be composed of the four sides of another square, concentric with, and therefore including, the two others. The walls of the building, exterior as well as interior, being made as transparent (with windows) as possible; the yard will be inspected through the prisoners’ apartments from the lodge. The more perfect the application made of the characteristic principle, the less the quantity of strength that will be necessary (both of eyes and hands) in the lodge. Dixi: God send you (and not your prisoners) a good deliverance!
“P.S.—What I acknowledge to be—not a promise on your part—but a mere petition on mine—is the privilege of being numbered with the select, who are to receive the earliest communication of your res gestæ. Not having so much as the pretence of a promise to anchor upon, I am here all humility; but, in proportion to my humility, importunate. Your history cannot go into any hands (female always excepted) that would take a warmer interest in it. This, I trust, you see no difficulty to recognise through the fiercest of the war I am waging against you, in your capacity of colonizer and governor. W. and I are like the lion and Signor Nicolina, who slew him in the Spectator, smoking our pipes together very socially behind the scenes. Better for your humble servant would it be if your noble and Right Honourable &c. principals, were as placable, or rather as unprovokable: but they have not wit for it. Adieu, my paper is out, and your patience.
“P.S.—Seeds are seeds: and from Van Diemen’s Land, &c., all will have their value, separate or in a pudding: with or without names.”
[* ] This refers to an invention of Col. Bentham’s of hollow fire-irons.
[*] See General view of a Complete Code of Laws. Works, vol. iii. p. 155.
[* ] See Pauper Tables, in. vol. viii. of the Works.
[* ] The “Traités de Législation,” &c.
[* ] Adapted from the Anthology—beginning Καὶ πόδε Δημοδόϰου.
[* ] See the Influence of Time and Place in matters of Legislation, Works, vol. i. p. 171.
[† ] The following notice of the subject of the letter is from Wilberforce’s Life, vol. ii. p. 71:—
“Never was any one worse used than Bentham. I have seen the tears run down the cheeks of that strong-minded man through vexation, at the pressing importunity of creditors, and the insolence of official underlings, when, day after day, he was begging at the Treasury for what was indeed a mere matter of right. How indignant did I often feel when I saw him thus treated by men infinitely his inferiors! I could have extinguished them. He was quite soured by it; and I have no doubt that many of his harsh opinions afterwards, were the fruit of this ill-treatment. ‘A fit site,’ at last wrote the weary man, ‘obtainable for my purpose, without a single dissentient voice, is that of the golden tree and the singing water, and after a three years’ consideration, I beg to be excused searching for it.’ ‘Bentham’s hard measure’—‘Bentham cruelly used’—‘Jeremy Bentham suo more,’ are in Wilberforce’s docketings upon the letters which, at this time, passed frequently between them. Some of them are not a little singular:—‘Kind Sir,’ he writes in one, ‘the next time you happen on Mr Attorney-general in the House, or elsewhere, be pleased to take a spike, the longer and sharper the better, and apply it to him by way of memento that the Penitentiary Contract Bill has, for I know not what length of time, been sticking in his hands; and you will much oblige your humble servant to command,
“ ‘N. B.—A corking-pin was yesterday applied by Mr Abbot.’ ”
[* ] Sir Frederick became Director of this Company.
[† ] See the author’s remarks on this subject, above, p. 334.
[* ] David Collins, Judge-Advocate of New South Wales. The letter was accompanied by a copy of the “Plea for the Constitution,” (Works, vol. iv. p. 249 et seq.,) in which, and the author’s other works on Transportation, Collins’ account of New South Wales is amply quoted.