Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVII.: 1810—1813. Æt. 62—65. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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CHAPTER XVII.: 1810—1813. Æt. 62—65. - 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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1810—1813. Æt. 62—65.
Correspondence with Blanco White on the Affairs of Spain.—Project of Settling in Venezuela.—Cobbett.—Droits of the Admiralty.—Dumont’s English.—R. B. Nickolls.—Brougham on Codification in America and Naval Reform.—Sir F. Burdett.—Major Cartwright.—Colonel Burr.—Madame de Staël and Benjamin Constant.—Jury Trial in India.—Miranda.—Proposal to Lord Sidmouth to prepare a Penal Code.—Blaquiere.—Mackintosh.
Bentham took a deep interest in the affairs of Spain; and a correspondence was established between him and Blanco White, then the editor of the Español. In a letter to Bentham, (24th October, 1810,) he says:—
Blanco White to Bentham
“I am confident, from the knowledge I have of your philanthropy, that you will favour the cause of my country with the further communication of such of your observations as you may consider most beneficial to it. Meantime, I feel myself bound to contribute to that satisfaction, which is the purest reward of every man who consecrates his labour to the amelioration of mankind, by bearing testimony to the good effects of your works in Spain. Though thwarted in their circulation by prejudice and ignorance, they were looked for and read with avidity: they were mentioned as a leading rule for the amendment of our laws, when a committee was appointed to that purpose, during the Central Junta; and I venture to foretell, they will have a material influence in the future code of Spanish laws, if we ever come to possess such a blessing.”
Bentham to Blanco White.
“Oxstead, 25th October, 1810.
“Your favour of yesterday’s date having just come to hand, I take the earliest opportunity of stating something, which possibly may not yet be too late for a brief mention in the last sheet of your next Español.
“In the account of the proceedings of the Cortes, on the 27th September last, I see mention made of the appointment of a committee of eight, for drawing up a law relative to the Liberty of the Press. At the request of a common friend of ours, so it happens, that I have of late been occupied—I am ashamed to say for what length of time—in drawing up a Code upon that subject, including what to me seemed the necessary explanations. Though the principles were fully settled, the text was not quite finished when he left this country; but as much was finished and put into his hands, as there could be any practical use for, for some time to come.
“He had been several times attacking me on that subject. My answer was, that the accomplishment of it was precisely the most difficult of all problems discoverable in the field of legislation; and amongst other reasons for this, that the whole field of legislation is comprised in it: that, in a word, in my view of the matter, everything else within that field was child’s play in comparison of it. Such was the difficulty I expected to find, and such was the difficulty I actually found: accordingly, without its being yet quite finished, about two months of my time were completely occupied by my attempt. You know, without my telling you, the latitude for which my draught was calculated; but a very trifling alteration would, I believe, suffice for rendering it as fit for the purpose now in question, as for that for which it was designed.
“It would not be without emotion, and possibly for a moment, not altogether without regret, that ourfriend would view, one of these days, so early a mention of a work which he had in some measure been entitled to consider as his own; but if things go on well where he is gone, he would have given it its chance there before your next Español can probably have reached his hands; and whatsoever, if any, may be the value of it, I have too high a sense of his liberality to suppose him capable of considering it a proper subject for engrossment.
“My arrival in town is fixed for Monday next; after which, I flatter myself with the hope of an early opportunity of paying my personal respects to you, at a sociable time of the day, at the place to which your letter was directed.”
On sending back to Bentham his remarks on “forthcomingness,” or the proper means to be taken for the compulsory attendance of parties and witnesses, and the elicitation of evidence,* Dumont thus writes:—
“Nov. 1, 1810.
“I return you this tissue of abomination—employ me to reëstablish torture—anonymous accusations—religious excommunications! force a man into the company of executioners—tyrants—inquisitors,—how can anybody publish such horrors? I wash my hands of them. I have put it all into barbarous French. The academy will only condemn me: but you will be burnt alive, at the first philosophical and legal auto da fé.
“I am forthcoming on a simple invitation, without any compulsory application of a physical or a religious nature: Friday, or Saturday, or Monday, at choice,—but not later, for I decamp on Tuesday or Wednesday for Ashdon.
“After such a succession of horrors, I am hardened, and you may d— me out and out by some diabolical service—exclusion of evidence, for instance. There will be sulphur enough to consume Lincoln’s Inn and the Temple. Farewell, monster!
“P.S. Dumont’s criminal style, wanted to imitate the Monitorial formulary, to be issued without delay.”
Bentham to Mr Mulford.
“1st November, 1810.
“You may know, or not know, that the king’s illness you read of in the newspapers, is the old madness. Sir S., in his way hither, met two members of the House of Commons: one of them ministerial, the Comptroller of the Navy,—of course with a long face; the other, Sir Samuel Romilly, an oppositionist—the man you read of in the newspapers—mighty brisk and alert. It had never been intended that the House should have met this day: probably not till after Christmas. It would have been prorogued of course; but the king’s signature being necessary, could not, under these circumstances, be conveniently obtained. Not that it was regarded as altogether impracticable; but Mr Perceval, the minister, acquainted the House that he feared to make the experiment. Since the king has become blind, those who have seen his signature report it a mere scrawl, without the similitude of a letter. The House having power to adjourn itself, did so; but for not more than a fortnight. You may imagine now what an uproar all our politicians are in on both sides. If he is not mended by that time, there will be battling about the Regency, as before.
“You mention Mexico. Mexico I have no longer any thoughts of. But another country still more charming, the province of Venezuela, alias the Caracas, so called from the capital, I have very serious thoughts of. Mexico is very scantily watered, both by rains and rivers,—Venezuela abundantly. The temperature is delightful, summer temperature all the year round. Within sight of the sea, though almost under the line, you have a mountain topped with ice, so that you may absolutely choose your temperature, and enjoy the vegetable luxuries of all countries. If I go thither, it will be to do a little business in the way of my trade—to draw up a body of laws for the people there, they having, together with a number of the other Spanish American colonies, taken advantage of the times, and shaken off the Spanish yoke, which was a very oppressive one.
“General Miranda, a native of Venezuela, who rose at the time of the French Revolution to the command of an army in the French service, and whose life has been employed in the endeavour to emancipate the Spanish colonies, left this country about a fortnight ago, by invitation, to put himself at the head of them. He took with him the draught of a law which, at his solicitation, I drew up for the establishing of the liberty of the Press. He is to write to me immediately on his arrival; and if things are in a peaceable state, I shall probably take a trip thither not long after I have received his letter. The province has agents here in the style of ambassadors, who, though on account of our connexion with Spain, they cannot be openly recognised, are well received. One of them was sent here t’other day in a king’s ship sent on purpose. I am flattered with the hopes of a similar conveyance to be granted at their solicitation. I should prefer it much to a common packet, not only for safety, but for comfort.
“I see nothing that can prevent my going if I am alive and well; but either their falling into confusion, or Miranda’s immediate loss of that ascendancy, which there can be no doubt of his possessing at present there: both of them, effects for which no probable cause is as yet discernible. A number of our considerable political characters, and even women too, are already looking to that country, and longing to go there. Lady Hester Stanhope, who was niece to minister Pitt, and used to live with him, promised Miranda, that if he found things there settled to his wishes, she would go over to him, and superintend female schools for him. This was before she heard of the above-mentioned revolution. At present, she is among the Greek Islands, or at Constantinople; but the news of the revolution will quicken her return. Even Wilberforce, who gave them an entertainment t’other day, talked, half jest half earnest, of paying them a visit. The good which I could do to mankind if I were in the House of Commons, or even if I were minister, is inconsiderable in comparison of that which I may hope to do if I go there: for having, by the ignorant and domineering Spaniards, been purposely kept in ignorance, they have the merit of being sensible of it, and disposed to receive instruction from England in general, and from your humble servant in particular. Whatever I give them for laws, they will be prepared to receive as oracles: for the case is, though I have neither time nor room to give you particulars, that now at length, when I am just ready to drop into the grave, my fame has spread itself all over the civilized world; and, by a selection only that was made ad 1802, from my papers, by a friend, and published at Paris, I am considered as having superseded everything that was written before me on the subject of Legislation. In Germany, as well as France, lawyers, commissioned by their sovereigns to draw new and complete codes of penal law, have sought to do themselves credit by references to that work. In the Russian language, two translations of it were made by authority. In Spain, it was received with enthusiasm, and was about to be made use of, had things turned out well there, by the constituted authorities. In my own country, of course, less said of me than in any other: but still my fame spreading, frequent references and quotations in books, and every now and then a panegyric in Parliament. Meantime, here am I sitting and scribbling on in this my hermitage, never seeing anybody but for some special reason, always bearing reference to the service of mankind. Farewell! my dear Doctor. I have given you a long dose. As I never see anybody, I don’t know how soon I may be able to lay hold of a member to frank this.”
The following letter is thus endorsed—“With Parliamentary Reform Catechism for publication. Taken to Cobbett by Mr K. Cobbett requiring a fortnight’s time to consider of it, it was brought back, and never afterwards sent.”
Bentham to Cobbett.
“The following introductory letter, it is desired, may be inserted, if the paper itself is:—
“Queen Square Place,
The celebrity of your name, compared with the obscurity of my own, has suggested to me the idea of presenting you with the enclosed paper on Parliamentary Reform, for the chance of its obtaining, through your Register, a degree of circulation so much beyond what any such name as mine could give to it.
“It forms but one chapter in a work which I hope soon to have ready for the press.
“Bringing to view, in a concise and familiar form, the chief of the reasons which presented themselves to my conception as pleading in favour of those fundamental arrangements which everybody is acquainted with, it will be found to suggest some subsidiary arrangements, which have not, in that character, ever as yet been submitted, I believe, to the public eye.—I am, Sir, your very obedient servant.”
Dumont to Bentham.
“22d November, 1810.
“Well! I have little to tell you, my dear Bentham; but you tell me I must prattle—and I prattle best in thanking you for your news about A. and F. They have made me shine at a dinner: introducing them dexterously as I did, a beautiful woman thought me in correspondence with the Court.
“The Panopticon article on Brid. Ed. [Bridewell of Edinburgh] is done—for the Philanthropist. You say, remember to write in English. The counsel comes too late. In English, my style is embarrassed—constipated—dull. I can introduce a word or two when I stumble upon a phrase. I will try, however, to translate myself.
“My packages are made up—your MSS. in the bottom. What I had is translated (the individual Codes.) My curiosity is but excited. It is not in the palace—or in the kitchen—but I do find a most piquant originality. Impose partiality on the editors of periodicals! A pretty inheritance for Sidney Smith. How he will chuckle over the Cato journalist! The virtue of a judge required from a trader in paragraphs—and the specimens—I hear my men roaring with laughter—and then—how will Perry balance epigram against epigram? A joke of Jekyll will be reëchoed by two of Canning—or, must an article, in order to be impartial, be as grave as a sermon?
“But joking apart, one of your own universal principles will be opposed to you. Why not trust to the interest of competitors in a question of trade. They know best what suits them. If there are two parties, each will have his paper—each will plead his own cause, and this is the only possible chance of impartiality. After all, the law will be inefficacious; for, if there be no literary tribunal, is not the editor able to reject what he pleases? Who is to judge him?
“I examine: I do not reject. The idea is not Utopian—Cobbett has put it in practice. My doubt is as to the desirableness of making it a law—a general law. If there were a government enlightened, courageous enough to apply it to its official paper, that might serve as a model for the rest. Can that be hoped for? Yes! from a new government—one that is yet pure; and I see no objection to propose it: the solemn engagement is so striking, as to encourage an honourable man to take charge of the enterprise.”
In answer to an inquiry as to the proportion of prize-money paid to the officers of privateers, Brougham writes to Mill.
“My information is, that the proportion of the net proceeds given to the officers and crews of privateers varies,—but that the most usual proportion is one-fourth (net proceeds.) The owners and outfitters of privateers make the best bargains they can with the crews and captains. I know of no case (nor can hear of any) where the prize courts have decided what share should be allowed where the capture was made without any previous agreement.—Indeed, I apprehend the crew would in that case have no claim.
“The above information applies to privateers generally.”
Brougham, in answering inquiries made by Mill, on the subject of the Admiralty Court, says:—
“10th December, 1810.
“I trust Mr B. will consider the great question of Droits of Admiralty, as worthy of his attention. I don’t know if he is aware of what was done in it last session. As I had a principal share in pressing it,—and in threatening to press it more generally this session,—I could explain its situation easily to you, the first time we meet, and give you the documents.”
The topic interested Bentham much, and he replied to Mill:—
“December 13th, 1810.
“But just received yours dated yesterday morning. Concerning Droits, what you tell me is altogether new to me, and the best news possible. I am delighted to see it in such good hands. Oh, yes; get the documents by all means. Those which consist in House of Commons’ papers, printed last session, I have of my own, or, at least, ought to have. But let me have the whole tote, whereupon all that I have of my own, I return instantly,—and the others speedily, that is, as soon as I have done with them, and as much sooner as they are wanted. Not having yet received my Cobbett’s Debates for the last session, I remain in total darkness. I feared it had been in no hands but inept and unpractised ones, such as those of the sea-faring members.”
The following note will give a correct idea of the excellent English which Dumont wrote,—though almost all his letters to Bentham are in French:—
“February 16, 1811.
“The man in the moon takes as much interest in my labour as you do.—I am a working slave,—the whip would not be so afflictive as so much indifference. Massa is a very bad massa. Not one poor visit in the antejentacular perambulations. Read the fable of La Fontaine, ‘L’âne et le jardinier.’ I regret my former master.
“I threaten you with an invasion,—but I give you fair warning,—to-day, if you choose, or Tuesday,—petit regime, remember,—je suis un sage, je ne mange ni ne bois, je travaille, je maigris à vue d’œil, j’ai besoin de causer avec vous avant d’entrer en conference avec l’imprimeur, et je suis impatient de commencer pour être libre, si possible, à la fin de Mai.
Extract of a letter from
The Rev. R. B. Nickolis to Bentham.
“Stanton, 12th March, 1811.
I do remember a Greek, with a Hebrew name, my opposite neighbour in the inner Quadrangle, of our Alma Mater, Coll. Reg. Oxon., whose retired and studious habits rendered him hermetically sealed at the time, though I was persuaded that he would open to advantage at some future season: in this persuasion I have not been disappointed; and the receipt of his last publication, on the Reform of the Laws of our Judicature, which came to hand a few days since, has shown me how much he has studied, to his own honour, and incalculable advantage to the cause of justice, and humanity, and good government, if he should be attended to; as indeed he must eventually be under such patronage, if the highest reason and equity retain any friends in power. The difficulty, the anxiety, distress, and sometimes ruin, which attend the repetition of right in our courts of law, imperiously demand redress; and from the sovereign ruler, if not remedied by the proper powers, must bring down just retribution in national visitations, and do even now greatly cool the regards of many to our political constitution.”
Bentham to Sir Francis Burdett.
Your presence was grievously missed on Thursday or Friday last, when M. A. Taylor’s motion about Chancery Delays came to be made. It would be so, still more deplorably, on Thursday next,—the day to which the debate was adjourned. A parliamentary friend of yours has just been with me. His father is upon terms of the oldest and strictest intimacy with both the persons for whose accommodation the vile job threatened in the Lords is intended to be made;* especially the one for the support of whose incapacity, the capacity of the other is to be called in. In such a situation, is it for flesh and blood to write or to speak a single syllable? No: but he will be there; and being there, will give his honest vote. Is not this heroism?
“Sir Francis Burdett has no such chains: and by Sir Francis Burdett shall the interest of the public be—I had like to have said, once more—sacrificed to the interest of the pillow?
“The debates in the Times, and I fear in the other papers, presented but a very partial and altogether inadequate view of what was said on the occasion, especially by Romilly.
“The pace of the present Chancellor in the making of decrees is more than ten times as slow as the average pace. Exactly this, in substance and effect, said Romilly in the House. In one term, (I think it was the last,) during which the Master of the Rolls made one hundred and fifty decrees, the Chancellor made—not one. This, too, if I do not misrecollect, Romilly said in the House: this, at any rate, he has said several times to me. On Thursday he will move for documents, from which, what is above will be proved. This, then, in particular, is the motion which stands so much in need of support. In effect, I am not certain whether in form he gave notice of it on Friday. The few honest or half-honest lawyers, who, had they been there, would have given him their support, were, by this or that accident, kept away. Between personal and public considerations his situation was a most irksome one. I heard it from his lips, and still more impressively in his tone, (I speak of the closet, not the House,) as well as read it in his countenance. I called on him (it was but yesterday) for the purpose of spurring him to do the very thing he had declared his intention of doing in the House. What I am now writing, and whatever little else I have done, or may do on this subject, it is fit you should know is altogether without his knowledge. Since Lord Hardwicke’s time, or earlier, the number of causes in the Court of Chancery has rather decreased than increased: so that, if a dozen of lawyers, having the most practice, were picked out, and the dice were thrown to obtain an average man among them, that average man being Chancellor, would have no need of the proposed coadjutor; so that the only use of the proposed job, except increase of the influence of the Crown over the lawyers, together with a few other etceteras, is to keep in that highest of places a man, of whom it will be proved by the rules of arithmetic, that he has not one-tenth part of the capacity that is necessary to enable a man to do his duty in it.
“The Ministry looked wondrous grim: they are in a sad funk: their not venturing to do anything more than to adjourn the debate, seems sufficient proof of it. If duly and happily improved, opportunities may arise of uncovering more and more the nakedness and rottenness of the nursing mother of all abuse. Forgive all this liberty, and believe me, most truly, dear Sir, yours.
“P.S.—My own situation considered, not to speak of other persons, you will understand without difficulty that I am casting myself on your generosity, and that no part of this is designed either for the tavern or the newspaper.
“N.B.—Lord Redesdale, the ex-Chancellor of Ireland, was for incapacity in this its worst shape, indecision, just such another. This appears from the most pointed facts printed in the debates of the time.
“N.B.—Incapacity in this shape being proved by comparative arithmetic, is an element of unfitness which cannot but be accompanied by mala fides; since it is not possible, that, like erroneous judgment, it should be a secret to the man himself.”
Brougham to Mill.
“July 7, 1811.
“My dear Sir,—
I have this moment received your letter and the enclosures, containing part of the letter to Madison,* and I need not say that it forth with put all other business for a season to flight, and fixed me. I am about to go through it with much care, for the purpose of humbly suggesting a few alterations, to avoid startling our Transatlantic brethren too much at first. But as to the main point, I am wholly at Mr B.’s service. Pinckney I know extremely well, and have long been in the habit of communicating freely with him. I will write, therefore, in any terms you please to him. Munroe, his predecessor, I was equally intimate with, and I make the same offer as to him. I believe he is now Governor of Virginia. It may seem absurd to say so; but to the present question it is material, and therefore I may mention, that I have some little credit in the U. S., at least with the Jefferson party, (the ruling powers.) They printed and circulated my speeches on the American questions, and I see I have my share in the abuse of their adversaries. I have also had a very civil, and indeed unmerited proof of Jefferson’s good opinion, from a gentleman who chanced to be with him when one of those speeches arrived. I am sure I cannot possibly better use up (as the housewives say) this little credit, than by attempting to pave the way for the communication in question.
“I do not even know the name of the chargé d’affaires; but I can have no objection to apply to him: and what I should propose would be this, (though I write in haste, and with little time for maturely digesting the plan,) that I should desire him to transmit, as from myself, to Pinckney, (himself an eminent lawyer, by the way, and one whom I have consulted on American law, as I have been consulted by him on our own,) and then that the letter and packet should be delivered by Pinckney to Madison,—being introduced by Pinckney by a full letter from me. Not that any such introduction can be very necessary when the name of Mr Bentham appears; but the American lawyers may have some of our homebred (or rather homebrew’d) prejudices, and I can state things respecting Mr Bentham, and his weight with even sound practical lawyers of the better school, which he can’t so well mention himself. I shall send back the MS. speedily, and wait your answer as to my mode of proceeding.—Ever yours truly,
In answer to a letter from Mill, suggesting inquiries into some subjects of naval reform, Brougham writes, that he fears Lord St Vincent would not concur in Bentham’s views, and that of Lord St V. he had formed a high opinion. Bentham writes to Mill:—
“Nothing can be more frank, more candid, more judicious, more honourable than Brougham’s conduct; nothing more satisfactory than his accounts of it.
“If, in his dealings towards my brother, Lord St Vincent had been fortunate enough to have Mr B. for his adviser, this favourite plan of his, supposing it capable of standing the test of examination, might have been saved from that opposition, and even that retardation at least, which it has been its destiny to experience.”
Dumont says, August 7th, 1811:—
“I have read Lord Charlemont’s Life.† It may interest you more than it interests me. I found no amusement in it—too many generalities—too many allusions—too few anecdotes. It is rather a general view of Irish history, than a biography of the principal personage.”
On the 4th September, in answer to a proposal that he should write to Gallatin,‡ recommending him to address the President of the United States, in order to induce him to apply to Bentham for a Civil Code to be introduced into America, Dumont says:—
Dumont to Bentham.
“I have not forgotten the letter to Gallatin—I wanted to write it. I began it—I applied myself to it two or three times—I could not succeed to my liking. Not succeed? you say—a good letter—a fine piece of eloquence? Nay!—but a reasonable and useful letter—nothing came of it. Have I not said all?—who am I?—what weight have I?—what does it all mean? I do not like to be impertinent—I do not like to labour without hopes of success. Since I talked the matter over with you, divers reflections have assaulted me. Some you saw as well as I did; but there is one we did not think of, and which moves me much. What can the President do? What can be done by a moveable magistrate, whose power expires in a year or two? What engagements can he undertake for his successor?
“His personal invitation is nothing. There must be a decree of the Senate or the Congress: and how can this be obtained? Will the Senate read your writings? Will they be able to judge of the aptitude of the author? Burr said he knew not four persons in America who had read the Principes. What can then be hoped for, as the author is an unknown being—an Englishman—an English lawyer? Every motive of jealousy and national distrust will operate upon the Americans, among whom presumption and conceit of themselves are the most remarkable characteristics. These are my opinions; they are not meant to influence yours. But I must say, a letter from me to Gallatin is a sabre-blow on the water, and especially as, according to Smith, he is on bad terms with Madison.
* * * * *
“We are busy here with a do-nothing life. I admire laborious men, but have not courage to imitate them. The Prince-Regent has intimated to Perceval that he would like him to wear his uniform, and has presented him with a set of buttons; a significant caress!
Major Cartwright to Bentham.
“Thursday, 29th August, 1811.
“My dear Sir,—
I yesterday heard of three free settlers of New South Wales, who are now in town, having come over with facts and documents to prove the enormous plundering of stores, &c. &c., in a case intended to have been brought to some inquiry in England, before the Privy-council, I suppose. But finding Ministers absolutely set their faces against any inquiry, these free settlers, after the expense, loss of time, and neglect of their settlements, are going back again, and in the course of seven or eight days. Thinking you might wish to converse with these men, who, after the treatment they have experienced, will probably be sufficiently communicative, and ready to produce their documents, I would not lose any time in giving you this information.
“Possibly you might wish to converse with them without your name being known to them; in that case, I have no doubt I could get them to my house, where you might be present, and question them as you please; or I could contrive a meeting elsewhere, as you might like.
“I am going this morning to Hackney to see the ascent of the balloon, a grand sight I have never yet witnessed. In my way through the city, I will take my ground for an interview with the settlers, provided you should wish it, and contrive to have everything in readiness, that in case of meeting them you may lose as little of the country enjoyments as may be.
“Yours, dear Sir, very truly,
Bentham to Major Cartwright.
“Oxstead,Surrey, 30th August, 1811.
“My dear Sir,—
I have to acknowledge the favour of yours of yesterday’s date. Thanks in abundance for your kind remembrance of me. The business is interesting, and in altogether competent hands. Mine could not better it. But hands there are by which it might be bettered, viz., a Member of Parliament’s; for example, (and if he could but bring himself to take the trouble of it, whose could be better?) Sir Francis Burdett’s. Such and such are the facts which the persons in question were willing to depose to, and offered to such and such official persons (naming them) to give an account of; but those official persons would not hear them. At great expense and inconvenience to themselves they left the colony on such a day, staid till such a day; but finding that any further stay would be to no purpose, embarked on such a day on their return. This is what, according to your letter, a member of Parliament, who should have seen and examined them, would be able to say in his place.
“In default of Sir Francis, who very probably is not within reach—viz., between Piccadilly and Wimbledon—but at some distant watering place, if this were a time in which any person were in town I might possibly have got some M.P. to see the men in question and act accordingly. This being hopeless, remains for consideration the next best thing to be done.
“Objects two:—1. To collect the facts and preserve them from deperition; 2. To fix the ministry with notice, prove that the not proving the abuses and bringing them before Parliament and the public in the regular and usual manner is their fault—their wilful fault—and thus prove them guilty of connivance.
“For the accomplishment of these objects, supposing motives on your part adequate, and the requisite means in your power, i. e. the persons in question ready to do their part, the following is the course that occurs to me:—
“1. You to see them, (the sooner the better, since their departure is so near,) and to get out of them, and commit to paper, as particularly as may be, all the relevant facts within their knowledge. For this purpose, by way of memento, the titles of the sections in that pamphlet of mine which you have, together with the running titles with which the pages are headed, might perhaps be found of some use.
“2. When the facts are before you, then to state them, or such parts of them as seem most material, in form of a letter, to be signed by the men in question, and addressed to Mr Secretary Ryder, within whose department it is, observation being made of the person to whom at his office it is delivered: the persons to mention the day fixed for their departure, i. e. for the departure of the ship in which they are to go, and their inability to retard it: likewise to state the preceding manifestations they had afforded of their readiness to give the information, and what steps, if any, were taken by the official persons in question (naming them) in consequence.
“As to the once-intended inquiry, what I heard about the matter is as follows:—About the beginning of last session, I think it was, or earlier, an intimate friend of mine, M.P. (you may guess who: I don’t like mentioning names in black and white, without leave* ) informed me, that some flagrant abuses in New South Wales had transpired, and that some members of Opposition had thoughts of trying to obtain a committee, for the purpose of bringing them to light. Some time afterwards, he informed me that the project was abandoned; for the person on whose evidence the principal reliance was placed, had, by means of a place, been satisfied and bought off by the Ministry,—under which circumstances, the prospect of his giving, before a committee, the same account that he had given of the matter, or any other account that would afford a justification for the inquiry, appearing hopeless, the design was given up. In answer to a question of mine, his name was mentioned; but I do not to any certainty recollect it. I have some notion that it was Fowel, or some other name beginning with an F. I am certain of its not containing more than one or two syllables. I don’t know whether it is not agent for the colony that he is made. Your settlers might perhaps ascertain this.
“A friend of mine, whom you once saw at my house, but without speaking, and whom Mr Holt White saw and spoke with, has mentioned to me a Mr Brown,* as having passed some years in the colony in quality of botanist, and living now in Gerard Street, where he is librarian to the Linnæan Society, and, moreover, librarian to Sir Joseph Banks. He is mentioned as an honest, quiet man, but probably not very observant of anything but Natural History; and finding on his own personal account no grounds for complaint, not likely to have been very sharp in looking out for them.
“By mentioning this Mr B. to your men, you might hear of some facts, in relation to which their testimony, when they are gone, would, upon occasion, receive confirmation from his. Mr MacArthur you must have heard mentioned as one of the most eminent and respectable of the free settlers. In May or June, he was examined, on the trial of Lieut.-colonel Johnstone, by a Courtmartial, at the instance of Governor Bligh. Mention was made of it about that time in ‘The British Press.’ Whether he is now in England, I have not heard. He has a brother, a mercer, in Plymouth, with whom, on occasion, communication might possibly be obtained.
“Being in the office of the Secretary of State, the proposed letter might be called for in Parliament; and, against the connivers, the facts would be to be taken for true, since, if incorrect, it was their fault that the incorrectnesses were not ascertained and corrected. A copy should be preserved, that, without a committee, (which would not be granted,) any member having it in his hand might be enabled to speak to the facts with confidence.
“Suggestion by Mr K.—Possibly these men, having heard how (Fowel?) was bought off, came hither on the like errand; but found the connivers tired of buying quiet at that rate. But this hypothesis depends upon there having been time for them to have heard of it, and come hither afterwards.
“I take this only vacant place for assuring you, that I am, my dear Sir, ever most truly yours.”
Major Cartwright to Bentham.
“September 6th, 1811.
“My dear Sir,—
On Sunday I had an interview with the free settler; but, on recollecting it might be the man’s ruin, to be followed by an information to the Governor, that he had made any reports to the disadvantage of persons in power, either here, or in New South Wales, I was guarded in my inquiries, leaving him as much as possible to narrate spontaneously. In the course of our interview, he produced the copy of a letter which he himself wrote on the 26th of January last, three months after his arrival in London, to one of our ministers, exhibiting a clear and distinct charge against a military man then in England, of having, while in power in New South Wales, put to death five or six men, mentioned by name, without trial of any kind, and contrary to law—even the law of New South Wales, such as it is; at the same time stating, that abundance of evidence of these facts might be established by the testimony of several persons then in England, attending at the prosecution of Colonel Johnstone, and that he himself was ready to bring forward the matter in a legal way. From that day to this, no notice has been taken of this letter to a Cabinet Minister.
“After waiting awhile from the date above-mentioned, he, in the same form of words, addressed himself to one of the Chief Justices, who has to this hour remained equally silent on this account of so many murders.
“Having discovered that my informant came home insupport of the charge against Johnstone, for divesting Governor Bligh of his office by a military insurrection, and at the head of troops he commanded—a charge exhibited on the part of Government at home, I was cautious not to alarm him, but expressed surprise that his well-intended communication should have been neglected in so extraordinary a manner as he had related, as well as a wish that Lord Folkstone, or Sir Samuel Romilly, had been desired to have noticed the matter in Parliament, which might have driven Ministers to have done their duty. In his reply, he mentioned one distinguished gentleman in Opposition, to whom he had shown his letter to the Minister and the Chief Justice; and, to my great surprise, that gentleman not only read the letter without any comment, but was ever after silent on the subject. In what an age do we live, when murders by the half dozen are to be perpetrated by a military man in power, while no party politician, either in or out of power, thinks such matters worthy of investigation! or rather, while no such politician will call for the investigation till he have first considered how his own factious purposes are to be affected by it!
“As I was very unwell, and my informant was obliged to leave me, I obtained no other information worth noting; which I the less regretted, as he told me that, from Mr Margarot, every sort of information respecting the colony, might be obtained. I do not know Margarot, but am well acquainted with several of his friends. He also promised to call again before he embarked, which he expected to be within the week. I have not, however, seen him, and have been too unwell to seek him at his own lodgings. Besides which, my time has been much occupied about my brother’s life-boat invention.
“The moulds I returned a few days since, for the use of which I am very thankful, as it enabled me to propose, to my friend the India captain, a superior boat for all the common purposes of his ship, besides being peculiarly well adapted for the purposes of a life-boat. The boat is now building. When we meet, we must talk over this organized system, of murders by wholesale in the regular course of administering the affairs of an English colony.
“With every wish for your health, and every hope that you may yet be eminently instrumental in putting an end to the above abomination.—Truly yours.”
Colonel Burr to Bentham.
“October 12th, 1811.
“I am very glad, and very sorry to falsify your prophecy, for we shall meet, and soon. The story is thus:—After new and infinite vexations, subsequently to my letter by Forbes, I did, on the 19th of July, obtain a passport: set out immediately for Amsterdam, where was the American ship Vigilant, waiting to receive me. On my arrival, found the ship ready; but, on the same day, her departure was retarded by order of the emperor. On the 13th of September, the obstacles to sailing being removed, we embarked again: the ship then at the Texel. At the very moment we were about to sail, an express from Amsterdam brought an order for further delay: returned again to Amsterdam. On the 29th September embarked again; wind being a-head, did not propose to sail until it should change. In the evening of that day came on board a company of Police, commanding we should sail in twelve hours, or that our permission should be revoked. Did sail within the twelve hours, i. e. on the morning of the 30th: the same day were visited by a British frigate, whose captain, after examination of the ship’s papers, took possession of her: took out fourteen of our crew, put in ten of his own, and two officers, and ordered us hither—where?—read on:—We were in the Vigilant seventy-three passengers, of all nations, colours, sexes, and ages—add 32 hogs, and various other quadrupeds and bipeds; but I am afore my story—to go back a little, then: I had taken a passport, and under an assumed name, with no reference, however, to the British Government. When our master (Combes) went on board the frigate, the first thing said to him by the captain was—‘So you have got Colonel Burr on board!’ Our master, Combes, having no instructions from me, replied that he had no person of that name on board. ‘O no, Sir; but you have Mr A. on board, whom, I believe, you know very well.’ This looked ominous. We were eight days in making a passage of about thirty leagues—arrived on Sunday evening last. On Monday, wrote Mr Reeves, announcing my arrival, and asking permission to land to go to London; did not write to you, fearing you might move in the matter, and thereby do yourself harm: resolved first to know whether I were to be confined to the ship, imprisoned on shore, or transported anew—the only three alternatives which presented themselves to my mind. By return of mail, to wit, on Wednesday, received from Mr Reeves a polite note authorizing me to land and to go to London at my pleasure. This indulgence is the more valuable, as, of the seventy-three passengers, among them many Americans, not one other is permitted even to come on shore. I shall profit by this permission, and to-morrow (13th October) shall leave Yarmouth, and propose to see you on Tuesday morning if you should be in London—hope not—if at Godstone, [Oxstead,] shall get there as soon as possible.
“I have a good deal of spleen to vent at you; but can’t just now work myself up into a proper humour: will try at London.”
Dumont to Bentham.
“11th November, 1811.
“Trotter’s book,* full of wicked and perfidious purposes—but the power of injuring is not equal to the will. I have heard enough of him, to show that he has a bad head and a bad heart. One of the causes of his exasperation against the friends of Mr Fox is, that they refused to drive Trail away in order to replace him by Trotter: he supposed that nothing was to be refused to a secretary of Mr Fox. He got £1000 from Mrs F., and £300 from Lord H., and wrote most abusively to the former, because she refused him money.”
Among plans for producing greater harmony and unity of feeling between Great Britain and Ireland, Bentham proposed that the United Kingdom should be denominated Brithibernia. He communicated his thoughts on this subject to Lord Holland, who says:—
Lord Holland to Bentham.
“Holland House,December 18, 1811.
I return you, with many thanks, your very curious and interesting paper, from the perusal of which I have received much pleasure and instruction. There is no question but names have great influence on mankind, and that those you object to are unlucky. It is, however, somewhat less certain that it is in the power either of parliaments or princes, to change names; and it is very certain, that till the latter changes other things as well as names, nothing that you or I could recommend for the conciliation of Ireland, would be listened to with any chance of success.
“With sincere hopes that you may long enjoy your health, and pursue your interesting and useful researches, I am, dear Sir, your obliged friend and servant.”
When Madame de Staël was coming to England, she applied to Dumont to introduce her to Bentham. Bentham did not like her,—he called her “a trumpery magpie.” He abhorred her sentimentalities and her flatteries. She said to Dumont, “Tell Bentham, I will see nobody, till I have seen him.”—“Sorry for it,” said Bentham, “for then she will never see anybody,”—and he would not receive her, nor return her visit. He had a similar feeling towards Benjamin Constant. He called him “Constant the Inconstant;” and when a friend asked him for a letter to Constant, he said, “No! he is getting proud and aristocratical,—his philosophy is ipsedixitism,—you will differ from him, and get his ill-will for your pains: and I will not expose you to it.” But, to say the truth, I never observed Constant’s little infirmities to assume an unreasonable or repulsive character.
Bentham, for himself, had made it a rule to avoid, as much as possible, discussions whose results would leave matters where they were, with the risk of annoyance to both parties in the progress of the discussion. “Endeavour,” he said, “to ascertain the opinions of others, who are strangers to you, before you venture to introduce your own. Introduce them not, if their opinions are so remote as to be irreconcileable with yours. Say not, ‘I have a right to proclaim and defend my opinion.’ What is the English of all that? ‘I have a right to give pain,—to make enemies,—to have backs turned, and doors shut against me.’ ”
There was some difficulty at this period in obtaining a publisher for the “Introduction to the Rationale of Evidence.” More than one bookseller declined, giving as a reason, that the book was libellous,—a libel on the administration of justice.* The fate of “Elements of the Art of Packing,” which lay six years printed, but unpublished, had alarmed “the trade.” Mill endeavoured to persuade the parties, that their “hesitation was weakness,” but with little effect.
James Mill to Bentham.
“By what I learned from Sharpe on Wednesday, at Ricardo’s, I look upon a Whig Ministry as certain. Marquis Wellesley having found it impossible to form an Administration, resigned the task, when it was transferred to Lord Moira; and on Wednesday, at five o’clock, Lords Grey, Grenville, and Wellesley, met at Lord Moira’s. Since that time, I know nothing, except that there was no account of this in the papers yesterday.† But the certainty of the fact, that Lord Moira is the former, makes an equal certainty, I think, of the Whigs being the material with which the formation will be accomplished,—Wellesley and Canning to be included. This being the case, I cannot imagine but that your proposal about Panopticon—namely, along with their penitentiary house—will be immediately assented to; at least, after the reasons which you can so easily give them. In truth, I suspect Panopticon will bar the way to Devonshire as a residence; and should the Whigs come in, as supposed, I suspect you will hardly feel easy at the idea of being away, till you know what is to be done with you. It is a maxim in politics, says De Retz, ‘que l’absent a toujours tort.’ ”
In conjunction with Mill, Bentham put forward various suggestions for the application of a Jury system to British India, with their rationale:—
“1. To make the choice of jurors extend, as far as possible, not merely to half-castes of legitimate birth, but to half-castes of every kind.
“2. Urge the reasons for admitting natives of all descriptions. Whatever reasons are good for admitting half-castes, are good for admitting others, if no reason springing out of what peculiarly belongs to the other castes can be shown to exist.
“3. Beginning with the half-castes discredits the institution in the eyes of the higher castes of natives.
“4. The natives of all castes mix without difficulty, as sepoys in the ranks of our army.”
Bentham’s intimacy with Miranda has been already mentioned, (p. 458.) Miranda was accustomed to look to him as one of the mainstays of South American liberty. He announced his appointment to the command of the Venezuelar forces, from
“My dear Sir,—
I hope the day is not far distant, when I shall see the liberty and happiness of this country established upon a solid and permanent footing. The appointment I have just received, of Generalissimo of the Confederation of Venezuela, with full powers to treat with foreign nations, &c., will perhaps facilitate the means of promoting the object I have for so many years had in view.
On Lord Sidmouth’s coming to office, Bentham had an interview with him, which was exceedingly satisfactory. Lord Sidmouth expressed to him a desire to be favoured with his suggestions for the reform of the Law.
In consequence of that conversation, Bentham proposed that he should be encouraged to prepare a Penal Code for this country—offering to undertake it without any pecuniary recompense whatever. The offer was this:—
Bentham to Lord Sidmouth.
“Mr Bentham to the President of the United States—Postscript to Lord Sidmouth.
“Queen’s Square Place,
Your lordship’s kindness having impounded the brouillen of my letter to the President of the United States,* as it were, in a state of nakedness,—apprehensive of the misconceptions to which, when viewed through that medium, the nature of the offer thus submitted by me to your lordship, may have been left open, by a conversation carried on, on my side, with the greatest rapidity which it was in my power to give to it,—I take the liberty of troubling your lordship with a few words of explanation, requesting that this letter may be added to that other, and considered as forming a sort of postscript to it.
“1. What is there proposed to the President, as ready to be begun, or rather to be continued, is no less than what is there termed, for shortness, a Pannomion, a complete body of law, commensurate in its extent with the whole field of law.
“What I should propose to your lordship, to call into existence for the purpose of the department over which your lordship now presides, is nothing more than a Penal Code: a proposed Penal Code in terminis, with a perpetual Commentary of Reasons (as per sample in the French book, Mr Dumont’s) and Observations, bringing to view all along, and under each head, the imperfections, or supposed imperfections, of the existing rule of action in its present state.
“That you should pledge yourself for any such endeavour as that of carrying into effect so much as any the smallest part of it when produced, is more than I expect, or—But why do I say expect? It is more than, if it depended upon myself, I would suffer to be done.
“That in some point of view or other, some sort and degree of approbation, as produced by the opinion already before the public, would, in and by any encouragement given to the continuance of it, be unavoidably, if not expressed, implied, is more than I can take upon myself to speak of as questionable. But to that general sort of approbation there are not any imaginable qualifications, limitations, reserves, modifications, or exceptions, that would not, on my part, find a ready acquiescence; and when the thing is finished, if from the beginning of it to the end, there should not be a single proposition in it that you saw reason to approve of, you would be just as free to say so, as if you had not contributed in any way to the production of it.
“In my own country, and in my own lifetime, the utmost I could expect of any body of proposed law drawn up by myself, is, that it should be received, and employed, and made use of in the character of a subject of comparison—a subject or object of comparison, capable, on occasion, of being referred to—referred to for good provision or for bad provision, for good argument or for bad argument, for approbation or for censure. The more insignificant the author, the more entire the freedom with which the work, in every part of it, might be, and would be canvassed. Here would be a something which would extend over the whole field of the subject, and which, good or bad, would, at any rate, have an existence and a shape.
“As to the existing Penal Code—but there is no existing Penal Code—(those fragments, those deplorably scanty, as well as frequently exuberant and throughout inadequately expressed—those perpetually incommensurable, never-confronted and ever-inconsistent fragments which are in the state of statute law excepted) existence cannot be predicated of it. Be it law, be it what else it may, that discourse which has no determinate set of words belonging to it, has no existence.
“Excuse my freedom; but I would beg of your lordship to consider whether this be not that sort of thing from which, in your lordship’s situation, a public man has something to gain—something, I mean, of course, in the shape of reputation, and nothing at all to lose.
“Without expense to the public—without anything which, from any human being, can receive any such name as that of a job, on a subject of such importance, a work of such difficulty, brought out by the labour of the only individual in the country who has ever applied himself to the subject;—whatever there be in it that comes to be well spoken of—supposing anything in it well spoken of—Mæcenas, with his superior discernment and liberal views, gets, of course, the credit of: whatever there is in it that is ill-spoken of, Mæcenas washes his hands of it.
“Of one thing, I think, I can venture to give your lordship pretty full assurance, viz., that from opposition, anything done in this view, and, in particular, if coming from your lordship, would experience not merely a cold acquiescence, but upon occasion, openly and pretty extensively declared approbation and support; and I am even content to put the matter upon this issue, viz., that upon this point a sufficient assurance shall previously have been obtained. The grounds of this persuasion would require by far too many words for your lordship to be troubled with in the shape of black and white. But any time I am ready to submit them in the fullest detail, and with that confidential frankness which is so well suited to the subject, and of which, at the very first interview, your lordship’s kindness set so encouraging an example.
“Since the days of Lord Bacon, the sort of offer I am making to your lordship is what has never, from that time to this, been made to any public man. This is as plain a truth as it is a known one; and in this, if there be anything of flattery at the bottom of it, it is a sort of flattery which I am not ashamed to give, and which your lordship, I presume, will not be ashamed to receive.
“Of the offer made in Lord Bacon’s time, that great man, it is true, was the maker, not the receiver,—the receiver being an unwise king, and not the less unwise for the neglect he charged himself with in not profiting by it.
“When the object thus solicited for is neither more nor less than the faculty of taking up, for the remainder of life, a course of hard labour, without an atom of what is commonly understood under the name of reward,—in a word, without any reward but what is inherent in the nature of the labour itself, (supposing it to be followed with any effect,) and cannot be separated from it, your lordship, I am inclined to flatter myself, will join with me in the opinion, that the solicitation, should it even be deemed importunate, is not of that sort by which anything of dishonour would be reflected either upon the unofficial man who urges it, or upon the official man who should yield to it.
“What (I say once more) is not necessary, is reward; but what, I cannot but confess is necessary—I mean in my own case—to the execution of the sort of work in question, is encouragement, meaning by encouragement, attention; for the work when executed, assurance of attention, viz. on the part of the public, and to that end, in some shape or other, from office.
“What your lordship has to consider is—whether it does or does not promise to be of advantage to the country, and thence to mankind at large, that a work of the sort in question, on the subject in question, by the hand in question, should be executed? Should your determination be in the affirmative, it will then be time enough to consider, in what shape the encouragement may most suitably be administered—I mean the assurance of attention afforded. This, however, is not a subject for writing, but for vivâ voce discussion, and on which I should have more to hear than speak—at least would more willingly hear than speak. One other thing, which your lordship may, perhaps, have to consider, is—whether it would be for the advantage of Lord Sidmouth’s fame, that it should go down to posterity, that Lord Sidmouth, having it in his power to cause a work of the sort in question, a sample of which is in the hands of the public, to be brought into existence, and by that same hand, chose that it should not be brought into existence?
“ ‘But all this while, Sir,’ (I think I hear your lordship saying,) ‘if you really have any such strong desire for executing any such work as you speak of, what is there to hinder you?’ My lord, I am perfectly able and willing to explain to your lordship what has hindered me—what does hinder me—and what continues to hinder me. But this is not a subject for black and white.—I have the honour to be,” &c.
In answer to a complaining epistle of Mr Mulford’s, (then more than 83 years old,) Bentham concludes a long letter thus:—
Bentham to Mr Mulford.
“July 9th, 1812.
“Alack-a-day! how long a trial has your talent at deciphering been already put to! The two or three last pages at least might have been spared; but as you grow stronger and younger, your letters lengthen, while your handwriting improves; and although I should never learn to write as well as you do, though I were to keep on writing to the age of Methusalem, yet I have always been your match in length. Moreover, since you have renewed your lease, your hand seems to have become clearer than it was when I had first the honour to become acquainted with it. What say you to the entering in one of the Inns of Court? In five years you might be called to the Bar, and in about fifteen or twenty years more might become Attorney or Solicitor-general, which would oblige you to come into Parliament: whereupon, in a few years more, you might pursue the track marked out by the late Mr Perceval, and become Minister; but, in that case, lest you should share his unhappy fate, let me recommend it to you, to listen to the voice of prudence, and insure your life.
“The member by whom this letter is franked, is the famous Mr Brougham—pronounce Broom—who, by getting the Orders in Council revoked, and peace and trade with America thereby restored, has just filled the whole country with joy, gladness, and returning plenty. He has been dining with me to-day, and has but just gone. This little dinner of mine he has been intriguing for any time these five or six months; and what with one plague and another, never till this day could I find it in my heart to give him one—I mean this year: for the last we were already intimate. He is already one of the first men in the House of Commons, and seems in a fair way of being very soon universally acknowledged to be the very first, even beyond my old and intimate friend, Sir Samuel Romilly: many, indeed, say he is so now.
“Sir Francis Burdett is still upon my hands, for a dinner he has been wanting to give me, any time these six weeks, offering to have anybody I will name to meet me. In real worth he is far below those others: but being the hero of the mob, and having it in his power to do a great deal of harm, as well as a great deal of good, and being rather disposed to do good, and, indeed, having done a good deal already, must not be neglected.
“For society, I have to pick and choose amongst the best and wisest, and most esteemed men in the country, who all look up to me; and yet, having so much to do, and so little time left to do it in, I lead, in this my hermitage, a hermit’s life—not much less hermitish than yours. You sometimes, I believe, read newspapers: which paper is it that forms your channel of communication with this wretched world? It will be some weekly one, I suppose: if any, the Examiner is the one that at present, especially among the high political men, is the most in vogue. It sells already between 7000 and 8000. Cobbett, also, who, though a powerful writer, is almost universally known for a vile rascal—has sunk from between 4000 and 5000, to no more than 2000: in pretty broad terms, he has been vindicating the assassination of poor Perceval, and recommending it for imitation! yet, even he has been, in many respects, the instrument of good; for so, of course, will the vilest rascals be, when they think they see their interest in it.
“The editor of the Examiner—Hunt, has taken me under his protection, and trumpets me every now and then in his paper, along with Romilly. I hear so excellent a character of him, that I have commissioned Brougham to send him to me.
“The Marquis of Lansdowne is going this summer to the family seat at Bowood, in Wiltshire, for the first time since his coming to the title and estate. I am summoned to go and take possession of the apartment there, which, for these thirty years, has gone by my name; but this year I certainly cannot afford time, and others are not likely to be very abundant. Here, my dear Doctor, in hopes of contributing to your amusement, have I been scribbling and scrawling to you as to a father, in confidence that you will not, on any account, let it go out of your hands.
“I mean to send, if I can find it, one of the numbers of the weekly newspaper called The Examiner. In it you will find a letter of which your humble servant is the subject; but which, odd as it may appear to you, your said humble servant never has read, and most probably never will read. He has too much use both for eyes and time, to read half the things that are said of him in books and newspapers.
“But what will interest you more, when you come to know the little circumstances that are connected with it, is the mention made by the editor, in a paragraph marked as written by himself, of my name in conjunction with those of Brougham and Romilly. Brougham is the sole confidential adviser of the Princess of Wales, in her contest with her husband. The Princess takes in The Examiner; and, as being in such pointed hostility against her said husband, reads it with great interest. The Princess Charlotte comes once a-fortnight, on a stated day of the week, I forget which, to dine with her mother, and there she steals a peep at the said Examiner. The Princess Charlotte had been taught by her father to be a great admirer of Charles Fox. Upon her father’s casting off that party without reason assigned, she would not go with him; but, being disgusted with his behaviour towards her mother, and on so many other accounts, adheres to her mother, and retains her original political feelings in great force. Brougham and Romilly are the Princess Charlotte’s two great heroes, whom she is continually trumpeting. If she were on the throne, Romilly would of course be Chancellor, Brougham either Minister, or in some other high office. They are both of them more democratic than the Whigs; and Erskine, having already been Chancellor, would probably have been preferred for that office, to Romilly, by the Whigs, had they come into power when they were so near it. Romilly’s is the only house I go to; and Brougham one of the very few, indeed, that I admit into mine. When the Earl of Dundonald dies, Lord Cochrane, who is his eldest son, will succeed to the peerage; and then it is understood to be certain that Brougham will succeed him as member for Westminster. Lord Dundonald, a few days ago, was supposed to be at the point of death, but is now, they say, a little recovered. It is supposed, however, that he has but a short time to continue in this wicked world. In the same case, would the Prince-Regent, if drinking could kill him; for he is drunk (say the learned) every night, and palsy is hovering over him. Brougham does not seem to have any other more immediate prospect for coming into Parliament, which, of course, I am sorry for. He had a claim for a seat for Scotland, which, on account of the certain expense, and the little chance of success which the bitter hostility of the ministry towards him seemed to leave him, he has determined to give up. Romilly is in Parliament by this time. He went down yesterday, to be elected, to Arundel, which is one of the Duke of Norfolk’s boroughs.”
There is, in a letter of Mill, an interesting reference to his son, whose early promise had excited in Bentham’s mind no small degree of attention, and who corresponded with Bentham, as soon as he was able to write:—
James Mill to Bentham.
“July 28th, 1812.
“I am not going to die, notwithstanding your zeal to come in for a legacy. However, if I were to die any time before this poor boy is a man, one of the things that would pinch me most sorely, would be, the being obliged to leave his mind unmade to the degree of excellence, of which I hope to make it. But another thing is, that the only prospect which would lessen that pain, would be the leaving him in your hands. I therefore take your offer quite seriously, and stipulate, merely, that it shall be made as good as possible; and then we may perhaps leave him a successor worthy of both of us.”
Mr Sugden*to Bentham.
“Lincoln’s Inn,Nov. 26, 1812.
I do myself the pleasure of sending you a copy of a pamphlet,† on a subject which you have long since so entirely and happily exhansted, as to leave nothing for future writers to attempt. Truth, however, requires sometimes to be repeated; and this is all that I have done. It is not without hesitation, that I venture to intrust to you my humble production; but Mr Brougham assures me that it will be kindly received; and, as he justly observed, it is a tribute due to the father of the subject. I beg to express my regrets, that I have so long delayed to render it.—I have the honour to be,” &c.
D’Ivernois writes to Dumont from Petersburg, 6th February, 1813, that the “Principes” met with a considerable sale in Russia,—that everybody was talking of it, though he feared very few read or studied it:—
“I find it,” he says, “on the tables of the various Ministers, but not to much purpose. I must, however, except Count Al. Soltikoff, a clear-minded and sagacious man. He is wonderfully superior to all his colleagues; and he has not only talent, but knowledge. The other day he said a smart thing to Romanzoff, who, on his return from Erfurth, being vexed and wounded at his asking leave to retire, said—‘But, Count, it looks almost as if my return and my presence had determined you to take this step.’ ‘No, indeed, Count: say rather your absences.’ One of the Ministers returned your two volumes within the four-and-twenty hours, averring that he had read and meditated on them the whole night through! There is a lamentable want here of administrative talent. The official functionaries are at an immense distance from the military officers of rank. I find my ideas professedly adopted, and then thwarted by concealed intrigue. They give me credit for stubbornness. The resources of this country are immense for defensive warfare,—but have been crippled by a bad currency arrangement, which I struggle in vain to replace by a more solid and substantial system.”
On the subject of subscription to Articles of Faith, by the clergy of the Presbyterian Establishment, and the Parochial Schoolmasters in Scotland, Jeffrey writes:—
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Jeffrey.
“Our clergymen all subscribe the Formula and Confession of Faith at their ordination; and if, by any accident, that solemnity should have been omitted, they are unquestionably liable at any time to be called on to do so. The Formula is a declaration purporting that the doctrines in the Confession are orthodox, and was all, I believe, that was at first intended for subscription; but the custom has crept in to subscribe the Confession also. All teachers and professors in universities are liable to be called on for such subscriptions, as well as persons in orders.”
Note [by Brougham.]—“By teachers, I presume he means parochial schoolmasters.
“The Confession of Faith is established by stat. 1690.
Bentham to Mr Mulford.
“Q. S. P., Wednesday,
“In a former letter, you mentioned, I think, your having made an offer to my brother to send him some account of his genealogy by the mother’s side,—the Groves. He does not care about these things near as much as I do: anything you could favour me with on that head, would be very interesting to me. What I remember hearing, is, that they came from the Groves of Wiltshire, which it was said was a good gentleman’s family. Well do I remember a sword which T. West used to keep in the granary to fight the rats with; it was said to have been employed by an ancestor of mine, when a student at Oxford, in defence of Charles the First.
“Would you like to see the ‘Book,’ as it is called, that is, Mr Perceval’s ‘Defence of the Princess of Wales; including the charges against her’? being printed in one or two numbers of Cobbett, I could send it you, as above, post free. It so happened that I was a good deal in the secret of that business: being upon the most confidential terms with her chief adviser, [see p. 471,] his letters to the Prince and Officers of State, a good while before they were published, or even sent, were shown to me. This you will take care not to mention. So confident were the ministers of being able to ruin her reputation, that they deposited the papers they had against her in Whitbread’s hands, that her chief adviser might see them, making sure that he would be intimidated, and that, accordingly, she would keep silence. When he saw them, however, he saw that there was nothing in them that he was not fully prepared for, and so she wrote those letters to the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker; and so, for our amusement, everything came out. If you have read any newspaper of late, you must have seen how Lord Ellenborough fell, on this occasion, into one of his passions, and ran into such extravagancies as to have had the effect of adding general contempt to the almost universal detestation he was held in before. Though, in general, he is what is called a good lawyer, on this occasion he fell into an error so gross, that an attorney’s clerk might be ashamed of it. It took me, however, two or three long letters to expose it, in the Examiner,* under the title of a ‘Defence of Mr Whitbread,’ who was much pleased with it, and asked Brougham, whether he knew whose it was. Brougham, who had never heard from me, or anybody else, whose it was, told him, as soon as he saw it, (he was but just come from Yorkshire,) that he was sure it was mine; and this was the case with a multitude of others, who knew me at once by my style, &c.
“When you received the Examiner, you were pleased to think you had got a frank of Romilly’s direction, though it was no such thing. This being the case, the next time I write to you shall be in that manner; unless he happens to be out of town, as he is at present. When this reaches you, it will find you free of your cough: you confess you were but in the fashion; how could you expect to be always out of it? That last letter of yours, the handwriting, and everything belonging to it, is so provokingly strong and correct, there is no bearing it.”
Lieutenant Blaquiere, who became afterwards a regular correspondent, wrote to Bentham in 1813, expressing his admiration of his works, and sending his letters from the Mediterranean. Bentham gave him his “Rationale of Evidence” in return: asked him to his house, and an intimacy commenced which lasted to the end of Blaquiere’s life.
Blaquiere was at this time a lieutenant in the Navy, commanding the Utile at North Yarmouth. He was a son of Colonel Blaquiere, and connected with Lord de Blaquiere.
He was one of the most enthusiastic of men,—often imprudent—led by an excitable temperament, but of the strongest attachment to his friends, and devoted to the furtherance of every improvement—and especially political improvement. After his “Letters from the Mediterranean,” (1813,) he published a “History of the Revolution in Spain,” (1822,) a country in which he spent some time, and became acquainted with its most distinguished men.
He was sent to Greece by the Greek Committee, and discharged his duties there with the utmost zeal. His existence was happiest when he was most engaged in the trouble and turmoil of public life. Improvident in his expenditure, he was often subjected to privations and annoyances,—but was as profuse in his liberality, as he was thoughtless as to the consequence of his prodigal expenditure. He was always ready to make sacrifices for others: but frequently his indignation broke out when he found others less willing to make sacrifices for him. He was brave and reckless,—sensitive and sincere. His was a hopeful, trustful mind, that anticipated nothing but sunshine, until the clouds and darkness came, and found him altogether unprepared for adversity. He embarked at Plymouth, on a mission which he had undertaken for Don Pedro to the Azores, in spite of the warnings of his friends, on board a vessel that was declared not to be seaworthy; but as he supposed that everything depended upon despatch, he would brook no delay, nor listen to any remonstrance. The vessel never reached her destination. There came home a vague story that a vessel resembling the Ant, had been seen to founder off Teneriffe. The underwriters paid the amounts for which she was insured; but her precise fate was never ascertained.
Bentham desired Blaquiere to give him some account of himself—of his studies, and of the circumstances which first led him to turn his attention to the Utilitarian philosophy. He says in reply:—
Lieut. Blaquiere to Bentham.
Before I say anything about my own more immediate concerns, I beg to inform you how your works first attracted my attention. Being at Gibraltar in 1805, I saw the critique on the ‘Traités de Legislation’ in the Edinburgh Review: and lost no time in sending to England for a copy of the work. I need scarcely add, that its perusal amply repaid the trouble and anxiety experienced before I could get it sent out. You will probably be gratified to know what effect the book produced on my mind at first: I had previously considered law as involved in such intricacy, that it struck me as being quite useless to attempt entering into the study of a science, so apparently abstruse, and beyond the reach of ordinary capacities; but the word legislation contained an irresistible charm: and no sooner had I seen the plain and simple manner in which you teach men to govern, than a new impulse was instantly given to all my thoughts, and I made the ‘Traités de Legislation’ a groundwork of future study, in which I have indulged freely, though not very successfully, ever since. From the work having been printed at Paris or Geneva, I forget which, it occurred to me that you were on the continent—in which supposition I have indulged—till meeting Mr Peak here just before I took the liberty of addressing you last. Of the work upon crimes and punishments, I was totally ignorant till my arrival in England, about a year ago. Since that time I have read it twice, and am now going over it the third time. To enumerate the beauties I have discovered in every chapter, would be to exhaust your patience: suffice it to add, that I consider it, and the preceding work, two of the most important published since the days of the immortal Lord Bacon. This may be thought flattery; but believe me, Sir, it is the language of my heart. Anxious to get hold of anything from your pen, I have been making continual researches, and called at Mr Dulau’s, in Soho Square, repeatedly; but he could give me no information. I then inquired for Mr Dumont, but was equally unsuccessful; but, on my arrival here, was more fortunate; for, in the catalogue of a library at Norwich, I found two productions, the perusal of which has given me considerable pleasure. Your ‘Defence of Usury,’ published in 1787, and another, ‘Supply, without Burthen,’ in 1795. In the former I read your letter to Dr Smith with peculiar satisfaction. His indiscriminate expressions relative to prodigals and projectors had often struck me as partaking of that species of irascibility in which his countrymen often delight; but you certainly have the merit of setting him to rights most effectually. I am truly astonished the self-evident truths contained in the last-mentioned pamphlet were not adopted by the Ministry: but why should I be surprised at anything?
“When on the point of leaving Sicily, where I have still some very valuable correspondence, I received a commission to send out several copies of your work on Legislation, which, of course, I executed. But I very much fear that those in whose hands they are will not have the means of carrying any of your valuable hints into effect. The state of Sicily is not to be described: it is infinitely worse than I have related, in every respect. I beg to call your attention to the character alluded to in the first vol. Lett. XI. p. 350: his name is Agostino Puleo. He is a man of transcendant abilities and uncommon learning. He was bred to the law; and the style his manuscript breathes is precisely in your own way of thinking. His works will, I trust, be given to the world some day or other; but at present he is the object of suspicion, and has long been that of unmerited persecution. Would to God it were possible to take such a man from among the savages he is doomed to live with! I am indebted to him for an infinity of information upon every subject. Had it not been for the ‘Traités de Legislation’ and ‘Agostino Puleo,’ I do not think my work would have ever seen the light. Amongst many allusions made to him in the course of my letters, there is one, p. 609, vol. i., which may have attracted your attention.—Believe me, with utmost respect, your most devoted and obedient servant.”
I find this note from Sir James Mackintosh on the subject of “Swear not at all.”
Sir James Mackintosh to Bentham.
“July 20, 1813.
“My dear Sir,—
I have been so exceedingly struck with a reperusal this forenoon, that I begin to doubt whether I was not wrong in advising delay. If it were to be published separately, I should venture to suggest a preface, with two objects: 1. To state that the discussion may be considered as speculative, from the distance of possible application. 2. To disclaim any attack on individuals, in the Oxford case chosen only as a strong illustration.”
[* ] See Procedure Code, commencement of vol. ii.
[* ] The appointment of a third judge in Chancery, (in addition to the Chancellor and Master of the Rolls,) then entertained. It was not effectuated till the appointment of a Vice-chancellor in 1813.
[* ] See the address to President Madison in the Papers on Codification and Public Instruction. Works, vol. iv. p. 453.
[† ] Hardy’s Memoirs of Lord Charlemont: London, 1810, 4to. Bentham made use of it in his “Radicalism not Dangerous,” at the end of vol. iii. of the Works.
[‡ ] Albert Gallatin, Plenipotentiary of the United States, in London.
[* ] Probably Romilly. There is an allusion to the circumstance in his Parliamentary Diary for 1810. Life, vol. ii. p. 319.
[* ] Robert Brown, the distinguished Botanist.
[* ] The Memoirs of the latter years of C. J. Fox: by his Secretary, J. B. Trotter.
[* ] It was partly printed, but never published till, in the present edition of the Works, it was placed before the “Rationale of Evidence,” in vol. vi.
[† ] It is well known that this negotiation proved abortive, from the stipulation of Lords Grey and Grenville, that the official changes should extend to the Royal household.
[* ] The letter to the President of the United States on Codification, published in vol. iv. p. 453 of the Works.
[* ] New Sir Edward Burtenshaw Sugden.
[† ] “Cursory Inquiry into the expediency of repealing the Annuity Act, and raising the legal rate of Interest.”
[* ] These Letters were published in the Examiner of March 28, April 4, and April 11. They referred to the examination of Mrs Lisle, before the Commissioners of Inquiry into the conduct of the Princess Charlotte. Lord Ellenborough had maintained, with reference to the record of the examination, that it was inconsistent with practice, and unnecessary to the ends of justice, to record both the questions and the answers, and that the proper method was to present the substance of the responses in an unbroken narrative. Bentham cited the arguments which were afterwards more amply published in his “Rationale of Evidence,” in favour of recording the questions, as necessary to a complete understanding of the answers; and maintained that a correct record should contain the whole dialogue between the person examining and the person examined. He also produced precedents, to show that Lord Ellenborough was not justified in stating that this form was inconsistent with practice.