Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Blaquiere. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to Blaquiere. - 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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Bentham to Blaquiere.
“June 5th, 1820.
“At this time I am hard at work upon an almost hopeless attempt: that of persuading the rulers in Spain, whoever they are, to emancipate all Spanish America, even though said America were down upon her knees to beg to be retained. Of this said dominion, the only fruit to the Spanish people ever has been, or ever can be, immense expense, consequently immense taxes, without profit to the value of a halfpenny in any shape. Unfortunately, the case is the reverse, with regard to their rulers, whoever they are: to them vast profit, in the shape of patronage, every penny of it operating in the shape of matter of corruption, corrupting, by the possession and prospect of it, the members of the administrative body, and enabling and engaging them to corrupt the representatives of the people, members of the legislative.”
In this letter, I find the phrase, “pressure from without,” whose adoption by Sir Robert Peel has given it a wide currency.
“Does there seem any the smallest chance that, if convinced of what is above, the leading men in Spain, or any considerable section of them, or so much as any one who could procure for himself a hearing, would, either of his own motion, or by pressure from without, be induced to give support to any such proposal?
“In my pamphlet on ‘Emancipation,’ nothing was said on the subject of corruptive influence; for in those days, such was my simplicity, not having yet discovered the distinction between influence of understanding on understanding, and influence of will on will,—the nature and effects of corruptive influence on the representatives of a people, were unknown to me.
“ ‘Townsend’s Journey through Spain, in 1786 and 1787.’ London. 3 vols. 8vo, 2d edition, 1792.—Is it in Spanish? It contains a great quantity of matter, with which it would be of great use to them to be acquainted. I knew the author well.* Through the medium of the first Lord Lansdowne, through whom I knew him, he had access to everything, and knew how to make his profit of it. From him are the following particulars:
“1. Anno 1786. Vol. ii. p. 181. After quoting various diplomatic statements, ‘the fact is, if we may believe those who are the best informed, the Spanish colonies yield no direct revenue to the mother country; nor yet any indirect.’ So I prove.
“2. Anno 1771. 1. Expenditure, (national,) applying exclusively to Spain, pounds sterling, 750,790: add to it two 00, you convert it into reals vellon. 2. Expenditure, (national,) applying indistinguishably to Spain and Creolia, £2,877,723. Place to the account of Creolia, half that sum, this makes expense on Creolia, £1,438,861½. Add expense of Council of the Indies in Spain, £80,000. Together, £1,518,861½. Expenditure, (royal,) £1,281,732. Send the beloved to continue his embroidery, you strike off this last expense. But the authors of the Revolution, whoever they are, with their virtue, whatever it may be, how will they endure the mention of it?”
Speaking of the Spanish Constitution, Bentham says:—
“Unless the number of stages of election be reduced one, the absurd prohibition of amendment of the constitution, for eight years to come, not only must, but will be done away, or at least, broken through. In France there is reason for adhering to the charter, à toute outrance, because, without the king’s good-will, it is impossible for them to get anything better; not so in Spain. All offices being in the king’s (that is, in his new adviser’s) nomination, they will continue, of course, except in so far as frightened out of it by the people, as much as possible of the present enormous civil list,—copying the example of the first French National Assembly, who gave theirs a most enormous one, much larger than ours, that there might be no want of offices to bribe them with. Note, ratio of king’s annual expenditure to the whole: in England, as 1 to 100; in France, as 1 to 50; in Spain, as 1 to 4. Anno 1778, as above, probably not much diminished since. In Madrid, would all or any of these observations be endured?”
The effect produced, in Spain, by Bentham’s letter on the subject of an hereditary legislation,* was great. “The great mass of the nation,” says a letter from Madrid, “had an instinct opposed to an Upper Chamber—it shocked their feelings. Many refugees who had been travelling in England, returned with sentiments of admiration for English institutions—institutions which have their foundation rather in the habits, than in the interest or the philosophy of the people. But in Spain, the proposal of hereditary legislation shocked the general sentiment; and Bentham’s letters on the subject gave irresistible arguments to those who wanted no conversion—while they converted many more.”
My acquaintance with Bentham began in 1820. The politics of Spain were the first bond of intimacy. Blaquiere had suggested to Bentham that my knowledge of Peninsular matters might be not wholly without use to him. He invited me to his house. The intimacy strengthened from day to day. For the last ten years of his life, I believe, not a thought—not a feeling of his was concealed from me. Considering the disparity of age, I doubt if any man was ever more thoroughly possessed of the confidence of another than I possessed that of Bentham. Frequently I was an inmate of his house—always was I a welcome guest at his table. During his lifetime he placed in my hands the most interesting portion of his correspondence; and at his death, he bequeathed all his MSS. to my care, in order that I might select and superintend their publication.
Blessings, benefits, benignities, courtesies, in every shape, I have received at his hands. No son was ever honoured by an affectionate father with more evidence of fondness, esteem, and confidence. And to me his friendship was that of a guardian angel. It conducted me with faithful devotion through a period of my existence in which I was steeped in poverty and overwhelmed with slander. His house was an asylum—his purse a treasury—his heart an Eden—his mind a fortress to me. It is only since his death, and when, in my situation of executor, all his papers have fallen into my hands, that I have learned how much I owed to his courageous friendship—his unbroken, his unbending trust. For I was calumniated on every side; and the calumnies were addressed in multitudes to my protector. His good opinion was turned aside by no insinuation; and the heavier the accusation, the more cordial and earnest was the defence. I give one of his earliest letters to me:—
“Q. S. P., September, 1820.
Now that you have taken me under your protection, there are some hopes for me. I am a hardworking, pains-taking man: a lawmaker by trade—a shoemaker is a better one by half—not very well to do in the world at present: wish to get on a little: have served seven apprenticeships, and not opened shop yet; make goods upon a new pattern: would be glad to give satisfaction: anything they may be thought wanting in quality, should be made up for in cheapness: under your favour could get up some choice articles for the Spanish market: would not interfere with my protector: scorn any such thing: mine a different line: would allow a per centage for agency, if agreeable. A few samples were circulated some time ago by an agent of mine, M. Dumont, of Geneva: think they were approved of. He has set up for himself, and got a job there. I let him have some of my tools and materials. He was forced to take in partners. They had been so used to the old way, that they were a little awkward at the new one: they have been coming out by degrees; still it is but up-hill work. He would have had me take the job in hand and go through with it. If I lived, so perhaps I might one of these days, rather than the thing should not be done; but the market there is so narrow. Spain! Spain! there is something like a market! An order from that country would make a man work early and late.”
Bentham thought highly of Townsend the Traveller, and speaks of him thus, in a letter to a witty politician:—
“Never were better opportunities possessed by any traveller: never did opportunities find a traveller better qualified, in all points, for improving them to the best advantage. Mr Townsend had his introductions from the first Marquis of Lansdowne. His acquirements covered the whole field of useful knowledge: he saw everybody and everything: he was beloved by everybody he saw.
“He was a clergyman of our Established Church. But his charity was universal; and his piety, which was eminent, never displayed itself in any of those forms in which piety is, so unhappily, apt to be at variance with charity: nor, in the course of his travels in Spain, in any form in which (on the supposition of a little prudence on the part of the translator) it could give offence to the religious virtue in a Spanish mind.”
It is somewhat amusing to contrast the wit’s opinion of Mr Townsend with the above:—
“I knew the man well: he was not so good as his book—a gross flatterer—an unfeeling person. The best thing that I know of him is, that he was esteemed by you, which, by the way, I never knew before. He ran mad about Moses; and besides his great book, μεγα ϰαϰον really fancied with Huet, and Dacier, and some others, that he (Moses, not Townsend,) was the same as Mercury, and Priapus, and Pan, and the Lord knows what other obscene symbol—all grounded on his rod, which, had it twitched Townsend’s tail, instead of bewitching his head, might have made him a better scholar, and something more of a philosopher. I lived a great deal with this ‘helluo librorum’: he made his own fire of a morning, and indeed did everything for himself, but wash his own hands, which neither he nor any one did for him,—for he was what the chambermaids called ‘a nice man’—that is, never dirtied the towels, nor emptied the water-jug. I pray you, forgive my repaying your friend’s hospitality by this portrait; but he lived as much with —, as I lived with him,—so partie quitte: besides, I only went to shoot a course at his house, and always gave him the game.”
This slashing style by no means pleased Bentham; and he wrote to a common friend, speaking of the general tone of his friend’s correspondence:—
“I am concerned for —. That which it grieves me to see are those expressions of universal and undiscriminating scorn, which it delights him to scatter on all that come in his way, whether friends or foes. Evil communications corrupt good manners. He has learnt this from —; but — is an unhappy man, and is independent of the affections of the people. To be loved by men, a man must appear to love them; and for preserving the appearance, I cannot think of any means so sure as the reality.”
In 1820, an Italian translation of Political Tactics was published at Naples: the first edition was immediately sold.
There were published in Paris in 1821—“Tables synoptiques des ouvrages de Jeremie Bentham,” a sort of index raisonné, or classified analysis of the contents of his works. They were constructed by M. J. B. Gontier, a French lawyer. They consist of four sheets, but refer only to the works edited by Dumont.
[* ] See above, p. 123.
[* ] See the Three Tracts on Spanish and Portuguese Affairs, Works, vol. viii. p. 461.