Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXI.: 1823—27. Æt. 75-79. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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CHAPTER XXI.: 1823—27. Æt. 75-79. - 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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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.”
[* ] 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.