Front Page Titles (by Subject) BOOK IV.—: FALLACIES OF THE OUTS. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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BOOK IV.—: FALLACIES OF THE OUTS. - 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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FALLACIES OF THE OUTS.
Fallacies, applying to men’s jealousies and envyings.
Ch. I. (1.) Blind-place-abhorrer’s cry. What? More places?
Ch. II. (2.) Blind-job-denouncer’s cry. What? More jobs?
Note.—Both the arrangement and the nomenclature are (the author is fully sensible) open to much amendment: as well as the number of fallacies to augmentation. In many instances, it may be scarce possible to my to which of two or more heads of fallacy the examples most properly belong: and, in this case, the nomenclature will be apt to present itself as inapposite.
To each fallacy a chapter is allotted. But the number of the chapters will not exactly correspond with that of Fallacies. For in some instances, there may be an introductory chapter of explanation: and, in some instances, under one head of fallacy, the examples are so numerous, and the matter so copious, as to require several chapters. In each chapter are frequently several sections.
Note—That with the exception of the Fallacies (Part VIII.,) applying to the judicial faculty, all the Fallacies in this table are irrelevancies. Additions have been made at divers times: and even now it is far from being regarded as finished. In some instances, perhaps, nothing will be found but the title of the fallacy, neither examples, nor so much as general observations. Meantime, a foundation is laid: and it is hoped some progress made.
“Among the fallacies,” added Bentham, on another occasion, “not entered in the Book of Fallacies, is prudential præterition, or non-contradiction fallacy.
“Exposition.—When, having a bad cause to defend, a man feels himself pressed by an argument, to which he is unable to find so much as a tolerably plausible answer, he, perforce, passes it over unnoticed; and by whatsoever form he can contrive to give to his attacks or defences upon other points, uses his endeavours to drive off the attention of the judge or judges, whosoever they are, from the sore place.
“The more irresistible the argument is on which this mask of secret submission is bestowed—the more irresistible the argument, and, therefore, the more strict the necessity of taking this course in relation to it,—the more questionable may perhaps appear the propriety of placing upon the list of fallacies this unavoidable last shift.
“Of the mention here made of it, the principal use is the subjoining to it a memento to the arguer on the right side—to be on every occasion on the lookout for the instances in which such silence is maintained on the other side: and not to omit the opportunity which they may afford him of well-grounded and useful triumph. Proportioned to the cogency of the argument thus eluded, is the evidence which the silence affords of what is called mala fides—consciousness of being in the wrong—say, in a word, evil consciousness on the part of the self-constituted mute adversary. Wheresoever on this, as on any other occasion, such evil consciousness has place, no opportunity of holding it up to view, ought ever to be omitted. The stronger and more extensive the disrepute, the stronger is the repressive force with which the exposure tends to render the practice of this shift less successful, and hence, less frequent: and, in a word, to augment the probability of victory to every good, and defeat to every bad cause.”
Major Cartwright to Bentham.
“37, Burton Crescent,
“My dear Friend,—
Allow me to congratulate the cause of freedom on the results of yesterday’s meeting of the county at Hackney, and, not in the least degree, on three resolutions which, after an able and eloquent speech, were moved by Wooler, and unanimously passed as follows:—
“ ‘Resolved,—That for vigilantly watching over all movements in the great cause of Reform, either in or out of Parliament: and in order to apprize the nation whether such movements be constitutional or unconstitutional, or in what degree imperfect, it is extremely to be desired that a few decided friends to Constitutional Reform should unite in counsel and coöperation.
“That it is the earnest request of this meeting that the nine gentlemen to be named, will, for the purpose aforesaid, consent to consult and coöperate together, as Guardians of Constitutional Reform, viz.:—
“Bentham, Jeremy, Esq.
“Burdett, Sir Francis, Bart.
“Draper, The Rev. William
“Ensor, George, Esq.
“Hayes, The Rev. Richard
“Williams, Robert, Esq., C.N.
“Wolseley, Sir Charles, Bart.
“Wood, Matthew, Esq.
“That as all reports and observations to be made by the said Guardians of Reform, will equally concern the entire Democracy or Commons of the United Kingdom, it is desired that such reports and observations be uniformly made through the medium of such daily, weekly, or other newspapers, published in the Metropolis, as shall be open to the gratuitous insertion of them as news, and not otherwise.’
“And when you shall see the petition unanimously voted, I trust you will find that Radical Reform and Democratic Ascendancy are in a fair way to prosper.”
Major Cartwright to Bentham.
“18th February, 1821.
“My dear Friend,—
Our two legislatorial members having declined to accept the office of out-of-doors guardians of Constitutional Reform, it remains for the seven wise men who are left upon the roll, to agree on their mode of consulting and coöperating in that service, as occasion may require.
“As you may have the smallest portion of disposable time at liberty, your convenience ought to be consulted. Will you chalk out the line that would best suit yourself?
“The subjects on which our guardianship may need to be exercised, will, of course, arise only occasionally; but, nevertheless, a weekly meeting might be expedient, although a part only of the seven may be able to attend with regularity. For an original conference, I mean to invite my brethren to dine with me some day this week. If you can favour us with your company, name the day most convenient to you. Having among us two divines, we cannot have Sunday meetings, holy as our work in reality is.
“At all events, after such a request of a general meeting of the central county, the seat of public business, and considering the great probable utility of such a guardianship, it seems highly proper that those who are willing to act should consider on the best mode. Holding myself in readiness for the service, I am at your command, to confer with you on the subject at your own time and place.
“Yesterday, among some M.P.s, it was said by one of them, that Lord J. Russell’s Grampound louse was to be cracked by the huge thumb-nail of the Lord High Chancellor. When the fate of the louse shall be decided, the circumstance, whether the end be life or death, may perhaps furnish matter for a concise comment.
“Our friend Ensor writes in high spirits. I expect him in London ere long.—Yours truly,
Bentham to Major Cartwright.
“Queen’s Square Place,Westminster.
“My dear Friend,—
Your letter of this day’s date, replete with kindness as it is, in proposals as well as sentiments, cannot from me receive any other requital than that of a confession, in form, of my utter, and completely self-conscious incompetence. If, for the ‘out-door Guardianship of the Constitution,’ ‘seven’ be the desirable number of your ‘wise men,’ I had, at our last conference, the honour to bring to your view the mode of numeration, by which, according to my arithmetic, it may be made up.—Yours ever.”
But the Major was not willing to allow Bentham to withdraw from the field of active usefulness, to which he had been invited; and in answer to another very urgent letter, Bentham replies:—
“Q. S. P. 9th April, 1821.
“My dear Friend,—
I am a nonentity. A nonentity is nothing, and can do nothing. Why will you persist in regarding me as an existing being? The kingdom of Reform is yours: I am not worthy to set a foot in it. Govern it in your own way. The kingdom,—I should have said the empire: as in Japan, two emperors,—the temporal and the spiritual. Father Hayes, the spiritual. I need not say who the temporal is.—Your affectionate and obedient servant,
“Jeremy Bentham, Half blind.”
Bentham to J. C. Hobhouse.
“Queen’s Square Place,Westminster,
That hen that was to have laid the golden eggs, I wish you could contrive to catch hold of her and rip her open, that we may come at whatever embryo gold there may be in her: for, if we wait till it comes out in the regular way, I fear we shall have disappointment instead of eggs. There was a time when your humble servant was ‘an eagle,’ and the bird in question ‘a Tomtit,’ perched upon his wing. I forget the Anno Domini; but it was when Pythagoras was Panthoides Euphorbus. It looks to me as if, since then, she had undergone a fresh transmigration, and become a humming-bird. I am drawing up a ‘Whereas,’ for Mr Cobbett to insert in his Register, offering to any one that will catch her and bring her to his office that he may wring her neck off, a suitable reward, to be paid with that punctuality which, in the case of a reward in any such impressive shape, any man may make so sure of at his hands. For my part, if ever I should spy her again, I should put on again my eagle form, which would not cost me quite so much as it did the first time, and peck her till she sung peccavi; and, transforming herself into a Condor at least, not to speak of Rocs, laid eggs of magnitude proportionable. ‘A bird that can sing and won’t sing, should be made to sing,’ says the proverb: and if there is not another about laying of eggs, it is high time there should—meaning, of such eggs as are the fruits of promise.
“***** I had to dine with me yesterday, that I might be the better able to judge what he could do for the good cause, and what he is made of. My judgment, such as it is, is much in his favour. The views he gives of things, in the two numbers of his periodical, so far as I have found time to hear them, agree perfectly with mine. In his conversation, no boasting or figurative rhodomontade: in regard to matters of fact, plain and distinct statement, with all the marks of simplicity and verity: in particular as towards myself, except appearing pleased, and at his ease; no flattery, not a particle of flattery: not a grain of eulogy declared, or so much as insinuated. Not but that my mouth was open to have swallowed it all, had there been ever so much of it; but none came, and you see I have forgiven him notwithstanding. I see no reason to apprehend that what little promises I got from him will not be performed. My solitary £5 had, of course, been already sent to him. His personal interest, according to his own conception of it, seems to be, in his mind, sufficiently identified with the universal interest; and I can see nothing that seems likely to dissever it. In regard to Catholic Emancipation, he is, in one word, an anti-vetoist. Tories, Whigs, Catholic lords, and other Catholic aristocrats, down to my old friend Charles Butler, almost to a man are vetoists, aiding Castlereagh and Co. in their endeavours to make the King Pope as well as King, and add religious fetters to political ones. In the choice of the Irish bishops, the Pope of Rome has not, would not have, any influence; nor, had he ever so much, could he do any mischief with it. No mischief but from monarchy, with aristocracy above or under it.
“The conversion of Catholics into Radicals is what he has taken for the corner-stone of his influence, and thereby of his interest: he is, accordingly, as I am, against Catholic Emancipation by any other instrument than radicalism, or at any other time than at or after the triumph of radicalism. On the veto question, his antagonist was ************* or *** **********, whichever his name is: he cannot but be well known to you. For the foundation of his fame, ***, I shall call him for shortness, took the veto side of the question. At the Court of Rome (***** being a Franciscan friar, and having passed eight years of his life there, from fifteen to twenty-three) they intrigued one against the other; and *****, being employed by the great body of the Irish Catholics, best him in the Propaganda to which the matter belonged, (twelve cardinals all unanimous,) till Cardinal Gonsalvi, who is Prime Minister and omnipotent, was set against him by that Baron Ompteda, whose name speaks volumes. The course that *** took to destroy the influence of his monastic rival, was to spread stories to the prejudice of his chastity—stories which, by the imputed publicity, destroy themselves. ***, in whom the defamation is mendacious, gained B—, in whom it is but temerarious. B—, who has a sort of religious conscience, might, perhaps, if an able hand could get at him to work upon it, be made to give evidence against ***. But, as yet, for want of such evidence, ***** has been reduced to fall upon poor printers and booksellers, in the endeavour to get his character cleared. He is as void of all affectation as any man I ever met with: he shrinks from no questions: and, if you know of any surer mark of probity, I should be glad to hear of it. Without obtruding anything, in the five hours that he was with me, he told me as much of himself, in particular the resources he has, and those he has not, for intelligence, as I had time to get from him.
“To get anything from him, I had to surmount the disgust produced by that hideous physiognomy and manner which disgusted you, with the addition of the filthy practice of cramming his nose with snuff, all the time he was cramming his mouth with victuals, and covering my clean napkin with his ‘flag of abomination’ filthified. At parting, necessity compelled me to shake hands; but I had in readiness a basin of water, into which, the next moment, mine were plunged. In addition to the principles of repulsion you had to contend with, I had these. As to reform, however, a more promising instrument I know not how to figure to myself: if I had had the money I gave t’other day to—. I should myself have employed, instead of my miserable £5, some hundreds in the support of it.
“As far as I can find, to gain or keep men, the surest way is to appear to love them; and the surest way to appear to love them, is to do so in reality, or, at least, to act as if one did: powerful and powerless, rich and poor, honest and dishonest, sincere and insincere, wise and foolish, clean and dirty, omnium gatherum; and the less a man expects of them, the more he will love them. To impute self-preference to them individually, or in little groups, as a matter of discovery, is to show, not that a man knows, but that he does not know, what they are made of. With or without wit, to indulge himself in pouring down, or squirting up, scorn upon their heads, out of a full chamber-pot, borrowed from Lord B., is not the way for a man to make either them or himself the happier.—Dear Sir, your sincere—it will be seen whether too sincere friend.”
Dumont to Bentham.
“Geneva, 22d February, 1821.
“Our penal code has occupied a hundred sittings, each four hours long, without reckoning the time it took me to prepare it. It now goes to the Great Commission: thence to the Council of State;—then there will be an inquiry: and then it will go to the representative body, which will nominate another commission; all the discussions will be resumed—and there will be three debates in the Assembly: this is the enfer through which I have to pass. * * *
“I am far from satisfied. I have been compelled to make many sacrifices. The expositive part is mutilated. The instructions of the Council of State required that a maximum of punishment should be established, which the judges may diminish. And this has enervated the whole law. Yet it is based upon your views. Every crime is defined—there is an exposition, such as it is,—aggravation and attenuation are introduced,—private and public offences follow the appropriate order. This is a great point: it shows the practicability of your plan—that it is not, as the reporters of the Penal Code in France decided, ‘a beautiful speculation of a study.’ It is evident that this manner of treating Penal Law, is the most complete and the most compact. The punishment of death is preserved, but almost only in terrorem, and for cases so grave, that the public sentiment would scarcely be wounded by its infliction.”
The Diario das Cortes, of 15th April, gives the following account of what passed in the Chamber of Representatives, at Lisbon, on the presentation of Bentham’s writing:—
“A letter was read, which had been directed, by his Excellency Joze da Silva Carvalho, to Senhor Sepulveda, (a deputy,) accompanying the works presented by the illustrious J. Bentham to the august Congress. Senhor Sarmento proposed, that out of respect to the illustrious Jurisconsult, an exception should be made from the rules of the House, and an honourable mention made of that present. Senhor Moura was of the same opinion, adding, that the Regency should be directed to order that those works be translated into Portuguese. Senhor Malgalhaés advised, that a copy of the Act should be sent, by the same channel, to the Patriarch of the Constitutionalists.—All which was agreed to.”
Bentham to Cartwright.
“Q. S. P., 1st June, 1821.
“Joy to great Cæsar! They relent,—they are afraid of you. You are, however, a little disappointed: and because you are, I am. Three months in a Bastile would have been a crown of martyrdom.”
J. B. Say to Bentham.
“Paris, 8th July.
“Public affairs fill me with profound disgust. France is a robust body covered with vermin, which suck, and gnaw, and irritate it. At the first movement the vermin will be crushed,—but the movement must take place,—and it will be a spontaneous movement. Counsels have, indeed, been given,—and given in vain, and the counsellors are strangled.
“In political cases, the jurors are selected from even among the personal enemies of the accused. Advancement, recompenses, follow those judges whose judgments are the most severe. Buonaparte placed the judiciary at the disposal of the executive, and our courts are become the instruments of our police. Administration exercises the functions of a Police, in the interest of the rulers, and nothing more.
“According to the law, only newspapers ought to be subject to censorship. All publications are so, in fact. Five copies must be deposited before publication,—and, if the object be popular, there is a judicial seizure which prevents the sale. Appeal is useless: to whom can an appeal be made? To the very persons from whom the arbitrary orders emanate.
“Yet our people cry, Long live the Charter! so your people cry, Long live the Queen!—It means little,—it is only a cry of opposition. The state of the world astonishes, as much as it afflicts, the philosopher. Nothing is like it in history,—except the Stuarts’ period with you,—and this will end as that ended.
“There is, indeed, food enough for exasperation,—but the remedy is at hand.”
Miss Frances Wright’s “View of Society and Manners in America,” had much interested Bentham, and brought about a personal acquaintance and correspondence with the author. In one of her letters (Sept. 12, 1821) she gives this account of La Fayette:—
Frances Wright to Bentham.
“Having passed a day in Paris, I set out for La Grange, (about forty miles English from hence.) Imagine my dismay, on finding that General Fayette had crossed me on the road, having been summoned on business to Paris. His family (which comprises three generations,—sons and daughters, with their wives, husbands, and children, to the number, in all, of nineteen) received me with every possible demonstration of respect and regard, but were in despair at the absence of the General,—as I was in the same. I determined to return next day, to meet him here, which I did. You will say again, ‘giddy goose,’ why did you set off for La Grange, without having written beforehand? There are reasons for everything, great philosopher. I had found a letter in Paris notifying the approach of some English friends, who were coming to see all the sights of this gay city, in the short space of ten days. Civility, therefore, constraining, for this period, my presence in Paris, I was obliged to seize the only day that remained to me before their arrival, for my journey into the country. Returning late at night, I sent a note, early the following morning, to General La Fayette, who soon answered it in person. Our meeting was scarcely without tears, (at least on my side,) and whether it was that this venerable friend of human liberty saw in me what recalled to him some of the most pleasing recollections of his youth, (I mean those connected with America,) or whether it was only that he was touched by the sensibility which appeared at that moment in me, he evidently shared my emotion. He remained about an hour, and promised to return in the evening, (he was engaged to dine with Constant.) My sister, and all the rest of the family, escorted to Beaujons (a sort of Vauxhall) our English friends, while I remained to receive General La Fayette. We held an earnest tête-à-tête until after midnight. The main subject of our discourse was America, although we wandered into many episodes and digressions.
“The enthusiasm and heart affection with which he spoke of our Utopia, the high respect he expressed for the character of its people, the ardent love of liberty which breathed through all his discourse, found, I need not say, an answering note of sympathy in me. He told me he had been particularly interested by the allusions in my work to the history of the American Revolution: ‘you made me live those days overagain.’ In speaking of the revolutionary army, he exclaimed, ‘We were an army of brothers; we had all things in common, our pleasures, our pains, our money, and our poverty.’ At another time, he observed, ‘No historian could render justice to the virtues of that army, no words could paint their sufferings, still less could they paint their fortitude, their disinterested, and sublime patriotism.’ He observed, also, upon the simple manners, warm hospitality, and pure morals of the American nation, ‘You have only rendered justice to them,’ he added, smiling; ‘truly they are the best and happiest people in the world.’ I need scarcely say, that we talked of you often, and that General La Fayette expressed the highest respect and admiration for the philosopher and philanthropist, to whom, as he observed, the whole human race owes a debt of gratitude.”
Miss Wright reports, from General La Fayette’s authority, several interesting anecdotes connected with the American Revolution:—
“A few days after the surrender of Burgoyne, General Gates, greeting his prisoner, of whom he had already made a friend, held out his hand, and shaking that of Burgoyne, exclaimed, with his usual characteristic warmth and frankness—‘I am very glad to see you, General.’ ‘I do not doubt you are,’ returned B.; ‘but I call God to witness, that I did all in my power to prevent your having the pleasure.’ ”
“When the news came to Europe of Howe’s entrance into Philadelphia, an Englishman said to Dr Franklin—‘Well, Doctor, Howe has taken Philadelphia.’ ‘I beg your pardon, Sir, Philadelphia has taken Howe.’ This was well verified, when Howe was shut up there for the winter.”
“While Franklin was negotiating in Paris, he sometimes went into a café to play at chess. A crowd usually assembled, of course to see the man rather than the play. Upon one occasion, Franklin lost in the middle of the game, when composedly taking the king from the board, he put him in his pocket, and continued to move. The antagonist looked up. The face of Franklin was so grave, and his gesture so much in earnest, that he began with an expostulatory, ‘Sir.’ ‘Yes, Sir, continue,’ said Franklin, ‘and we shall soon see that the party without a king will win the game.’ ”
A curious fact, connected with French politics, is mentioned in one of her letters. “We went yesterday, for the first time, to the Chamber of Deputies, and saw the entrance of the new ministers drawn from the ultra benches. The ultras have had a hard fight for the victory. There has been, for the last three weeks, a most amusing union of votes between the extrême droite and extrême gauche. Indeed, all parties seemed agreed in flouting the ministers, however different their ground of quarrel. The king, finding it impossible to carry anything—his speech censured by the Chamber, and his bills thrown out, struck his colours three days since, and gave to Monsieur the nomination of the ministers; upon which occasion he is reported to have said, ‘Je ne suis pas faché de cette occasion assez curieuse de voir de mon vivant comme les choses se passeront après ma mort.’ ”
“When the present Beotian race of ministers made their first bow to the king, after some gracious speeches, (which the cunning old gentleman can always say to those he dislikes,) he nodded his head, and cried macte animi. ‘Le Roi nous a très bien reçû,’ said one of the party as they left the presence. ‘Comment bien reçû!’ exclaimed the Duc de Bellune. ‘Marchez animaux! Je ne trouve rien de bien poli là.’ ”
When Carlisle was imprisoned, Bentham wrote to him a letter with a subscription, in which he says:—
Bentham to Richard Carlisle.
“In consequence of your advertisement in the Traveller, of the 10th or 11th October, 1821, I write this to desire your acceptance of £ NA, as a contribution towards your support under persecution: and as a testimony of my respect for your persevering intrepidity and self-sacrifice, in the cause of what, in your eyes, is useful truth.
“At the same time, it is my desire, not to be understood as meaning to express any opinion for, any more than against, any of the opinions, whatever they may be, to which you have given expression in any of your works: whatever they may be, had they been opposite to what they are, my weak endeavours towards your support, under the oppression you are enduring, would not have been otherwise than they are. Your cause is, in my eyes, the cause of all dissenters of every denomination, from the corruptive and demoralizing, and stupifying tyranny of every established and persecuting church. Nor should I regard with less sympathy and indignation, any persecution for opinions directly opposite to mine in every point, than for opinions directly coincident with my own in every point: nor do I understand how any Christian dissenter, of any denomination or profession, can, with any pretension to consistency, complain of any hardship, which, in that character, it may happen to him to labour under, and at the same time regard, without still stronger emotion, those afflictions and hardships which have been heaped up upon you, under which you have been so long and so manfully standing up.
“These sentiments, which, as long as I can remember anything, have been always mine, it is no small satisfaction to find concurred in, as I have found in numerous instances, by men of distinguished piety, and whose belief in that system of opinions against which your writings are directed, has ever been unquestioned. One I will mention without difficulty, he having been for some time out of the reach of all injurious antipathies. It is the late Reverend Dr Lindsay. I know not, nor do I wish to know, whether the opinions which you advocate, are of that sort which denominate a man an atheist. If they are, you may number among these, in whose eyes any prosecution instituted against you on that account, would have been no less odious than they are in mine—that amiable and universally beloved divine. This part of his sentiments, is, I believe, in print, under his name. Be this as it may, that they were his, and that he made no secret of them, is what I am assured by the assurances given me by some of the most intimate of his friends. The philanthropy, in which is necessarily included the horror of intolerance on the score of opinion, forms a bond of union and sympathy, the strength of which is greater than that of any principle of disunion that can be produced by particular opinions however opposite, on points however important. It is to these I ascribe an effusion of sympathies, which that excellent man produced in a blank leaf of a richly bound volume of his sermons with which he presented me not long before his death.
“I mention atheism, as being the strongest case, and as affording to persecution its most plausible pretence. As prosecutions on this account, and every other endeavour to suppress or cramp the circulation of that or any other opinion, on a subject of such prime importance in religion, have experienced the most decided disapprobation from the men preëminent in piety, according to the Christian system—so among those who have taken the most furious and most conspicuous part in such prosecutions, have been those in whose instance atheism, professed in the most violent and offensive manner, has been notorious.
“In my eyes, not only is any such persecution an act of immorality in one of its most mischievous shapes, but a sort of confession or presumptive evidence of non-belief in the very opinions which the persecutor thus professes to support.
“No man is so lost to shame, as to maintain, that, in any other part of the field of thought and action, it can be subservient to justice, it can be otherwise than subversive of justice, to suppress any relevant argument on either side, while those on the other side are free; how that which is unfavourable to the establishment of truth for determining the conduct of a Jury, can be less unfavourable to the discovery of truth, for the purpose of determining the conduct of a Judge, or every other person, in matters of religion, is what I am unable to perceive.”
In 1821, I was engaged with Bentham in a controversy on the reëligibility of representatives. By the Spanish constitution of 1812, no deputy was reeligible. Bentham attacked this provision. “As soon as the man has learnt his trade,”—he argued—“You say he shall not carry it on.” But it appeared to me that the quantity of intellectual aptitude which he gained by experience was more than counterbalanced by the amount of moral aptitude which he lost by the possession of power. Bentham wished me to tell him some of the grounds of my opinions. I wrote to him from Madrid, December 9, 1821:—
John Bowring to Bentham.
“I have seriously thought of it—and I mean to attack you—to attack you in your very tower of strength. I mean to justify the ‘non-reëligibility clause.’ I have been weighing reasons for days: I have been weighing them in your balance, and I fancy I see my way clear through them.
“You are curious to see the something which is to be said. Now, what greater security can you have for the subject many, than to make the permanent interests of the ruling few those of the subject many; and how is this to be done? By making every man, through the greater part of his life, and in the great mass of his interests, one of the many, you will induce him to take care of their interests, because they will be his interests while he is one of the few. He who knows (for instance) that he is to be 39 years of life one of the governed, and only one year one of the governors, has the motives of 39 years, which will weigh in favour of the many, and the motives of only one year to weigh in favour of the few.
“Again, is the possession of political power that which best fits us for its exercise? I should think not. I never knew the man who was not injured or spoiled by it. I never knew the man who did not think his reasons better for being authoritative. I never knew the man whose reasoning did not become more authoritative when it acquired factitious influence. Is your experience with mine?
“You will say—they won’t reëlect the man who is injured or spoiled—but, I imagine, the contrary is the experience of almost everybody: is it not better to elect one, the freshness of whose public virtue the mildew of political power has not yet invaded?
“I remember to have heard the most intelligent American I ever met with say, that, in the U.S., even with that minor portion of political power they confer, there had been no instance of a man being undeteriorated by it: that Jefferson withstood its influence longer than any other man; but after five-years’ possession of power, he was changed, and felt it, and owned it. My friend added, that one year sitting in the legislature, unfitted ninety-nine out of a hundred for legislation: and he had been, and is in habits of intercourse with almost everybody of public or extensive reputation. I have now special opportunities of marking the corrosive influence of power on my old friends of the Cortes: and I say—give me what I have here—Universal Suffrage—and I would not have one of them reëlected—No—not Toreno? Heaven forbid! Nor Puigblanch?—no—Nor Quiroga?—worse than either.
“There is not a man among them what he was in 1819. There is not a man among them who is not looking forward to a reëlection two years hence—and he will be linked meantime to the ruling few by some thread, or some chain.
“Now, suppose a majority of the present deputies reëlected: they would be worse next session than they have been this. Their blunderings would lead to other blunderings, and our friend Toreno’s ‘principle of stability’ (that’s the secret; and did you see that he made no account of any of your objections, but that one, in which he saw—self-concernment?) would be the stability of sinister interest—of interests of the privileged few, as against the unprotected many.
“But how (you say) is the honest Deputy to be rewarded—the dishonest punished? Matter of reward enough—and of punishment too, the people have in their power. A sheet of paper, like this, with a thousand—ten thousand, approving names to it; would not that be a reward? A letter, such a one as was written at Lisbon on the 24th of April, would not that be an encouragement?—and reprobation does not want its varieties.
“Now, is the knowledge of the Tactique of public assemblies of higher importance than the security of moral aptitude? What do our men learn at St Stephen’s? The sound of their cat-call! Nothing more, that I see. Need a man be a member of the House of Commons, to be a wise and honest legislator? I know a place—not the House of Commons, but not far from it, which would be a better school; and were I a priest, or an inquisitor, I would extort from you the confession, that had you passed your life among those whose trade is law-making, you would not have understood the art and mystery so well as you do.
“Yet more: I look over the lists here, and if there are any, better than the rest, they are those who sit for the first time. Is it not too, something to send every year back among the many—those who know the wicked tricks of the few—to spread through society some hundreds of individuals, capable of scattering the wisdom or the virtue they have learnt among the few? Should not every one of them be a most desirable check on the one hand, and a most desirable encouragement on the other—for the man who should follow him, and for all the rest?”
I had the satisfaction, by these and other arguments, of convincing Bentham. He agreed, that the non-reeligibility clause was wisely devised; but to give to deliberative assemblies the advantages of continual and acquired experience, he proposed, that a Continuation Committee should be left at the end of a Session, to carry on the work of Legislation into the Session that followed it.
Notes in Bentham’s Memorandum-Book, 1821.
“Pride and power are sorry companions: pride and weakness still worse.”
“The title of Chevalier sans peur and sans reproche has been given by the French to their countryman, the Chevalier Bayard. The title of Statesman sans peur and sans reproche, remains as yet unoccupied. My hope is, that at my death I may be found to be not altogether without a claim to it.”
“Avoid conceiving and expressing useless resentment.”
“If suspicion and accusation of bad conduct attach to you in a determinate shape; in so far as it is in your power to disprove it, do not fly into a passion, but give disproofs: to fly into a passion is a guilty man’s sole, and, therefore, natural resource: disproofs are the only means of distinguishing your case from that of a guilty man.”
“When you observe marks of stupidity, beware of asperity in your observations. Only so far as negligence is the cause, can they be of any use. Suppose negligence out of the question, the effect of any asperity is to give purely useless pain, and to excite resentment towards yourself on the score of injustice and cruelty.”
“Duelling.—The man who values himself on his personal courage, independently of the application made of it, values himself on that which is possessed in a higher degree by a dog, especially when he is mad.”
“Liberty of conscience, liberty of the press, liberty of opinion at large—all these are in one place or another established. The last that remains to be established, and which yet, in its whole extent, is scarcely so much as advocated, is liberty of taste.”
“Solitary Confinement.—To think that by vacancy of mind mental improvement can be assured! It is by well filling it, not by leaving it unfilled, that I (in Panopticon) should have operated.”
“Delusion representing benevolent beneficence as an attribute of power and wealth. Whatever little good the man of wealth and power does, or suffers to be done, is attributed to himself: whatever evil, is attributed to his agents.”
“Packed Juries.—From a jury of corruptionists, what justice can be expected in favour of a denouncer of corruption?”
“Condolencies, as well as mournings, are bad things. Men, and more especially women, give actual increase to their grief while, under the notion of duty and even of merit, they make display of it. If all mournings were altogether out of use, a vast mass of suffering would be prevented from coming into existence. Some savage or barbarous nations make merry at funerals. They are wiser in this respect than polished ones.
“Instead of offering condolence to your friend, if you cannot persuade him to take any amusement, contrive that business shall in some shape or other make an irresistible demand on his attention.”
“Wondered formerly by J. B., why governments could not join in reducing their military establishments? Wonder now no longer: they are kept up against—not one another, so much as against the people.”
“How absurd to ascribe superhuman virtues to a monarch to whom the law has left no motives to ordinary human virtues!”
“Constitutional Law.—Corruptionists and place-hunters favour the hypothesis of the two species of minds—the black and the white; and of the existence or denouement on the part of the white for the convenience of ultra eulogizing those partisans of theirs from whom they have expectations. So likewise the system of balance of power in the Constitutional system; that, in addition to the power of the people, by whom no overpaid places will be tolerated, much less any needless or useless places or sinecures, there may be a king to bestow all these good things, and a set of lords to support him in doing so.”
“Every act of support to a constitution, in which corruption is the instrument of Government, is an act of accessaryship to every instance of obsequiousness to corruptive influence.”
“Abstain from imagining possible evils not preventible. Example—by anticipating diseases—stone—blindness, &c. So when preventible, after the means of prevention have been settled.”
“The appetite for power increases with the exercise of it: every exercise produces resistance: every act of resistance applies a fresh stimulus.”
“On first entrance into the possession of power, a man can scarcely suspect to what a pitch his appetite for it will swell.”
“Nations are bandied from foot to foot, like balls, for the sport of monarchs.”
“Civil Code should give no power of restricting enjoyment of persons in esse, for the sake of persons not in esse: no tyranny of the dead over the living.”
“Has human life more in it of pain than of pleasure? By no means. Why? For this plain reason: because it is in so high a degree in our power to embrace pleasure, and to keep pain at a distance.
“On this point several philosophers have fallen into a notion—a conception happily as erroneous as it is melancholy. Locke, for example, takes for the cause of everything that we do uneasiness: uneasiness is a modification of pain—of suffering. If this were correct, the state of every man would be, at all times, a state of uneasiness, of pain, of suffering.
“Maupertuis, in the outset of an essay of his, has fallen into the same erroneous mode of expression, and thence as it should seem of conception. This expression, conveyed in the form of a definition, is not now remembered, except that it is still more determinate, and thence more decidedly erroneous and melancholy.
“A man who is in the actual enjoyment of one pleasure, may be thinking, at the same time, of a thousand others, receiving from each of them the pleasure of an expectation.”
“John Hunt—The tried, undaunted, persevering, intelligent, and upright defender of the people’s liberties, at his post of honour, the Coldbath Fields’ prison. From Jeremy Bentham, 14th May, 1822.”
“If you wish a man to do a thing, to save him the pain of a refusal, put it to him as slightly as may be. Perhaps you will do so and so.”
“Complication is the nursery of frand.”
“Intemperate language is strife upon paper.”
“Algebra, as distinguished from arithmetic, is nothing more than a particular mode of giving conciseness and compactness to expression.”
“Scorn should be repaid with scorn: oppression with resistance: sham-rulers should receive sham-obedience.”
“In exemplification of the prodigious utility of general urbanity to self-regarding interest, bring to view Eldon, Sidmouth, Castlereagh, Canning, &c. Urbanity does what Scripture says is done by charity. By this virtue on the small scale, vice in its most mischievous and efficient forms on the largest scale, to what a degree may it not be covered from opprobrium!”
“A circumstance that increases the ratio of the power of punishment to that of reward is the man’s less sensibility to pleasure than pain.
“A circumstance that diminishes it is the greater latitude a man has in respect of the application: the less the responsibility: for every man who has it may scatter it almost at pleasure.”
“If you find a man out in any design against you that he would be ashamed of, act accordingly: but do not let him know of your discovery; for, the more ashamed he is, the more intensely will he be your enemy.
“If, while contriving for his own advantage, a scheme by which you would not be benefited, but more injured, he tells you your benefit is the only object he has in view: contradict him not, but thank him.”
“Extra ornaments of the soldiery belong to the toy-shop, kept up for the amusement of the great baby, whose cradle is on the pinnacle of power, and who is, of necessity, always a spoiled child.
“They form part of the capital stock composed of the instruments of corruption and delusive influence.”
“For sanction of their murder, the Manchester murderers had power: but so has every other murderer had, or the murder he committed would not have been committed.
“The sinecure depredator has power to commit his depredations: but so has every highwayman had, who has ever taken a purse, or he would not have taken it.”
“If, in conversing with a man, you find him imbued with opinions which to you seem mischievously erroneous, if there be a probability of converting him, make the attempt, giving him as little uneasiness as may be. But if there be no such probability, do no such thing: as where there is no probability of your seeing him often enough. You wound his feelings, and you draw upon yourself his displeasure.”
“General observations should not precede the simple or particular statements of which they are the inference. Having the particular already in his own mind, the writer is apt to forget that this is not the case with his readers, and thus falls into obscurity.
“Exceptions—When the general observations are already familiar to most readers: and these are not among the novelties a man means to teach, but among the concessa which he brings forward for the purpose of procuring reception for the novelties.”
“Compared with that of which the seat is in the highest places, the most flagrant depravity, which has seat in the lowest places, sinks into insignificance.”
“Customariness is, to the unthinking, conclusive evidence of aptitude: under a corrupt government it is quite the reverse.”
“If it be through the happiness of another, or others, in whatsoever number, that man pursues his own happiness, still the direct, and immediate, and nearest object of pursuit is not the less his own happiness: the happiness of others is but a means to that relatively universal end.”
“One of the most foolish couplets that was ever written—if written with knowledge; for Pope was merely the satellite of Bolingbroke.”
Bentham’s services to humanity, in distributing the seeds of useful and beautiful plants, have already been mentioned. He took some pains to get the Mangel root introduced into Norway. In a letter to Mr Sibbald (9th January, 1822) he says:—
“Norway is a country that, by various ties, has of late taken possession of my sympathy. On reading your letter, considering the climate of Labrador, and the facilities which, according to your account, the plant has of enduring severe frost, it has occurred to me that if Norway could be put in possession of it, the plant might, to that cold and poor country, be a most important blessing. It might be—but it belongs much rather to you than to me, to say whether it might or might not be to Norway, what the potato is to Ireland.”
It was an invariable injunction laid on his travelling friends to send home the seeds of all esculent vegetables which fell in their way; and he was never happier than when planning the best means for their advantageous distribution.
Bentham to Henry Brougham.
“13th May, 1822.
“Get together a gang, and bring them to the Hermitage, to devour such eatables and drinkables as are to be found in it.
“I. From Honourable House:—
“1. Brougham, Henry.
“3. Hume, Joseph.
“4. Mackintosh, James.
“5. Ricardo, David.
“II. From Lincoln’s Inn Fields:—
“6. Whishaw, James.
“III. From India House:—
“7. Mill, James.
“Hour of attack, half after six.
“Hour of commencement of plunderage, seven.
“Hour of expulsion, with the aid of the adjacent Police-office if necessary, quarter before eleven.
“Day of attack to be determined by Universal Suffrage.
“N.B.—To be performed with advantage, all plunderage must be regulated.
“Witness matchless Constitution.”
Bentham to Richard Rush.
“Q. S. P.,Westminster,
That just resentment which could not fail to be excited, has been excited by this attempt to tyrannize. On one condition alone forgiveness may be hoped for. From Saturday to Thursday you are disengaged: you cannot deny it: name any one of those days. Of that which could be said in Baker Street, there is not anything that cannot as well be said at Q. S. P. You are a very bombardinian, and want to see the world pulverized into chaos, which you know would be the infallible consequence of my breaking that vow which you have thus been endeavouring to make me break. I have lately refused two of your brother diplomatists: they would neither of them have had the audacity to make such a proposal, had they known half as much of me as you do. Is it that any acquaintance of yours has that idle curiosity which some people have, who, when they hear said of a man that he has something out of the way about him, feel an itch to look at him? If so, the proposal is not only tyrannical, but insidious. The honest way would have been to have offered sixpence. I could produce those who would give a shilling, provided a dinner was to be had into the bargain, which, indeed, would be a condition implied. If there is really anything of this sort in the wind, I am ready to hear anything you may have to say to me on the subject. As for you, you have no vow to plead, nor so much as a habit; refusal on your part would be not only without justification, but without excuse. I have really several things which I could wish to say to you, and hear from you, provided always that so just a resentment as mine can so far be mastered.
“I am not quite sure whether it was from you or from Mr Adam Smith that, several months ago, I received a copy of the New York Constitution printed on one side of half a sheet of a newspaper. That Europe might have the benefit of it, I gave it to the Editor of the Morning Chronicle, who promised insertion, which he has never given it. At present, now that I have a pressing need for it, the rascal says he cannot find it. Could love, money, or crime obtain the loan of another copy for a time to be limited? I would give bond for its never being, during any part of the time, physically speaking, out of my reach.
“Six has never been my hour, but it shall be now, since you have named it. You are, therefore, now completely nailed.
“Dear Sir,—You see what one of my naughty boys has been scribbling, as if from me, while I was washing. Come any one of the days you and he have mentioned, and you shall hear me disavow whatsoever requires to be disavowed.—Being ever most truly yours.”
In October, 1822, I was arrested by the French government. Bentham immediately addressed Mr Canning, and obtained his instant intervention in my favour. I am persuaded he felt more distress from my imprisonment than I experienced myself. On my release, he seized me, and pressing me several times to his bosom—“As the hart panteth for the water brooks, so panted my heart for thee, my son!”
Bentham wrote in 1822, of Lord Eldon:—
“It was reserved for these days to produce a man who, being at the head of what is called justice, could sit in quiet, and make a speech to any such effect as this:—‘For the office which I occupy, my inaptitude is complete: it has ever been so: I, notwithstanding, climbed into it: remove me out of it who can.’ ”
Bentham to his Brother, Sir Samuel.
“January, 10, 1823.
“You have your gimcracks, now for one of mine. Mirza Mohammed Khan, a young Persian not thirty, him I want to come in contact with, and, in the meantime, that you should. What I have heard concerning him, I have just heard from Hassuna D’Ghies, ambassador at this court from Tripoli.* You would be as jealous as a dragon, if you knew half the esteem and affection I have for this young man, of whom I have been making a study for these five or six months.
“Mohammed, a most intimate friend of his, is a real object of compassion, and, by favour of Providence, capable of being in various ways made of essential use. His uncle, whose property he has inherited, was a man of opulence of the mercantile class, who had accounts to settle with the despot of Persia. Upon his death, the despot seized hold of this young man, and, by the most horrible tortures, extracted from him a sum of £70,000. The remains of his property have, however, been sufficient to place him in a state of opulence. The uncle had had large dealings with British India. £2,400 a-year, which he has in the funds of that country, constitute but a part of it.
“Somehow or other he got out of Persia, and has for some time resided at Bordeaux, under the protection of the English Consul there, to whose care any letters must be addressed. He is a young man of a most amiable disposition, and, for that country, cultivated mind; but from the sufferings he underwent in his torturings, his mind is not yet recovered. His desire had been to come and settle in this country; but was terrified from it by our bugbear the Alien Act, fearing that our people here would give him up to the tyrant. Against this I have assured our friend, they neither would nor could do any such thing: they could compel him to quit the country, but the place he went to would be of his own choice. My friend and I are very desirous of having him here. A considerable part of his fortune he would be glad to devote to the service of mankind.”
When the Greek Revolution broke out, Bentham wrote to Dr Parr, of date the 17th February:—
Bentham to Dr Parr.
“Worthy Friend of olden Time,—Can you sing, Ille ego qui quondam? Can you sing it in Greek. I want a little batch of good Greek for a useful purpose; and if not in your bakehouse, in what other can it be looked for with any reasonable hope? In the days of your youth, you received instruction from Greece in no small quantity. Lo! I will put you in the way to make some return for it. On the 13th-25th of January twelvemonth, the Greeks promulgated at Epidaurus, under the name of Organic, a temporary Constitutional Code: a French translation I have before me. It is in a work of M. C. D. Raffenel, intituled, ‘Histoire des événemens de la Grèce,’ pages from 429 to 440. An accredited agent sent from that country to this, writes to me a letter, desiring my observations on that Code, together with any other such assistance, in the way of legislation, as I may be disposed to give to them. In a preface to his edition of Aristotle’s Politics—a copy of which he sent me, forming the thirteenth volume of his Ellenic Bibliotheca, Paris, 1821—Doctor Corai, a renowned literary leader of the Greeks, a sojourner in Paris for the last thirty years, recommends it to his country to translate the works of Bentham, in preference to all others, on Legislation. Having other intelligent disciples in that country, I have some reason to think something in that way has for some time been going on.
“In a case such as this, there is always no small danger of suppression. If they find it suit their personal views, the ruling few, who apply to you for your ideas, give publicity to them; if not, they stifle them. I give the man in question to understand, that, in the present instance, if I do anything for them, this must not, shall not be. I require from him the assurance, that in his opinion, whether it happens to suit their views or not, if I send them anything, they will give fair publicity to it: at any rate, that they will oppose no obstruction to the divulgation of it; and that he will employ such influence as he possesses in the endeavour to secure this treatment to it. I give him at the same time to understand, that our correspondence on this subject is destined for publication; and that to do what depends upon myself towards securing my farthing candle from being kept under the bushel till the time for its being of use is at an end, I shall light up a gas-light from it in this country, and send it off to Greece, where it shall render itself visible to all eyes.
“Being but a bad scholar in Rhetoric, when I get into a metaphor, or an allegory, I get into a scrape: the sooner I am out of it the better. It is high time for me to return to my theme, and prefer in plain English my petition for some good Greek. If I go on as I have already begun, I shall, in no long time, and no large space, give them, in addition to observations on this their Constitutional Code or Proposed Code, a ditto of my own, with Reasons for every Article and distinguishable part of an Article: the whole as much compressed as possible. If they come up to my terms, as above, I shall finish, or at least endeavour to finish, what, in a very few days, I have already made very considerable progress in, and in the original English, print and publish it here. Moreover, if you will furnish me with a correspondent portion of Parrian Greek to put by the side of it, English and Greek shall be printed column-wise, and thus we will descend to posterity together, hand-in-hand, cheek-by-jowl, till old Time is tired of carrying us.
“My good fortune has just now brought me a disciple, able, I have every reason to believe, as well as willing—willing to a degree of enthusiasm—to do what is requisite to the completing for the press those papers of mine on the Rationale of Evidence, of the fragment of which, containing the first 140 pages, you have had a copy, I believe, almost ever since it was printed. It had in those days the good fortune to find favour in your sight: should that same favour, or any moderate portion of it, abide still, this will be not unacceptable news to you.
“A third edition of my Fragment on Government, (for a second was printed in Dublin in the days of piracy,) is to come out (so the bookseller informs me) in the course of this week: Item, a second edition of my Introduction to Morals and Legislation: this last, not in one volume 4to, as before, but in two volumes 8vo, in which is a portrait which they made me sit for. It seems well engraved: I have seen it; and people say it is like. Both these are booksellers’ jobs of their own proposal. I get nothing: I lose nothing: I desire nothing better; and so everybody’s satisfied.
“The first of March, or the first of April, comes out a number of the European Magazine, with another portrait of me by another hand.* Considerable expectations are entertained of this likewise. When you see a copy of a print of ‘the House of Lords at the time of the Queen’s Trial,’ in hand by Bowyer, and expected to come out in a month or two, you will, if Bowyer does not deceive me, see the phiz of your old friend among the spectators: and these, how small soever elsewhere, will, in this print, forasmuch as their station is in the foreground, be greater than Lords. Oddly enough made up the group will be. Before me, he had got an old acquaintance of mine of former days, Sir Humphrey Davy. He and I might have stood arm-in-arm; but then came the servile poet and novelist, Sir Walter Scott: and then the ultra-servile sack guzzler, Southey. Next to him, the old Radical—what an assortment! But this wholesale print manufacturer is famed, I understand, for the sort of knowledge, called knowledge of the world. His object was, to get something to meet everybody’s taste. No fewer than five times, within little more than a year, have I been plagued with people, to waste in this way, so many portions of the scanty remnant of a time, which, if employed to any good, would otherwise have been employed to a so-much-better purpose. At first, I was wise and negative: I entered upon the career of folly; and, by some means or other, was led on, step by step, to the point just mentioned: the two attempts which cost me most time, I considered as having failed. When I rose up to walk and preach this letter, could I have thought that the preachment would have drawled on to so enormous a length? If I could, I should have assuredly spared by much the largest portion of your time, as well as my own, and not kept codification so long at a stand, by it. But I have an excuse in a cough and cold, which has kept me in a state of confinement for these ten days or a fortnight, and which, producing comparative indolence, renders the labour of the hand fatiguing to me. In the midst of all this labour, or rather by means of it, I am full as gay as ever I was: more so, I believe, than when you first saw me in I know not what ill-directed attempt to be fine, and accused me, in your own mind, (I dare say not without sufficient ground,) of coxcombry. May this effusion find you impregnated with equal and corresponding gaiety. But, whatever you write—and I flatter myself you will not leave all this gossip completely unanswered—employ some hand other than your own, if your wish be, that it be read by anybody: otherwise, what you write, might as well be in the language of the moon, as in that which to you seems English. A luminary such as you, cannot but be surrounded by satellites in abundance: one you may have for English: the same, or another, for Greek. Do by me as you have been done by; and what you write, will be no less easy to read, than worthy of being read.
“I thought to have enclosed for your amusement, a single sheet, containing a printed copy of a poem in modern Greek, and, alas! in rhyme, on the Greek insurrection. I have looked for it where it used to be, and lo! it has vanished.
“I have just learnt that the Greek agent expects to set out on his return on Monday next. You see, therefore, how important it is that I should have an answer from you as soon as possible.”
Dr Parr to Bentham.
“Hatton,February 20th, 1823.
“Dear and excellent Mr Bentham,—
The wisdom of your preachment, and its importance, would have been more than ample compensation for what you call the length: and I shall apply to it a very pertinent line.
“ ‘Non sunt longa quibus nihil est quod demere possis.’
You sent the first part of the Law of Evidence. I declare to you that I seem to hear my own voice. I have told Denman that I never learned any principles from Gilbert, or from the much better book of Philips. Your book will tell me what no other man yet knows, and what ought to be known by every man of virtue and reflection. I hope the Fragment on Government is to be enlarged. I shall get your Introduction to Morals and Legislation. I must look after a portrait. I shall laugh heartily to see your figure in the neighbourhood of those reptiles, Walter Scott and Southey. You have acted with great discretion and great dignity in your negotiations. Most assuredly your works will find their way through Europe, and most assuredly impostors and tyrants will feel the effects of them. Dr Corai is a scholar of the highest class: I have two of his works, which I read with great delight. His sagacity is worthy of his erudition, and his authority is very great among all men of letters. Give yourself little trouble about the modern Greek verses, they are of little worth in the judgment of scholars.
“But we must encourage all their virtues whatsoever. Mr Bentham, upon jurisprudence your wisdom sets you above all writers, ancient and modern. Your fame will be immortal; and your memory will be followed, not only by the admiration, but the gratitude of all civilized nations and all ages. To my mind you are a sort of apostle, and I almost worship you. Pray let me know the issue of your negotiation. I must have your Codification Circular. I want not only to read, but to study all that falls from your pen. Don’t talk of your gas-light. Posterity will say of Jeremiah Bentham, what Lucretius said of Epicurus,—
“I have been obliged to dismiss my male amanuensis, and the neighbourhood will supply no successor. My female scribe does pretty well in Latin, when I set the book before her, or when I direct her to make a previous copy of what I dictate orally. But the process is very troublesome to both parties. If you were to offer me a mitre, I could make no progress in Greek; and if I had an auxiliary, I should really be at a loss for topics. Well, you will send me the original English. Be it so. But my Greek would not recommend your English. Depend upon it, that which you write will soon be translated into French, Spanish, and Portuguese. In two or three years it will find its way to Germany. The difficulty is in finding a douce and intelligent disciple, who, without marring your unparalleled good sense, can prepare a translation in modern Greek. Yet, when the fame of your book reaches Greece, the best informed men will be anxious to give it publicity among their countrymen. Mr Bentham, I continue to think and to speak of you with regard, with respect, with admiration, and with confidence, and with thankfulness. Believe me, most sincerely, your friend.
“P.S.—I shall read again and again, and I shall carefully preserve your inestimable letter. God bless you!”
Major Cartwright to Bentham.
“8th March, 1823.
“John to Jeremy,—Although thou art so unaccountable a being as to prefer sitting in thine own study, writing for mankind, to attending a political meeting to hear men talk for two or three hours, thou wilt, nevertheless, receive a card of invitation to such a meeting for the 12th; when, if it so please thee, instead of attending the said meeting, to write a few lines that may be useful in forwarding the object in pursuit, why, be it according to thy perverse humour. Thine,
Dr Parr to Bentham.
“March 19, 1823.
“Dear and excellent Mr Bentham,—
I never can write legibly. I am no scribe. I am hardly able to pen. I am wholly unfit for business, or correspondence, from the sudden death of my dearest and most conscientious friend. If I were summoned before a Parliamentary Committee, or standing in the witness-box of a court of justice, or conversing in a private room, I should readily answer any questions about my Prebend. No crime has been perpetrated by the petitioner himself—no injury is done to individuals—no plunder is committed on public property. I do not know precisely the bearing of Mr Hume’s intended motion: it probably will not be pleasing to the generality of Churchmen. But if I understood and approved of it, yet, as an ecclesiastic, I should be unwilling to take any part. I am quite sure, that in the tenure of my Prebend property, he would find little to censure. You cannot, yourself, be a more warm, or a more grateful admirer of Mr Hume, than I am. His diligence, firmness, exactness, and integrity, are most praiseworthy. He truly stands aloof from party connexions. What is it to him, whether he be or be not slighted by the Outs, or slandered by the Ins. He draws after him public esteem, and public praise. But you should advise him to be more correct in detailing minor circumstances. But what right has Brougham to warm him? Have we forgotten his rudeness, when he was concocting such a meritorious plan for the regulation of abuses in schools? Mr Hume is a great public benefactor; and to me it is wonderful, that, with so little help from the Whigs, and so much insult from the Tories, he never gives utterance to contemptuous or virulent language.—I am truly your admirer, and afflicted friend,” &c.
Extracts of a Letter from Bentham to the Greeks.
“November 24, 1823.
Some there are among you who say,—Give yourselves to a king! Give yourselves to a king? Know that, if you do so, you give yourselves to an enemy—to an enemy, and that an irresistible and perpetual, an irresistible and implacable one. Yes—diametrically opposite in everything is his interest to yours: and what worse can be said of the worst enemy? It is your interest to keep, every one of you, the fruits of his own industry for his own use. It would be your king’s interest to get from each of you the last penny, to lavish upon his own lusts, his instruments, and his favourites, to satiate what is insatiable—his own rapacity, and that of his instruments and favourites.
“Be the object what it may, when the will and the power are both in the same hand, the effect takes place. The will, to engross to itself all the objects of human desire, is in every human breast: to the will, a king adds the power: can the consequence be doubtful? He will not take everything from you to-day, seeing that, if he did, when that was gone, there would be nothing for him to take to-morrow. No slave-holder starves his slaves, seeing, that to work, a slave must live. Your king would not take everything from you; but what he would leave to you would be, at all times, as little as possible. It is so everywhere: under the Turks, you were, in no small proportion, free from the presence of an enemy; you paid tribute;—your condition could not be bettered—but it was not made worse. Not a family in which he (a king) will not have a spy. For where the archplunderer is a king, where is the family in which there will not be some one looking for a share in the plunder?
“Nay, but, say the Royalists, your betrayers,—our monarch shall be a limited one. Grecians, believe them not. Limited? yes, for a moment; and till the chains, which from the very first moment will be intolerable to him, can be thrown off. Would you see how easily all such chains can be thrown off? Look to Spain: look to Portugal. All monarchs are ready to lend all their hands. Chains imposed in these times on monarchs, are snapped asunder in a moment. Look at Mexico. There started up a new emperor. There, too, there were a few chains for show,—like those which are worn by the hero of a tragedy, light and polished as art can make them: he snapped them as if they had been piecrust: and this comes by oppression and depredation without a bridle and without stint.
“And these securities in the shape of chains, who are they that are to keep them on? A set of expectants, whom he will have, with so many mouths to feed, and all at your expense. To keep them in subserviency your burden will be doubled: and this is the sort of security you will get,—with your nominal limitations.
“Look to France: look to the great charter: eight years have not elapsed since it was granted, and what is the value of it now?
“In Spain, the fourth part of what the people were made to pay in taxes for the expense of government, was every year devoured by the monarch: thus much was known and avowed: what was secretly added by debts contracted, and secret pillage, was incalculable. Thus stood the matter in 1787: and from that time to that of the hapless Revolution, it grew worse and worse.
“The worst will not come at first. To lull you into acquiescence there must be the outside of security. But though the day cannot be calculated, the worst will come one day, so sure as the bad is submitted to the first day. Power, money, mischievous lustre, vengeance, nothing can a monarch ever get, that does not serve him as an instrument for getting more. The more he wastes, the more thoroughly are all under him corrupted and deluded.
“Waste, corruption, and delusion, go on hand in hand, and increase together, till every thing absorbable is absorbed.
“Now, for what is it that any man can propose to you to put yourselves under an irresistible plunderer, but for the assurance of sharing in the plunder,—but that the plunder may be shared in by himself?
“In England, one lawyer has £23,000 a-year, which he keeps; besides several times as much which he must give, indeed, but which he gives to whom he pleases: and there is a bishop who has as much again. Not long ago, there was a parish priest who, for doing nothing, received £12,000 a-year, and his delight was in driving stage-coaches.
“In a republic, they will tell you, there is no security. No security in a republic? say, rather, no security anywhere else. Look to the Anglo-American republic: what security, what prosperity, what constantly-increasing prosperity, was ever comparable to theirs? so it has been these forty years; and every year brings a vast increase.
“Of all other governments, the least bad is that of England. Yet, under England, six millions and a half of Irishmen groan in irremediable distress, under unrelenting tyranny. They are kept hungry and naked by priests, and other creatures of monarchy, who fatten on their spoils.
“So sure as you have a king, so sure has the Holy Alliance another member. And what is the Holy Alliance, but an alliance of all kings, against all those who are not kings. Were there no such alliance, remedy, under the most grievous tyranny, would be but too difficult: under the Holy Alliance, all remedy would be impossible. When there was no Holy Alliance, in each State, oppression, though under a monarchy, might, for a time, be more or less mitigated by a revolution in that State. It was so in England in 1688. But now, under the Holy Alliance, there can be no mitigation in revolution in any one State, without a revolution in every other.
“In England, the king is not yet what he is in Spain. But from whence is it that he is not? Is it for want of desire to be so? Ask those whose language is the known creature of his will: the journalists who watch his every thought, and whose daily productions accompany his daily bread to his table.”
The President of the Portuguese Cortes wrote to Bentham, in 1823, a letter full of admiration, requesting he would look through all the articles of the Portuguese Constitution, and suggest any amendments for the consideration of the Assembly. These were days of boundless happiness to Bentham, when, from every side, testimonials of respect and affection were flowing towards him, and when all events seemed concurring in advancing the great interest to which he was devoted.
1823—27. Æt. 75-79.
Establishment of the Westminster Review.—Lord Eldon.—Burdett.—Catholic Association.—Extracts from Note-Book.—Rationale of Reward.—Independence of the Judges.—Humanity to Animals.—Bolivar, and Bentham’s Works.—Visit to Paris.—Death of Parr.—President Adams.—Governor Plumer.—Reminiscences.—Del Valle.—American Law.—Sydney Smith.—Conversation, and Notices of Grote, Burke, Junius, North, Fox, Wedderburn, Erakine, Talleyrand, Lansdowne, Dunning, Barré, &c.
In 1823, the Westminster Review was started. The funds were all furnished by Bentham. The editors, for some years, were Mr Southern in the literary, and myself for the political department. It afterwards passed into my hands alone; and next was carried on by me in connexion with Colonel Perronet Thompson. Its appearance excited no small fluttering among the two sections of the aristocracy, which it attacked with equal, though not an undiscriminating ardour. The sale, for some time, was nearly 3000; and as its readers were, to a large extent, among the unopulent and democratic classes, whose access to books is principally by associations of various sorts, the number of its readers was very great. It was the first quarterly organ of the Radical party,—it was, in fact, the first substantial literary proof that there was a Radical party. The Tories hailed it, in a succession of articles in Blackwood and elsewhere, as the harbinger and evidence of schism among the Whigs. It was rather the evidence of hearty union and coöperation among a large section of reformers. The Review was originally intended to be published by Longman and Co.; but they professed to be alarmed at the Radicalism of its politics, and peremptorily refused to proceed, after some of the articles had been printed. Baldwins became the publishers; but no instance of prosecution against the work ever occurred in the course of its career. Of the Westminster Review, Bentham gives this account to one of his correspondents:—
“Now as to the New Review, yclept the Westminster Review, Quarterly, No. 1. to come out the first of next year, 1824. What think you of your old antediluvian having, in as great a degree as he could wish, at his disposal, a rival—a professed rival—to the Edinburgh and Quarterly,—an organ of the Radicals, as the Edinburgh is of the Whigs, and the Quarterly of the Tories? Onehalf consecrated to politics and morals, the other half left to literary insignificancies. Longmans’ house the joint proprietors. Longmans’, the greatest booksellers’ house the world ever yet saw. Prospectus, according to their advice, short; printing, and advertising, and publishing, they bear the expense of; of copies, they print of the prospectus 150,000. Over and over again they have said it would and should find its way into every village in the United Kingdom, not to speak of foreign parts. Bowring, editor of the political part. A Cantab of the name of Southern, who has conducted a weekly or monthly publication with considerable reputation, for the flowery part. Of the political part, one constant sub-part will be the “Reviewers reviewed:” this is, and will be, executed by Mill; he commences with the Edinburgh, as being the first established quarterly. Number to be printed, either 2000 or 3000; but in addition to these, what think you of stereotypage? Yes, stereotypage there is to be: cost, it is said, no more than one-third more; and, in the event of success, thus will be saved the expense the Edinburgh was at in several reprintings. The capital thing is,—the circumstantial evidence this affords of the growth of Radicalism; for with their experience and opportunities of observation, the Longmans would never have launched into any such expenses without good ground for assurance that Radicalism would either promote, or not prevent the accession of a proportionate number of customers. Bowring’s correspondence has produced capital hands from almost every country in Europe, not to speak of America and British India.”
Bentham to W. E. Lawrence.
“11th November, 1823.
“I have just been ruining myself by two pieces of extravagance: an organ that is to cost £230—is half as large, or twice as large again as the other—goes up to the ceiling, and down to the floor of my workshop, giving birth to an abyss, in which my music stool is lodged; looking like an elephant, or a rhinoceros, and projecting in such sort, that, between that and the book carrocio, there is no getting the dinner-tray on the little table without a battle. Then there is warming apparatus by steam, including bath, in my bedroom; besides my workshop and the room below it—it extends its arms to the library, yea, and to the study; cost upwards of £280, besides carpenter’s, plumber’s, and bricklayer’s work, which, for aught I can be assured of as yet, may cost £100 more: so that I am driving, full gallop, down hill to the workhouse. The pretext for the warming by steam, inconvenience from the burnt air in the former mode: pretext for the organ, impossibility of keeping myself awake after dinner by any other means—consequence, premature sleep, to the prejudice of proper ditto.
“Vertot wrote the Revolutions of Rome, Portugal, and Sweden: now come the Revolutions of the Westminster Review. Agreement signed. Longman, as he said, had laid out five or six hundred pounds in the advertisement of it; when, lo! he made a sudden stand, and said he would go no further. Longman has half the Edinburgh, Constable having the other half. On the sudden, as if by revelation, he saw that the Westminster would injure the Edinburgh; and, moreover, that being Radical, it would injure the character of his house. It was, however, no more Radical than from the first he knew it to be. Be this as it may, no further would he go, though contracts, as he knew, were made for contributors for the two first, and the articles for the first already written. After some days of distress, not far from despair, Providence wafted it into the hands of Baldwin; and, all things considered, it is hoped that its chance of success, will, upon the whole, not be lessened by the change. Earlier, however, than the 19th January, out it cannot come. Baldwin says, that an irregular day such as this, with a little variation in the day, is better than the first of the month; because on that day comes a glut of periodicals, and each one is drowned in the glut produced by the rest. True it is, the Edinburgh and Quarterly are supposed to have suffered by the irregularity; but ‘est modus in rebus.’ ”
The Quarterly review of “Panopticon” made one of the grounds of its attack upon the system, that Bentham was “a disappointed man.”
Upon this he remarks:—
“Mr B. ‘a disappointed man!’—Well, and if he was, would that make the actual penitentiary plan the better,—or the plan it supplanted the worse?
“ ‘A disappointed man!’—Well does the ground of the assumption, in point of truth, accord with the morality of the mind that would frame and utter it.
“From the asserted disappointment, the intention is, that unhappiness should be inferred. Ah! well it would be for the reviewer, whoever he may be, were it in the nature of such a man to be what the object of his sarcasm is known to be: himself in a state of perpetual and unruffled gaiety,—himself the mainspring of the gaiety which pervades the whole of the little select circle in which he moves.
“You look out for a man whom those, whose creatures you are, or wish to be, have injured. The injury, you hope, has rendered him unhappy: and whether he be so or no, in the hope of rendering him still more so, knowing, or not knowing to the contrary, you held him up to the world as being so. Looking round, you spy, as you fancy, an injured man: and, under such a government as yours, such men are not rare. Seeing him, as you think, injured, to make the injury sink the deeper, you hold him up to view as an object of merited contempt,—you hold him up to contempt for the suffering you hope he has undergone. Yes, hope, Quarterly Reviewer! In his mind, to speak in the vulgar language, your patrons have established a raw: and to this raw, imaginary as it is, you fancy yourselves applying a lash.
“Such is the morality engendered by the system of corruption: such is the morality taught by the pages of the Quarterly Review.”
Many representations were made to Bentham, on the subject of his Indications respecting Lord Eldon,* by his professional friends, entreating him to suppress them,—assuring him, that prosecution and conviction were inevitable. The Chronicle (June 18, 1824) called it “the most daring production that has ever appeared.” Every argument that timidity and sagacity could suggest, was, however, employed in vain.
In answer to a very flattering letter from his old friend, Admiral Mordvinoff, who writes, that he was habitually accustomed to cite his authority, and to justify his proceedings by it, as President of the Russian State Council for Civil and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Bentham says:—
Bentham to Mordvinoff.
“I am on the point of completing a Constitutional Code, having for its object the bettering this wicked world, by covering it over with Republics. I send you this notice out of mere magnanimity, that, in your situation of ‘President pour les Affaires civiles et ecclesiastiques,’ which it delights me, were it only for the sake of Russia, to see you filling, you may have time to establish a cordon sanitaire all round your imperial master’s dominions, as many lines deep as your Field Marshal may think sufficient, the men touching one another all the way; all which, however, I tell you in confidence, will be of no avail against the copies which I shall enclose in bombshells, and shoot over their heads. But, my dear friend, how come you to be so cruelly tardy in letting me know of your having received the quantity of stuff I sent you? My hypothesis was either, that you found a use for it in your peech, or that you had been sent to Siberia for its having been directed to you.
“This brings me to Speranski, to whom I sent a quantity of the same matter at the same time. He has had, likewise, the barbarity to leave me in the same ignorance. True it is, I never saw him; equally true it is, his sentiments, in regard to my stuff, are known to me by a letter of his to Dumont, which I have in my holy keeping, and which, when I am in a bragging mood, I produce every now and then to some young friends: yours will now be added to it.
“You and he, I rejoice to hear, are in habits, as well as on good terms, which is more than what (as I have read somewhere in a book) all colleagues are, in a government such as yours—not to speak of other governments.
“I forget to which of you it was that I sent, along with my trash, one humble petition, for a copy of what has been officially published in your country in relation to the state of the laws, since the establishment for that purpose was set on foot. I cannot think, but that two such mighty mighty men, as you and he, could contrive, between you, to steal a copy for such a purpose, without much danger of being whipt. Or what, if the magnanimous were magnanimous enough to send me one? I would not return it to him, as I did his ring. I have no use for his rings. I might have many uses for his laws. As to Rosenkampf, he is gone (I hear) to the dogs. He could not (I have a notion) have been more appropriately disposed of.
“But the abuses he discovered—Speranski, I mean, not Rosenkampf—ay, if one could but see some account of them, that, indeed, would be worth a Jew’s eye: not but that, if the sinister profit were all the mischief, I could stake my life upon sending him, in return, an indisputably true statement of some dozen times as much sinister profit, made, though by so much safer and irresistible means, in the same space of time here. Seriously though, I should now absolutely despair, but that here and there, in my Constitutional Code, an arrangement might be found applicable with no less advantage in your monarchy than in my Utopia.
“I am glad to hear your master has turned Philo-Botanist at last. I have myself been one above these sixty years: though, except as above, I cannot afford to receive anything from him, there are some things I can afford to give him. Amongst them I have found four seeds, which I send by Mr Fleury, of the American Cherimoya, a fruit from Peru, said by several, who have eat of it lately, to be the most delicious known. I showed Mr Fleury a plant I have just reared from two seeds of the same parcel: but as to the fruit, there can be little, if any, hopes of our ever seeing it raised in England. Even Petersburg would be better suited, on account of the heat of the summer and the comparative clearness of the sky at all times.
“I send you, by this conveyance, a little Republican squib—avant courrier of my Code. It may serve to turn into merriment the gravity of one of the councils which have the benefit of your Presidence. I am afraid your master is too serious to laugh at such things. He would be more inclined, perhaps, to write to brother George to stop the publication.”
Sir Francis Burdett to Bentham.
“Ramsbury Manor,Sept. 18, 1824.
“My very worthy and approved good Master,—
I never for a moment forget the reverence due to the wisdom and virtue I adore. Your immortal part is with me—your works accompany me. I take feed on them in my heart, and am thankful.—I am your, as all the world are, much obliged
Bentham to Sir Francis Burdett.
“Q. S. P., 23d September, 1824.
“My dear Burdett,—
It is gratifying to me to see you following, for my benefit, the course taken by a Russian wife towards her husband: the rougher he, the smoother she. Yours, however, is but neighbour’s fare. The longer I live, the more strongly I feel the necessity of adhering to my old established rule, never to see any person but for some specific purpose—public or private. I look forward with pleasure to occasions more than one, which may, on Parliament proceeding to business, continually afford me the pleasure of taking you by the hand, without violation of the aforesaid, or any other, inviolable rule. You will not easily conceive the delight afforded me t’other day, by the information received through a most invaluable source of military instruction I have lately acquired; to wit, that at this time flogging is nearly abolished, and that it is to you, almost exclusively, that the well-disposed among military men regard that portion of the people as indebted for so prodigious an improvement: moreover, that t’other day you rendered capital service to the cause of the liberty of the press in India. I flatter myself your exertions in that service will not be relaxed: nowhere can there be greater need of them: scarce anywhere better hopes of there being efficient occasions for bringing them forth. Canning seems to have pledged himself to this.
“Not to speak of your light, there is much eloquence in your bushel.—Accept for both, the sincere thanks of, ever yours.
“P.S.—A trifle of mine, a Constitutional Code, which, should it happen to you to reach the year 2828, you will then see in force among all nations, is at the point of completion. An avant courrier of it, ‘Leading Principles,’ is gone this morning to a Greek, to be translated for printing in his language. Not being in print, except in the Pamphleteer, I herewith enclose a copy, the omission of which has been delayed since the receipt of yours, by a panic which inquiry at the post-office has just cured me of, to wit, that of ruining you by postage.”
Bentham sent, with his subscription to the Catholic Association, the following memorandum:—
J. B. to The Catholic Association.
“December 9, 1824.
“For the Catholic Rents. After the example set by the Examiner, five pounds from Jeremy Bentham, in the humble and cordial hope, that his oppressed brethren of the Catholic persuasion will neither retaliate persecution by persecution, nor attempt redress by insurrection; but unite with the liberal among Protestants for the attainment of security for all, against depredation and oppression in every shape, by the only practicable means—Parliamentary Reform, in the radical and solely efficient mode.”
He had added, but suppressed at my suggestion, the following:—
“True it is, that were extermination the only alternative, sooner by far would he see all Orangemen undergoing that fate, than the same number of Catholics. To a friend of mankind, the oppressed, be they who they may, are the objects of sympathy; the oppressors, consequently, of that antipathy which, in such cases, grows so necessarily out of the sympathy, and which the sympathy can scarcely be altogether cleared of.
“If, between crime and crime, the option were unavoidable, with less horror would he see authors sacrificed than instruments—the oppression-commanding and unpunishable few, than the executing, howsoever unjustifiably executing, multitude.
“But extermination could not have place without being mutual; and the endeavour would fail of doing, by blood, that which, with such comparative case, might be accomplished without blood.
“Less extensively mischievous, tyrannicide would be less flagitious than populicide; murder of one, though he were a Secretary of State; or—but imagination must stop here—than murder of a promiscuous multitude of unarmed men, women, and children.
“The best thing is to abstain from all crime: the next best, to abstain from the most mischievous.”
The correspondence which took place between Bentham and a very distinguished nobleman, whose name I need not state, has such a naiveté, that I feel moved to insert it entire—as amusing, instructive, and characteristic:—
“2, Queen’s Square Place,Westminster,
Having sent just now for the Greek boy —, to the school in which I had suffered him to stay, that the difficulty of conversing with him might be a little lessened; my messenger was informed, I learn, to my no small surprise, that two days ago he was sent from thence to you, and that his return was expected in ten days from that time.
“According to the plan of education I had formed for him, part of every day would have been employed by him in attendance at the lectures of the Mechanics’ Institute, under the care of the son of a Taylor, during the Hazlewood holidays,—the Taylor being, at the same time, one of our most efficient and useful statesmen. I leave it to you to say, whether the Taylor’s or a Lord’s would have been the most useful place for him. It being so perfectly understood by you, that the boy, in pursuance of an offer of mine, accepted by the constituted authorities of Greece, was consigned to my care; and with that understanding, the boy having once been returned by you to me for that purpose; I cannot regard the retaking possession of him without any communication made on the subject to me, than as an expression of contempt towards myself. I certainly should have considered myself as expressing that sort of sentiment to any man, had it been in my nature so to deal with him, which it is not. I mention this not as an expression of anger, for no such sentiment do I at this moment feel; but simply in the hope of getting the boy back again by the earliest conveyance: for the more richly illuminated with political gas-light the atmosphere is in which he is likely to be kept while under your care, the greater would, in my eyes, be the degree in which he is in danger of being spoiled for the useful course of education, for the purpose of which he was consigned to my care. If the course of contempt begun as above continues, what I propose to myself is, to bring the case before the public, through the medium of the periodical press. For injuries of all sorts, as a means of redress, the eye of the public is an instrument which, happily for the many to which I belong, is at present of some force; and, in the present instance, the nature of the case affords no other. From what I have heard of your political feelings, you are one of the last persons of your rank in life from whom I should have been under the apprehension of any such proceeding; but it brings to my recollection but too plainly an aphorism I remember reading some seventy years ago, at the commencement of the second expedition of Robinson Crusoe—‘What is bred in the bone, will never go out of the flesh.’ After this exposé, should you happen to concur with me in my view of the matter, the only satisfaction I desire consists in the return of your plaything by the first conveyance. My object is, as above, merely to save the boy from being further spoiled by what others call good, but I bad company. But if the lord I am thus obliged to write to is not too far gone in the family complaint, possibly, in the character of a Mentor, a memento from an old man, in whose eye all ranks stand on that footing of equality, on which, in that of the law, they are so falsely pretended to stand, may be not altogether without its use. Where there is no anger, there can be no forgiveness. Apology in words would be so much useless trouble.—I am, my lord, yours plainly and sincerely.”
“December 29, 1824.
It was but this morning that I received, under enclosure from my friend Mr Bowring, your letter to me dated the 24th. I, of course, do not lose a single day in acknowledging and answering it, and, as I believe, shall, by a very short statement, be able to convince you, even if our friend Mr Bowring has not done so already, that you have deceived yourself and wronged me, in supposing that any part of my conduct towards the boy —, could have arisen out of any want of respect to you. I had certainly been informed by Mr Bowring, that of the ten boys who were sent over by the Provisional Government of Greece to the Committee, you had offered to take two under your especial care. I afterwards learned, but not until after I had sent him to the Borough school, that you had a desire that — should be sent to you after he should have obtained a sufficient knowledge of the English language, to enable him to benefit by your instructions. If I do not now waste words in telling you how glad I felt, that a boy who had been placed under my care by the Committee, and in whom I took a great interest, was likely to receive the advantages of Mr Bentham’s tuition and protection, and how little I was disposed to throw any difficulties in the way of an arrangement so fortunate for him, it is because I believe you are as little disposed to accept flattery from any man, as I am to pay it to any. You are misinformed, if you suppose that I should have had either the folly or the ill manners to take him away from the school, if I had been given to understand that he had yet been placed under your direction, if I could have thought that my so doing would be interfering with any course of study or discipline that you had laid out for him. Directly the opposite was the fact. When I went to the school to ask permission from Mr Crossley the master, to take the boy into the country for a few days at Christmas, I asked the master whether my so doing, would in any way interfere with his plan of education. He distinctly told me, that, during the ten days of the Christmas holidays, there would be nothing for the boy to do at the school; nor certainly had I the least intimation or guess that you had any object of instruction in view for him during that period, or that it was your intention to send for him, until he should be much further advanced in his knowledge of English. I trust, Sir, (however I may regret the misunderstanding,) that I have by this explanation of facts, removed from your mind any impression, that I have been intentionally wanting in due respect and attention to you. I will send the boy on Friday (the day after to-morrow) back to the Borough school. I would send him back instantly, but that there are some clothes of his in the wash; and, but for another reason, which I own to you is much stronger with me, and which, I trust, you will do justice to: I should be very sorry indeed, if the boy, by perceiving that he was sent from hence abruptly, should have the mortification of thinking that any misunderstanding has arisen on his account, or of being obliged to judge in his own mind between two persons,—towards one of whom, I am willing to believe, he feels some affection for having treated him kindly; and towards the other, of whom, I trust, he may hereafter learn to look with gratitude and veneration.
“I owe you some explanation as to the manner in which he has spent his time, during the few days he has been here, and as to the company, which you are pleased to assume must be bad, because he finds it at my house. I enter into this explanation, not because the terms of your letter are peculiarly calculated to invite it, but because I feel that, to a person of Mr Bentham’s age and character, the most becoming reply is one that may show him, that, although born of a class in society subject to his peculiar vituperation, I have still sense and temper enough to notice, not the tone of his letter, but the substance. You are not correct, Sir, in supposing that the boy has been passing his time here in a manner to corrupt him, or to retard his progress in education. I have been reading English to him, and with him, during most of the hours that he has spared from the fair exercise and amusements of his age, or I from the bedside of a sick wife. Thus when you call him my plaything, permit me to say, that the imputation you throw out against me, of having taken him only for my own amusement, is as unjust as it is contrary to the good habit of judging favourably of the motives of others. I subjected myself to some expense, and to a good deal of trouble, when I first took him, not for my own amusement, certainly, but because, together with the other boys, he was in want of a home, a protector, and a friend. With regard to company, owing to my wife’s illness, we have been quite alone here; and as I never have had the good fortune to form any personal acquaintance with you, so I hope that nothing you have heard of me from others, has given you any reason to apply the phrase, ‘bad company,’ personally to myself. If R—had remained till Saturday here, he would have met Mr Agustin Arguelles, whom I know that you do not consider bad company, from the evidence of some communications made by you to him, when he was at the head of the constitutional government of Spain. I rejoice to find, at the conclusion of your letter, an assurance of your good-will, and a belief expressed that I know the value of a plain downright remonstrance. I hope nothing in the temper of this letter will give you a contrary opinion of me, nor that, in your turn, you will be angry when I take the liberty of saying, that, if I had not known from his writings, and from his friends, that Mr Bentham was one of the kindest and most liberal of mankind, I should not have made the discovery in his first letter to me.—I am, Sir, with unfeigned respect and sincerity, yours.
“To Jeremy Bentham, Esq.
“P. S. I send this under cover to Mr Bowring, and open, having received yours from him in the same way.”
The following is Bentham’s reply:—
“Queen’s Square Place,Westminster,
“My dear Lord,—
I lose not a moment in making the amende honourable: honourable to you, how much soever otherwise it may be to me. My head is all in a flame with the coals of fire you have heaped upon it. You, who know me not, can scarcely have any conception of the delight I feel at the thoughts of the degree in which I have done you injustice, assured as I am of your forgiveness, and acquainted as I now am with the character that assures it to me.
“The case is,—that according to the impression I had received of the facts, the license I gave myself was the only means to the end I had in view. The end not being in my view illaudable, nor the means neither, supposing them the only ones, what you received was the result. If this be neither a justification nor an excuse, no other can I find.
“In respect of the facts, Bowring, among others, was, in some measure, the cause, though an innocent one, of my mistake. The fact is, however, and so I told him, that without his approval, my letter would never have been sent: but what the sly rogue (who knows us both) saw, was that, as sure as a gun, it would bring you and me together, and make us hug one another in our hearts, as close as if we had exchanged a brace of pistol bullets; for never was egg fuller of meat, than that fellow’s heart and head are of malice and cunning in such shapes.
“As to bad company, what I meant—and I certainly did as good as tell you, was—company opposite in character to everything I had ever heard of yours. For, a man situated as you have been—how can he help himself? He cannot, if he would, take himself out of the circle which gave him birth. As to your solitude, instead of it, I had figured to myself a house brimfull of company: of company of that sort, with which, in former days, I got surfeited.
“An apprehension of evil from the boy’s stay at your house, is, after all, not dispelled but increased. It is that of his finding himself uncomfortable in such a hermitage as mine, after the experience he has had of your palace. Better might it have been for him and me, if, instead of his kind preceptor, you had been his Jamaica overseer.—House, I was told, had been to him what the Castle of Udolpho was to Miss—I forget who: he thought he was never to come out of it alive, and, under that apprehension, passed no small part of the time in tears: what the hobgoblins were that frightened him I have not heard. If you had set the current a-running again, it would have been all well: but now I shall have to beat the young rascal for honing after—, and crying to be sent back again to it. Now, if this would not be a symptom of a spoiled child, I would beg of any mother or grandmother to say what stronger one there is, and whether my apprehension is an altogether groundless one.
“Should your kind feelings for the good boy be ever strong enough to throw you voluntarily in the way of the testy old man, gratification will not be wanting to them; but, so long as he continues under my bondage, there must be a great gulph fixed between him and all such seats of seduction as—.
“When our said pupil is a little more familiar with the language, I may, perhaps, unless you forbid me, set him to read this correspondence, of which he is the subject, that he may see how, in well civilized life, quarrels are begun, continued, and ended; but what you would in vain forbid me, is the laying up in lavender your part of it, as a lesson which no adult eye could read without admiration, nor young without improvement. You will now believe, without much difficulty, with how sincere a respect and affection, I am, my dear lord, yours,
“P. S. I began this, as above, at the instant of reading the last word of yours, but my scrawl being illegible except to a practised eye, I could not get a copy within the time left me by Bowring’s visit.”
From Bentham’s Memoranda, 1824.
“He who has the power of punishment has the power of reward; and he who has the power of reward has the power of punishment; for by either, the other may be procured. Only by reward the power of punishment cannot be obtained any further than by substracting the matter of reward.
“Hence the tyranny of the rich over the poor, exists, in a certain degree, even in the most perfect democracy, ex gr. in U. States.
“But equality, in respect of legal power, keeps this tyranny within comparatively narrow bounds.
“Reputation being an instrument by which power is obtained, reputation is capable of being added, as above, to the instruments of tyranny.”
“Felony,—a word invented at the command of tyranny, by the genius of nonsense.”
“Defamation,—For imputation of motives there should be no responsibility, punitional or compensational. It would destroy the power of the public-opinion tribunal. Motives are not ascertainable but by circumstantial evidence. Direct denial by the party to whom unapproved motives are attributed, has no properly-probative force: a guilty man will utter it, of course.”
“The pleasure of deciding without the trouble of examining, is to everybody’s taste.”
“Every abuse receives support from every other abuse.”
In 1825, the Rationale of Reward was published in English. It was fundamentally a translation from Dumont’s French edition, with some additions from the author’s MSS. The Rationale of Punishment was, some years later, (1830,) edited in English by the same gentleman.* An English translation of the Sophismes Politiques has already been mentioned; and, in 1825, there also appeared a translation of Dumont’s abridged version of the Rationale of Evidence. Thus, four of Bentham’s most important works were in the anomalous position of becoming known to his countrymen through translations from a foreign tongue.
Bentham to Joseph Parkes.
“In speaking of our friend Parr—the Parr qui non habuit nec habebit parem,—I style him, as duty warns me, archvenerable; for me, who am his junior by I know not how many years, even me, courtesy of, or rather towards, age, has, for some years—poor, profane layman as I am—rated with archdeacons; in which character I, whom no king would ever hear pray and say, Oh; king, live for ever! say, with more sincerity than is usual in prayer, Oh, Parr, live in one sense for ever! and in the other in such sort as to be more than on a par with the illustrious Parr, and fully upon a par with the still more and most illustrious of long livers, Ephraim Jenkins!”
Bentham addressed to the Traveller, then a daily evening paper, afterwards amalgamated with the Globe, on the subject of the supposed independence of English judges, this letter:—
“Supposed sacrifice of power by George the Third—supposed Independence of the Judges.
Pardon me—but your wonted sagacity has for a moment been laid asleep by the authority of Blackstone. In your character of the late king, in your paper of the 6th instant, that act of his, whereby he deprived his successor of the faculty of removing any of the twelve Judges, seems to be spoken of as if it were a sacrifice made of personal interest on the altar of public welfare. In itself, the thing, as far as it went, was doubtless good; but as to the motive, look again: it was the power of his sucessor, you will see, that paid all the expense of it: his own, so far from diminution, received great and manifest increase from it. Suppose the power of displacing these functionaries to remain to the successor, observe the consequence: as the prospect of a demise of the Crown, from whatever cause, became nearer and nearer, the apprehension of thwarting the will and pleasure of the expected successor would, in those learned breasts, become more and more intense: and in truth, as men die at all ages, while, against all fear of losing their situations these functionaries would have been, as they are, perfectly independent of the monarch in possession, their conduct, in case of ill-humour between him and the monarch in expectancy, would always be at the command of the expected successor. I say in case of ill-humour: and, such is the nature of man, especially of man in that situation, never has there been a reign, in which there has not been war in that sublunary heaven called a Court, between the person who has had the sweets of royalty between his lips, and the person whose mouth was watering for them. This, in particular, has, and in every instance, been the case in the family of the Guelphs, since they mounted the throne of Britain: and whether this could have been a secret to the son of Frederick prince of Wales, let any one imagine.
“As to independence, on the part of those, or any other functionaries—in a monarchy it is not in the nature of the case to be anything like complete. Yes—as against punishment: no—as against reward: and in this country, who does not know, who does not feel, that the quantity of the matter of reward, at the disposal of the monarch, has no bound to it?
“Such is matchless Constitution! Public functionaries independent of Corruptor-general? Where will you find them? Yes—as against punishment—some:—always remembered that in this number cannot be reckoned any of those who at his pleasure may at any time be turned out to starve. Still, however, some there are who are independent as against punishment; but as against the power of reward, look for them as long as you will, not a single one will you find.
“Judges independent indeed? Yes—if there were no such things as peerages or promotions: yes—if a Judge had neither friends, relations, nor dependents.
“No, Sir, in the whole catalogue of vulgar errors, not many will you find that are more pernicious than that which is couched in the phrase—the independency of the Judges. Woe to the defendant in a political prosecution—woe to a politically obnoxious party in any suit, if the falsity of it be, though but for a moment, out of the eyes of jurors.
“In a word, Sir, under this matchless constitution, he who in any of these, or any other promoted or practising lawyers, looks for anything better than a perpetual obsequious instrument in the hands of the monarch and his ministers, what does he see of that which is passing before his eyes? What does he know of human nature?
“In days of yore, when the state of the constitution afforded an opposition, capable of looking to office not altogether without rationally grounded hope, dependence on one party might produce somewhat of the effect of independence as against another. Thus, while you had a Murray who lay constantly prostrate before the throne, you had a Pratt who could stand sometimes on his legs. But these days are gone for ever. The possibility of their return remains nowhere but in the imagination of the Whigs.
Bentham considered humanity to animals as a duty, reposing on the same foundations as the claims of man to humanity, only modified by the consideration, that the sum of pain and pleasure involved in the sufferings and enjoyments of brutes, is less in amount than that involved in the sufferings and enjoyments of human beings. He wrote to the editor of the Morning Chronicle this letter on the subject:—
To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.
“March 4th, 1825.
I never have seen, nor ever can see, any objection to the putting of dogs and other inferior animals to pain, in the way of medical experiment, when that experiment has a determinate object, beneficial to mankind, accompanied with a fair prospect of the accomplishment of it. But I have a decided and insuperable objection to the putting of them to pain without any such view. To my apprehension, every act by which, without prospect of preponderant good, pain is knowingly and willingly produced in any being whatsoever, is an act of cruelty: and, like other bad habits, the more the correspondent habit is indulged in, the stronger it grows, and the more frequently productive of bad fruits. I am unable to comprehend how it should be,—that to him, to whom it is a matter of amusement to see a dog or a horse suffer, it should not be a matter of like amusement to see a man suffer; and seeing, as I do, how much more morality, as well as intelligence, an adult quadruped of those and many other species has in him, than any biped has for months after he has been brought into existence: nor does it appear to me, how it should be, that a person to whom the production of pain, either in the one or the other instance, is a source of amusement, would scruple to give himself that amusement when he could do so under an assurance of impunity.
“To one who is in this way of thinking, you will judge, Sir, whether it be possible to believe that the desire and endeavour to lessen the sum of pain on the part of the species inferior to man, and subject to his dominion, can afford any tolerably grounded presumption of an indifference to human suffering, in the instance of any part of the human species. Judge then, Sir, again, of the surprise and affliction with which, being, as I am, one of the sincerest admirers and most zealous friends of the Morning Chronicle, I have for such a length of time been beholding the endeavours so repeatedly and zealously employed in it, to oppose and frustrate, if it be possible, the exertions making in Parliament to repress antisocial propensities, by imposing restraints on the wanton and useless manifestation of them.
“Of these ungracious endeavours, the morality and the logic seem to me pretty equally in unison. Thus persevering in the exertions which the Parliamentary men in question have been, ergo, they are insincere. In sympathy towards the animals inferior to man, thus they have been abundant, ergo, in sympathy, good will, and good deeds, as towards men, they are deficient. With concern I say it, the exertions made in the Morning Chronicle to encourage and promote barbarity, have equalled, at least, in ardour and perseveringness, those made in Parliament for the repression of it. By nothing but by fallacies could an argument such as this have been supported. Accordingly, what a tissue of them is that which I have been witnessing. Such a tissue of fallacies, all of them so trite and so transparent; fallacies forming so marked a contrast with the close and genuine reasoning which I have been accustomed to witness with admiration and delight. All this, too, from so powerful and successful a champion of the cause of the people, with the laurels won by the discomfiture of the would-be conqueror of Naboth’s vineyard still fresh upon his head. Were it not for that inconsistency which ever has been, and for a long time will continue to be, so unhappily abundant even in the best specimens of the human species,—that such opposite exhibitions should have been made in so short a time, by the same individual, would have been altogether inconceivable.
“In the ardent wish to see a stop put to a warfare, in my own view of it, so much more dangerous to the reputation of the Morning Chronicle, than to that of the public men whom it has taken for its objects,—I remain, Sir, your sincere and sorrowing friend,
Bentham to Sir F. Burdett.
“Q. S. P., 6th June, 1825.
“My Dear Burdett,—
I am all delight at the part you are taking against law abuses. Persevere, and with the hitherto unsuspected facts I shall furnish you with in a few days, it will depend upon you to slay the Dragon of Wantley.
“What you move for to-morrow is a Report. But delay in making the Report may admit of excuses. Could not you add to your motion a ditto for the evidence, to be sent in the meantime, without waiting for the Report.
“This evidence could be sent in instanter: it being not only already in existence, but already in a lithographed state. What I want, and what I am sure you do, above all things, is—our Bickersteth’s evidence.
“I have sent you already my attack on Peel,* in its perfected as well as in its unperfected state. I flatter myself it has not been altogether useless to you.—Yours ever.”
Sir F. Burdett to Bentham.
“9th June, 1825.
“My ever revered, beloved, and, on this side idolatry, worshipped Master, Jeremy Bentham,—
With many thanks for your former favour respecting Peel’s augmentation-of-coruption bill, I renew them for your last note, which opens to me prospects of public good, never before presented to my mind. You will see that I moved, the other night, for the evidence, not Report, which, without a shadow of reason, was refused. However, it can easily be had, and, after all, is of little importance—for are not the facts notorious?—are not the mischiefs apparent?—and are not the causes equally so? If not, the public have felt, and you have written in vain: but this is not so. The public are looking out, not for unnecessary proofs, but for necessary remedy; and the enlightened portion of the public are pretty well instructed, by your writings, how to obtain it; or rather what the remedy is now. I am thinking that you, and I, and Bickersteth might, during the summer, frame a bill to be moved for at the next meeting of Parliament, that would appear so plain and efficient to the common sense of the country, as to cause a general demand for its adoption. I think our view should embrace the Common Law, as well as Equity Courts; for surely the same principles apply to both; and it is equally necessary in both to take from lawyers on the bench, and at the bar, all interest in chicanery and delay. Could this be effected, Astræa might once more revisit the earth. If any mortal can accomplish it, you can; and could I be made any way instrumental to it, I should, with perfect satisfaction, sing—‘Nunc dimittis.’—In every case believe me, sincerely yours,” &c.
Bentham to Burdett.
“12th June, 1825.
“Bravo! bravo! my dear Burdett! Your noble resolutions give me fresh life. Meantime, what you are exciting me to, will, about the time you mention, make its appearance of its own accord: a complete procedure act, in which the nonsensical distinction between law and equity has no place.
“But, so long as the author of all evil, and effectual opposer of all good, is where he is, no good can be hoped for without some preponderant evil along with it.”
Bentham visited Paris in 1825. He had been much annoyed with a cutaneous disease, a species of eczema, and was recommended to consult some of the Paris physicians. They suggested the use of hydro-sulphurous baths. His visit gratified him much. He received many attentions from the most distinguished people of the French capital. On one occasion when he entered a court of justice, the whole of the barristers rose to welcome him, and the president seated him at his right hand. He went to Lagrange to visit his old friend Lafayette. Among the gratifying things that occurred at Paris, was a sentence addressed to Bentham by General Foy, in introducing himself: “Vos mæurs et vos ecrits sont peints sur votre visage.” Bentham was absent a month from England, having left on the 19th September, and returned on the 19th October.
Dumont had been engaged, up to 1825, in the translation and arrangement of Bentham’s MSS. on “Judicial Organisation,” preparatory to the publication of the “Code of Procedure.” For years he had been urging Bentham to complete his greater plans, and not to allow himself to be diverted by temporary questions, or objects of minor moment. But it was part of Bentham’s nature to be interested in every passing event, and to apply to each his own philosophy. Dumont had less of excitable temperament, and, moreover, was of a less progressive nature. In opinion, he generally lagged behind his master, and clung, as Bentham thought, to Whiggism—or see-sawed between Whiggism and Radicalism. In answer to his inquiries as to the manner in which the “Organization Judiciaire,” should appear, Bentham writes:—
Bentham to Dumont.
“Queen’s Square Place,
“My dear Dumont,—
Received, a day or two ago, yours of the 29th November. It rejoices me to hear that you agree with me in the propriety of publishing, at two different periods, the work which exists in the present tense, and the work which, as yet, is only in the paulo-post-future tense. As to discordance, make yourself easy on that score. But for the same reason for which you are uneasy at the not having the articles you mention, you would be still more uneasy at not having others, of which, as yet, you cannot have any knowledge. For the present work, you say you will be satisfied with the generalia, without having the details—those details which constitute the code in terminis. But with me, generalia and details march together; and an alteration in either, may produce a correspondent alteration in the other. On another score, moreover, your letter has afforded me satisfaction. Since I saw you, certain metamorphoses have taken place, which, though to other persons not quite so amusing as Ovid’s, will, to you at least, be not less interesting.
“1. * Your Pursuer-general is transformed into the Government-advocate: the Government, though most commonly on the Pursuer’s side is, on various occasions, on the Defender’s side.
“2. Your defender of the poor is transformed into an Eleemosynary Advocate; his place is not much, if at all, less frequently on the defendant’s, than on the pursuer’s side. Advocate is, in both cases, more characteristic than Pursuer and Defender. And the two advocates, like the two kings of Brentford, march together, check-by-jowl, smelling at the same nosegay. In some cases, a person who is not poor, may be in a state of relative helplessness—in such a state, that the assistance of a lawyer, who could get nothing by fleecing him, might be of use to him. I know not whether your vocabulary furnishes to your aumones a conjugate, that will be therein what our eleemosynary is to our alms. This is your look out. If not, God help you: your helplessness will need his advocacy.
“Last night being Mill’s visiting night, I put your letter into his hands. He is in perfect agreement with everything you see here. As to my health, a man is drenching me with corrosive sublimate, hypermuriate of mercury, inside and out. I have already so far profited by it, that itching is no obstruction to sleep, and in the daytime, the imperiousness of the demand for acratching, is considerably mitigated. He was recommended to me as eminent in this particular line, by a man of prime science. At his first visit, he told me he had just dismissed, as cured, three patients, with cases similar to mine: the cure which took longest, not having taken more than six weeks. I have been in his hands much about half that time. You will see how much better this is than spending months in going hundreds of miles to baths.—Yours ever,
In the year 1826, when Bolivar, who had been a correspondent of Bentham, took to his despotic courses, his tampering with the rights of representation, and his overthrow of the liberty of the press, he prohibited the use of Bentham’s writings in the Colombian seminaries of Education. They were, however, reintroduced into New Granada, under the Presidency of General Santander, on which occasion the following decree was issued (Gazeta de la Nueva Granada, Oct. 18, 1835.)
“Instruction by Bentham.
“The General Direction of Public Instruction decided on soliciting the Executive—and did in effect solicit—giving its reasons in a long Report,—that in consequence of the resolutions of the 16th August, 1827, and 12th March, 1828, and availing themselves of the organic law respecting public education in the decree of 3d of October, 1826—‘That in all universities, colleges, and houses of education, the teaching of the principles of civil and penal legislation, by the works of Jeremy Bentham, should be again suppressed.’ In consequence of this Report, the Secretary of the Interior has dictated, on the 15th of this month, the following Resolution:—
“ ‘Having attentively and seriously examined the present report of the General Direction of Public Instruction, the Executive has considered that if, on the one hand, the general principles of universal legislation established and developed by the Jurisconsult, Jeremy Bentham, and especially his Commentator Salas, may give motive to alarm in some fathers of families,—on the other hand, this alarm is mainly attributable to the probable want of a minute and detailed explanation of these principles in the various classes, and the reaction of other matters taught during the course, since every error thence arising, and which may be propagated by a mistaken understanding of the text, is really prejudicial to youth.
“The Executive is not unaware of the facility with which this and other similar sorts of alarm is excited and propagated—such as in the beginning of the revolution and during its course, opposed the abolition of the tribunal called the Holy Office, (Inquisition,) through the teaching of canonical doctrines, which were proscribed under the Spanish Government—that of Ideology, and even those liberal maxims which are now political dogmas; yet, notwithstanding there was no stop in the advance made for the improvement of the age, and the benefit even of those who had taken alarm, nor was the great work abandoned of reforming and generalizing public instruction by forward steps. Its progress, the effects of time, and other influences, have been calming the public mind, dissipating illusions, and conducting the Republic in harmony with the present state of civilisation, and with that liberty of thought which it has proclaimed alike for the individual and the nation.
“Other reflections occur:—
“1. The law of the 30th of May, of the present year, ordered the integral reestablishment in all its force and vigour, of the organic decree, or general plan of public instruction of 1826, in so far as it was not contrary to the said law—in it the cited work was designated as the text for teaching the principles of legislation: and the Legislature established this, though some fathers of families solicited from the Congress what the Direction now solicits from the Executive.
“2. The Treatises of Bentham, particularly those on Civil and Penal Legislation, admirable for the spirit of analysis with which they are written, and for the profundity and lucidity of their doctrines, cannot but enlighten the mind; and though there is nothing in the said treatises of civil and penal legislation, which, being thoughtfully read and understood, can be prejudicial and alarming, but, on the contrary, useful and consolatory to humanity; fragments, or propositions, isolated from their fundamental principles, and carelessly read by ardent and enthusiastic youth, may lead their irreflective spirit astray. The work circulates freely on all sides—its introduction and circulation neither can nor ought to be prevented; and if it is to be seen and studied by the alumni of jurisprudence out of their halls, it is better that it should be so within them, under the direction of professors, whose care it is to explain it and restudy it to advantage.
“3. If any injury could be produced by the said work misleading the ideas of one or another youth, who might understand it amiss, the well-directed study of it will generate exact notions on the important science of which it treats, and lead to the search of the ground-work of the Legislation of a free people—not in the spirit of imitation and routine, but in reason and nature, the only sources of what is just and right. It is desirable, therefore, that it should be taught and analyzed in the secondary and superior establishments of instruction. The liberty of the press produces defamations and libels—scandals and vengeances; but it is a guarantee against the abuses of power—it is the interpreter of public opinion, which it forms and consolidates—it is the instrument and arena of political debates;—but nobody desires, nor will desire, its suppression on this account.
“4. No work has been provided, according to the directions of the executive decree of 16th August, 1827, on the principles of legislation, to replace that of Bentham in the study of this branch of jurisprudence, which is ordered to be taught by the law of 18th March, 1826, as by that of 30th May, 1835.
“But the executive, in the present case, must conciliate legal arrangements with the interests of the proper education of youth. Its guide must be the law, its object public convenience—being superior to prejudices of every sort,—whose domination and influence are but transitory, and which cannot form a proper ground-work for reasoning. In consequence, and in agreement with the opinion of the Council, it is resolved, that—
“1st, It be communicated to all teachers, (Catedraticos) of the principles of Universal Legislation in the universities, colleges, and houses of instruction in the Republic, under the strictest responsibility and care of execution, that until some other elemental author is designated as a text for the teaching of the said branch, that the article 229 of the Organic Decree of 3d October, 1826, be scrupulously obeyed, explaining the doctrines and propositions of Jeremy Bentham, so that they may not tower over (sobrepongan) the Laws which prescribe the teaching of moral and natural right, and which give to revealed religion an especial protection, (Art. 33 of the Law of 18th March, 1826, 158 of the said decree.) Hence, there must not be taught, nor sustained in public theses, principles opposed to these dispositions—respecting which the central direction will exercise its natural functions.
“2d, The same direction will carefully examine the works, which, in addition to that of Bentham, are cited in the 168th article of the Organic Decree of 1826, or any others on the subjects which, according to that article, are to be taught; and will ascertain if it is possible to adopt any one of them with advantage, as a text for the Course of Principles of Universal Legislation, instead of that of Jeremy Bentham; inasmuch as there has not been edited, nor is it likely there should be edited, in this country, an elemental work perfectly adapted to our religious and political principles.
“3d, The present resolution shall be publicly read by the different professors in the classes of jurisprudence, in the halls, and in the presence of the students, as soon as it shall be communicated by the superior authority.
“Let it be transcribed in the general direction, and published in the Gazette.
“For His Excellency, Pombo,Secy.”
It is curious to see, in this document, the hesitation with which the writings of Bentham are again introduced into the public schools of New Granada; and the embarassed and circuitous manner in which the prejudices and opposition of the clergy are referred to.
Dr Parr died in 1826. By his will he left a mourning ring to Bentham, “whom,” he says, “I consider the ablest and most instructive writer that ever lived, upon the most difficult and interesting subjects of jurisprudence.”
Bentham to J. Quincy Adams.
“Q. S. P., 19th June, 1826.
“Tried and respected Friend,—
At the first visit I had the pleasure to receive from your nephew, J. Adams Smith, after the information of the election of President reached this place, I asked him if it had happened to him to learn to what cause it had been owing? His look having the effect of a question, the answer was—my prayers. Curiosity was now converted into scepticism; but tolerance in perfection being of the number of my principles, I forebore annoying him on that ground. Forgive my saying so, but my delight at the success of the individual was swallowed up, as everybody about me knows, by that produced by the success of the millions.
“I have a demand for some proportion of your sympathy, on the score of the quantity of scrawled paper, which, on some occasion, I had begun, under the notion of troubling you with. Addressed to you, orations more than one there are on my shelves waiting to annoy my executors. As to you, your good genius prevailed in every instance. At present, the application made to me by that truly honest and meritorious citizen, Joseph Hume, the only true representative the people of this country ever had, and one more than, under such a form of government, they have any right to expect to have, could not allow of my being, on the present occasion, thus merciful to you.
“A line will suffice to assure you of the pleasure and pride I feel so often renewed, by the recollections of the assistance so generously afforded to me at your departure. Sometimes tears now flow more than once in the same week. ‘The chair you now occupy, for some weeks running was occupied by John Quincy Adams,’ is a vaunt which, as often as the occupant presents himself as capable to appreciate the honour done him, I am in use to treat him with.
“These, however, are extremely few. Some to whom I have given admission, have for years been waiting for it: at the age of 78, a man, occupied as I have so long been, and continue to be, has no time to waste.
“At the time I lost you, what I wanted was the encouragement necessary to perseverance. I have for some years been overwhelmed with encouragement: all I want are faculties and time.
“Amongst other aims remains that of founding a little jurisprudential library, for the use of the public, consisting principally, if not entirely, of the laws of the United States. A connexion I have formed spares me the necessity of recurring to the offer you so kindly made me: a bookseller of reputation, recommended to me by a man in whom I have confidence, has undertaken the commission, and is confident of being able to execute it.
“In a Constitutional Code, a Penal Code, and a Procedure Code, I have already made such progress as would enable any one of several persons I have in mind to complete them from my papers, in case of my death before completion.
“On the occasion of the Constitutional Code, it being, throughout, accompanied with a rationale, my telescope has undoubtedly had the audacity to turn itself to the sun, and even a few spots in that luminary are supposed to be discovered. If anybody could secure to me its continuance for ever in its present splendour, I would at that hour consent never to meddle with it; but I not being able to find any Insurance office, where any such business can be done, my temerity can find no adequate restraint. When the result of my observation comes to be in print, you will behold in me, if you vouchsafe to look at me, an ultra-democrat—I shall, in you, an ultra-aristocrat,—for in your situation every man is so par état: were it not for the sea between us, who knows but you would find me more or less of a troublesome fellow,—as it is, I am, with the truest affection and respect, yours.
“P.S.—If the present opportunity serves, a few of my most recent squibs may accompany this: your kitchenmaid will find them useful. Kiss the hands for me of Madame la Presidente.”
Among the inmates of the hermitage, in 1826, was John Neal, an American, who had obtained some reputation by articles in Blackwood and other periodicals; and whose strange personal adventures, and variety of information respecting the United States, interested Bentham, and induced him to invite him to take up a temporary residence in Queen’s Square Place. But the rough republican frequently annoyed Bentham by his abruptness and incaution. His mind and manners had not been trained to that gentle and courteous bearing which so peculiarly distinguished Bentham, and to whose absence he could not reconcile himself. Quarrels with Bentham’s servants added to the perplexities of his position, yet they parted with mutual, and, no doubt, sincere expressions of good will. Mr Neal has published (attached to Principles of Legislation, translated from Dumont, Boston, 1830) a memoir of Bentham, in which he has been more successful in recording the playful sportiveness of Bentham’s conversation in moments when he abandoned himself to unreserved and unrestrained colloquies—than in drawing a correct portrait of the great qualities of Bentham’s mind, and the peculiar force and originality of his character. In one respect, Mr Neal has strangely misrecollected “his master,”—for he represents him as suffering from the dread of death—superstitiously—as Johnson did. Now, on no subject was Bentham more prone to dwell—on none more willing to discourse; I have never known a human being to whom the thought of death had so little in it that was disturbing or disagreeable.
Speaking of John Neal, Bentham said,—
“Neal’s ‘Brother Jonathan’ is really the most execrable stuff that ever fell from mortal pen. No probability—no interest—no character resembling human character. Neal is a nondescript. We have no such being here: he was always cheerful and talkative—and talked on every subject with equal confidence. I might as well have had a rattlesnake in my house as that man.”
Mr W. Plumer, junior, the governor of New Hampshire, writes:—
Mr Plumer to Bentham.
“Epping,N. H., Sept. 15, 1826.
“My dear Sir,—
Since I wrote you last, the great subject of the improvement of our laws, and the reform of our judicial establishments, has excited an unusual degree of attention in this country; has elicited much talent in its discussion; and led to the admission, in theory, at least, of many useful truths, some of which have been already reduced to practice, and more may be expected soon to follow. In many of these inquiries, your labours have been noticed, your principles, to a certain extent, adopted; and a disposition manifested to do that justice to your extraordinary merits, to the benevolence of your designs, and the sagacity of your views, which, first or last, must universally prevail. So far as I have borne any part, inconsiderable, indeed, in these transactions, it is hardly necessary for me to assure you, that my object has been to prepare the public mind for the more favourable reception of those great truths which you have so long taught, and will, through your works at least, never cease to teach. They rest for their support upon the deep and broad foundation of public utility; their end is the happiness of mankind; and their importance, as connected with that end, becomes daily more apparent. The clear light of genius, long and steadily thrown upon them, has gone far towards dispelling the darkness with which they were before surrounded: the reformation of our legal system is called for with a voice which cannot long be resisted; and there is little reason to apprehend that the great reformer will, in the triumph of his principles, be himself unhonoured and forgotten. I am glad to learn that you are not unacquainted with the labours of Mr Livingston of New Orleans in the field of legislation.* He is a man of real talents, of great industry and perseverance, and of high standing and influence in his country. He has often spoken of you to me in terms of the highest veneration and respect, and informed me, more than once, that his attempts at Codification grew out of what he learnt of your views in the works published by Dumont. He considers you as his master in the service: and you could hardly desire a more zealous or more enlightened disciple. If his Codes, (a part of which have already been adopted,) should be found to succeed in Louisiana, other States will be encouraged to take up the subject with still more enlightened views, and under even more favourable circumstances; and we may yet hope to see systems of jurisprudence receiving as great improvements in this country, as, we flatter ourselves, systems of government have already received; or rather, looking further into futurity, we may, perhaps, see both reaching a point of excellence never yet attained, and which the philanthropists of former days dared hardly conceive. In anticipation of these happy times, let us all labour, each in his own department, to accelerate their approach, confident that their advent, though slow, is sure; and that the final prevalence of truth is not the less certain, because not at first well received. I remain, Sir, your friend and humble servant.”
The inquiry has been often made—“Did Bentham pass through life without being in love—without thoughts or plans of marriage?” The reader will have found an answer in an earlier part of the work. I had put the question to him more than once, and he always fenced it off. One day he put a paper into my hand, and required me to sign it. It was as follows:—
“23d April, 1827.
“I, J. Bo: promise never, during his lifetime, to give anybody to understand that I have heard from him anything relative to matters between him and — —, nor without his leave to put questions relative thereto.”
The lady who engaged his affections is still alive, and it becomes me to suppress her name. He met her at Bowood, when she was very young, and he thirty-four. He was struck with that voluntary playfulness which formed so pleasing a contrast to the aristocratical reserve of most of the females whom he met. Bentham was a favourite of Lady Shelburne. The mark of favour by which she distinguished a very few among her many visiters was, admission to her dressing-room. One day when Bentham was sitting playing at the spinette, (the only musical instrument in the house,) a light screen near the instrument was turned over upon him, and a young lady glided away upon feet of feathers. The ladies of the house, in general, were cold and prudish in the extreme. “Lady Shelburne and her sister,” said Bentham, “were beauties; but Lady S. had still more dignity than beauty. Dignity was the feminine tone of the family. Lord Shelburne kept a sort of open house, and was frequently intruded on by persons who were unwelcome visiters. One day a family, (the S—’s,) opulent, but coarse-minded country gentry, being there with some others on a visit, and assembled with the household in the drawing-room, Lord Camden, his daughter Elizabeth, Colonel Barré, (Lord Shelburne’s right hand man in the House of Commons—No! no! his left hand man, for Dunning was his right hand man,) and Lady Shelburne’s sisters, adjourned to Lady S.’s dressing-room, no doubt for the purpose of getting rid of disagreeable company. The dressing-room, as well as her ladyship’s bed-room, was on the ground-floor, as indeed were all the drawing-rooms, or quasi-drawing-rooms of the house. Lady Ashburton was there. She played extremely well on the harpsichord, (for harpsichords were then in fashion;) and Miss Pratt, afterwards Lady Elizabeth, sang. I was of the party; and here another act of playfulness occurred. In came Miss—with a heavy bunch of keys: she slipped them into my pocket. This gave me a right to retaliate; so I made my way towards her pocket. Barré called out, and cracked his jokes about our meddling with one another’s pockets. Of three principal ladies present, two at least were arguses. If I was froward on them, there was no offence; for I had occasion to know, a little before Lady Shelburne’s death, with what friendship and favour she regarded me.” How strong the feeling, or the memory of the feeling, with which Bentham thought of the object of his affections, may be gathered from the letter which I shall insert. After the date of that letter, he very often spoke to me on the subject—spoke as if he liked to expatiate on it, and added one day:—“I have grown very garrulous about this to you. One idea suggests another—that a third, and so they go in geometrical progression.”
“Q. S. P., April, 1827.
“I am alive: more than two months advanced in my 80th year—more lively than when you presented me, in ceremony, with the flower in the green lane. Since that day, not a single one has passed, (not to speak of nights,) in which you have not engrossed more of my thoughts than I could have wished. Yet, take me for all in all, I am more lively now than then—walking, though only for a few minutes, and for health sake, more briskly than most young men whom you see—not unfrequently running.
“In the enclosed scrap there are a few lines, which I think you will read with pleasure.
“I have still the pianoforte harpsichord, on which you played at Bowood: as an instrument, though no longer useful, it is still curious; as an article of furniture, not unhandsome; as a legacy, will you accept it?
“I have a ring, with some of my snowwhite hair in it, and my profile, which everybody says is like. At my death, you will have such another: should you come to want, it will be worth a good sovereign to you.
“You will not, I hope, be ashamed of me.
“The last letter I received from Spanish America, (it was in the present year,) I was styled Legislador del Mundo, and petitioned for a Code of Laws. It was from the man to whom that charge was committed by the legislature of his country—Guatemala.
“Every minute of my life has been long counted: and now I am plagued with remorse at the minutes which I have suffered you to steal from me. In proportion as I am a friend to mankind, (if such I am, as I endeavour to be,) you, if within my reach, would be an enemy.
“I have, for some years past, had a plan for building a harem in my garden, upon the Panopticon principle. The Premiership waits your acceptance; a few years hence, when I am a little more at leisure than at present, will be the time for executing it.
“For these many years I have been invisible to all men, (not to speak of women,) but for special reason. I have lost absolutely all smell; as much as possible all taste, and swarm with petty infirmities. But it seems as if they ensured me against serious ones. I am, still am I gay, eminently so, and ‘the cause of gaiety in other men.’
“To read the counterpart of this in your hand, would make a most mischievous addition to my daily dose of bitter sweets—the above-mentioned mixture of pain and pleasure. Oh, what an old fool am I, after all, not to leave off, since I can, till the paper will hold no more. This you have done at sixty, and at half six miles distance. What would you have done present, and at sixteen? Embrace — —: though it is for me, as it is by you, she will not be severe, nor refuse her lips, as to me she did her hand, at a time, perhaps, not yet forgotten by her, any more than by me.”
José del Valle to Bentham.
“Guatemala,April 18, 1827.
“The mouth of March just passed was one of delightful satisfaction to me. In it I received your letter and your books. They well filled my heart with joy. I recognise the affection which dictated the one, and the kindness which remitted the others.
“In my library your works will hold the distinguished station to which the sage instructor of the legislators of the world is entitled. By their influence, I trust a happy revolution will be brought about among all the nations of the earth. You have reared the science upon a fruitful principle—that of universal utility—giving lessons of addition and substraction—of legislative arithmetic—teaching the calculations of good and evil—to group—to deduct—to obtain balances of pain and pleasure—and to form law with a view to the greatest felicity. And having revolutionized the science of legislation, you will revolutionize legislative codes—so that nations will have laws—not the opprobrium, but the honour of reason—laws not the misfortune, but the happiness of man.
“For many a year I have felt that one of the greatest wants of America, of Guatemala, a beautiful portion of America, was the suppression of the Codes of Spain, and the introduction of others, worthy of the instruction of the age, provided by the sages who have perfected the jurisprudential science. Before our just independence, proclaimed the 15th September, 1821, I published various discourses expressing my desire that a code less defective than that of Castela should be prepared, and announcing (even before I had seen your writings) that the greatest good of the greatest number was the only true principle of legislation. When the Spanish Constitution was reëstablished in 1820, and deputies were elected to the Cortes of Spain, I was the first Alcalde of this Ayuntamiento, and wrote the instructions for our representation; and one of the points on which I most strongly insisted, was the necessity of a Legislative Code to remedy the undenied grievances we were suffering from the existing laws. And after our independence, I again returned to the subject. I wrote and published in January, 1822, a discourse, in which I examined, one after another, the Spanish Codes in authority here, showing their manifold defects. When, in 1824, I was a member of the Supreme Executive Power, I called the attention of the National Assembly to an object so worthy of it, and to exhibit more the view of our judicial legislation, I made a statement of the number of writings or representations, acts and decrees, notifications and terms necessary for the decision of a civil action, according to our unhappy system. Afterwards I was named, in 1825, by the Assembly of this State, Member of the Commission for the formation of a Civil Code. I looked then to you, Señor Bentham, who have been the oracle of those who, in other countries, have had similar functions. You sent me some of your works. They will be the guide of my labours.”
Del Valle then gives a list of 14 pamphlets connected with the politics and history of Guatemala which he sends. He thus concludes:—
“The Paris Society for Elementary Instruction have made me a Corresponding Member—a title more precious in my eye than any which pride or vanity could create. I have written a Memoir on the Indian races, calling their attention to this unhappy portion of mankind.
“To you I shall write by any safe channel. The wise are to me the most illustrious of beings. Merchants may correspond about metallic interests, but the interests of knowledge are far more important.”
I find, under date of 23d June, 1827, these remarks on Kent’s Comments on American Law:—
“A very superficial glance suffices to render it unquestionable, that, to the stock of uncertainties inherent in the whole body of English-bred laws, the United States lawyers have already added an immense stock of their own manufacture; and so far from diminishing, it appears to be the learned author’s favourite wish and endeavour, to give whatsoever increase may be in his power to the beloved attribute.
“After stating, with approbation, the establishment of the distinction between Common Law and Equity, the author goes on to say,—‘Under the benign influence of an expanded commerce, of enlightened justice, of republican principles, and of sound philosophy, the Common Law has become a code of matured ethics and enlarged civil wisdom, admirably adapted to promote and secure the freedom and happiness of social life.’
“Next page, 322, comes a rhetorical eulogy from Du Ponceau on Jurisdiction.
“A result, eminently desirable, seems to be, that from the ends of professional practice, and pre-paid judicature, talents such as, in so high a degree, Mr Kent possesses, should be transferred to the ends of justice; and that accordingly, whatsoever means, conducive to that end, should, if need be, by public authority, at the expense of the public, be employed in engaging him so to do.
“For these same ends of justice, it would give me unfeigned pleasure to be able to see, in this work of his, any the smallest spark of regard.”
Rev. Sydney Smith to Bentham.
“York,June 28, 1827.
I am much flattered by the present you have sent me, and the sentence of commendation you have added. I shall (like a Waterloo medal) consider it as a fresh motive for conducting myself like an honest and respectable man. My line of opinion is a very humble one; but I have consistently pursued it. I am a sincere friend to a church establishment, paid otherwise than by a vexatious tax upon industry; and blush for every act of persecution and intolerance; and I am a sincere friend to the English Constitution, without the least fear of examining its imperfection, and with the strongest disposition to watch over the method in which it is carried into execution by the Government. To improve my legal and political opinions, I read all you write, and feel very great and sincere admiration of your boldness and talents.—I remain, dear Sir, yours faithfully.”
I find a document, bearing the date of this period, which, as developing the character of Bentham’s mind and habits of composition, appears worthy of preservation:—
Logic.—J. B.’s Logical Arrangements, employed as Instruments in Legislation; and Locutions, employed as Instruments in the Field of Thought and Action.
June 29, 1827.
1. Constantly actual end of action on the part of every individual at the moment of action, his greatest happiness, according to his view of it at that moment.
2. Constantly proper end of action on the part of every individual at the moment of action, his real greatest happiness from that moment to the end of life. See Deontology private.
3. Constantly proper end of action on the part of every individual considered as trustee for the community, of which he is considered as a member, the greatest happiness of that same community, in so far as depends upon the interest which forms the bond of union between its members.
4. Constantly proper end of action on the part of an individual, having a share in the power of legislation in and for an independent community, termed a political state, the greatest happiness of the greatest number of its members.
5. Next subordinate ends to the all-comprehensive end of Legislation and Government in all its branches, or, say departments—
6. Means for fulfilment of the above-mentioned all-embracing ends on the part of the several functionaries employed in Government, appropriate aptitude.
7. Elements, or, say branches of appropriate aptitude—
8. Sub-branches, or, say elements of intellectual aptitude—
9. N.B.—Subject-matters to which the divisions and distinctions, No. 7 and 8, are applicable.
1. The agents, or, say actors or operators, whether functionaries or non-functionaries.
2. Their several operations.
3. The several works, or other results produced by them.
4. The several instruments employed by them.
10.Inaptitude—modes, or, say features of it, are correspondent and opposite to the several elements, or say branches, of appropriate aptitude, Nos. 7, 8,—which see.
Each feature of inaptitude consists in the absence, total or partial, of the correspondent branch of appropriate aptitude.
Efficient causes of intellectual inaptitude in the judicial branch.
Efficient causes of human action, operating as sources of pleasures, and exemption from pains—the several sanctions. These are—
☞ For the several pleasures and pains, see Springs-of-action Table. (Vol. i. p. 195.)
Immediate sources of pleasure and exemption from pain, and objects of general desire—elements of prosperity.
1. Money, including money’s worth.
3. Reputation—natural, viz., positively good, or, say preëminently ditto.
On the part of functionaries, objects of universal desire, thence efficient causes of sinister interest.
1. Money, including money’s worth.
3. Reputation—natural, viz., positively good, or, say preëminent.
4. Reputation—factitious; efficient causes of it, factitious honour and dignity.
5. Genealogical relationship to individuals, living or dead, invested with factitious honour or dignity.
6. Ease at the expense of duty.
7. Vengeance at the expense of justice.
Ends of procedure.
“Preponderant.”—Constant use of this word, as applied to benefits in the account, as between good and evil, under the greatest happiness system. Without it, all statements as to good and evil, stand exposed to well-grounded denial.
Proportion.—In the Rationale of Legislation, and in the penning of enactments, Bentham, the first writer, by whom this idea has been constantly kept in mind, and held up to view.
Aphorisms Comprehensive and Concise. Instruments of intellectual agency.
πᾶσα τέχνη ϰαι πᾶσα μέθοδος, ὁμοιως δὲ πϱᾶξις τε ϰαι πϱοαιϱεσις, ἀγαθου τινος ἰφιεσθαι δοαεῖ·—Aristotle’s Ethics.—The simple meaning is—No action without a motive.
Nil in intellectu quod non prius in sensu.—Aristotle.—Quere, where!—Developed and applied by Locke.
Fiat experimentum.—Bacon.—Applied by others to Mechanics and Chemistry.
Quodlibet cum quolibet.—Bentham.—Applicable more particularly to Chemistry; but thence to psychological subjects likewise. (See vol. viii. p. 276.)
Association Principle.—Hartley.—The bond of connexion between ideas and language; and between ideas and ideas.
Greatest Happiness Principle.—Priestley.—Applied to every branch of morals in detail, by Bentham: a part of the way previously by Helvetius.*
Aphorisms Comprehensive and Concise.
All-comprehensive mode of division.—Applied continually by Bentham: the germ of it in Porphyrius’s Εισαγωγη to Aristotle’s Logic.
Eadem natura eadem nomenclatura.—Bentham.—A specific against obscurity and ambiguity in law language.
Ideis diversis vocabula diversa.—Bentham.—Counter-part to the preceding.
When sleeps injustice, so may justice sleep.—Bentham too; or
Intercommunity of jurisdiction universal.—Bentham.
On the 12th September, 1827, I went with Mr Bentham to see Mr Hill’s establishment at Bruce castle. He examined it in much detail. He saw everything looking orderly, and everybody seeming happy; so he was delighted with all. The old man on coming away wished to give a kiss to his hostess,—“Not before so many witnesses,” said she; “Then you sha’n’t have it,” answered Bentham, laughingly.
We went to dine with the Grotes at Hendon,—a most rare adventure. I forget for how many years he had not dined out of his house. His mind was full of the aberrations of the Spanish and Portuguese revolutionists, who were nearly as busy in checking the expression of public opinion as the despots they had superseded,—“Sad evidence of weakness, or of dishonesty, or both,” said he: “of weakness, in fearing that discussion which would be their best protection: of dishonesty, in repressing the outbreaks of opinion, lest it should go beyond them.”
Of Bentham’s style of conversation, and the manner in which he combined instruction with playfulness, I will give a few examples, recording what passed verbatim:—
Scene,—Before going to bed.
“Do you want a valet, in any shape?” He was beginning to undress.
“No! no! no! no!” louder and louder. “I have told you all the shapes in which I want a valet. Go on with your own business.”
“Do you know that Grote got turtle-soup, to honour your visit to-day?”
“It was very well for you,—it was wasted upon me: anything does for me.—I was sorry to see it.—It was a snug little place.”
“And the people so happy in it.”
“Yes! a most happy couple,—very happy, excellent creatures.—Never you mind me.—Go on with your own stuff. (I was reading at his table.)—There is nothing for you to look at. (Bentham generally showed me the work he had been doing in the day.)—Oh, how well I was off at Hendon for society! I was near the farmers’ rooms, and heard through the partitions the cheerfulness of the human voice.—Of how many things we talk! Like Cæsar with his four secretaries; but in his time, when writing was so slow, with their angular letters, it was not so difficult. Strange, that running writing should have been discovered so late,—and the Arabic numerals too.—What shocking perplexity in the Roman numerals!—It would have been better if the form had been duodecimal instead of decimal.”
“Why should not all intellectual ideas be communicated by figures,—as musical ideas are by notes, and arithmetical by cyphers?—Might there not be a written universal language if not a spoken one?”
“It is too late to talk on the subject now. It is worth serious thought: we will talk of it when we are vibrating in the garden.”
I mentioned the name of some German lawyer who had been calling on me.
“Ah! the Germans can only inquire about things as they were. They are interdicted from inquiring into things as they ought to be.”
Niebuhr’s Roman History was discussed. In his boyhood, Bentham would have thought that to prove the fabulousness, or non-existence, of such men as Romulus or Numa, was a poor service done to society. Afterwards he looked on, as public benefactors, all those who dispersed delusions, and made historical truth more clear. He referred to the Cloacæ of Rome, as evidence of the high antiquity of the city, as no doubt they are.
Something connected with the war in Greece, was referred to, and the name of Thrace came on the carpet.
“How angry I was in my boyhood with Xenophon, who, when he escaped from the remote parts of Asia, hired himself to an obscure king of Thrace. It was a sad termination. Hume, in his ‘Essays,’ made some use of Xenophon. He was a cunning fellow: he got the protection of the Church, by letting Church lands at Delphi; and so was respected by all the belligerent powers.”
“When did you first read Herodotus?”
“When I was at Queen’s College, Oxford. I took to it of myself—it was not suggested to me by my tutor. I was indebted to him (the tutor) for the Porphyrian Tree, which gave me the foundation of Logical Tactics.* It has been of unspeakable use to me. He gave us the diagram, and made us copy it, melancholy monk as he was. Herodotus amused me, though I read it for the sake of saying I had read it. I read through seventy folio pages in one day. My habit was, when I came to a word that was new to me, to clap it down. Of course the words set down, became fewer and fewer; and it was a great delight to me to read on through 50 pages, without finding a word to set down. Herodotus is very easy. Thucydides was the worst of all. Polybius hard too. I did not read either at school—no prose—nothing but Homer. Herodotus seemed a prodigiously great name—a swelling sounding name.”
“Won’t you tāke our tēa whĭle ’tīs hōt, Sīr!” said I, without perceiving I had given the words the cadence of verse; and he retorted—
“I’ll dō ăs I līke ăbōut thāt, Sīr! odd as it may seem to you.”
“Why did you play the tyrant over me the other day?” “How Sir?”—“You came in and excluded me from conversing with Fonblanque.” “No! I only came because I was summoned.”—“Yes! you were summoned to come, but not summoned to stay. You asked me about being my valet.—I checked your ambition, Sir! Had you been my valet, I should say to you: The nocturnal valedictory duties are three; or, as Major Cartwright would say; ‘three-fold’: 1st, The winding-up my watch—2d, The depositing of my watch in its proper place; and, 3d, The exudation of the candle from my bedroom. The world would come to an end, if any of these were omitted. There would be a horrible crash! They are together a trinoda necessitas.”
“The house was haunted the other night, either by thieves, or wind, or ghosts. There was a great noise. Knocks repeated near the cupboard, where the plate is kept. I thought it was useless for me to disturb myself; and as daylight always drives away the ghosts, and commonly the thieves, I rather wished for day, and it came. What alarmed me the more was, I thought Jack was gone. He surprised me when he came in. I mentioned it to Anne, who never confesses anything; and therefore I could not learn anything about it.”—“Was there not,” said I, “a report abroad that this was a haunted house?” “No, indeed, Mr B.! no, indeed! do not prejudice this house. It was No. 17 that was haunted, not No. 2; and No. 17 could not be let. Perhaps it was exorcised by the parish priest; for there has been no ghost there for twenty years.”
“Now let me tell you a ghost story!” “No, that shall you not. I have had too much plague with ghost stories. The judgment is sometimes enslaved by the imagination.”
Bo.—“Now, let’s to our work. A little auto-bĭography.”
B.—“No! that sha’n’t you. Bīography if you will, but no other ography, and that not now. I really don’t wonder at people quarrelling about opinions, when I feel what wounds a slight difference of pronunciation inflicts. But you must wait. I am always dilating. You are for proceeding to business. I must vibrate about a little.”
Bo.—“Have you seen Merrivale’s book on the Chancery Court?”*
B.—“I like that Merrivale. His book is a sort of half-way house. It will lead the people on. He is against codification in one line, and for it in another. He treats the poor stuff of Lord Redesdale with great gravity.”
Bo.—“The confused state of our laws baffles all foreigners who try to write about them.”
B.—“Dumont could never form any the least conception of our law. He was utterly incapable of doing so: so he avoided the subject as much as he could.”
Bo.—“So much the better, perhaps. It is well that philosophical principles should be disentangled from the intricacy of our law practice. Men will get hold of a sounder legal faith when released from the current creeds.”
B.—“Ay, but the heretics! I should have too much trouble in killing all the heretics. I had better kill myself.”
Bo.—“Did you ever take interest in the controversy as to the authorship of Junius?”
B.—“I think I heard that Lloyd was spoken of as the author of the Letters; but I never examined the subject. I used to imagine that Burke was the writer. He had motive enough for concealing it during George the Third’s lifetime. I met Burke once at Phil. Metcalf’s. He gave me great disgust. It was just at the dawn of the French Revolution. I imagined everybody would acknowledge it was desirable that a bridle should be put on despotic power. All that Burke retorted was in a word—‘Faction:’ and he was very angry at the idea of any bridle being put upon the king. Wyndham was also there. We spoke about Evidence. He did not relish my views, nor see that Evidence was but means to be made subordinate to an end,—truth and justice. Metcalf told me that Burke and Wyndham had a project for inviting me to their house. It was never realized. They discovered, perhaps, the train of my thoughts was of too popular a character. When Burke was shown the Panopticon project, he said, ‘Yes! there’s the keeper,—the spider in his web.’ Always imagery; but when Burke wrote the Annual Register, he did not mention the Panopticon among the useful suggestions of the day. I was wonderfully taken with his political pamphlets: their eloquence—their dignity—their superiority to others. At that time I was accustomed to contrast Wilkes and Burke, and to think of Wilkes as a dirty, rascally fellow, while Burke was everything that was noble and high-minded.”
Bo.—“Did you ever meet Lord North?”
B.—“Yes! once, in a narrow lane, with his daughter. It was when my father sent me a courting on a cock-horse. I was moved to speak to him, and to say, ‘Mine is an American horse that eats fruit;’ but timidity overcame me, and I said nothing.”
B.—“At one time of my life he was an object of great veneration to me. Several friends wished to establish an intimacy; but there was no special motive for it. He was against Radical reform of the law. He was against codification. He was both shallow and ignorant—a mere party man. He was a member of a chess club with Dr Fordyce. Fox had in him the spirit of gaming and of trickery. In his latter days he became fond of botany, which would have been to me a recommendation and an attraction.”
Bo.—“Did you ever see much of Wedderburn?”
B.—“I met Wedderburn at Lind’s* —a cold, starched fellow, frigid and proud. He was remarkably taciturn,—would give dinners, and not utter a syllable the whole time. The most tongue-tied, hesitating speech I ever heard in my days was one from him, in the Court of King’s Bench: and then he had a silk gown upon his back. He had a fine bass voice. Coldness and caution are common with lawyers. Blackstone was all caution and coldness. Blackstone’s status will remain,—his memory will remain,—but his Commentaries will be forgotten.”
Bo.—“But they gave birth to the Fragment.”
B.—“Was it not odd that Lord Mansfield took no notice of me? He talked of the Fragment in high strains of admiration: but he could not tolerate my popular tendencies. He might have liked my style better than my principles. I saw a letter written by Erskine when he was an officer in the army: it complained of insufficient pay. That letter was characterized by something different from common writing, though it had many defects, of which he afterwards got rid. When the Fragment was published, Erskine sought me out. One of our common acquaintances was O’Byrne, who was afterwards an Irish bishop; but in those days used to dangle about Dr Burton. This O’Byrne I remember driving an iron skewer through the hand of his black servant. Erskine I met sometimes at Dr Burton’s. He was so shabbily dressed as to be quite remarkable. He was astonished when I told him I did not mean to practise. I remember his calling on me and not finding me at home: he wrote his name with chalk on my door. We met, in 1802, going from Brighton to Dieppe. He did not recognise me, nor I him. He was rattling away about the king, and the books he read; but it was only at Paris that I discovered who my companion was.”
B.—“(General) Bolivar wrote to me very flattering letters. He said I had reduced matters of legislation to mathematical certainty. I introduced Hall to him when he went to Colombia, and Bolivar made him a colonel.”
“But are you aware that Bolivar has prohibited your writings? Their liberal principles are hostile to his despotic designs.”
B.—“His despotism cannot tolerate the greatest-happiness principle. He must put the judge out of the way before whose tribunal he trembles—and, unhappily, he has power to do so. Buonaparte was in the same state of mind. Talleyrand put into his hand, one afternoon, the Traités de Legislation: next morning it was returned to him, and Buonaparte said,—‘Ah! c’est un ouvrage de genie’—‘ ’Tis a work of genius;’ but never, as far as I know, did he mention it again: indeed it could not answer his purposes.”
“Had you ever any correspondence with Buonaparte?”
B.—“Not directly!—but when the Code Napoleon was projected, they wrote to me for assistance. Talleyrand always spoke favourably of me. He said of the Traité—‘Ils eclaircira bien des Biblioteques.’—‘They will throw much light upon libraries.’ When I went to Paris, he asked me why I had not gone to visit him? I dared not—I was not at home. He is, without exception, the coldest character I ever met with.”
Bo.—“How were you first introduced to Lord Lansdowne?”
B.—“It was in 1781. I was living in my dog-hole in the Temple,—in obscurity, perfect obscurity, when a person entered and said he was Lord Shelburne. He began to laud the Fragment most outrageously, and invited me to his house; but my bashfulness and my pride prevented my going there. At last, after many weeks, I went and staid some time. I was a great favourite with the ladies; and Lord Shelburne made several attempts to induce me to marry some member of his family.”
Bo.—“Why did he not bring you into Parliament?”
B.—“He almost promised to do so; and I reproached him for inconsistency towards me—not that he violated a positive understanding, but his conduct, I thought, was insincere. I wrote to him a letter,* and said there were two classes of men, the first, those who would put forward the really great and superior minds who agreed with them in opinion—and those who would only advance the crouching and inferior minds, who pretended to agree: preferring the subserviency of ignorance, to the support of high-minded intelligence, which refused absolute subservience. He said, that I had written just such a letter as Lord Bacon would have written to the Duke of Buckingham.
“His two principal men were Dunning and Barré. Dunning had fine talents, but very imperfect information. Barré no knowledge, but the knowledge of party,—he used only the language of party,—he had no desire to see reform or improvement in any shape. He understood nothing of the philosophy of government.
“I remember a curious partie quarré, consisting of Pitt, his elder brother, another, and myself. They stayed at Bowood some days.—I one day rode out with Pitt, and we talked over Indian affairs. I had just been reading an unpublished pamphlet,—and Bailey (an E. I. Director) said he wondered where I had got so much knowledge,—so much more than he had got. Yet I had only read that pamphlet, and really knew little about it. Pitt was like a great school-boy,—scorning, and sneering, and laughing at everything and everybody,—in terms of great insolence and pretence.
“I regretted prodigiously that I did not make a more intimate acquaintance with the Duke of Grafton. He might have been very useful. He was then much influenced by a Unitarian parson, one Roger Williams.”
Bentham, as I have mentioned above, suffered much from a cutaneous complaint, the itching of which caused a perpetual irritation. He said to me once, during the annoyance of this visitation, “Do you ever dream?—I dream of a city, the whole of whose inhabitants have no other enjoyments than seeking to free themselves from the suffering which itching occasions.—When I am in good health, I dream that I am a master among disciples.”
His gentle and loveable spirit vibrated to every little pleasantry, and responded to it with infinite good humour. One day, talking of his visit to France, in 1802, he said, “You know Brissot had been giving me reputation.” “Nay,” said I, “Brissot had lost his head.” “So! ho! you think you have hooked me. If his head were off then, I suppose his head was on once. You are sharp at detecting me; and if you prove, Mr Logician! that he was dead then, will that prove he was not alive before?”
He sometimes feigned to be in a violent rage. I once heard him shout out, “I cannot find the letter. Curses! fury! rage! despair! I am seriously apprehensive I have sent the villain away with the wrong letter!” In all this there was not the slightest real passion; it was intended to make cursing and swearing ridiculous.
When I told him that my mother’s father, who was a Church of England divine, would never, had he been living, have consented that his daughter should marry a Dissenter, he said, “So that, if your grandfather had not died before you were born, you never would have been born at all. I owe him hundred-weights of gré for dying.”
One day, when he “had been vituperating himself,” as he called it, for having forgotten something which, after all, he had remembered, he said, “Now must I put on hypothetical sackcloth and ashes.”
The wind had blown over the milk-pot. “Oh,” said he, “the milk-pot has quarrelled with Æolus, and Æolus has given him a cross-buttock and absolutely overturned him.”
When Rivadavia, the Buenos Ayres minister, dined at his table, he (a not uncommon trick of foreigners) spat on the carpet. Up rose Bentham, ran into his bedroom, brought out a certain utensil, and placed it at his visiter’s feet, saying, “There, Sir, there—spit there.”
When Bentham’s peculiar playfulness of conversation assumed an appearance of solemnity, it became irresistible:—
“Do you know Mr A., or Mr B.?”
“Now, I’m in a rage. I could throw you out of the window for asking whether I know this man, or that man; and forcing me to confess that I do not know them. Why do you lay traps for exposing my ignorance?”
“Lord E. is very angry at what you said of him.”
“He is very angry! Well, a man must not be allowed to do mischief, because he is very angry.
“When Orlando, the Greek Deputy, dined with me, I told him that Homer learnt his Greek at Westminster School. He stared, but did not understand the joke at all. He thought it was even a piece of gross ignorance on my part—ignorance, which politeness required him not to notice—and nothing more.
“I was a boy when I read my uncle Woodward’s monument. How little did I dream that I should live to be 80, and be lord of Queen’s Square Place! Ay! Lord Queen’s Square Place shall be my title. Some have profanely said Queen’s Place, which is very wicked.
“I never could swim—I never could whistle. I have no reason to complain. I am stronger now, than I was at the most vigorous period of life. I suffer nothing from sitting up late—nor lying in bed late in the morning.
“I now constantly dream at night, of what I have been occupied during the day. But everything presents itself in a delabré shape; and I have always fancies about my linen being out of order,—of a want of supply, and the impossibility of getting it.
“If a Bentham does not snore, he is not legitimate. My father snored, and my mother snored; and if my nephew does not snore, he is an impostor.”
Speaking of the number of men of the legal profession in the Congress of the United States, I said, “The lawyers will out-talk the non-lawyers.” “Yes,” answered he, “but by and by the non-lawyers will out-vote the lawyers. They will overturn them with the Book of Fallacies. All their nonsense, is it not written in the Book of Fallacies?”
There was a great drollery and humorous exaggeration in some of Bentham’s expressions, particularly when he was vexed. Once I found he had mislaid a paper. “Now,” said he, “I am in a state of hypochondriasm and rage. The devil must have conveyed the thing away.”
Dr Macculloch annoyed Bentham by a not uncommon trick of opening his pocket-handkerchief wide before his host. “Nay, Doctor, nay! put up that flag of abomination: cure yourself of that filthy, snuffy trick of yours.”
“What business has he to say ‘Grace?’ He has no ‘Grace’ at home. From what bishop has he received it?”
I have collected, almost at random, from my multitudinous memoranda, sentences of Bentham’s conversation, which, either for their sportiveness, their wisdom—or, in a word, their Benthamic character, appear to me to be worth preserving.
“I have made a list of names which, in English, mean judges, and have found out seventeen already.”
“The remedies for evils are often indicated by the character of the evil; but for many there is no remedy.”
“What a pleasant feeling it is to have the mastery of a whole subject!—to grasp it in one’s arms. And even supposing there were no great advantage in taking all-comprehensiveness, there are some all-comprehensive words which are excellent instruments—as good and evil—the genera generalissima. One gets forward with a firm tread—benefits and burthens—and service correspondent to benefit. These fill the field. Acts, positive and negative; but if you confine yourself to the stock of words commonly in use, you will be in the state of the Chinese. Without new words, you cannot have new ideas to any considerable extent. Newton did almost everything by one new word—‘Fluxions’—he introduced a new element—the element of motion. I was at a fault myself when I stumbled upon ‘utility:’ and this was imperfect till I found ‘greatest happiness’* in Priestley, who did not turn it into a system, and who knew nothing of its value. He had not connected with happiness the ideas of pleasure and pain.”
The expense of justice was the subject of conversation. “The present cost is intolerable, and wholly unnecessary,” he said: “a large part might be wholly suppressed—and another portion should be borne by the public. Punish the mala fide—encourage the bona fide suitor. Seek the best evidence first,—the evidence of the parties concerned,—the evidence of those who know most about the matter. Minimize by local judicature the charges of obtaining the best evidence: you thus avoid the cost of journey and of demurrage. The Court of Chancery examines defendants in the suits under its jurisdiction. Courts of conscience.—Courts of conscience examine parties as witnesses. These courts are badly constituted, from the unfitness of the Judges, and from their levying fees, which fall especially on the poor, who cannot pay for justice. But in this country, justice is sold, and dearly sold,—and it is denied to him who cannot disburse the price at which it is purchased.
“The expenses of suits should be defrayed by those who are in the wrong. They should fall heavily on those who are in the wrong with evil consciousness—and lightly on those who are mistakenly wrong.
“But now, the evils of expense are added to the wrongs of the injured; and injustice holds in its hands instruments of boundless vexation.
“Under a proper system, a small part of the expenses incurred in litigation would defray all the costs of justice.
“If, to be an Anti-Slavist is to be a saint, saintship for me!—I am a saint!
“I should like to invite a Yankee and a negro, a lord and a beggar, to my table.”
“Evidence.—In matters of evidence, a thing’s being true is of little importance, unless you can show it to be true. The knowledge of its being true will serve as ground for your own opinion, but not for the opinion of anybody else.”
“Statute Law.—Earl Stanhope, the queer man who died some time ago, said that he had done what no man ever did—he had read the Statutes at large. On turning them over, I found a curious fact, that in Henry the VIth.’s time the judges had laid a plot for getting all the land in the kingdom, (like the priests,) by outlawing all whom they liked—with great formalities always, but no grounds. The abuse was got rid of by somebody declaring that this should not be done. There was no indignation. It was a fine run for the attempt, when everything was in confusion, and the judges the only permanent authority. This is a curious fact to beat the heads of the lawyers with, when they talk of ‘the ancient common law,’ ‘virtuous judges,’ and so forth.”
“In Homer, Menelans is asked whether he was a pirate or robber! To suppose that a man had advanced himself by force was not taken amiss. In these days it is no reproach to ask, ‘Are you a lawyer?’—which is to say, Have you advanced yourself by fraud? But the time will come when it will be as disreputable to have made way by the arts of the lawyer, as it is now considered to have made way by the arts of the thief.”
1827—28. Æt. 79—80.
Opinions on Style, Collocation, and Accent.—Opinion on Contemporaries: Peel, Cobbett, Owen, Rammohun Roy. G. Dyer, Priestley, Napoleon, Eldon, &c.—His Secretaries.—Correspondence.—Neal.—Brougham.—Colonel Young and Lord W. Bentinck on East India Affairs.—Letter to the King of Bavaria.—Memoranda of Conversation on Miscellaneous Subjects.—Brougham’s Law Reforms.—Letter to Rammohun Roy.—Catholics and Dissenters.—Mina.—O’Connell and Law and Parliamentary Reform.—Felix Bodin.—Chamberlain Clark.
Bentham’s style of composition was the result of the most profound attention, and of a desire to make words the instruments for conveying the most correct notions of thoughts. For clearness of conception, Bentham was always employed in seeking clearness of expression. When language failed to present to him an appropriate instrument for the communication of his ideas, he hesitated not to create one. It has been said of him, that he used the English tongue ungracefully and harshly; and yet it would be difficult to find expressions more apt than those he employed for the enunciation of his views. His opinions on the subject of language always appeared to me both original and philosophical; and I shall therefore record them in the same shape in which, from time to time, they fell from his lips:—
“In the collocation of words, too little attention is paid to the sense. You have frequently to travel through a sentence before you come to the sense. The principal word of the sentence, the subject of what is predicated, should be presented to view in the first instance. Any word which is the subject-matter of a clause, should be embedded in the clause to which it belongs.
“The three sorts of class-qualifying, or modifying particles, are the negative, the limitative or restrictive, and the ampliative. To these the proper considerations of collocation should be specially applied.
“Another matter is to avoid interblending the description of the exceptions with the rule, which is an absolute torment to the reader. When exceptions are excepted, they can be arranged under the heads of 1, 2, &c.; and so be referred to over and over again, if necessary.
“No impropriety of language is ever wilfully committed, but for the sake of poetry.
“Tabular views are crutches to help on my crippled faculties. Artificial hands to stand in stead of natural. My natural faculties were so weak that they wanted all these supports.
“If I had been born to a despotic throne, I would have had two prisons built for those who mispronounce the ì, by introducing it after the place it occupies, as you do noeis, (noise;) or before, as Jack does in tiune, (tune.) For punishment, you should be tied together, back to back, Mazentius like; or as nature has tied her Siamese twins.
“In the Edinburgh Review, the words ‘Frappant proof’ are employed. The popular or fashionable neology imposes not the labour of obtaining conception of new thoughts.
“Accent is of great importance in pronunciation. The word which presents the greatest demand for attention, should be the word of emphasis. In composition, the subject-matter should be announced as soon as possible—at the beginning of the sentence—so will the matter become more prominent and clear.
“There is a wicked habit of putting the accents on wrong syllables, on wrong words, on adjectives and adverbs instead of substantives, and in compound nouns on the unimportant, instead of the important word.
“I cannot tolerate your dēsignate—dēmonstrate. All etymology of late—all prosody is confounded. So, again, you put the adjective before the substantive, giving the adjective the emphasis, though it is the least important. You say hundred weight, instead of hundred weight. To make a dactyl saves the time indeed, but confuses the meaning. Again, in two substantives, why farm-house, instead of farm-house, which contrasts with farm-yard. We may as well do as the French do—an equal accent for all words. I hate, too, your i—intruding itself before u—produce, news—prodiuce, niews. I do not like to think of all the wickedness of pronunciation. It will (with great gravity) bring the world to an end.”
He one day said, “William Belsham is a passionate, undiscerning historian.” “Undiszerning?” I asked. “No, Sir: I said no such thing. I wish all heretically-pronouncing persons had but one neck—and then—”
On another occasion, “I hate your sneaking z, its dizzing sound. The s has only a transitory sibilance—to hear these things is one of the sufferings old age dooms man to undergo.”
“I use a substantive where others use a verb. A verb slips through your fingers like an eel,—it is evanescent: it cannot be made the subject of predication—for example, I say, to give motion instead of to move. The word motion can thus be the subject of consideration and predication: so the subject-matters are not crowded into the same sentence,—when so crowded they are lost—they escape the attention as if they were not there. In codification everything is of importance. When I have written my code, I shall give the reason for the different formulæ—example—‘exceptions excepted.’—In the common way they are huddled together—one in the belly of another; in my form they come one after another, and the reader is invited to consider whether there may not be other exceptions.
“Peel’s manufacturers have taken in hand the endeavour to do away with some of the common repetitions and surplusages, such as the enunciation of different sexes,—the singular and plural, and so forth: but they do not see to the bottom of it. There are many cases where both singular and plural must be used, where the predication is either individual or collective.
“I have received a report from the United States on the disbanding of the army, which is just my slang, — the words, ‘Public-Opinion Tribunal’ — ‘sanctions,’ and so forth. It shows how much more real power a democratic government really possesses for a good end.
“What a whimsical collocation is this—(I do not remember the author.) ‘His exertions to relieve the king from his habitual vices, which were probably well intended, and proceeded from a sincere regard to his welfare’—a substantive should never be introduced between a relative and its antecedent.
“In a great many instances, ignorant people, instead of instructed people, have set the tone of pronunciation. I am sorry the world is not made of combustible matter, that I might set it on fire—hollow the earth—fill it with gun-powder—give me a match—what a noble fire-work it would make in the firmament!
“ ‘And into chaos pulverise the world.’
There! a line from the finest tragedy that was ever written—Chro-non-hoton-tho-lo-gos—a line of which is full of emphasis, though it only consists of a name—
“ ‘Aldiborontiphoscophornio.’ ”
Bentham rendered many services to the English language by the invention and adoption of new words and locutions. Some of these have already become classical, such as international, codify, codification, maximize, minimize, maximization, minimization, and many besides.
Others, such as forthcomingness, anteprandial, uncontradictable, though not accepted by public opinion, will, hereafter, when their value is felt, be probably recognised as useful auxiliaries to thought.
Some of his peculiar phrases were merely humorous and grotesque. His rule, as observed above, was, instead of a verb alone, to employ generally a noun in conjunction with it, for the purpose of dividing them for convenient use; and he frequently burlesqued his own theory. He would say “make-ringtion,” instead of “ring” the bell.
In his choice of words, Bentham was most particular. When I said to him once, “Did nothing of the sort occur to you in after-life?” “What do you mean by after-life?” he retorted. “Use no preposition, when you can find an adjective.”
He would use the phrases, “opulent mutton,” for “rich mutton;” “virtuous soup,” for “good soup;” “plausible potatoes,” for “tolerably good potatoes.”
Bentham excused the employment of his parenthetical style, by the argument, that a parenthesis enables a writer to avoid those objections to a general principle, which grow out of a particular exception.
Bentham’s opinions of some of his contemporaries, I record in his own words:—
“Peel is weak and feeble. He has been nursed at the breast of Alma Mater. Like the greyhounds of a lady I know, which were fed upon brandy to prevent their growth, so he feeds upon old prejudices to prevent his mind from growing. He has done all the good he is capable of doing, and that is but little. He has given a slight impulse to law improvement in a right direction.”
“The Whigs, during their short reign, instituted a Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at Edinburgh, which Canning left out as of no use. That was Oxford! How shallow! Canning and Peel are birds of the same feather.”
“Cobbett is a man filled with odium humani generis. His malevolence and lying are beyond anything.”
“Robert Owen begins in vapour, and ends in smoke. He is a great braggadoccio. His mind is a maze of confusion, and he avoids coming to particulars. He is always the same—says the same things over and over again. He built some small houses; and people, who had no houses of their own, went to live in those houses—and he calls this success.”
“Rammohun Roy has cast off thirty-five millions of gods, and has learnt from us to embrace reason in the all-important field of religion.”
“George Dyer’s book on the Constitution, is full of cringes and congés upon paper. A book without a subject or an object.”
“Dr Priestley was no favourite of mine. I thought him cold and assuming. He annoyed me by treating Dr Fordyce as an ignorant man. Now, I worshipped Dr Fordyce on account of his chemical knowledge. He knew everything that was then known. Dr Priestley assumed that he had made discoveries which were no discoveries; for example, the muriatic acid in a gaseous shape. He professed to have found it, but it was found by Van Hamel two hundred years ago.”
“I had once a good opinion of Napoleon: and as a French citizen I voted for his being Consul for life. I do not distinctly remember the grounds which induced me to do this: I thought it was the least evil.
“Buonaparte’s Code was only for despots. Talleyrand said my law projects were works of genius, but not adapted for purposes of tyranny.”
“Brougham.—Insincere as he is, it is always worth my while to bestow a day on him.
“I shall try to subdue him, and make something of him. I shall see whether he has any curiosity to assist in tearing the established system of procedure to rags and tatters.
“I am going off the stage. Brougham keeps on. When I am in the grave I shall have the advantage over him. He will, perhaps, disappoint me. Nothing so bad to be conceived of any man for which I am not prepared from any man.”
Bentham was much delighted with Brougham’s phrase, “The schoolmaster is abroad.” How comprehensive,—he said,—how expansive—how eloquent—how appropriate that word, abroad!
“Judge Richardson would have gone farther with law reform, but he was stopped by the Attorney and Solicitor General.
“B— says, that it is understood that Best makes all the rout he is making in order to be troublesome, so that he may get to be Chancellor of Ireland, with a peerage.”
“The Bishop of Llandaff, in the Lords’ debates, (of 16th May, 1817,) insinuating that Catholics’ oaths are not to be trusted,—think of this, and contrast with it the proof given in ‘Swear not,’ of universal perjury in Oxford men, and indifference to perjury in Cambridge men.”
“One day I met Eldon at Wilberforce’s. He had got into a controversy with a man, who was greatly his inferior, on the subject of law reform; and Eldon had a triumph. I took no part in the argument, but ventured on a joke or two, of which Eldon took no notice. I do not think he understood them.
“Eldon’s eloquence is gossiping. Ellenborough’s is commanding: it is fierce and atrocious, the object of my abomination.
“There is a pretty Tory trinity of Scott’s. The two lawyers and Sir Walter.”
Bentham thus estimated the character of Sir W. Jones: “He was considerably above the par of lawyers; but his mind was narrow, and his tout-ensemble disagreeable.”
I mentioned to Bentham that Sir R—W— was going to Florence. “He can do no good here—he can do no harm there: so let him go,” was his reply.
Speaking of a gentleman, whose usefulness had been greatly diminished by a too earnest pursuit of his own particular objects, Bentham said, “He is wholly under the influence of narrow interested feelings, antipathy and selfishness included. He hates the ruling few; but he does not love the subject many.”
“Lyseen’s book on Italy is a very curious book. In talking of their superstitions, it appears by one line, as if he believed them—and another, as if he scorned them; but the facts he has collected are most valuable, and scattered over the book in prodigious numbers.”
“The Pursuits of Literature are sad trash, written in the worst spirit by a trumpery author.”
“D— is close as an oyster. He should be called Osterius, like the man in Fleet Street, who wrote his name in huge letters, and took so much merit to himself for having reduced the price of oysters. He is close, and will be close to the end of his life.”
“B—, why does not B— avail himself of the facts I brought forward? Did not Lord Tenterden turn a blind eye, and a deaf ear, to them? It is natural the Judges should seek their own interest. See Lord Eldon, how he sets Acts of Parliament at nought; and the others practising monstrous extortions. If there had been any incorrectness in my statements, O I should have had it thick and threefold!”
Bentham had a succession of secretaries, many of whom have been distinguished in various professions after they left him, and of their different characters he often liked to talk. This is a sketch of one or two of them, verbatim from his lips:—
“C.’s father was a mechanic of the gentleman class, at Birmingham. He invented a pump for the navy, with some improvements. He engaged in partnership, made many pumps for the government, and much money out of them. My brother’s acquaintance with the father, led to my connexion with the son, who became my amanuensis. The father was a very interesting personage, and he had a beautiful house at Greenwich, whence there was a high and expansive view, and I had hope of having it for my Panopticon,—a magnificent instrument with which I then dreamed of revolutionizing the world. C. had two sons, Charles, the oldest, and Edward. They distinguished themselves at Westminster School. Charles married very early, a lady with a good fortune. His misfortune was, his getting acquainted with a man who was a drunken fellow, and he caught from him the contagion of drunkenness. Edward came to me. He was a remarkably placid, kind-hearted young man,—most remarkably so,—vastly kind and sensible. He had a disposition to study. I inoculated him with my fondness for chemistry, which I had acquired by looking into German books occasioually. He became fond of chemistry, and taught himself German. I communicated to him my brother’s notions, and my own, on the subject of posology, as to the means of forming a conception of a proposition without a diagram, on which the ideas were only individual, so that a man might have the individual without the general ideas.* He attended to this, and studied Hamilton’s Conic Sections, and went through the whole without the use of a diagram. I could not keep him long, and to my great regret indeed. Parting was a great grief to me. He put his going on his mother. I suppose he was ennuyé. He must needs go into the army, and went to the Cape, and other places. The army did him no good. He afterwards got hold of Southey, who bedevilled him entirely. He deteriorated sadly. He was quartered in Scotland, where he became acquainted with the family of a rich physician of the name of W—. Mrs W— had no children, but she had a niece, whom she brought up as if she had been her daughter. C. found such favour in their sight, that he married this niece. In process of time they quarrelled. His temper was totally changed.—I owed to him my acquaintance with Dr Macculloch, in 1794. As I said, he married this woman. I was musical,—she was musical,—and he was desirous of our meeting. I had then begun to shut myself up, and I declined it. Some eight or ten years ago he called to see me, for the express purpose of converting me to servilism. He had heard of my having intercourse with the U.S.; and spoke in terms of the utmost insolence, contempt, and abhorrence of the U.S. He assumed that I was quite gone wrong, and that a few words from him were to convert me. I gave Macculloch to understand, that there was no great use in his coming again. I thought it not unlikely, that if he came to live with me I could reconvert him, but there was no time for that. He talked with the utmost respect and affection of what I was, but said I had sadly fallen off. He hoped I should see matters in their proper point of view, and abandon those extravagant and mischievous notions with which I was impregnated. His father had inherited an estate of £500 a-year, from an ancestor of the name of Smith,—and had the estate called Sandhurst, purchased by government for the military college. He gave me once a loaf, which reminded me of my boyhood, and I kept it till it grew green, during Panopticon distress.”
“—’s eldest brother had no introduction to me. He became, I believe, a purser in a small vessel, which, touching at a watering-place in Kent, he met Mrs H. and married her. She had £400 to £500 a-year. Her only daughter died in her arms, who intended to have left her a large portion of the estate, but before the pen could be put into her hands, she died.”
“— — came when his brother went. He was a quick, ready fellow, but had no judgment. My brother used to say, ‘His mind is the child of your mind,’ but no! he is of no opinion, or of anybody’s opinion—but he is quick and has plenty of business. He lived here five summers, while I was at Ford Abbey with his gang of relations, during which I allowed him £100 a-year, but I could not endure his having all the mob here, and I put an end to it. He got acquainted with a family of the name of —, the father a lieutenant in the navy. They were of good family, and had some property. He was very glad to be admitted, and married one of the daughters. He has a monstrous number of children.
“There was a man of the name of —, who had a patent of some sort. In Devonshire was a mine of marble, which he bought, and went on working this mine of marble. — had such an opinion of it, that he took an interest, and engaged his brother to sell his wife’s dowry for £2000 to invest. I adventured, and lost £8000, and £2000 of my brother’s. Place said it would have succeeded, if properly managed. I believe the money, after all, was not paid for the mine, and the man went out of his mind.”
“My brother made acquaintance with the father of the —’s—a man of cleverness and experience, and a head on his shoulders. He got an appointment in one of the dock-yards. He had two sons, W— and T—. I took W— first, who was with me two or three years. He was forward, but cold, yet I once drew tears from his eyes. He became reporter to the Chronicle, which was his making. T— was a good boy, who died young. They had a cousin, whose name was H—, and who lived with me the first and second years of my being at Ford Abbey—a queer fellow: a stiff, innoxious, inoffensive creature, like the master of a college—starched, and fit for a parson. He went to Cambridge—tried for a fellowship—failed—took orders—and is now a curate at P— ;—his father, an opulent tradesman, having bought a living for him.”
John Neal to Bentham.
“Portland,Maine, 25th July, 1827.
“My dear Sir,—
This part of the United States has greatly improved since I was here last, eight years ago; and beyond all belief, since I left it in my boyhood, seventeen years ago. Education is attended to with more zeal throughout New England, I suspect, than anywhere else on earth,—I would not even except the small and populous district of Germany, where universities and colleges are as plentiful as academies are here; and what will gratify you exceedingly—you who are, of a truth, a philanthropist in your views of education, and a philanthropist of neither sex (by which I do not mean to class you with the no-sex of Byron)—is—(you see how much I am indebted to your pill-boxes for the fashion of this paragraph)—is, that here the education of females is attended to as a thing of equal importance with that of males; and that at Boston High School I was actually led to think of you, and of that Hazlewood Institution, which has been so largely indebted to you, and which is now spreading its mild and encouraging influence (though in a secret way, and through a multitude of unconscious channels) over every part of this country; and I could not help saying to myself, how happy it would make the philosopher of Queen’s Square Place, or better yet, the benevolent old man of Q. S. P., whose real character is but just beginning to be understood by about one person in every million of those to the happiness of whom he has devoted his whole life, if he could but stand with me at the desk of the aforesaid High School, and see the cheerful faces below him, a hundred beautiful girls or more, mothers and wives in miniature, all studying as he would have them study, so as to be happier for their intellectual exercise: here a little party undergoing the examination of a grave-looking child, with light eyes and clear complexion, the youngest it might be of the whole class, all of whom appeared as proud of her as we were; and there another tidy, trim-built couple, running a race together side by side in algebra! Think of that, Sir! Think of Jeremy Bentham leaning on his two elbows, and overlooking, from the top of a high desk, with his white hair flowing against his face, at least one hundred young, beautiful, and good human creatures, made happier by the improvements in education, for which he has been labouring so long, and every now and then pairing off to run races, not with hoops and skipping-ropes, (though they are not neglected,) but in algebra! But let me describe this:—Against a wall, there is a large black board, upon which the pupils write in chalk. There is but one school a day, instead of two; but it lasts rather longer than one usually does, and is divided in such a way, that such of the children as like it, may walk about and be happy. Some of them, therefore, do walk about, and prattle over their tasks; but others of a more ambitious temper, contrive to amuse themselves by giving challenges in algebra. Suppose a challenge given and accepted, the combatants pair off to the same spot before the black board: the question is read, and they may begin when they please, either when the reader begins to read, (which makes it a very difficult exercise, though some are very adroit at it,) or after the question has been gone through, in which case the risk of forgetting a part of the terms, may perhaps counterbalance the risk of mistaking them, if you begin before you fully comprehend the whole. The one who gets the answer first wins the race. And such is their inconceivable readiness, that one seldom gets a-head of the other more than a few figures; and I have seen complicated questions done by children of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years, in a few seconds, which would have employed me for half-an-hour, and I used to be thought quick at figures. But I have seen something of this kind with you, at your British and Foreign School Society. The children there did marvellous things, and appeared to be happy; but then that was a show-day, while in the Boston High School for girls it was not a show-day. I happened in, as they say here, by accident; and saw nothing but their every-day exercises. Mr Pierpoint, the Unitarian preacher, of whom you have heard me speak so often and so highly, was, I suspect, one of the two or three who got up this admirable school, which at once has placed our daughters on the same footing as our sons, in all that can materially affect their minds, or materially help them in the education of their children.”
Brougham to Bentham.
“September 22, 1827.
“Know, then—I purpose to get up, (after a week’s notice, and no more, to the Honourable House,) and say, that a self-delusion has gone forth, of all being right at Common Law, because all is somewhat, and but a little more, wrong in Chancery; and therewithal I mean to open my Budget of Legal Common Law enormities—to lift the floodgates of whatever stores I possess or can borrow, (and herein don’t doubt your reservoirs being freely tapped,) of exposition—detail—illustration, homely and refined—attack, invective, sarcasm, irony, broad-joke, and drollery—in short, every kind of attack, not neglecting the pathetic, on our Criminal Code, and Debtor and Creditor Law. I mean, moreover, to carry my motion, not by moving for leave to bring in a code, or even one γϱυ of the said code, for I well know all powers of Church and State are against that; but by moving for a good commission, as good as the charity one was bad; and I know that their report must produce some proofs of changes, and large changes, being required. I thus, by propounding even this as a matter of figures, obtain all the inestimable didactic advantages of the academic, sceptical method—and there is not a part of our law or practice so received and unquestioned that I may not make the subject of discussion. These things coming from a practical man, who is making many thousands a-year by the craft, must have a good effect. And now, to answer your second query—Why out of office is better for this great delivery than in? If I were Attorney or Solicitor General, they would have a right to gag, at least to mitigate me; and I want to be well delivered of my burthen before that happens.—Yours ever.”
Bentham to Brougham.
“Q. S. P., 24th September, 1827.
“My dearest best Boy,—
You are not so much as fifty. I am fourscore—a few months only wanting: I am old enough to be your grandfather. I could at this moment catch you in my arms, toss you up into the air, and, as you fell into them again, cover you with kisses. It shall have—ay, that it shall—the dear little fellow, some nice sweet pap of my own making: three sorts of it—1. Is Evidence. 2. Judicial Establishment. 3. Codification Proposal—all to be sucked in, in the order of the numbers.
“Apropos of the Judiciary Establishment, it may be of use that you should know in the first instance, that, in the course of thirty-six intervening years, that plan has undergone some alterations, or, as Honourable House says,—amendments. Pursuer-general, for example, is become Government Advocate; Defender of the Poor, Eleemosynary Advocate.
“French judges were, out of uncontrollable necessity, then located by the people—mine everywhere, by the Minister of Justice. Patriotic auction, now pecuniary competition, is not conclusive upon his choice—only helps to guide it, &c. &c. Note.—That Judicial Establishment was then, only a part of it, in terminis, the rest, only in general description, and that not completed; now it is in a complete state, and the whole of it in terminis, though, as yet, in MS. only; in which state, if any part of that which is in print finds favour in your eyes, you will see the necessity of seeing it.
“Inter alia, when once the whole field of legislation is covered, as it so surely may be, with a stratum, or edifice, or growth, which you please, of statute law, by an infallible method, I prevent it to all eternity from being choked up in any part of it with a jungle of common, alias Judge-made law, stuffed, as hitherto, everywhere, with tigers and jackalls, by whom, with the addition of a few land-crocodiles of the Eldon breed, (need it be said,) the people are devoured.
“In conclusion, hear grandpapa again, and accept his blessing, which, however, (remember!) is but a conditional one, and conditioned for your continuing as a law reformer till the end of the next session, the same bonus puer which you were on the 22d of this instant September, 1827. Should you become naughty any part of that time, though but in a parenthesis, the Bête Noire shall be set upon you, and will gobble you up at a mouthful, screaming and sputtering notwithstanding.”
Brougham to Bentham.
“October 6, 1827.
Many thanks for the pap, I am already fat on it. I did not acknowledge it, being busy eating it; and saying nothing at meals is the way with us little ones—when hungry.
“I shall be in town next week, late.—Yours dutifully.”
Bentham to Brougham.
“Q. S. P., 9th October, 1827.
“Dear sweet little Poppet,—
If it continues, unus bonus puer, it will toddle hither immediately upon its return; and besides some more pap, made in the same saucepan, it will get fed with some of its own pudding; for a dish there is, which, in the vocabulary of Q. S. P., goes by the name of ‘Master Brougham’s pudding,’ though if, in an indictment for stealing it, it were named by the name of pudding, defendant prisoner would be acquitted, had the whole of the noble army of martyrs kissed their thumbs in proof of the fact.
“Seriously, if you think seriously of making any use of that stuff of mine which you have, it will be material, (as I am sure you will be satisfied,) that you should have the earliest cognizance of a quantity of other stuff that is connected with it.
“At sight of this, employ two words in naming a day when I may expect you. All other engagements shall give way to the one so made. Any day, so named, will accordingly be considered as fixed, without answer on my part.”
“30th November, 1827.
“My dear Boy—
You have now been breeched some time; and, with a little study, you are able, I am sure, to get a short exercise by heart, and speak it quite pretty. Here is one for you: the next time you toddle to Q. S. P., let me hear you say it; and if you say it without missing more than four words, I have a bright silver fourpence for you, which you shall take and put into your pocket.
“When you say it, you are to fancy you are in the House of Commons; that I am Speaker; and you sitting on one of the forms, with a pretty silk gown on your little shoulders, and a fine bushy wig on your little pate; and then you start up, as fierce as a little lion, and say what is in the paper which is here enclosed.
“Do as you are bid—I am sure you can, if you will—and the one I have mentioned is not the last of the silver fourpences you will receive from the hands of your loving guardian,
“Master Henry Brougham.
“P.S.—In some places, you will see various readings marked by brackets. Give my respects to your grandmamma, and beg of her to choose for you which you shall say.”
Bentham to Col. Young.
“December 28, 1827.
“This moment received, and with the delight you may imagine, through Bowring’s lips heard, both your letters, that to him and that to me included. Now comes something which it may be of use to you to hear, and which I venture to send you through him, not thinking it fit to be transmitted through any ordinary amanuensis. Lord William Bentinck, not many days ago, sailed from hence. A few days before his departure, Mill paid me a morning visit, a very unusual thing with him; for, in general, he waits for summons from me. He said he came as the harbinger of good news. For the purpose of bringing him in contact with Lord William, Douglas Kinnaird had made a dinner; but, as his custom was, instead of a tête-à-tête, it was a mob dinner—mob composed of between thirty and forty individuals. However, some way or other, they two were brought into more special contact, and a conversation ensued—the particular import of which I do not remember, except that it ended in the expression of a desire of renewal of acquaintance on the part of Lord William. Now, as Providence had ordained, so it was, that Mrs Grote, the banker’s wife—you know more or less about her—had an acquaintance with Lord William. It had been formed at the country residence of an intimate, and, I believe, a relation of hers, Plomer, formerly Member for Hertfordshire. Rebus instantibus, an arrangement was formed for a really tête-à-tête dinner at Grote’s, appointed to take place the then next Thursday, which was either yesterday se’nnight, or yesterday fortnight, I forget which—I think it was the 10th, he being to sail the 15th of this month. Mill has, at all times, been a declared, and, I have every reason to think, in this instance, a sincere trumpeter of Panopticon, recommending it within the field of his dominion, and, in particular, Bombay, during the vice-royalty of Elphinstone.
“He said he had trumpeted once, and should, on that occasion, trumpet again the said Panopticon. If so, said I, you may as well have a copy to give him, for your text or subject-matter. Yes, said he; but in that case, your name and his should be inscribed in it. Agreed, said I—and so it was. After this day, I saw Mill again, and in general terms he reported to me the result. At the nick of time, comes out a number of the Scotsman, Edinbro’ newspaper, which you cannot but be more or less acquainted with, taking for its subject not only an immense Evidence work,* (a copy of which, you will receive along with these presents,) but also the author thereof—a transprint of which, in a number of the Examiner, is likewise destined to accompany them. Mill said, Grote having, I forget how, in hand a copy of the original, made Lord William hear it from beginning to end. You will judge whether ’tis not natural that this matter should have given me some place, somewhere or other, in an odd corner of your Calcutta sovereign’s good opinion; though, should this even be the case, how any very determinate use should be capable of being made of it, I do not see, unless it be the disposing him to set up a Panopticon there,—a measure to which he expressed himself well inclined. As yet, all this is trifling enough; but that which is not so, is contained in fewer than a dozen words, which I have now to mention. They are these:—‘I am going to British India; but I shall not be Governor-General. It is you that will be Governor-General.’ Having said these words, he gave me a strict injunction of secrecy, the demand for which is sufficiently evident. * * * * * * * A general proposition to this effect, renders needless a host of details. Another piece of information, also in generals, was, that Lord William was, in his judgment, a well-intentioned, but not a very well-instructed man; but something more particular and proportionably instructive, on this head, was, that he said to Mill,—‘I must confess to you, that what I have ever read amounts to very little, and that it is not without pain that I can read anything!’ Quoth Mill,—‘As to this book, it is not only a preëminently useful, but an amusing book; and so much so, that I could venture to recommend it for Lady William’s reading in that view.’ Well said, James Mill!—if it was so said; but that is more than the author himself would take upon himself to say of it.
“As to your notion of my being governed in my notions about anything whatsoever by a certain person, you will more effectually learn from the writer of this than from the inditer, how complete, on this occasion, is your misconception. This about the Stamp Act I look upon as rather good news than otherwise. I hope it may lead to permanent good. * * * *
“What occurs to me, with a view to the expected dissolution of Mrs Company, and George the Fourth (whom God preserve!) stepping into her shoes, is this—that you should lay your heads together, and form, in gradation, a number of schemes, one over another, or under another, whichever end of the ladder you choose to consider as uppermost, all of them with a view to their being, one or more of them, presented in due form to Parliament, to periodical press, or any other constituted authorities. Scheme of government the first, that which, in your own view of the matter, is most desirable; but of that, in proportion as it is desirable the acceptance being improbable. Scheme the second, that which appears in the next degree desirable, and thence in the next degree less improbable—and so on, upwards or downwards, as you please, as many schemes one under or above another, as your invention, supported by your patience, can supply. Of course, in this instance, as in every other, proportioned to their fear of those in subjection, will be the probability of condescension and compliance on the part of rulers—and fear will bear a natural proportion to the sense of impotence, as will that sense to the degree of relative indigence. Just now, under existing circumstances, namely, apprehended expense, though so perfectly free from danger on the score of a Turkish war, the increasing refractoriness of the Irish, and the sinking state of our finances, the probability seems to be that by a moderate stir, considered in general, and by the existing stir your letter speaks of in particular, no inconsiderable effect on this tottering administration may not unreasonably be expected. An additional embarrassment may be produced by the refractoriness of Canada. * * * * *
“Among your enemies, they being on all occasions the enemies of everybody and of everything that is good, you number Judge and Co. In the five cartloads herewith sent, particularly the fourth, you will find no small store of stones to stone them with. Coming with your recommendation, and your account of him, abstraction made of the importance of the errand which has brought him to this country, your Mr Crawfurd,* cannot fail of being received at the Hermitage with two pair of open arms.
“Farewell, my ever dear and respected friend! With what delight, on your return to your native Britain, I should clasp you psychologically in my embrace—physically my arms would not reach you, quotn the now octogenarian hermit of Q. S. P.
“P.S. 16th February, 1828.—This day, I have commenced my eighty-first year, alive and merry.”
Bentham to the King of Bavaria.
I am that Bentham of whose work on legislation so much is said in M. Bexon’s proposed Code. Since that time I have not been idle. Respect for your Majesty’s time enjoins economy in words.
“Causes of this address: the delight inspired by your late speech, and the hope of rendering assistance to designs so generous, so exemplary, and, especially from a throne, so unexampled.
“Provincial States—Penal Code, all-comprehensive, and in harmony with the public voice.—Justice administered with open doors.—Sole ground of decision, as far as practicable, vivd voce evidence:—on all these subjects, with so many others inseparably connected with them, this speech of your Majesty’s found me occupied.
“Nothing can well be conceived worse adapted to their professed ends, than the aggregate mass of our law, really existing and purely fictitious taken together, (for purely fictitious is whatever is called unwritten law,) with the Judiciary Establishment and system of Procedure thereto belonging: whatsoever of prosperity we are in possession of, being the result of causes, other than the aptitude of those professed means, with reference to their declared ends.
“The labour of sixty years of the fourscore I have lived, has, at length, succeeded in drawing to these truths the eyes of the public, and even of Parliament.
“Of a proposed Code of mine—all-embracing, all-comprehensive in its extent—an outline, with considerable explanations of detail, is in preparation; and will, I trust, be ready for presentation in the course of our next Session: some parts excepted, which are declaredly reserved, as not being suited to present times. In proportion as a fair copy advances, any person sent by anthority of your Majesty shall be welcome to transcribe it.
“In the meantime, your Majesty’s acceptance is requested for a few articles in print, all aiming at being contributory to the above purpose. These are:—
“I. Codification Proposal:—here mentioned in the first place, because, by the annexed testimonials, assistance may be lent to an anticipative judgment, whether, by information from the source in question, adequate payment for any further attention is likely to be made.*
“II. Proposed Constitutional Code. Vol. i. this, unbound; vol. ii. not being as yet printed, nor, indeed, quite completed: Preface, embracing both volumes, consequently not capable of being prefixed.
“This requires not only explanation, but apology.
“The political communities which, on this occasion, I had in view, were those whose constitution may be considered as being as yet unsettled. Such are, for example, the newly formed, or newly forming States, of late Spanish America. A representative democracy is the only form of Government which those States, or any of them, seem disposed to endure. It is, moreover, the only form of Government which, to political communities so circumstanced, I could, with any degree of sincerity, or on any tenable grounds in point of argument, take upon me to propose. Your Majesty’s magnanimity will forgive this declaration; your Majesty’s discernment will note the use of it: after such an acknowledgment, there can be no concealed design: no design to injure on pretence of serving.
“So far as regards those countries,—the above-mentioned testimonials will, some of them, help to show whether my labours in this vineyard have been altogether without fruit: so likewise the published translation made of those of my works into Spanish. In those countries, no young man, who is not conversant with them, is regarded as having had a liberal education: such, at least, is the information I have repeatedly received from official sources.
“To return to the above-mentioned proposed Code. Though, in what regards the supreme power, not adapted to any form of Government other than a Republican, yet in no inconsiderable quantity, may be seen in it matter which, if applicable with advantage under any one form of Government, may be so under any other.
“Follow a few examples:—
“1. Plan for keeping in its state of all-comprehensiveness, and whatever symmetry may have originally belonged to it, an all-comprehensive Code, when once formed: preserving it, at the same time, from being overrun, and obscured, and loaded, by an overgrowth, composed of what is so self-contradictorily called Unwritten Law: that is to say, of deductions made, and made by any and everybody that pleases, from judicial decisions. What is proposed to be done for this purpose, on the occasion of the proceedings of Legislative bodies, may be seen in this volume: to wit, in Ch. vi., Legislature, Section 29, Members’ Motions: [Works, vol. ix. p. 190-91.] What is proposed to be done for this same purpose, on the occasion of the proceedings of judicatories, will be to be seen in the as yet unprinted volume: that is to say, in Ch. xii. Judiciary Establishment, Section 19, Judges’ contested-interpretation-reporting function; Section 20, Judges’ eventually-emendative function; Section 21, Judges’ sistitive, or say, execution-staying function; Section 22, Judges’ preinterpretative function, [p. 502 to 512.]
“2. Plan for an all-comprehensive and systematical registration of the proceedings of all Public offices. Ch. viii., Prime Minister, Section 10, Registration System, [p. 209]: and Ch. ix., Ministers collectively, Section 7, Statistic function, [p. 232 to 253.]
“3. Plan for carrying economy and aptitude, at the same time, on the part of functionaries, to an ideal point of perfection, as indicated by three words, destined for the title of a separate publication: namely, Official aptitude maximized; expense minimized: and it is shown how, so far from being repugnant, diminution of expense is subservient to augmentation of aptitude. Chapters and Sections—Ch. ix., Ministers collectively, Section 15, Remuneration; Section 16, Locable who; Section 17, Located how; Section 18, Dislocable how: [p. 266 to 294.] In a monarchy, this of course cannot be applicable to the situation of monarch: but it may to any or all subordinate ones.
“The tract entitled Letters to Toreno, is sent on account of some views which it contains relative to Penal Legislation, and which are not to be found elsewhere.
“Some annexed manuscript Tables of Contents, as indicated by Titles of Chapters and Sections, may help to convey a faint anticipation of my views on the subject of the Judicial Establishment, the Penal Code, and Judicial Procedure: between criminal and civil no demand having, on this occasion, been found for any line of separation.
“Another accompaniment of this address is a packet of eight leaves, containing so many exemplars, all written at the same time by the same hand: name of the system of transcription which they exhibit—the manifold system. Mechanical as it is, the sort of operation, the result of which is thus exemplified, forms, by the application thus made of it, no inconsiderable article in the list of those on which, in my own view of the matter, the usefulness of my Procedure Code depends. With the exception of any such suits as, by their want of importance, fail of affording a sufficient warrant for the expense,—each portion of discourse, or other material incident whatsoever, on the occasion of any suit, civil or criminal, as it passes before the Judge, is minuted down in writing: minuted down, that is to say, in this same manifold form; to wit, either in the first instance, or in the form of so many copies taken, by one and the same operation, of a rough draft. In this way, as far as fourteen exemplars have actually been taken at once: and eight, in characters as legible as these, have habitually been taken, for several years past, for commercial and comparatively private purposes. An account of the invention, and its uses, as applied to all government proceedings, judicial more particularly, may be seen in the accompanying Code, in Ch. viii., Prime Minister, Section 10, Registration System. [Works, vol. ix. p. 209.]
“As to beauty,—for purposes of such superordinate importance,—a quality of such subordinate importance will not, assuredly, be deemed worth regarding.
“As to usefulness, one great use is this. In case of Appeal, these Exemplars, one or more of them, go up to the Appellate Judicatory, by the Letter post. This, except to a party who chooses to employ an Advocate, will, at the Superior Judicatory, constitute the whole of the expense.
“For registration and preservation, of written instruments giving expression to transfers made of property in all its shapes, and to obligatory agreement of all sorts,—preservation of them from falsification, as well as from destruction, the usefulness of it will be equally incontestable.
“The invention is by a lady of good family, whose husband is a gentleman of note, and in easy circumstances. What makes this mention necessary, is—that to perform the operation would require some instruction: a few weeks might even be necessary; and, otherwise than through them, no such instruction is to be had. They would, I will be answerable for them, with pleasure afford it to any person coming with authority from your Majesty to receive it.
“Of the appropriate paper, the price is here less than that of the most ordinary writing paper: the cost of the apparatus, consisting of the thinnest and cheapest pieces of silk (the more worn the better)—the habitual wear and tear would not raise it above that price. I see no reason for supposing the sort of paper not to be already made, or at any rate without difficulty capable of being made, in your Majesty’s dominions. Meantime, in this country it may be had in any quantity for the experiment; but, in this case, would be to be added of course the price of freight.
“This letter, more or less of it, will, probably, sooner or later, be printed and published, unless commands from your Majesty to the contrary are received. Should the intentions manifested in it be regarded as meriting so high a reward, it will be conferred by a letter, written in your Majesty’s own hand, notifying the receipt of this. In this shape alone do I receive rewards at the hands of monarchs. In this shape, I received my sufficient reward from the late Emperor Alexander. In my correspondence with that monarch, as printed in my herewith sent Papers on Codification, it may be seen that any service it may be in my power to render to crowned heads is not the less zealous—and assuredly it is not the less sincere—for being, in the ordinary sense of the word, gratuitous.
“A nearly complete list of my works is added. Such of them as are still in print are at your Majesty’s service, gratuitously; or at the bookseller’s price, as your Majesty pleases. Of the Constitutional Code, vol. i., herewith sent, a Spanish translation has, at the expense of the author, been made, and printed for gratuitous distribution.
“To conclude. Till now—in vain, if disposed to insincerity, could I deny it—all the arguments I have been able to find on the subject of monarchy, tend in disfavour of it. Even now, the only argument I can see—but it is no weak one—in favour of that form of government, is this same speech of a King of Bavaria.
“With unfeigned respect and admiration, nor altogether without hope of usefulness, I remain, Sir, your Majesty’s servant to command,” &c.
The King of Bavaria to Bentham.
It was only in the course of the month of August that I received the letter you addressed to me from London, on the 20th December, 1827, by which you have kindly sent me your work, entitled Codification Proposal. I thank you much for your attention. I have communicated these writings to the Commission charged with the projects of Legislation, which will not fail to avail themselves of the knowledge of an author so enlightened, in all which may be applicable to our states, our constitutions, and our usages. Receive the expression of my gratitude, and that of the sentiments of esteem, with which I am, &c.
“Munich, 10th Oct., 1828.”
The following are memoranda from Bentham’s conversation in the years 1827-8:—
Speaking of public men, hostile to good government, Bentham said: “The enemies of the people may be divided into two classes. The depredationists, whose love of themselves is stronger than their hatred to others; and the oppressionists, whose hatred to others is stronger than their love of themselves.”
“Malice is a murderous instrument in the hands of a cursed lawyer, by which he may commit his murders in the name of the law.”
“In defensive force the principle is, no doubt, involved, that attack may be remotely necessary to defence. Defence is a fair ground for war. The Quaker’s objection cannot stand. What a fine thing it would have been for Buonaparte to have had to do with Quaker nations!”
“How did I improve and fortify my mind? I got hold of the greatest-happiness principle: I asked myself how this or that institution contributed to the greatest happiness—Did it contribute?—If not, what institution would contribute to it?”
“I am never disposed to revenge a deed of injustice done to myself; but to another, when done, I should punish the perpetrator by dashing him against the wall.”
“In law, a tax is a prohibition to every man who cannot pay the tax. This is understood in trade, but seems not to be understood in anything else.”
Law and Lawyers.
“The Roman law is a parcel of dissertations badly drawn up: the views of the Roman lawyers were, however, more expanded than the views of the English lawyers.”
“The principle of justice is, that law should be known by all: and, for its being known, codification is absolutely essential.”
“What a strange state of legislation it is when a case for a shilling is called penal—and, it may be, for a man’s whole property, and then it is civil. I cannot use the word capital crime. Why not mortal?”
“Wherever you see the word void, there is rascality for the cursed lawyers—and this in all its conjunctions. It is a sacrifice of the ends of justice to the ends of judicature: so nullity,—so badness.”
“Simple taxation to the amount of the sinister benefit of the lawyers, would be as nothing in comparison to the present evil: it would be merely depredation to the amount, without denial of justice.”
“The late Francis Horner mentioned to me (1806) a case he knew of, in which thirteen representations, one after another, were made to the Lord Ordinary. Representations are papers put in merely for delay, in the same form of words, and there is a fee on each to the Judge’s clerk. What is any such representation but a bribe? What does bribery lose of its baseness by being unpunishable?”
“What can be done with lawyers? Hold up rascality, and what then? Demonstrate, and you get no answer,—but if there be the slightest flaw in your arguments, it is laid hold of, and becomes an object of public attention.”
“Under the present system of refusing the evidence of unbelievers, any man has the power of conferring pardon by declaring himself an unbeliever. This may be done in a multitude of ways. The king may send a man to murder another, and afterwards pardon him. This is absolute power over the life of every subject. This was done by a late statute, and in order to get rid of an absurdity, they chose to deprive the public of a security.”
“My project would be, to have a black-book, clearly printed, containing the record of all offences. My lord brother* would figure there for defending the old statutes for attainder of blood. In a newspaper the impression is transitory—evanescent; but in such a book, published every year, the infamy would be permanent. Horne Tooke had taken note of the people that had deserved ill of their country, and it was used as evidence of high treason, and that he meant they should all be massacred.”
“Pleadings are a most perfect nuisance,—to be expunged altogether: written pleadings are of no more use in a court than they would be in a necessary-house. Now, suppose this foolish system were applied to the evidence given before the House of Commons: they would have to wait one year for every answer, and the answer would have to wait another year for elucidation.”
“Deontology.—Aristotle’s virtue, fortitude, is a virtue or a vice according as applied. You must know the nature of the case in which a man has to give exercise to the quality, before you can decide on its being a virtue or not,—but when I was thirteen I was already too cunning to be taken in by that.”
“They talk against suicide. And yet there is not a text in which it is prohibited. But how little do Christians care about the commands of Christianity. Was ever a text more clear than that, ‘Swear not at all,’—but it has been cavilled away by glosses and meanings which in no other case would be listened to for a minute.”
“Utility was an unfortunately chosen word. The idea it gives is a vague one. Dumont insists on retaining the word. He is bigoted, old, and indisposed to adopt what is new, even though it should be better.”
“It is sometimes necessary to write a whole book, in order to work out a single truth, which may be expressed in a single sentence. In literature, like philosophy, there is often a result of simplicity, which is got at by elaborate reasonings.”
“I have done my part for Law Reform. The subject is more likely to be taken up when I am dead, and I shall reap the profit of it, even in the way of reputation. No doubt, possession is better than expectation—but expectation of happiness may be happiness.”
“Fanny Wright told me Socrates was pure as an icicle. I answered that it was my misfortune to read Greek, and to know better. What I read of Socrates was insipid. I could find in him nothing that distinguished him from other people, except his manner of putting questions. This would have been good, had it been explained why; but the devil a bit of an explanation was there. For didactic purposes, it is good for bringing forward the appropriate subject of speculation.”
“Antiquarianism is the natural resource of aristocracy. All its memorials are monarchical and aristocratic.”
“I never could endure a commonplace. I am not equal to it. I could not make a speech, of the worthlessness of which I was conscious.”
I once recommended Bentham to read some book; and he said: “By daylight, I have something else to do—by candlelight, I cannot see.”
“I never read poetry with enjoyment. I read Milton as a duty. Hudibras for the story and the fun: but Hudibras ended in nothing—but an Epistle to the Widow.”
“I should like a collection of verses from the simplest to the most complex. There is much to be done yet with language. Now, first take a substantive—then a substantive and adjective—then a substantive, adjective, and verb: and so on.”
I remarked to Bentham that he often wrote without looking at the paper on which he was writing. “Yes,” said he, “as on a stringed instrument, the mind takes in the whole piece by a volition—a complicated volition embraces the whole; but if there are staccato notes—if the passage is interrupted or difficult, then a separate volition or act of the mind is wanting: if four or five consecutive notes follow, the manner of producing each note separately from the rest, is not thought of.
“I cannot write in the ordinary way. It would fatigue me. I hold the paper in my hand, which rests on the table, and thus get on much faster. I write about 16 pages a-day. I have a great abhorrence of waste, yet I am profuse in the use of paper. I had rather give twopence, than waste a penny.”
“Between sleeps, I cannot do much in the way of invention, not having the signs before me. I am troubled by tunes, or by the recollections of past events. These recollections are always plaguesome; for, if the events were painful—painful must be the memory of them: and if pleasurable, the pleasure is departed. The putting aside one’s thoughts, is the great instrument of peace. At night, I cannot easily solve a problem, though it does not long remain a difficulty. I apply to it one of my keys—such as this: the good and evil produced by the different classes of offences, enables me to look for the proper remedy. There is always some nostrum for the case.”
“When I was looking into old MSS., I expected to find the names and writing less and less legible as they were more and more ancient; but, going backwards from Elizabeth’s time, the writing is more and more intelligible.”
“What remarkable letters are these of the Earl of Essex! They might have been written at the present day.”
“The taking the money from the Canadians by the English Government, in order to do them mischief, is just like the story in Count Fathom, where the beautiful lady in the coach-house has her pocket picked, and the money is employed for her own seduction.”
“The Hebrew is a fine language for the expression of simple ideas. It wants the inflections which result from men’s throwing their thoughts about them.”
“Were not pen, ink, and paper necessary to writing, writing would be a very agreeable thing; but pen, ink, and paper are never disposed unanimously to obey the writer’s mandates,—there is generally something amiss with one or other of them.”
“My ‘idleness’ is to do that which does not belong to the order of the day. Anything which presents itself with a particular demand for recordation, I set down, if it present itself with an apt expression or method. Now, my order of the day is one of the three codes. When not busied with these, deontology, logic, and language, occupy my thoughts.”
“Few things are more wanting than a code of international law. Vattel’s propositions are most old-womanish and tautological. They come to this: Law is nature—Nature is law. He builds upon a cloud. When he means anything, it is from a vague perception of the principle of utility; but more frequently no meaning can be found. Many of his dicta amount to this: It is not just to do that which is unjust.”
“In England, the most expensive plan is always preferred: 1st, because economy would set a bad example; 2d, because ignorance has no means of judging but from expense.”
“When I was made a Bencher, I accepted the rank, as I thought it would be the means of saving me from persecution. They were some time in choosing me, and I was some time—I believe six months—in accepting.”
“The American colonies really said nothing to justify their revolution. They thought not of utility, and use was against them. Now, utility was the sole ground of defence. What a state the human mind was in, in those days! I was not then sufficiently advanced in the study of government to show the true grounds of opposition; that a country could not be well governed by one so very far from it; that appeals are an instrument of despotism in the hands of the rich against the poor. It seemed no part of duty to excite enmities from one set of men against another set of men; for by exciting enmity, you destroy all the effects of your deliberate counsel.”
“The Danaides filling with water, vessels full of holes, are alike the emblem and the prophecy of the Wisdom of the Ancients, about which Bacon talks. They but anticipate the endeavour to gorge the appetites of the ruling few with the elements of felicity taken by unpunishable depredation from the subsistence of the subject many.”
“A proper device for ‘wisdom of ancestors,’ would be a man with eyes behind, and none before.”
“Polemics are a pretence to know things essentially unknowable.”
“Nemo omnibus horis sapit, is the best elucidation of non omnes possumus omnia. The mind cannot be permanently kept on the stretch.”
“The principle of pensions of retreat is so obviously wrong, that I wonder it should not have been more frequently attacked. The assumption is, that the more you give for service, the better service you will have. Now, independently of salary, all public offices confer power which is not to be had out of them,—yet out of them there are no pensions of retreat, nor are they found necessary for securing the best services.”
“When the Insolvent Debtors’ Court was set up, I expected no good from it, except the discharge of debtors, and I have not been disappointed. I thought they had neither the will nor the power to make a good thing of it: not the will, for they had not the interest,—not the power, for they had not the machinery. But the failure is much greater than I had any idea of.”
“Costs can only be cured by local jurisdictions—justice accessible everywhere. It is now the interest of attorneys to have as many witnesses as they can. They get paid for attendance, examination, and so on, all of which might be avoided by examination by the judge. They have also more evidence than can ever be heard, as matter of precaution. Character-evidence has no check. You might go on to examine evidence of the character of the evidence giver, and so on ad infinitum. It is all vague; so good character is no evidence against a fact, and bad character is worse—it is vague assertion without a specific fact.
“Expenses ought not to be thrown on the parties. Would the public bear it? They ought to bear it. The nonlitigants have the benefit of that protection which the litigants pay so dearly for.
“In every case, the injured man who pays costs, suffers an aggravation of the injury.
“Of what use are all these petty peddling reforms of the law? the abuses must be swept away in a mass.
“Our laws are made by judges for the benefit of judges.
“I should support juries at the cost of my life. They are a check upon the despotism of the judges, who are only the instruments of the despotism of the king,—though, in a proper judicature, neither would be wanting.”
“In one of Frederick of Prussia’s projects, there is a foolish declaration, that he would have all law-suits ended in a twelvemonth. Fixation of penalties, and fixation of time, are a prodigious source of evil, which I am combating with all my might. Frederick, by fixing twelve months, gave a sort of license for any suit to last as long as this.”
“Deontology—In writing my Deontology, I took the virtues as referred to by Aristotle—traced such of them as would blend with mine, and let the rest evaporate.”
“The distinction between pleasure and happiness, is, that happiness is not susceptible of division, but pleasure is. A pleasure is single—happiness is a blended result, like wealth. Now, nobody would call a rag wealth, and yet it is a part of the matter of wealth.”
“A good system of morals, would give the practiser of them the pleasures of sympathy and the benefits of friendship. It would teach him to refrain from annoying others.”
“Revenge is a dear bought, uneconomical pleasure. It purchases everlasting hatred at the price of a moment’s gratification. Consider when a wrong has been done, if exposure would prevent its repetition. If so, it is an act of self-regarding prudence; but the exposure should be temperate, prudent, and appropriate to the occasion.”
“The classification of the virtues resolves itself into four: pure self-regarding prudence, extra-regarding prudence, negative-effective benevolence, positive-effective benevolence, or the benevolence accompanied with or followed by beneficence. For a man to take care of himself, is prudence—of others, is benevolence; and these two heads exhaust the subject. There is benevolence on a small scale, and benevolence on a large scale. In treating the subject, take the simple cases first, the complicated afterwards. The pleasure of effective benevolence, on the widest scale, few are susceptible of—it is a choice and aristocratical pleasure. You must show, how, by consulting the interests and happiness of other persons, pain may be avoided—pleasure created.
“The great difficulty is the mistaking the adjacent for the permanent interest. An atomic speck upon the eye, will cover an island. The mistake may be seen in a thousand instances. A man cohabits with a woman. He obeys the impulse of interest, and gets diseased. Esau gets a mess of pottage. He obeys the impulse of interest, and loses his birthright. M— makes the same mistake in gathering together his hundreds of thousands.”
“On how many occasions do we give pain, when we might give pleasure?
“Every act of kindness is, in fact, an exercise of power, and a stock of friendship laid up; and why should not power exercise itself as well in the production of pleasure as of pain? If you do not draw down friendship, you alienate enmity.”
“Remember we do not exercise, or ought not to exercise, even a besoin in vain. It should serve for manure. Tread not on an insect.”
“Deal as scantily towards yourself as you please, but do not deal so towards other people.”
“There are many religious people who had rather see men miserable than innoxious. Unhappiness is the instrument by which they would make us angels; but the brutes are often interested in corruptions—out of them they gain influence and reputation.”
“Logic.—What is the use of the dialectic part of logic? Is it not a parcel of stuff that leads to nothing? The nomenclature which shows the relation of one proposition to another in the way of reasoning? I remember when reading, even at thirteen or fourteen, that I could learn nothing from the examples given, which are generally sad nonsense; and I asked myself ‘Cui bono?’ and could give myself no answer. In writing, the thing is to get the whole of the subject before you.”
Bentham frequently spoke of the value of logic, and of the undeserved neglect into which the study had fallen in later times. He insisted on its universal application to all the purposes of art and science. “From a given point, as that of a triangle,” said he, “a man may make excursions into all parts of the field of thought—he may apply the true principles of logic to the whole domain of knowledge.”
“I have been influenced through life by short texts, which were impressed on my memory in boyhood. Among them the favourite have been the three words from Thucydides, which Clarendon has made the motto to his history:—
“ ‘ϰτῆμα ἐς ἀεί.’
That verse of Lucan:—
“ ‘Nil actum credens dum quid superesset agendum.’
The line of Homer:—
“ ‘οὐϱανῷ ἐστήϱιξε ϰάϱη, ϰαὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ βαίνει.’
With its Latin translation:—
“ ‘Ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit.’
“I have endeavoured to bring two elements into my writings—invention, and correctness; and have kept the quodlibet cum quolibet constantly in view.”
“Who would not be comfortable, if it depended on his own will?”
“The humility of the English church is, to be clad in purple and fine linen, and to live upon turtle, venison, and pineapples.”
“What an occasion of felicity on the part of the inhabitants of New South Wales is the introduction of the pumpkin!—yet I could not tolerate those blue-bottle flies which blow the meat even while it is trundling on the spit. But New South Wales is the place to go to and live at for ever, without disease. I am reconciled to the loss of Panopticon when I think of the mass of happiness that is being created there. Wentworth may in time become a good minister of justice. If the people be attacked by a military force, they must retreat into the interior to the other side of the Blue Mountains.”
“In our system, all that can add to the opulence and wealth of the ruling few, is made provision for; but the happiness of individuals is not thought of.”
I have before mentioned Bentham’s dislike to the maxim—“That nothing but favourable things should be told of the dead.” One day he said to me, “ ‘Gloria in excelsis!’ To talk of De mortuis nil nisi bonum, is as much as to say, De excelsis nil nisi bonum. Who ever heard of any mortui that were not excelsi? This maxim is one of the inventions of despotism: it perpetuates misrepresentation of the ruling few at the expense of the subject many; it employs suppression instead of open lying, for the purpose of deception; it would shield depredation and oppression from exposure; and when it is too late to prevent misdoings by present punishment, would protect the misdoers even against future denunciation and judgment. Aristocracy gets all the benefit of the maxim; for the poor are never honoured with unqualified posthumous praise. And thus, the world bestows its foolish confidence on those who always betray it. Thus, all distinctions are levelled, but those of wealth and prosperity. Thus, the fallacy becomes an instrument in the hand of tyranny. Thus, in the two Houses of Parliament men are always flattering one another: the most opulent, the most extravagant, and thence the most rapacious. Witness kings, who get the greatest portion of this flattery; and in the same spirit judges are always for punishing, with the greatest severity, those who utter anything to the disadvantage of kings.”
“Nobody need say a word to show the worthlessness of the Whigs as a party. They have been shattered to pieces a thousand times. But that is no reason you should quarrel with any one of them. You are running your head against a post, where he is concerned: and he is running his head against a post, where you are concerned.
“The Whigs may be in a situation not to advocate all that is desirable; but that is no reason why others should dissemble their sentiments, and consent to be slaves, because the Whigs find it for their interest to be so.”
“I wonder how any pleasure can be found in descriptions of pictures, or descriptions of music. Pictures are to be seen—music is to be heard; but to write about them, gratifies neither seeing nor hearing.”
“O that I could decompose myself like a polypus. Could I make half-a-dozen selfs, I have work for all.”
“The beauty of Parmesan cheese is its innocence: of other cheese, its corruption.”
“It is very desirable for the purposes of government, that a register should exist of all the sailors in the merchant sea service, in order to know what the radical strength of this portion of the national defence is.”*
“In all cases of oppression, care must be taken that the oppressed shall not be subjected to the uncertainty of redress, and the certainty of after vengeance.”
“Invention and memory often operate at the expense of one another.”
“Lord L. is hardly a man to regain the ground he has lost. The toes of his amour-propre have been terribly trod upon.”
“They say Tom Moore’s poetry has offended the king.—Kings are fair game, and sharp sportsmen cannot help attacking them.”
“Many of Peel’s projects are merely for the creation of new offices with large salaries.—The places will fail, but the salaries will have to be paid; and then there comes a cry against reform, as the cause of the unnecessary salaries.”
He spoke with great satisfaction of an article in No. 2. of The Jurist, on Grand Juries. “It is capital,—but the last sentence is opposed to everything that precedes it,—a conclusion hostile to the premises. Grand Juries should be preserved according to the old receipt for preparing cucumbers,—‘Pepper them, and salt them, and — throw them to the dung-hill.’ ”
“I have helped to cure myself of my fears of ghosts, by reasoning thus:—Ghosts are clothed, or not clothed; now, I never saw, nor fancied I saw, a ghost without clothes: so if there be ghosts of men, there must be ghosts of clothes too; and to believe this requires a farther stretch of belief, and farther evidence and authority.”
“ ‘Pour aimer les hommes il faut en attendre peu.’ This sentence of Helvetius has been a real treasure to me.”
“I wish, instead of the Ballot, which is vague, the word Secrecy-of-Suffrage were used. In truth, representation requires only four things to be perfect—Secrecy, Annuality, Equality, Universality.”
“The value of money is, its quantity multiplied by the felicity it produces.”
“What Bacon did was to proclaim—‘Fiat experimentum;’ but his own knowledge of Natural Philosophy was ignorance.
“What Locke did, was to destroy the notion of innate ideas.
“What Newton did, was to throw light on one branch of science.
“But I have planted the tree of Utility—I have planted it deep, and spread it wide.”
“Monarchy.—Sad lot of humanity under an absolute monarchy,—under an aristocracy-ridden, and by-corruption-working mixed monarchy. Disposed of according to the humour of a single being,—a human being,—though in character separated from every other in whose hands the same vast mass of power is not condensed. He lives encompassed with a perpetual cloud; deeds of darkness are all his deeds,—and thus far is he made the image of the divinity. With no other human being has he such intercourse, as every other human being continually holds with his fellow men. From his cradle, he is taught that all human beings are subject to his power, and created to his use. It is not in human nature to resist so flattering a position—of whomsoever else it may be the creed, his creed it will naturally be: and not being in the situation of anybody, what feeling can he have for anybody?
“To his favour men are indebted for their rise—to his displeasure, for their fall. How can the man who does anything which he had rather not have done, be other than an offender in his eyes!
“For half a century, the most worthless of the people have been enriching and amusing themselves with misgoverning and mistreating the rest. Tired of the monotony, Fortune has arisen from her lethargy, and, broom in hand, clears the cabinet of the worst of the vermin with which she had filled it, leaving some of the least bad, whom she found there, to give more or less variety to the scene.*
“Were they placed there for fitness for the business of government? Not they. But they had rendered themselves agreeable to the monarch’s humour and obsequious to his will. What removed them? Inaptitude for government? O no! It was a fit of ill-humour,—nothing more.”
On Brougham’s Law Reform.
“February 9, 1828.
“Mr Brougham’s mountain is delivered, and behold!—the mouse. The wisdom of the reformer could not overcome the craft of the lawyer. Mr Brougham, after all, is not the man to set up a simple, natural, and rational administration of justice against the entanglements and technicalities of our English law proceedings.
“When quarrels take place, one course is obvious, as a step to the right understanding of the matter, and the prompt settlement of it. That course is hated and opposed by lawyers. It is to bring the parties into the presence of the judge. This is and was the one thing needful. Let the plaintiff make out his prima facie case to the judge. If the judge see fit to entertain the suit, let the defendant meet them face to face. So would the interests of truth be served—but not the interests of lawyers.
“The demand—the defence—the evidence—would thus be presented in the simplest and most intelligible form, and, in most cases, the suit be speedily terminated. The costly machinery with which Justice encumbers her go-cart would be got rid of. In complicated questions, that is, in exceptions to the general rule, professional men might be introduced as assistants or substitutes. Wilful falsehood must be punished as now, or lies will undoubtedly abound. Those who have read Mr Bentham’s Rationale of Evidence, know what he means by a Mendacity License. The man who is sheltered from the punishment of falsehood, has obtained a mendacity license. The system of special pleading is the pregnant, the prolific mother of lies. That is truly a mendacity license,—a reward and an encouragement to falsehood. All lies are bad,—judicial lies are the worst of all. Are they not, Mr Peel? Are they not, Mr Brougham? Those who like lies and lying, whether for the purposes of selfish interest, or those of private and public injustice, let them cling to special pleading with the tenacity of the fondest affection. But if lies and injustice be objects of abhorrence, so will special pleading be. Mr Peel will laud it, and so will Mr Brougham. Special pleading cried up by both. Bavius and Mævius! Mr Peel and Mr Brougham! Those who laud the one, may laud the other. Boys of the same school,—heirs of the same inheritance,—preachers of the same faith! Shake them in a bag: look at them playing at push-pin together. Mr Peel will have no short pleas; so he establishes long ones. Mr Brougham will tear up this and that and t’other root of lies, with the special care to plant others just as noxious in their stead. Mr Brougham! instead of six hours, you may talk for sixty. The public will be enlightened at last. They will look upon you as the sham adversary, but real accomplice of Mr Peel, unless you can sacrifice (hard sacrifice, but how illustrious!) your interest and profit in this wholesale manufacture of lies,—of lies as mischievous as were ever devised by their great author and father. You know their paternity. ‘Is it not written in the Book?’
“But Mr Peel tells us, that the appearance of both parties before the judge is impossible, and so thinks Mr Brougham. Impossible? I have made a little discovery or so, if I could gently insinuate them. Imprimis, I have found out that an impossibility may be—indeed it may be—a fact. A French dramatist whispered it in mine ear. ‘Celà ne se peut pas,’ said a positive old gentleman. ‘Je ne sais pas,’ replied a modest doubter like me. ‘Je ne sais pas si celà se peut, mais je sais bien que celà est.’ A second, I have heard of a court—have not you, Mr Brougham?—called a Court of Conscience. Were you ever there, Mr Peel? for you might have made a third discovery, that in that court the parties do appear—ay, in their own persons—and plead, without a mendacity license, in the presence of the judge. And a fourth discovery might have flashed through your mind, that if a man would take the trouble to attend in a dispute about nine-and-thirty shillings, he might (might he not?) be persuaded to attend about one of nine-and-thirty thousand pounds: and this might have suggested a fifth, that if one man can be brought to attend in the cause of another man, he might—possibly he might, Mr Peel, if the experiment were made—be induced to attend when the cause was his own.
“Right honourable gentlemen! and learned gentlemen! you will deem all this very paradoxical and pretending. But note, I do not praise the constitution of the Courts of Conscience, I speak only of their practice. Learned gentlemen in their wisdom, and they are wise enough in their generation, have taken care to hide the good beneath a veil of evil, in order that the good might not ramify and recommend itself elsewhere. And with a sixth discovery, viz. that the constitution of a court is one thing:—the practice as to the admission and exclusion of evidence, is another—I depart.
Bentham to Rammohun Roy.
“Intensely admired and dearly beloved collaborator in the service of Mankind!—
Your character is made known to me by our excellent friends, Colonel Young, Colonel Stanhope, and Mr Buckingham. Your works, by a book in which I read, a style which, but for the name of an Hindoo, I should have ascribed to the pen of a superiorly well-educated and instructed Englishman. A just-now-published work of mine, which I send by favour of Mrs Young, exhibits my view of the foundations of human belief, specially applied to the practice of this country in matters of law.
“Now at the brink of the grave, (for I want but a month or two of fourscore,) among the most delightful of my reflections, is the hope, I am notwithstanding feeding myself with, of rendering my labours of some considerable use to the hundred millions, or thereabouts, of whom I understand that part of your population which is under English governance or influence is composed.
“With Mr Mill’s work on British India you can scarcely fail to be more or less acquainted. For these three or four-and-twenty years he has numbered himself among my disciples; for upwards of twenty years he has been receiving my instructions; for about the half of each of five years, he and his family have been my guests. If not adequately known already, his situation in the East India Company’s service can be explained to you by Colonel Young. My papers on Evidence,—those papers which you now see in print—were in his hands, and read through by him, while occupied in his above-noticed great work; a work from which more practically applicable information on the subject of government and policy may be derived (I think I can venture to say) than from any other as yet extant; though, as to style, I wish I could, with truth and sincerity, pronounce it equal to yours.
“For these many years a grand object of his ambition has been to provide for British India, in the room of the abominable existing system, a good system of judicial procedure, with a judicial establishment adequate to the administration of it; and for the composition of it his reliance has all along been, and continues to be, on me. What I have written on these subjects wants little of being complete; so little that, were I to die to-morrow, there are those that would be able to put it in order and carry it through the press.
“What he aims at above all things is,—the giving stability and security to landed property in the hands of the greatest number throughout British India; and, for this purpose, to ascertain by judicial inquiry, the state of the customs of the people in that respect. For this same purpose, a great increase in the number of judicatories, together with the oral examination of all parties concerned, and recordation of the result will be absolutely necessary: the mode of proceeding as simple as possible, unexpensive and prompt, forming in these respects as complete a contrast as possible with the abominable system of the great Calcutta Judicatory: nations of unmixed blood and half-caste, both of whom could serve on moderate salaries, being, on my system, as much employed as possible.
“Though but very lately known to your new Governor-general, Mr Mill is in high favour with him; and (I have reason to believe) will have a good deal of influence, which, in that case, he will employ for the purpose above-mentioned.
“He has assured his lordship that there can be no good penal judicature without an apt prison and prison-management; and no apt prison or prison-management, without the plan which we call the Panopticon plan,—an account of which is in a work of mine, a copy of which, if I can find one, will accompany this letter. At any rate, Colonel Young can explain it to you, with the cause why it was not, five-and-thirty years ago, established here; and all the prisoners, as well as all the paupers of England, put under my care:* all the persons being, at all times, under the eye of the keepers, and the keepers, as well as they, under the eye of as many people as do not grudge the trouble of walking up a few steps for the purpose.
“For I know not how many years—a dozen or fifteen, perhaps—I have never paid a single visit to anybody, except during about three months, when a complaint I was troubled with forced me to bathing places, and at length to Paris. Thus it is that Lord William and I have never come together; and now there is not time enough. Half jest, half earnest, Mr Mill promised him a meeting with me on his return from India; for, old as I am, I am in good health and spirits, and have as yet lost but little of the very little strength I had in my youth. Though the influence of my writings is said to be something, of anything that can be called power I have not had any the least atom. I have some reason for expecting that, ere long, more or less use will be made of my work on Judicial Procedure by government here. But, from the influence possessed by Mr Mill, and the intense anxiety he has been manifesting for some years past for the completion of it, my hopes have in relation to your country been rather sanguine. Of the characters of it I cannot find time to say anything, except that, by the regard shown in it to the interests of the subject many, and by its simplicity, which I have endeavoured to maximize, I have little fear of its not recommending itself to your affections.
“What regards the Judiciary Establishment, will form about half of the second of two volumes, a copy of the first of which (with the exception of six introductory parts) being already in print, is designed to form part of the contents of this packet.
“While writing, it has occurred to me to add a copy of a work called Panopticon; the rather because, at the desire of Mr Mill, it is in the hands of your new Governor-general, Lord William Bentinck, to whom Mr Mill has been recommending, and, as he flatters himself, not altogether without success, the erection of a place of confinement, upon the principles therein displayed. More than thirty years ago, but for a personal pique taken against me by the late king, George the Third, all the prisoners in the kingdom, and all the paupers, would, under my care, have been provided for by me upon the same principle. To the Prime Minister of the time, (from 1792 to 1802,) with his colleagues, it was an object of enthusiastic and persevering admiration; and not only was an act of the Legislature, which (you know) could not have been enacted without the king’s consent, obtained for the purpose, but so much as related to the experimental prison carried into effect as the purchase of a large spot of ground for the purpose, and the greatest part put into my possession; but when the last step came to be taken, George the Third could not be prevailed upon to take it; and so the affair ended.
“In my Codification Proposal, you will see letter for Del Valle of Guatemala, alias Central America, in late Spanish America. He is the instructor of his country; such an one as you of yours. I thus mention him to you. I shall mention you to him. Several papers he has sent me have made known to me his history, his occupations, and his designs. I hear him spoken of, from various quarters, as by far the most estimable man that late Spanish America has produced. If there be anything that you could like to transmit to him, it would be a sincere pleasure to me to receive it, and transmit it to him accordingly. Yours and his are kindred souls. Though in his country highest in estimation, it is still uncertain whether he is so in power, there being another man whose party is at war with that to which Del Valle wishes best; but, as far as I can learn, that of Del Valle is most likely to be ultimately prevailing.
“Bowring, with whom you have corresponded, is now living with me. He is the most intimate friend I have: the most influential, as well as ardent man I know, in the endeavour at everything that is most serviceable to mankind.
“Farewell, illustrious friend! You may imagine from what is above, with what pleasure I should hear from you. Information from you might perhaps be made of use with reference to the above objects. But you should, in that case, send me two letters—one confidential, another ostensible. If I live seven days longer, I shall be fourscore. To make provision for the event of my death, you should do by your letters to me, as Colonel Young has done by his: send it open, enclosed in one to Bowring.
“We have high hopes of Lord William’s good intentions: so much better than from so high an aristocratical family as his could have been expected.
“I have been asking our common friends here, over and over again, for their assurance that there is some chance of your paying a visit to this strange country. I can get little better from them, than a shake of the head.
“P.S. Panopticon. Should this plan, and the reasoning, meet your approbation, you will see that none of the business as to which it is applicable, could be carried on well otherwise than by contract. What say you to the making singly, or in conjunction with other enlightened philanthropists, an offer to Government for that purpose? Professors of all religions might join in the contract; and appropriate classification and separation for the persons under management: provision correspondent to their several religions, and their respective castes; or other allocations under their respective religions. How it would delight me to see you and Colonel Young engaged in a partnership for a purpose of that sort!”
In answer to a request of Burdett, that he might be allowed to come and dine, and talk over Brougham’s Law Reform, Bentham answers:—
Bentham to Sir F. Burdett.
“Q. S. P., 11th February, 1828.
I see how it is with you. You don’t know where to go for a dinner; and so you are for coming to me. I hear you have been idler than usual, since you were in my service; always running after the hounds, whenever you could get anybody to trust you with a horse. I hear you are got among the Tories, and that you said once you were one of them: you must have been in your cups. You had been reading High Life below Stairs, I suppose, and wanted them to call you Lord Burdett. You have always had a hankering after bad company, whatever I could do to keep you out of it. You want to tell me a cock-and-a-bull story about that fellow Brougham. * * * I always thought you a cunning fellow; but I never thought it would have come to this. You want to be, once more, besides getting a bellyfull, as great a man as—.
“Well, I believe I must indulge you. No work will there be for you on Wednesday; I can tell you that. That is the day, therefore, for your old master to be charitable to you. So come here that day a little before seven. Orders will be given for letting you in.—Your friend to serve you, &c.
“P.S.—You were got cock-a-whoop somehow or other, when you began this letter of yours. You thought that, because you were writing to so declared a democrat, you might venture to address a Master (and such a Master!) in the way your letter shows. You dreamed we were in the United States: I your quondam employer; you my quondam helper. When you had written the two words, you came to your senses, and recollected yourself. Your intention was to scratch out those two words: I mean the words, ‘Dear Bentham.’ I can scarce bring the pen to write, I am so ashamed of you. * * * You have always been a giddy fellow, ever since I have known you; sometimes one thing, sometimes another: your mother spared the rod, and spoiled the child. But I am as indulgent as you are giddy. Yes: your intention was to have scratched out those words, and you forgot it. I take what could not but have been the will, for the deed.”
I addressed these verses to Bentham on the completion of his 80th year; and I insert them, because he more than once spoke of them with pleasure:—
Bentham drew up the following
“Address, proposing a Plan for Uniting the Catholics and Dissenters for the Furtherance of Religious Liberty.
“It is the wish of some persons to do away with political arrangements, by which any persons are subjected to disadvantage in any shape, on the account of opinions on the subject of religion; and thus, to unite all subjects of this realm in the bands of Christian charity. On this occasion, they look with especial desire to the case of the Roman Catholics.
“Neither are even the Jews excluded from their good wishes, or proposed to be excluded from their endeavours; for though the Jews are not themselves Christians, they are not, on that account, in the less degree proper objects of Christian charity. With regard to the Jews, however, they have not, as yet, taken any measures, nor held communication with them.
“The persons in question are men whose influence, with reference to this end, has manifested itself in the aggregate body of the Protestant Dissenters.
“Their wishes embrace, with no less cordiality, their fellow-subjects in Ireland, than those in Great Britain; and they look to a coöperation with the Catholics of England as a means of affording assistants, in this particular, to the Catholics of Ireland.
“For bringing about the wished-for state of things, as above, the following are the political arrangements, and thence the enactments, that would be necessary:—
“1. To repeal every statute by which, under the name either of punishment, or under any other name, any distinction is established, disadvantageous in any way to any person, on account of any opinion promulgated, or supposed to be entertained, on the subject of religion.
“2. To insert a clause, in the requisite terms, for abrogating, so to speak, the Common Law;—that is to say, to prevent from being done by Judges, or by their authority, anything which, after the above proposed repealing enactment, could not be done under the authority of the legislature.
“On the supposition that, on the part of the English Catholics in general, there exists a disposition to coöperate with the body of English Protestant Dissenters, for the above or any other purpose, then comes the question, what may be the course best adapted to be taken, with a view to such coöperation.
“The course habitually employed by the Protestant Dissenters, is this: 1. In each denomination, each congregation sends two deputies to the Assembly, acting in behalf of that particular denomination. Each such particular Assembly sends six deputies to the General Assembly of the Protestant Dissenters.
“What is proposed, is, that the Catholics of England, proceeding in such manner as shall be most agreeable to themselves, should appoint on their part six deputies, to sit in the General Assembly as above.
“Among the Protestant Dissenters, are denominations more than one, each of which is more numerous than that of the English Catholics. The English Catholics, will not, therefore, by this arrangement, be subjected to any disadvantageous distinction in respect of quantity of influence.
“The cordiality of the regard entertained for the Catholics, will, on this occasion, it is believed, be found manifested by several considerations.
“They [the Dissenters] stand clear from all the objections that, in narrow minds, apply to the Catholics.—1. They have no Pope.—2. They are not of the same religion with the Jesuits.—3. No ancestors of theirs committed any such cruelties as were committed by the ancestors of the Catholics, when the power was in their hands.
“Exceptions to a comparatively inconsiderable amount excepted, they are already in possession of those exemptions, which it is their desire to see the Catholics possessed of in common with themselves: in possession, and by a custom of longer standing than the longest which is necessary to give an irrefragable title to land,—howsoever not possessed by the letter of the law: in a word, they have seats not only in all subordinate official situations, but even in Parliament.
“In the case of the Irish Catholics, there are several circumstances which, as yet, stand in the way of a direct co-operation. But by coöperating, as above, with the Protestant Dissenters, the English Catholics might form a bridge of communication, and thence a bond of union, between their Catholic brethren of Ireland, and the Protestant Dissenters of England.
“Moreover, by an example of this kind, the liberal-minded among the Irish Protestants, and, in particular, the Presbyterians, might be better disposed, many of them, to the throwing their weight into the scale of the Catholics.
“As to the number of persons to be deputed, as above, by the English Catholics, six seems to be the only number proposable, consistently with that equality which, in the present case, would be equity. Of that number, what may be the composition, will rest altogether with the members of the community in question—the English Catholics. In the mode above-mentioned, they have an example before their eyes, the adoption of which may perhaps save trouble; but any other imaginable mode lies open to them.
“In a few days, the case of the Political Dissenters will be laid before Parliament, by Lord John Russell, so far as regards the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts: but, should he succeed in his motion, no change would thereby be essential in the wishes or endeavours of the persons here in question in behalf of the English Catholics.
“It cannot surely be doubted but that the greater the number of the applicants, the greater will be the probability of success on the part of persons of all descriptions, who regard themselves as labouring under injustice.”
In 1828, Bentham was engaged with Mina, who was then contemplating the invasion of Spain for the government of that country. Mina, if he succeeded, was to take the title of Constitutional Dictator for four years: at the end of which, a democratic constitution was to come into operation, and the constitutional functionaries to be nominated. Such constitution to be open to all future beneficial changes, and at a period to be defined, the constitution was to give the electoral right to all persons able to read; and the evidence of their being able was to be obtained from their reading extracts from the Constitutional Code itself. The possession of the right of suffrage would, it was supposed, interest all possessors of the suffrage in support of the Constitution by which it was conferred; but as the power of the clergy might be employed for the purposes of misrule, the Dictator should have the power of taking away the suffrage from classes or individuals, during the term of his Dictatorship, or for a shorter period. But as a man unapt to vote might be fit to serve his country in other positions than as a voter, the alienation of the suffrage should bring with it no alienation from public functions; as, in fact, the possession of such functions, where associated with money or power, would dispose the possessor to support the Constitution. It will be remembered that the Spanish Constitution of 1812 founded the right of voting after a definite time upon the ability of the voter to read and write.
O’Connell, in one of his impassioned speeches, (July 1828,) after eloquently exposing the unknowable state of the Law, the wholly inefficient reforms of Peel, and the necessity of a thorough purification of the Augean stable of abuse, ended by calling himself “an humble disciple of the immortal Bentham.” No personal intercourse had, up to this time, existed between the philosopher and the Liberator; but the immense services which O’Connell was able to render to the great objects Bentham was pursuing, could not escape his penetration. And well do I remember the enthusiasm—the joy with which he referred to some of those eloquent outbreaks with which O’Connell every now and then attacked the abuses of the law—the craft of the lawyers—the costliness and inaccessibleness of justice to the people.
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Q. S. P., 15th July, 1828.
“Jeremy Bentham to Daniel O’Connell,—
Health and success.
“Figure to yourself the mixture of surprise and delight which has this instant been poured into my mind by the sound of my name, as uttered by you, in the speech just read to me out of the Morning Herald: the sound I say, for it is only by my ears that I am able to read the type of it. By one and the same man, not only Parliamentary Reform, but Law Reform advocated. Advocated? and by what man? By one who, in the vulgar sense of profit and loss, has nothing to gain by it; but a vast (but who can say how vast?) amount to lose by it: a man at the very head of that class of ‘conjurors,’ which, with so much correctness, as well as energy, he thus denominates. Yes, only from Ireland could such self-sacrifice come; nowhere else: least of all in England, cold, selfish, priest-ridden, lawyer-ridden, lord-ridden, squire-ridden, soldier-ridden England, could any approach to it be found. ‘Nil vulgare te dignum’ said, I forget who, to Celsus: ‘Nil vulgare te dignum,’ says Jeremy Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Parties in person, in the first instance, before the judge. Yes, without this for the general rule, exceptions to a small extent excepted, (all of which lie before me perfectly defined,) no justice can have place; nothing better than oppression, corruption, and, instead of justice itself, a noxious and poisonous mixture of sale and denial of justice. Plaintiff and defendant both state their own case. Yes, there it is! You, Sir, gave the strongest of all possible pledges for perseverance. Daniel O’Connell! there I have you; and, so sure am I always to have you, never, so long as I have life, will I let you go. No, never: for having thus spoken, could you, even if willing, make your escape! The Rubicon you have now passed; Rubicon the second, and beyond comparison the most formidable: the Parliamentary Reform Rubicon is but a ripple to it. The most formidable of all Rubicon’s being thus passed, never can you repass it without disgrace.
“Some time ago—I believe I may say some years ago—I sent you a copy of my Parliamentary Reform Bill. Even then you did not leave it unmentioned, nor, consequently, unhonoured; no, nor unapproved. But you were not then seconded; the time was not then ripe for it. Long before this, in the natural course of things, that copy will have dropped from off your shelf. Another will follow the present letter; and the purpose for which this other copy is now sent, is another purpose. It is that of suggesting hints relative to the organization of a system of communication between man and man, for all imaginable political good purposes: a mode by which every friend to good government may know, at all times, where to find every other.
“Another little work, which by the same opportunity solicits your acceptance, is my Codification Proposal. ‘The system of law at present used in England is a disgrace (you say) to the present period of civilisation.’ Labouring towards the clearing these, and all other countries, of this disgrace, has been the occupation of by far the greatest part of my long life, and will be that of the small remainder.
“Mr Peel is for consolidation in contradistinction to codification: I for codiflcation in contradistinction to consolidation. In the few drops of really existing law, floating here and there in the cloud of imaginary law, made on each occasion, by each man for his own use, under the name of common-law, his object is to lighten the labour employed by learned gentlemen in making use of the index you speak of. My object is to render it possible to ‘lay gents.’ to pay obedience to all rules which they are made punishable, and every day punished, for not obeying. In his opinion no such possibility is either necessary or desirable.
“Another Nuzzeer, as they say in India, is composed of my ‘Indications respecting Lord Eldon.’ In the body, though not in the title, are Indications respecting Lord Tenterden, and the, to him, profitable extortion, established, as may there be seen, by his open connivance. Coupled with this indication, is that of the sale and denial of justice now authorized and established by Act of Parliament. Compare this with the Church-building tax, not only non-Church-of-Englandists, (in which negative profession you and I agree,) not only non-Church-of-Englandists, but Church-of-Englandists themselves object to being taxed for addition to be continually made to the existing number of nests of reverend sinecurists.
“Bad enough this, unquestionably: but what is, beyond comparison, worse, is, the measure by which, in 1825, Lord Eldon and his Mr Peel, and, in a word, the whole firm, as I term it, of Judge & Co., concurred in giving to judges the power of imposing upon the people law taxes without stint, on condition of passing the whole profits into their own pockets.—I say, in comparison of that extortion which has religion for its mask, the extortion with justice for its mask is not crime, but virtue. By the Church-building tax no other mischief is done, over and above the taking the money by force out of the pockets of the proprietor, and adding it to the mass of the matter of corruption by which, with such unhappy success, men are urged to profess to believe that which they disbelieve.
“By the money exacted, under the name of fees, by judge from suitor, justice is sold to all who can and do pay those same fees with their etceteras,—denied to all besides: and by multiplying ad libitum, as they have been all along in use to do, and will continue to do, the number of the occasions in which those fees are received, they give continual increase to the aggregate amount of this same plunderage. This foul disease, thus injected into the body politic by as shameless a set of operators as the world ever saw, I have thus endeavoured to present in its proper colours. Oh, that to mix and apply them the hand of an O’Connell had been granted me!
“Another Nuzzeer is composed of five too large volumes of the Rationale of Evidence. Of various objects which it has, one is the showing that, from beginning to end, the existing practice in that subject is a tissue of inconsistencies and absurdities in design, as well as in effect, as opposite to the end of justice as it is possible for judicial practice to be. As for you, occupied as you seem and ought to be, that you should honour with a perusal the whole, or so much as a tenth part of it, is out of the sphere of possibility; but among your professional friends you have disciples, and, by the index, it may happen to yourself to be now and then conducted to this or that point—if not for information, at any rate for a laugh; for when absurdity is wound up to a certain pitch, a laugh will now and then afford payment for the toil of reading through it. Here, however, I behold you already on my side. It must have been perceived by you, that those witnesses by whose evidence deception is least likely to be produced, are those in whose instance the interest taken by them in the cause is most surely and openly conspicuous. This you must have seen, or you would not have recommended that they should be always heard.
“Should your shelves happen to contain a copy already, this may go to the shop, and perform the office of a mite cast into the Catholic-Rent Treasury.”
Bentham was desirous that O’Connell should take up a temporary abode at his house, and writes to him:—
“17th July, 1828.
“To obviate disappointment, it is necessary that my peculiar manner of living should be known to you. My lamp being so near to extinction, and so much remaining to do by such feeble light as it is able to give, I never (unless of necessity, and then for as short a time as may be) see anybody but at dinner hour, that which is here a customary one—seven o’clock. As to place, I never dine anywhere but in my workshop, where the table admits not of more than five. Having learned, from long observation, that as in love so in business, when close discussion is necessary, every third person is a nuisance; in addition to any inmate I may have, I never have more than one person to dine with me—a person whom either my inmate or myself may have been desirous to hold converse with. After the little dessert, the visiter of the day, if mine, stays with me; if my inmate’s, goes with him into the inmate’s room till tea-time—my two young constant inmates taking, as above, their departure of course. The evening, not later than to half after eleven, is the only time I could regularly spare for conference, so far as regards the purpose of questioning. Your mornings would be passed in reading any stuff in print, or in manuscript, or in receiving explanation from some young friend of mine, or in ambulatory conference, for health’s sake, in the garden with me. Let not the word appal you, for, how much soever your inferior in wit, you would not find me so in gaiety. My abode, you see, is not without strict propriety termed a hermitage. Servant of the male sex, none—cookery, for a hermit’s, tolerably well spoken of. At to the hermit himself, smell he has absolutely none left; taste, next to none; wine, such as it is, guests, of course, drink as they please—the hermit none. None better has he to invite you to than a few remaining bottles of Hock laid in in 1793; older, at any rate, than that which Horace invited his friend to in an Ode I have not looked upon these seventy years.”
Daniel O’Connell to Bentham.
“Would to Heaven I could realize your plan—how I should relish a political retreat in your hermitage, to prepare for all of practical utility that my faculties enable me to effectuate. But I cannot leave Ireland. The progress of political and moral improvement seems to me to want my assistance here; and certainly there would be some retardation in the machinery, if my shoulder was not constantly at the wheel, and my lash on the shoulders of those who help to force it forward. Without a metaphor, I am not able to leave Ireland, even for the purpose of replenishing myself with the reasons of that political faith which is in me. I am, in good truth, your zealous, if you will not allow me to call myself your humble disciple. It is said somewhere, that Irishmen frequently catch glimpses of sublime theories, without being able to comprehend the entire plan. For my part, I certainly see a part, and would wish to comprehend the details of the whole. My device is yours:—‘The greatest possible good to the greatest possible number.’ And I say it with sincerity, that no man has ever done so much to show how this object could be realized, as you have. I sincerely wish I could devote the rest of my life to assist in realizing this object; but my profession gives my family at present between six and seven thousands of pounds in the year, and I cannot afford to deprive them of that sum: all I can do, is, to dedicate to political subjects, as much time as can be torn from my profession.
“I am deeply imbued with the opinion that our procedure is calculated to produce anything but truth and justice; and if ever they are elicited, it is by accident, and at an expense of time and principle, which ought both to be otherwise employed. How is it possible that law stamps and law fees have survived—about forty years, I think—your protest?
“I am also convinced, that, to be without a code, is to be without justice. Who shall guard the guardians?—who shall judge the judges?—A code! Without a code, the judges are the only efficient and perpetual legislature. There is a melancholy amusement in seeing how the ‘scoundrels’—pardon me—do sometimes legislate. In England, it is bad enough. In Ireland, where the checks (such as they are) of parliamentary talk, and of the press, are either totally removed or rendered nearly powerless, the mischief of judicial legislation, is felt in its most mischievous, ludicrous, and criminal operation.
“Mr Brougham’s evils are plain, and sometimes well displayed. His remedies are but patches placed on a threadbare and rent coat, and cut out of an unused remnant of the original cloth. They serve only to show the poverty, as well as want of skill, of the owner, and artificer of both.
* * * * * *
“With respect to Parliamentary Reform, I have only to say, that I want no authority to convince me of this—that without election by ballot, it is not possible to have perfect freedom of selection. With a ballot, the inducement to corrupt the voter would be destroyed, even by the uncertainty of his giving the value after he got the bribe. Ballot is essential to Reform.”
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Queen’s Square Place,
“Here is the 31st of August come, date of your letter the 3d of the month, and no reply yet sent, nor so much as the little cargo of books, which my first letter spoke of as sent already. Misconceptions and disappointments, not worth mentioning, have been the causes.
“Parliamentary Reform, Law Reform, Codification—all these agenda crowned with your approbation—nothing can be more satisfactory, nothing more glorious to me—nothing more beneficial to the so unhappily United Kingdom, from thence to the rest of the civilized world, and from thence, in God Almighty’s good time, to the uncivilized. One thing only missing—your sojourn at the Hermitage,—I say your sojourn,—for your visit, at any rate, is promised.
“Now for matter—a rather untoward effect, to speak in the official naval style, has been produced upon your friends and allies here, by the transformation—degeneration they call it, of Radical into Constitutional—Constitutional, as it has been observed by many, Mr Peel himself would have no objection to. If Constitutional is synonymous to Radical—if it means all that Radical does—what the need, and where the use in changing it? If it means not so much as Radical, here then is departure—here is backing out, and so soon after the advance. If, after so many years of consideration, this is relinquished, what security can the two other innovations—projects but of yesterday—promise themselves for their being adhered to and preserved.
“So far as regards Parliamentary Reform, something to this effect, mixed as usual with his bitter, violent, and coarse vituperation, you cannot but have seen in roasted-wheat-seller Hunt’s letter in the Herald, which, I take for granted, you and yours regularly see. The paper in which that speech of yours is, is not before me; but, according to my recollection, though to accommodate somebody else, you consented to the substitution of ‘Constitutional’ to Radical in some papers proposed for general acceptance: Radical was the reform you, in your individual capacity, declared your adherence to. This recollection, flattering myself with its being a correct one, I adhere to—Facile credimus id quod volumus—but others contradict me.
“Now, then, of all who join with you, what could have been any one’s inducement to adopt anything that is not Radical Reform, to the exclusion of that which is? A reform which is not Radical, is moderate reform; and a reform which is moderate reform, is Whig reform. What then can have been the inducement to adopt Whig Reform to the exclusion of Radical Reform, but the prospect of gaining over, or steadying, in some proportion or other, the Whigs?
“Now, according to my conception of the matter, in any proportion that could give probability of success to your cause, as well might you look for assistance from Mr Peel and his coadjutors as from the Whigs. If the present system of representation by intimidation is necessary to the Tories, it is still more so to the Whigs. The Tories, in addition to such quantity of the matter of corruption as they possess in the shape of means of intimidation, are in possession of all that exists in the shape of means of allurement,—money, power, factitious reputation, factitious dignity—compound of power and dignity in the shape of peerage—compound of power, dignity, and vast opulence in the shape of bishopricks and archbishopricks—not to speak of deaneries, canonries, and prebends—all of them so many avowed sinecures, in addition to those others, which, being so many little-to-does about nothing, are so many effective sinecures. Now, of all these good things, what is it that is in possession of the Whigs? Nothing but an always varying number of seats out of the 658—always varying, but at the utmost not more than what constitute a comparatively small minority, at no time sufficient to carry so much as a single measure. Now, then, this being all that they have to trust to for whatever share of importance they may possess, is it in the nature of man that they should fail to cling to it with the most determined pertinacity? Is it in the nature of man that they should, any one of them, join in the procurement of the ballot?
“For any one to join in promoting the ballot, what would it be but to commit suicide? In fact, joining in promoting the ballot, would be being a Radical and not a Whig; for, let but the ballot but be established, away slip all the seats from under them. Some will be filled by Tories, some by Radicals, in proportions which, as things stand at present, it will not be possible to determine. Now, then, without the ballot, think what would become of you and your cause? True it is, at a spurt, at a time of extraordinary excitement, by a political miracle such as was never yet exemplified, and perhaps may never be so again—a miracle such as no country but Ireland was ever capable of exemplifying, one seat has been filled, and so perhaps, in I cannot pretend to say what quantity, some others. But if, by continuance of the same miracles, all the seats in Ireland were thus filled, how much would you be the nearer to the accomplishment of your wishes? Obtain the ballot for Ireland, you will obtain it for England and Scotland likewise. This done, you obtain a good government with the faculty of framing a real constitution, instead of on every occasion dreaming of an imaginary one, and with the opposite fact staring you in the face, pretending to believe it and talking of it as if it really were a real one.
“Here, among Englishmen, some few members there are, I am well assured, one of whom will, in the course of the next Session, move for the ballot, and by speech as well as votes, be supported by others. This, then, is what you should be prepared to join in, or rather to be beforehand with, and prepare for. Petitions from all Ireland, either for Radical Reform, or, if you are not strong enough for that, for the Ballot by itself. Ballot alone would be slower, whether surer, it is for you, not for me, to judge.
“ ‘Six or seven thousand a-year’ professional profit, to take care of, and push as far as it will go, for the benefit of a family! Well, this is sincere and honest, and I thank you for it. Nor would it be part of my plan, I think, were you even at my disposal, that you should give it up—especially if Parliament were, after all, inaccessible to you. But what it would make me happy to see you agree with me in, and accordingly treat us where you are with a speech or two in consequence, is what I myself am satisfied about, and perfectly persuaded of, viz., that if Law Reform were carried to its utmost length, which is what my system, if proposed and adopted, would effect, you, personally considered—you, such as you are, would not be a sixpence the less rich for it. All the business you could find time to do you would, in every state of things, be altogether sure of; and in respect of all-comprehensiveness and clearness, were the state of the law carried to its utmost possible length, you would not have one brief the less, nor for any brief one sovereign the less. I should think rather the more: for the less the money spent upon attorneys and official lawyers, the more would be left to be spent upon barrister’s eloquence. In common law, in particular, none of the fees for incidental parts of a suit are so large as those which are given when the vital part of the suit comes upon the carpet, i. e. at the trial, the speech, and cross-examination on the question of fact. The shorter each suit, the greater the number of suits with these speeches in them, that would come upon the carpet in a given space of time: for my plan, which is simplicity itself, would dry up the source effectually, of incidental questions. Nor would my plan, I should suppose, be, even in respect of profit, detrimental to the interest of the higher branch of the profession taken as a whole,—for it includes judgeships as many as there are spaces in the country, each, upon an average, being a square—of, say from ten to twelve miles of a side, (analagous, in this respect, to the judgeships in the French system—always understood, that, under my system, on any judicial bench, every judge more than one is a perfect nuisance, destroying responsibility, multiplying the expense by the number of the judges: with other objections too numerous to enumerate;) while, instead of the feeble control, if any, which may be thought to be applied to abuse, by multitude of judges, I apply a perfectly efficient control, by a system of appeals, to which I give a degree of facility, beyond anything of which a conception can even as yet have been entertained. Then, instead of so many barristers with professional profits, varying from naught to hundreds, and here and there a very few, thousands—here would be so many judges with fixed salaries, not exposed to uncertainty; and the power and dignity of the judge, instead of the no power and no dignity of the representative of everybody from the peer down to the half-starved thief. Now, then, as to the glory you would reap from the accomplishment of a second, I should rather say a third task, to which no hand other than yours is equal, and the felicity beyond all example—beyond even conception, which you will give to more than twenty millions of human beings in the two islands, besides et ceteras upon et ceteras. This is not a picture for such an old and blunt pencil as mine to attempt to delineate. An imagination such as yours, will, in the twinkling of an eye, supply every demand which a purpose such as this can ever make on it. Here, then, is your own personal interest in every shape, in perfect harmony and accordance with the public interest, to an extent equal to that of the surface of the globe. Is it possible, that, if there were any such discordance, as, for the reasons above-mentioned, I do not anticipate, between the universal interest and the hair’s-breadth interest of your brethren of the profession, the hair’s-breadth interest should, in your scales, weigh more than the universal interest?
“I have spoken of the thing as being in your power, and that by means of speeches of which you give me hopes. But what are the speeches I have in view?—what the proposed scene of them. Not the House of Commons; for in that place, the most brilliant and even effective speech that man ever made, or ever could make, would be a flash in the pan and nothing more. No, the scene I have in view, lies in the places, wherever they are, in which the effect of a speech might be to engage the people, one and all, to petition Parliament for Law Reform. And leaving speeches altogether to you, in framing petitions apposite to the purpose, I shall not be altogether without hopes of affording such assistance as might be of use.
“Farewell, illustrious friend! comforter of my old age! invigorator of my fondest hopes!
“Somewhat more of this scribble I was threatening you with in my mind; but for one and the same post, this is quite enough.”
Bentham had a great objection to partings. He said, he saw no reason that people should inflict upon themselves or others the pain of saying adieu. “Your welcome,” says Bodin, in a letter to him, “is so cordial, so affectionate, so hospitable, that you are quite right in prohibiting the utterance of a farewell. I love to think of your philanthropic laboratory, where you raised over my head your famous stick, whose beneficent despotism ordered nothing but a most willing obedience.” Bentham had a favourite stick: he called it Dobbin; and often, in his playfulness, he raised it over the shoulders of his visiters. Bodin was one of Bentham’s favourites. His works on the French Revolution had immense popularity in France. He was a coadjutor of Thiers. He became, as his father had been, a member of the Chamber of Deputies; and died in the flower of life, an object of strong affection to all who knew him. He had taken as his motto—his name was Felix—“Maxima Felicitas plurimorum.” He hurried to Dumont to obtain his sanction for its use; and Dumont approved the classical rendering.
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“September 13, 1828.
“Hunt and Cobbett I contemplate with much the same eye, as the visiters of Mr Carpenter, the optician, contemplate the rabid animals devouring one another in a drop of water. Hunt I never saw, nor corresponded with. Cobbett I saw once at the house of a common acquaintance; and, without so much as the shadow of a dispute, half-an-hour sufficed me for seeing him exactly as he is. As a speaker, Cobbett, they say, is nothing: Hunt very great. His moral character nothing has changed, nor presents a probability of changing: his intellectual character has received prodigious improvement. In the city of London, his influence has, of late, exercised by means of his speeches, become very considerable. What he has done as yet has been unexceptionable; but so intense in him are the passions of envy and jealousy, that whenever he sees anything at once great and good proposed by anybody else, the greater and better it were, the more strenuous would be his endeavours to defeat it.”
“September 19, 1828.
“As to your political creed, nothing occurs to me to which I could not subscribe; and, in particular, to that rational and efficiency-helping principle, which has always been mine—that neither to the minutest improvement that is attainable, nor to any the most insignificant coadjutor who is obtainable, should acceptance be refused.
“It is not without a sort of trepidation, that I ever see the word Constitution issuing from your pen. In regard to Common Law, you are sufficiently aware that it is a mere fiction in regard to the Constitution: but are you sufficiently aware that it is but part and parcel of that same fiction? I cannot but flatter myself you are. ‘I deem it impossible’ (say you) (Morning Herald, 19th September, 1828) ‘to have a Constitution at all worth naming, without Radical Reform.’ Well then, as it is we have not a Constitution worth naming; so think I; and accordingly, when I come to speak of the mischievous features of it, as they exist in practice, de facto, though there are no determinate words by which they are made what they are de jure,—I prefix, by way of sarcasm, the epithet matchless, so commonly prefixed to the name of the idolphantom by the admirers of it.
“Short-lived assemblies of legislators have an innate disease, the emblem of which may be seen in the stone of Sisyphus. In my Constitutional Code, chap. vi., sect. 24, Continuation Committee, should curiosity carry you thither, you will see a proposed remedy, and, I flatter myself, a cure for it. But for this, an annually, or even a biennially—not to say a triennially elected Legislature, might go on for ages, without giving consummation to an all-comprehensive Code, or even any very considerable part of one. It was not till a very few years ago—say three or four—that the infirmity which put me upon the remedy occurred to me.”
“23d September, 1828.
SiBallot before the rest of Radical Reform—Modus Procedendi.
“An idea that strikes me just now is this:—For a commencement, the most promising course—[is to take that measure]—to which the resistance is likely to be least extensive. What say you, accordingly, to the beginning with the Ballot alone? Among leading men, I have heard of several who would be prepared to give support to it; and I have been informed, that next session, among the English members, a motion to that effect will be made. The bug-bear, and abhorrence-moving Radical Reform would thus be laid aside. The aristocracy could not be so completely struck at. Many there are who would not like to see the value of their votes diminished by the addition of such a flood of fresh men, and yet would be glad to have their own votes free. Accordingly, I cannot but think, howsoever strenuons and extensive the opposition to the Ballot alone might be, it could not but be much less so than if Radical Reform in all its features were brought upon the carpet at once.”
Of Hunt, Bentham again writes to O’Connell:—
“Sept. 19, 1828.
“What is past cannot be recalled; but, in future, if he can be kept from abusing you, so much the better. In his pericranium, the organ of abusiveness is full a yard long. It must be driving at something. Driving at what is abuseicorthy—it may do good; for there is no small strength in it: driving at what is praiseworthy,—it either does nothing, or does evil. Driving at the city of London abuses, he has already done considerable good, and is in the way to do considerably more.
“All that a vituperative epithet proves is—that he who uses it is angry with him on whom he bestows it, not that he has any reason for being so.
“Should you ever again have occasion to speak of Henry Hunt, I hope you will not again bring it up against him, as if it were a matter of reproach, that he sells Blacking or anything else; for, besides that there is no harm in selling Blacking, the feeling thus betrayed belongs not to us democrats, but to aristocrats, who make property (and that more particularly in a particular form, the immoveable) the standard of opinion. Moreover, men of our trade should be particularly cautions as to the throwing into the faces of antagonists vituperation as to their trade; for thereupon may come in reply—Junius’ aphorism about ‘the indiscriminate defence of right and wrong.’ J. B. will tack to it a predilection in favour of wrong as being the best customer. Accordingly, what is it I so much admire you for?—not for your travels in the track of our trade, but for your excursions from it, and even against it.”
Daniel O’Connell to Bentham.
“Derrynane,Sept. 13, 1828.
“I am here amongst my native mountains, for a few, very few weeks. I decide all the controversies in the district. I never allow a witness to appear, until the plaintiff and defendant have both fully told their tales, and agreed their points. In nine instances out of ten, other testimony is unnecessary. This tribunal is so cheap, it costs them nothing; and is so expeditious (I decide as soon as the parties have exhausted their arguments, and offered their witnesses on the facts, ultimately in dispute) that they reserve for me all their disputes, and it appears to me that they are satisfied with the results. This deduction I the more readily draw from the purely voluntary nature of their submission to my awards. It proves, however, nothing, but as far as it shows me the great value of hearing the parties themselves.”
“Derrynane Abbey, 6th October, 1828.
“Allow me to assure you that your letters can give me no other sensation but that of pleasure. I did not speak to you of long-cherished opinion respecting yourself, least I should have the appearance of flattery, even while I kept myself within the strict lines of sober truth. But let me not be so accused whilst this one sentence breathes from me,—that I am convinced that no one individual, in modern times, approaches in any degree to the practical and permanent utility of Bentham. You will have contributed more to the great approaching change from the plundering forms of government to the protecting modes of administering the affairs of mankind, than any one man that ever existed.
“I owe you many, many obligations. I long felt the pressure of the present system of law, including, under that word, all its details. My conviction of its iniquity was so strong, that for the people at large I deemed it better that there should be no tribunal at all than the existing mode of recovering debts. I would have left to the poorer classes every debt a debt of honour, and no sanction under which credit could be obtained, but that of the personal character of each individual, giving to each that as a stimulant to deserve confidence. You have satisfied me that that contract may be enforced for the people at large by the natural and domestic plan of proceeding, and the obligation to appear in person ceases to be an inconvenience, or, at least, cannot reasonably be objected to by the favourers of a system which compels the uninterested witnesses to give to third persons their time and trouble.
“Why do I trouble you with these subjects? Simply to show you that it is needless to offer me anything in the way of apology. Though not as able,—of course I am not, I am as anxious to be useful as you are; and the ‘strike but hear’ of the Grecian, is one of my maxims. I belong to a religion which teaches the merits of good works; and I am quite a sincere votary of that creed. Besides the pleasure of doing good, and the gratification which a light heart feels even at the attempt to be useful, there is—I hope I say it without any tinge of hypocrisy—a higher propelling motive on my mind. There is the stimulant, I hope, of religious duty and spiritual reward. There are many who would smile at my simplicity. And the ‘liberaux’ of France, who hate religion much more than they do tyranny, would sneer at me. Yet it is true. I do look for a reward exceedingly great, for endeavouring to terminate a system of frand, perjury, and oppression of the poor.
* * * * *
“My opinion of Hunt is, that his Radicalism is not love of liberty, but hatred of tyranny, mixing, I think, with hatred of anything superior of any description. These men, I mean men of this description, are, however, necessary. They are the pioneers of reform; but they get so unsavoury from their trade, that it is absolutely requisite to send them to the rear when the practical combat comes on. My letter to Hunt was founded on this idea. I did intend to dismiss him to his proper station, and I would, if you had not interfered, have followed that letter up with one letter more, which should have terminated the contest on my part. I still think of writing a few lines; but they shall not be disrespectful, ‘car tel est votre plaisir.’ You shall be my thermometer of Hunt’s political utility. Tell me to throw him overboard altogether, and I will do it without alluding offensively to his Blacking. But reminding him of his pride, as ‘Lord of the manor of Glastonbury,’ tell me to treat him with respect, and I will do so, subduing my mind to your judgment upon his future power of usefulness.”
“Merrion Square, Dublin. Oct. 26, 1828.
“In future, I fear I shall be able to write you only on Sunday. I do no business, that is, profane work on that day; but works of charity are not only allowed, but are commanded on that day; and where is there a work of charity so great as the giving protection by law, and preventing law from being the scourge of the poor, and the vexation of even the wealthy. This is my excuse for writing on Sunday; and if it be lawful, as I deem it to be, to extract a single ass out of the pit on the Lord’s day, it must be equally justifiable to assist in extracting an entire people from the worst pit that ever asses were coaxed or cudgelled into. But why do I waste time and paper on this subject?” * *
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Q. S. P., 2d November, 1828.
“Received yesterday, yours dated Dublin the 27th: it makes letter the sixth. You are unus bonissimus puer, as Cicero would have said, if ever there was one. I have some pretty little silver pence in my treasury. I have looked out one of the brightest of them, to put into your little hands when you come in February to seat yourself in my lap. Presently after, dropped in British-India and Political-Economy Mill, one of the earliest of my disciples. He had been seeing a man of the name of Glyn, who, I believe, is a somebody; he had been over a good part of Ireland lately, and was all praise and admiration of you, more especially on account of your prudence—that was the word. Mill knows Ensor extremely well: still better than I do. Good intentions, prodigious learning, sharp wit, poignant satire—all this Ensor has. Close and consistent reasoning? Alas! not; unless his attack upon your wings, which I admired at the time, but which is now out of my head, be an exception. Mill says he is impracticable, and in Parliament he sees not very well what particular use he would be of. But somewhere or other, with the above qualities, he might be of use in Ireland, for aught we know to the contrary. He professed admiration of me. I published a ‘Parliamentary Catechism,’ and ‘Parliamentary Reform Code,’ both with ample reasons. Afterwards, he published a ‘Parliamentary Reform Code’ of his own, widely different from mine, taking no notice of mine, and without anything in the shape of a reason. Against the Tories and Whigs, though I would not answer for any defence he could make, he would, I should suspect, be always on the right side; and as for cursory attacks in a guerilla warfare, I should be not surprised if he were of use. Smart on particular points might be his attacks. As to you, a small part of what you said to me sufficed to satisfy me that you could not have done otherwise than as you did. As to other places, whether it would be of advantage to Ireland for him to be seated, may depend upon the number of seats at your command. Though, of such as this and that country affords, some might be better than he; others not quite so good. In private life, you know what he is—I should expect to hear of his being exemplary, upright, and beneficent. The last time he was in London, he never called on Mill, nor did he serve me with notice of his existence: I ascribe this to his regard for my time. I tried to see him, to thank him, and praise him for his attack on your wings—the thing I could praise him for, consistently with sincerity. I wrote to him, but he was gone. So much for Ensor.
“Follows some matter about myself, written a few days ago, under the notion, that possibly more or less use might be made of it in its quality of a batch of puffs. Say more or less, or nothing at all of it, as may be best to the cause; in comparison of which, everything that regards the individual is as a grain of dust on the balance.”
“An odd coincidence. This day has brought me an extract from the Globe of Wednesday, the 22d October, in which, at a meeting preparatory to the grand meeting at Tralee, after speaking of Codification, you are made to conclude in these words: ‘I have been in correspondence with Mr Bentham on the subject, and two admirable plans of a Code have been transmitted to me by that celebrated Jurisconsult.’ Who Bowring is, you know from Mr L’Estrange. This same day comes a letter from him to me, dated Leuwarden, (in the Netherlands,) 18th October, 1828, in which are these words: ‘Meyer said, in the public assembly room at Amsterdam, that Brougham’s speech was a poor affair after all; and that he (Meyer) had written as much to Sir James Mackintosh: that Brougham had forgotten the one only remedy—Codification,—and that you alone were the man to make a Code.’ This was much from Meyer, who is the great authority in this country, and of whom you may hear more from Falch—(Netherland’s Ambassador to this Court.) Meyer is the author of a work, in five or six volumes, intituled ‘Esprit Origine et Progrès des Institutions Judiciaires.’—Londres, 1819, &c.* I have heard it spoken of as the most esteemed book on Jurisprudence that exists on the continent of Europe. This day also, comes from Blondeau, Judge and Jurisprudential Lecturer in Paris, a present copy of a miscellaneous work on that subject just published.
“Within this week, Dr Monstadt, Professor of Jurisprudence at Heidelberg, to whom Say, the economist, had given a letter of introduction to me, in answer to an invitation I had sent him, wrote to Richard Doane, a young Templar, aged 23, who has lived with me these nine or ten years past, and whom you will not be sorry to see, a letter, dated London, 18th October, beginning in these terms:—‘Etant redevable, sans doute, à votre recommendation amicale et bienveillante de l’honneur que M. Bentham a daigné de m’accorder, je le dois regretter doublement, que.’ * * Speaking of the invitation, he says—‘Quant à l’objet de votre lettre, j’en suis profondément touché, et je vous prie, Monsieur, de vouloir bien repondre au vénérable Nestor du liberalisme parmi ses contemporains, que le plaisir de pouvoir lui présenter les homages personels de mon respect et de ma reconnoissance, a été le but principal de mon voyage à Londres, et que jamais de ma vie j’ai été plus emû que par cette precieuse invitation. Je m’empresserai à en profiter soigneusement.’ He is a man of strong talents, extensive learning, high reputation, a zealous utilitarian at heart, and in lectures, as much as he dares to be; and has seen a good deal of Europe, especially Austria, where he resisted strong temptations to enlist under the banners of despotism. For his recreation at leisure hours, he is about to make translations of my works into German, beginning with the ‘Fragment on Government,’ which was the earliest.
“Usury, Tactics, Fallacies, Evidence—are already, he says, in that language.
“Our voices, you see, are in no great danger of being in the condition of a voice crying in the wilderness: others, in chorus, will not be wanting.
“In another passage of his letter Bowring says,—‘There is a great Utilitarian Society in Holland, consisting of twelve thousand members, and spread over the whole land. Its name is Tot nut van’t algemeen’—‘Public Utility.’ Now, what if we can move it!”
Daniel O’Connell to Bentham.
“There is a rebuke also contained in your advice, not to pain or disparage too much. I love the impulse which induces you to give me this rebuke. It is quite true the ‘fierce extremes’ mingle in our estimate of men: it cannot be helped; nay, I am convinced that it is necessary to be warm with one love—to glow with one resentment. I, who have helped to convert the people of Ireland from apathy, despair, and from nocturnal rebellions, into determined but sober politicians, ought to be able to form some judgment as to what is likely to conduce to obtain that coöperation so necessary to give a prospect of success. Of course, I judge of these things with that partiality which self-love inspires. But giving a rebate by reason of my self-love to the sterling value of any opinion of mine!! I do declare it to be my decided opinion, that we should speak in the strongest terms consistent with truth, of our friends and of our enemies.”
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“November 16, 1828.
“Continue to be the sun of your Laputa,—your sublimely soaring island: giving light, warmth, and direction to it. Warmth, without consuming heat. Let not Phaeton be forgotten; parce puer stimulus; et fortius uters loris. Diverge not either to right or left. Meddle not either with a man’s trade, or with his patronymics. All such irrelevancies, there are people enough here that will be froward enough to set down to the account of fallacies. This last stuff I believe I have come out with already; but in this track of my cadences I hope I have not yet fallen quite so low as an old friend of my brother’s here—the quondam Russian ambassador, Count Woronzoff, (father of the general you are reading of;) which said diplomatist, being four or five years older than your humble servant, actually tells the same story three or four times over in the course of the same sitting.—Farewell.”
Bentham to Chamberlain Clark.
“Q. S. P., Aug. 1828.
“We are both of us alive. I turned of eighty—you, little short of ninety. How little could we have expected any such thing when we were scraping together at O. S. S. House, two parts out of the three in a trio, and amusing ourselves with ‘the Church’ and ‘Monkey dogs.’ I am living surrounded with young men, and merrier than most of them. I have lost but little of the very little strength I had when young; but do not expect to reach your age. I have made an appointment to walk to Vauxhall and back again on the 12th, if the weather is favourable. But as to visits, for these many years I have never paid any, nor received any but for a special purpose.
“The bearer is Mr Mill, author of the celebrated History of British India, which, if you have not read, you cannot but have heard more or less of. Under the obscure title of Examiner, he bears no inconsiderable part in the government of the threescore or fourscore millions, which form the population of that country. On the death of the chief of the four Examiners, which is expected to take place ere long, he will succeed him, with a salary of £2000 a-year.
“He was one of the earliest and most influential of my disciples. The house he lives in looks into my garden.
“Hearing of the two spots in your neighbourhood, in both of which I several times took up my summer quarters, he expressed a desire to make a pilgrimage to them, as he did once to my birth-place in Red Lion Street, Hounds-ditch, and the unfortunate half-burnt-down residence in Crutched Friars. There are your own quondam residence in Chertsey, which you cannot but remember, and the farm-house at Thorpe, to which George Wilson and I used to repair in the long vacation, as you probably remember.
“Perhaps, after reading this, you may have the charity to send some servant or retainer to accompany Mr Mill, and conduct him to the two spots.
“Farewell: and, according to the Spanish compliment, live 1000 years, in addition to the ninety you have lived already. You have four years to run before you overtake your mother, or the last of the scriveners—scrivenorum ultimum.”
end of volume x.
Printed by William Tait, Prince’s Street.
[* ] For a notice of D’Ghies, see Works, vol. viii. p. 555.
[* ] The European Magazine, of April 1823, contains a short memoir of Bentham; accompanied with a portrait. The portrait is not a successful one. That by Pickeragill, of all the pictures painted, is incomparably the best. It is distinguished, indeed, by every sort of excellence. Of busts of Bentham, that by David of Angers is admirable.
[* ] Works, vol. v. p. 348.
[*] Mr Richard Smith, of the Stamps and Taxes. He likewise prepared for the press, from the original MSS., the following works, published in the collected edition:—“On the Promulgation of Laws.”—“On the Influence of Time and Place in Matters of Legislation.”—“Principles of the Civil Code.”—“Principles of Penal Law.”—“Political Tactics.”—“Anarchical Fallacies.”—“Principles of International Law.”—“Manual of Political Economy.”—“Annuity-Note Plan.”—“Nomography.”—“Pannomial Fragments.”—“Logical Arrangements.”—And “Introduction to the Rationale of Evidence.”
[* ] See “Observations on Mr Secretary Peel’s Speech on the Police Magistrates’ Salary Raising Bill.”—Works, vol. v. p. 328.
[* ] The statements which follow refer to differences between the Nomenclature of the Constitutional Code, and that of the Draught for the Organization of the Judicial Establishment in France, in the Works, vol. iv. p. 285 et seq.
[* ] Project of a New Penal Code for the State of Louisiana.
[* ] But see above, p. 142.
[* ] The system of dividing all subjects of analysis into two numbers, and no more, at each stage of division, maintained by Bentham to be the only truly exhaustive system. See it mentioned repeatedly in his Chrestomathia and Logic, in vol. viii. The Porphyrian Tree is found in almost all old editions of the Organon, attached to Porphyry’s Introduction.
[* ] Letter to William Courtenay, Esq., on the subject of the Chancery Commission.
[* ] Vide supra, p. 59.
[* ] See above, p. 229.
[* ] The passage Bentham refers to is in the Essay on Government, 1768, beginning of Section II. See Rutt’s Edition, vol. xxii. 13. See a reference to it in vol. xxiv., p. 35-36; with reference to the use of the expression by Beccaria, see above, p. 142.
[* ] See this process described in Works, vol. viii. p. 156.
[* ] The Rationale of Evidence.
[* ] John Crawfurd, formerly governor of Sincapore, and anthor of the “Account of the Indian Archipelago.”
[* ] In the same volume, this tract is followed by another on the same subject, of anterior date; and one on the subject of the Penal Code, that had been proposed for Spain. (Note to the letter.)
[* ] Lord Colchester.
[* ] See Constitutional Code, Book ii. chap. x. sect. 16.
[* ] In allusion to the dissolution of the Canning Cabinet in 1827.
[* ] See the work on Pauper Management, in vol. viii. of the Works.
[* ] There are seven volumes of Meyer’s book. It is a history of the most prominent legal institutions of modern Europe.