Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to J. Mulford. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Bentham to J. Mulford. - 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.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Bentham to J. Mulford.
“Q. S. P., 8th November, 1808.
“By way of compliment to me, I observe you make a point, in all your letters, to come out with a grunt or two: but people who are in the secret, and with whom you deal honestly, speak of you, as confessing that nothing is the matter with you, except that you are not quite so young as you were ninety years ago, or thereabouts. I say ninety, for this is the age, I hear from very good authority, that you have begun to talk about. I suppose it is by way of insult to poor old Portal, whom you were for burying, I remember, three or four years ago, at the time that you cheated my undertaker, whom I had been at the pains of engaging in your service. He slipped through your fingers at that time: (I mean Portal,) but, according to Mr Koe’s report, he looked then to be pretty much in the way in which you pretend to be. There is a report about town, though I have not yet seen it in the newspapers, of your being about to commit matrimony. If you do, you must not think of having my consent; for what if you should happen to tip the perch before all the children are grown up? For my part, I am too old to be capable of taking any tolerable care of them; and Sam, were he to have no more, has enough, of all conscience, of them already.
“The sight of your letter brought on the carpet again, a project he has often been harping upon, for getting you to accept a clerk’s place in his office.* This, however, I oppose: for though, to be sure, your hand is good enough for it, and, to do you justice, goes on improving—yet, as long as I have known you, which does not go beyond sixty years, you have had a turn for idleness and dissipation, which, I fear, would be a great obstacle to that punctuality of attendance which his Majesty’s service would require. Then we should have you picking up stones from the gravel walk, and pretending that they came from your own poor body, as Mary Tofts used to do with the rabbits.
“You talk to me about ‘black November and cold December,’ and so they really are to me. Yet I do make shift to weather them out; but perceptibly, for some years past, worse and worse every year. What would I not give you, if it were but possible for me to change eyes with you? Reading I have been forced to give up almost entirely. Writing, my grand occupation, I still perform tolerably well in summer time: that is, about four months in the year; but the other eight months’ fires, though they burn my eyes almost out of my head, yet are unable to prevent my suffering to such a degree from cold, that the cold takes off my thoughts from everything else.
“This is so true, that I am entertaining serious thoughts of trying the effects of some more favourable climate; and the Spanish Revolution presents itself as favourable to my wishes. The city of Mexico in Spanish America, all accounts, private, as well as public, concur in representing as being, in this respect, the sort of earthly paradise that I stand in need of. Thermometer never higher than 84°; and this last summer I bore 93° without any considerable inconvenience. Frost just perceptible, perhaps for a day or two, comes in three or four years: but, to avoid the cold altogether, you have but to go a few miles lower down in the country: for what makes it so cool, though, like the West Indies, situated between the Tropics, is—its being such high land—two or three miles perpendicular height above the sea; and this, in many places at that height, continued for many miles together, with only here and there the ground rising perceptibly into hills and mountains. Another consequence is, that the fruits and flowers of all climates may be seen together at one view, flourishing in the utmost perfection; and another, that human life is one-third as long again there, as with us.
“Though many persons speaking the English language, such as Irish (Catholics,) of whom there are many in the Spanish service, have either been established there, or traversed the country freely, no Englishman, it is believed, was ever yet admitted there. What favours my project, is, that a Frenchman or two, during the alliance of Spain with France, were admitted into the capital; and now already, since that Spain is in alliance with England, and stands so much in need of her assistance, English vessels have been admitted into Vera Cruz, the only sea-port in the Atlantic, through which there is any access to the capital, distant from it up the country about two hundred miles.
“As to my own particular grounds of expectation, my friend, Lord Holland, who lately passed near two years in Spain, is just gone back to that country,—viz. Corunna,—with his family: he is in habits of intimacy with a number of leading men there, and, in particular, with a Don Gaspar Jovellanos, who is an active member of the small body, the Supreme Junta, by whom, under the name of the prisoner-king, the country is governed at present with absolute command. One of my works has had a great run, and made a great impression among the higher, and thinking part of the people in Spain. Jovellanos, who had been a much-esteemed minister there, before the present revolution, not many years ago published a book which is very popular there. This book I have just been reading, through the medium of a French translation, which a member of the late administration in Russia, (Count Kotchubey, Minister of the Interior,) caused to be translated by authority, at the same time with my work on Legislation in General, which he caused to be translated into Russ, and which, though never published by me in English, had been translated and published in French, by my friend Dumont, and was the work that made so much impression in Spain, as above.
“Seeing the work of Jovellanos agreeing so well with my notions, and, in particular, with those developed in my Defence of Usury, (of which there are two different translations in French.) Admiral Mordvinoff, who a few years ago was at the head of the admiralty in Russia, and who, being an old acquaintance of my brother’s, is a disciple of mine, thought it would be a pleasure to me to see it, and sent me a copy of it by my brother at his late return from Petersburg. Having these and other reasons for expecting to find Jovellanos favourably disposed to me, I have written to Lord Holland to try, through the medium of Jovellanos, to obtain for me a permission to visit the interior of Mexico, together with a letter of recommendation to the viceroy, whose residence is at the capital, and the governor of the port of Vera Cruz. This latter will be no less necessary than the former; the object being to enable me to get out of his sight as instantly as possible; for as the high table-land of the country is one of the most healthy spots in the world, so Vera Cruz, and all along near the sea-coast, is one of the most deadly.
“[Since writing the above, I have learned, however, that it is only in summer, viz., from May to October inclusive, that it is so highly formidable.] In Peru, which contains likewise abundance of table-land, the climate is in a similar, though, accounts say, not a superior degree healthy. ‘In the small province of Caxamarca, containing hardly 70,000 inhabitants, there were eight persons alive in 1792, whose ages were,—114, 117, 121, 131, 132, 141, and 147; and in the same province, a Spaniard died, in 1765, aged 144 years, 7 months, and 5 days, leaving 800 persons lineally descended from him.’ This is taken from a sort of Magazine printed in the country itself, which a friend of mine got over for me. A gentleman born at Buenos Ayres, (the place that you have read so much about in the papers,) but who, in the year 1801, was, for about a month, at the capital of Mexico, dines with me to-day. His name is Don Castella. Four years ago, he was sent over by the principal people in his country to offer to put it under the protection of this country,—but nothing would satisfy the ruling powers here, short of plunder and unconditional submission; and we have all seen the consequence.
“If I cannot get leave to go to Mexico, I shall probably pay a visit to some of the little south-western islands,—Madeira or Teneriffe for example, where, owing to the same causes, there are spots nearly as delightful and salubrious; nor is English society altogether wanting; but, on account of its wealth, extent, and novelty, Mexico is more inviting. It is very uncertain whether the Mexicans will continue in subjection to Spain, even during the government of the patriots there: but to submit to be governed by them is one thing; to receive a man civilly, who comes with a letter of recommendation from them, is another.
“Eyes are precious,—more so to me than to most people,—I must try some course to save them. Under the plague of fires, notwithstanding everything that can be done by screens, they are growing worse and worse every day. I must make an attempt to save them. I shall not, however, leave this country without giving you full warning: you will the less court me since Sam is returned to take my place. If I go, we may both, perhaps, take a run down to you for a few hours, to talk over matters, if you do not forbid us. His whole family, mistress, children, and servants have, of late, been sadly afflicted with illness: Mrs B. bed-ridden, with a hæmorrhage, for several months; but now she is about again,—children all pretty well, and servants mending or recovered.
“Manuscript road maps and journals of travels, between Vera Cruz and the capital, that never have been published, lie before me.
“If I go to Mexico, and find the climate answers, I will send you a card of invitation: if you come there, the scurvy will be left behind; and as for stones, Portal says you have confessed they are no trouble to you.
“With the truest respect and affection, my dear Doctor, ever yours.”
“Thursday, Nov. 10.
“The law business being adjourned to this evening, so is Koe’s visit to Portal.”
Horner sent to Bentham the following information respecting Mexico:—
[* ] Sir S. Bentham was employed to conduct several operations in the Portsmouth Dock-yards.