Front Page Titles (by Subject) J. B. to The Catholic Association. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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J. B. to The Catholic Association. - 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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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.”