Front Page Titles (by Subject) Dumont to Romilly. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Dumont to Romilly. - 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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Dumont to Romilly.
“Could you have believed that as many copies of my Bentham would have been sold in Petersburg as in London?
“A hundred copies have been disposed of in a very short time, and the booksellers are asking for a new supply. This has obtained for me a welcome from many persons, which I am turning to account. The work is admired, and the editor modestly takes his part of the admiration. But what has most surprised me, is the impression made by the definitions, classifications, and method, and by the absence of those declamations which had been so wearying to sound intellect.
“We have here a Livonian, M. de Rosenkampff, long the President of a Tribunal of Justice at Dorpat, and now employed, without a title, to collect all the ukases, that is to say, all the laws of the empire—to arrange them—to separate all that is incoherent or contradictory, and to prepare tables which he successively places before the emperor, for the emperor is in the habit of working on synoptical tables. This M. R., who is a great admirer of Bentham, with whom he was closeted for fifteen days in the country, hastened to see me on my arrival, and we have had many conversations together. He is somewhat superficial,—but he has information, and I think he might manage tolerably well the redaction with which he is charged, if he had the courage to make some sacrifice of self-love; the evil is, he is afraid of being called a plagiarist in employing clarification which he did not invent. Video meliora proboque deteriora sequor. There is a bureau of Legislation, and a great Signor at its head. It is from thence that ideas come—it is much if they arrive then.
“I do not know if you have met with M. Navasiliof in England. He was a friend of General Bentham. He enjoys the highest credit with the emperor, and a general public esteem. I had the pleasure of partaking of a very interesting dinner at his house. I met there Prince Adam Czartoriski, whom I had known at Bowood, where he had spent many days, and the young Count Strogonoff, whom I had also known at Geneva. One is minister (en second) for the interior, and the other for the exterior,—but these two seconds are in reality the firsts, as they enjoy intimate familiarity with the emperor. I cannot estimate them in matters with which I am unacquainted,—but this I know, that it would be difficult to find men occupying so high a position with so much simplicity, and so much instruction as they exhibit in miscellaneous conversation. They are now much occupied with their project of public instruction; a report is to be made in the form of a journal, to be published from time to time, when an account will be given of the various establishments, so that one may be compared with another, and the progress of each exhibited. This publicity—which is here a new idea—will do more for their success than any positive laws. It is to be hoped it will extend to other branches of the administration, and especially to procedure—for it is the tribunals which want it most,—but the organization must be reformed before it can be submitted to the public eye. If you knew what an advocate—or a man of law—is here, you would blush for the honour of the profession! I will speak of it in detail by and by. And the judges! In England you could have no notion of the state of things. I am persuaded that in ten years all will be much changed. This is one of the enjoyments that my journey to Russia has procured me. I know none greater than to watch a tranquil and wise progression in improvements of every sort.
“And since I have spoken of the emperor, let me tell you what will interest you more than any descriptions of the external splendour of the capital. I cannot mention the Prince without an emotion of pleasure. I shall not speak of the language of his admirers, or of those who approach the nearest to him. He is best praised by those who suppose they are censuring him,—now for his gentleness, ‘which pushes him too far’—now for his goodness, ‘which falls into extremes’—now for his economy, ‘which is opposed to the habits of the court,’ or ‘lowers the external majesty of the empire.’ I have heard no detraction more violent than this; and when facts are inquired into, I can discover none which show any excess in these two virtues. He has succeeded to a government, suspicious, arbitrary, and rigid, to say no more; to a government, prodigal without measure; luxurious,—and undermining its own foundations, to support its luxuriousness. The change, no doubt, has been somewhat abrupt; and you can fancy to what class of men these demi-censors and these demi-approvers belong,—for, after all, the censure is a half-approval. At first, there was an apprehension of too rapid a tendency towards emancipation, or liberation—a rapidity incompatible with the existing state of things—the springs of government too much loosened, after having been too much tightened: but now men see that the emperor is both prudent and patient,—that he both prepares and matures his plans. I will give you more detailed accounts of what is proposed to be done for public education, and for the editing of a General Code. I am able to obtain information as to the confederacies against improvement. But, in a word, there is no government more essentially well-disposed,—more occupied with the public weal, than this. It is not mere fireworks,—it is not a newspaper glory: if anything is wanting, it is the instruments for doing the good they are desirous to do. Men must be deterré, or created; and here is the true difficulty. It seems astonishing, at the first glance, that there should be so many establishments for public instruction, and so few instructed. In all the departments, it is necessary to employ strangers, which is a great evil,—but it is an inevitable evil.”
The letter which follows is endorsed by Bentham,—“1803, August. Dumont, Petersburg, to Romilly, London. Speranski’s disposition to apply to J.B. about Codification. Dissatisfied with Mackintosh’s answers to queries thereanent. Emp. Paul’s freaks. Other Russ. anecdotes:”
“I passed an evening with Speranski.* We were alone. He loves his country, and feels strongly that the reform of justice and of legislation is of all goods the chiefest good. They had addressed themselves to German jurists,—to an Englishman, (Mackintosh,) and were not satisfied with their correspondence. They were ignorant of their country, and in most of their writings there was nothing but old routine and Roman law. But since they have got hold of Bentham, they think they can brave all the others, and it is almost decided that he shall be directly consulted. I have been vaguely asked if I were willing to settle in Russia. I am quite decided upon this point; but I have told them, that if they addressed themselves to Bentham, he would probably occupy himself with the Civil Code; and if specific questions were sent to him, informing him of the local circumstances, he would answer. They seem to me disposed to enter into correspondence, and to make some arrangement with him. But I do not know what will come to pass.
“Puget, the tutor of the young Grand Dukes, was suddenly exiled 5000 versts into Siberia, at a time that he had not the least doubt of his security. He had but one hour’s notice to depart. He was ill-treated by the Courrier du Cabinet, the weather was very bad,—and he was compelled to travel day and night, though in an open carriage. The courier, by way of consolation, told him he would probably receive the knout when arrived at his journey’s end. What was most alarming, was the uncertainty of his fate, for he was himself the bearer of the order specially addressed to the governor of the place to which he was sent. P. resigned himself to his fate; but what gave him the greatest pain, was the apprehension of the knout. Arrived at his destination, after travelling six weeks, he found himself in a fort, in the governor’s house, who received him with humanity; and, upon being asked, gave him wherewithal to eat and drink, and asked him, ‘What and who he was?’ ‘A Swiss.’ ‘In what service?’ ‘The Emperor’s.’ ‘I do not recollect having seen you at the palace. At what door were you?’ ‘I was at no door.’ ‘But did not you tell me that you were a Swiss?’ ‘I am a Swiss by birth, but not by profession.’ And both of them enjoyed the equivoque. ‘What did you, then?’ ‘I had the honour of being tutor to the young dukes.’ ‘Oh, the devil! sit you down, then, my good Sir. I will now read his majesty’s order.’ He broke the seal, and examined it attentively: Pnget did not remain long in suspense. The order was contained in ten words:—‘Receive the Swiss, Puget, courteously, and watch his correspondence carefully.’ Immediately the commander invited him to dinner, made him offers of service: he proposed to him to choose his apartment; and le Courrier du Cabinet, witness of all this without comprehending what was said, the conversation being in French, threw himself at the feet of Puget to beg pardon, and exhibited a thousand and a thousand meannesses. Puget said he would not prefer any complaint against him, and exhorted him to behave with greater humanity in the event of his having other unfortunates to accompany. After dinner, the governor of the fort went to consult the governor of the city, and to communicate to him the singular order of the emperor. If this man is guilty, said he, how happens it that the emperor orders us to receive him with courtesy: and, if innocent, why does he exile him? You may be certain, said he, that it is a spy whom they send under the name of a prisoner; and when he has made himself acquainted with everything, he will be summoned back again.
“Puget availed himself of this disposition of the commandant and the governor, who treated him with distinction, and left him all possible liberty.
“After a two months’ residence here, he actually received an order of recall: his innocence was established. Paul had suspected him of keeping up a correspondence with De la Harpe in Switzerland; but, on his return, he received many marks of favour and liberality. He was appointed, shortly after, tutor to the Grand Duke: this proves, at least, that these are not days in which it is thought necessary to find an Aristotle or a D’Alembert to instruct those who are to govern empires. This man is a good fellow, who understands orthography: but I cannot say so much of him as to the French language.
“I have seen M. Parrot, Professor of Law at the University of Dorpat. During the passage of the emperor, he congratulated him, among other things, on the dispositions he had shown to relieve that great portion of his people, (the Liconian,) who had been hitherto forgotten. I find that, on his journey to Petersburg, he brought to the emperor one of those collars with iron points, which a Livonian proprietor had made for one of his peasants. The enemies of Parrot told the emperor that these collars were formerly employed, but had ceased to be for a long time; and that it was a calumny against the nobility of the country to produce instruments covered with dust. But Parrot persisted that the collar was new, and he has been able to produce the smith who made it.”
The following are loose memoranda of Dumont:—
“A tax of 5 per cent. upon affranchisement.—Roz affranchised 600 peasants, and the emperor thanked him by a letter in the Gazette,—this is said to be a prank to oblige the lords to allow, for a certain sum, every peasant to purchase his liberty.—Strogonoff immensely in debt,—generally beloved,—immense territories in Siberia,—badly looked on by Paul,—disgraced by Paul,—abandoned by everybody,—shammed ill, and excited the pity of Paul, and was restored to favour.—72,000 and odd ukases, mostly repetitions.—Laws renewed at the commencement of each reign.—No private libraries.—Russian artists despised by Russians.—Engravers despised in Russia as in England.—No chemists,—disburse 2,000,000 rubles to establish colleges.—Biberodko—Gallery of pictures rich,—difficult to procure admission,—his father, under-secretary to Cath.,—became immensely rich.
“Paper-money 200,000,000. Half in Pets. Letters of exchange confined to Moscow and Petersburg. Want of paper.—Nobles ruined by not visiting their estates,—by visiting they might quadruple their revenue,—they might be made to yield 18 per cent.—Paul gave 1,800,000 peasants.—Crown peasants treated but indifferently. Emp. not suffer to make proselytes to Catholicism by priests.—Grouber prevented the success of Lord M.’s [Macartney’s] embassy, by means of his intrigues with the Jesuits,—told them English neverestablish a factory but to convert it into a fortress.—Under Paul, better soldiers and officers,—better justice,—duties better fulfilled.—Under Catherine trop de douceur. P. never examined, never heard, but punished.—Revolution Française, alarmed Catherine, and made an impression on Paul, and caused his severities. P. walked alone in the street,—he observed the hats, cravats, &c., and if he found anything wrong they were sent to prison and examined.—An Englishman met the emperor,—haton,—he was well mounted,—galloped away,—was followed by the emperor, and escaped.—Proclamation for apprehension,—got into a friend’s house,—great rewards,—ultimately escaped. People were like statues upon the appearance of Paul.—This was to prevent crowds round him.—No mobs.—Polite enough to invite ladies to remain in their carriages.—If they did not,—coachman beat,—master sent to prison.—Round hats avoided,—attributed first to Police,—afterwards found to be Paul’s whim.—At first more ridicule than rigour.—No interval between suspicion and exile.—He shed no blood.—He did not conceal his acts,—more sanguinary in the end.—Ros[enkampff] says procureurs do everything: parties do not appear; everything secret. A ring bought, described to be stolen, and the buyer punished by paying three times its value, without being examined,—without returning the ring,—matter pleased the empress much,—and the emperor,—quite the amusement at court.—Under Cath. Ros: grand cajoleur de son metier. Tattle made for emperor. Klinger preaches atheism to the corps of cadets,—introduces semi-reform economy.—750 élèves du corps des cadebts.—Noblesse Russe poorest in the world.—250 mathematicians in corps des cadebts,—names of élèves published when they distinguish themselves,—punishment,—confinement and double tasks.—In Catherine’s time whipped publicly,—forty-five sent into Italy,—ten returned.—Women in the town get drunk and whipped by their husbands’ order in the presence of the police—200,000 rubles establishment de demoiselles nobles—Russian no ideas of religion—Priests without property or understanding—Paul persecuted a particular sect—Constantine wrote for —. D— said he expected the empress, and he was glad she would know his visiters. Galitzin dines with Dr Grieve—First minister will dine with any merchant. Titre de noblesse to an etranger. Casadovloff a senator—examined the cases of 300 exiles in Siberia—sentences of some reversed by emperor, and pensions granted—this not to be published—Dam: pleaded for its being published, but in vain—accounts extremely complicated—cause, the multiplicity of offices, everything sadly confused.”
Another letter from Dumont to Romilly, dated 5th August, 1803, has this passage:—
“Bentham’s work is recognised as superior to everything that has preceded it: they had been in correspondence with the jurists of different countries: they were by no means satisfied with their letters. But Bentham presents the two great desiderata, classification and principles. A translation is ordered: it will be done with much care, and even magnificence. They are waiting for what is to follow on Judicial Establishments. I have much to say to Bentham: I shall pursue my work with doubled ardour, as I already see the fruit of my labours. The Empress Dowager said she had been informed I was the editor of a book she had heard much praised, and requested I might be presented to her: so I went to Pavlousky—she spoke to me in the most obliging manner, and inquired why I would not settle in Petersburg?”
[* ] He was the Governor of Siberis, and an intimate friend of Sir Samuel Bentham.