Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Dumont. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to Dumont. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 10.
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Bentham to 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.”
[* ] 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.