Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXII.: 1827—28. Æt. 79—80. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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CHAPTER XXII.: 1827—28. Æt. 79—80. - 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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1827—28. Æt. 79—80.
Opinions on Style, Collocation, and Accent.—Opinion on Contemporaries: Peel, Cobbett, Owen, Rammohun Roy. G. Dyer, Priestley, Napoleon, Eldon, &c.—His Secretaries.—Correspondence.—Neal.—Brougham.—Colonel Young and Lord W. Bentinck on East India Affairs.—Letter to the King of Bavaria.—Memoranda of Conversation on Miscellaneous Subjects.—Brougham’s Law Reforms.—Letter to Rammohun Roy.—Catholics and Dissenters.—Mina.—O’Connell and Law and Parliamentary Reform.—Felix Bodin.—Chamberlain Clark.
Bentham’s style of composition was the result of the most profound attention, and of a desire to make words the instruments for conveying the most correct notions of thoughts. For clearness of conception, Bentham was always employed in seeking clearness of expression. When language failed to present to him an appropriate instrument for the communication of his ideas, he hesitated not to create one. It has been said of him, that he used the English tongue ungracefully and harshly; and yet it would be difficult to find expressions more apt than those he employed for the enunciation of his views. His opinions on the subject of language always appeared to me both original and philosophical; and I shall therefore record them in the same shape in which, from time to time, they fell from his lips:—
“In the collocation of words, too little attention is paid to the sense. You have frequently to travel through a sentence before you come to the sense. The principal word of the sentence, the subject of what is predicated, should be presented to view in the first instance. Any word which is the subject-matter of a clause, should be embedded in the clause to which it belongs.
“The three sorts of class-qualifying, or modifying particles, are the negative, the limitative or restrictive, and the ampliative. To these the proper considerations of collocation should be specially applied.
“Another matter is to avoid interblending the description of the exceptions with the rule, which is an absolute torment to the reader. When exceptions are excepted, they can be arranged under the heads of 1, 2, &c.; and so be referred to over and over again, if necessary.
“No impropriety of language is ever wilfully committed, but for the sake of poetry.
“Tabular views are crutches to help on my crippled faculties. Artificial hands to stand in stead of natural. My natural faculties were so weak that they wanted all these supports.
“If I had been born to a despotic throne, I would have had two prisons built for those who mispronounce the ì, by introducing it after the place it occupies, as you do noeis, (noise;) or before, as Jack does in tiune, (tune.) For punishment, you should be tied together, back to back, Mazentius like; or as nature has tied her Siamese twins.
“In the Edinburgh Review, the words ‘Frappant proof’ are employed. The popular or fashionable neology imposes not the labour of obtaining conception of new thoughts.
“Accent is of great importance in pronunciation. The word which presents the greatest demand for attention, should be the word of emphasis. In composition, the subject-matter should be announced as soon as possible—at the beginning of the sentence—so will the matter become more prominent and clear.
“There is a wicked habit of putting the accents on wrong syllables, on wrong words, on adjectives and adverbs instead of substantives, and in compound nouns on the unimportant, instead of the important word.
“I cannot tolerate your dēsignate—dēmonstrate. All etymology of late—all prosody is confounded. So, again, you put the adjective before the substantive, giving the adjective the emphasis, though it is the least important. You say hundred weight, instead of hundred weight. To make a dactyl saves the time indeed, but confuses the meaning. Again, in two substantives, why farm-house, instead of farm-house, which contrasts with farm-yard. We may as well do as the French do—an equal accent for all words. I hate, too, your i—intruding itself before u—produce, news—prodiuce, niews. I do not like to think of all the wickedness of pronunciation. It will (with great gravity) bring the world to an end.”
He one day said, “William Belsham is a passionate, undiscerning historian.” “Undiszerning?” I asked. “No, Sir: I said no such thing. I wish all heretically-pronouncing persons had but one neck—and then—”
On another occasion, “I hate your sneaking z, its dizzing sound. The s has only a transitory sibilance—to hear these things is one of the sufferings old age dooms man to undergo.”
“I use a substantive where others use a verb. A verb slips through your fingers like an eel,—it is evanescent: it cannot be made the subject of predication—for example, I say, to give motion instead of to move. The word motion can thus be the subject of consideration and predication: so the subject-matters are not crowded into the same sentence,—when so crowded they are lost—they escape the attention as if they were not there. In codification everything is of importance. When I have written my code, I shall give the reason for the different formulæ—example—‘exceptions excepted.’—In the common way they are huddled together—one in the belly of another; in my form they come one after another, and the reader is invited to consider whether there may not be other exceptions.
“Peel’s manufacturers have taken in hand the endeavour to do away with some of the common repetitions and surplusages, such as the enunciation of different sexes,—the singular and plural, and so forth: but they do not see to the bottom of it. There are many cases where both singular and plural must be used, where the predication is either individual or collective.
“I have received a report from the United States on the disbanding of the army, which is just my slang, — the words, ‘Public-Opinion Tribunal’ — ‘sanctions,’ and so forth. It shows how much more real power a democratic government really possesses for a good end.
“What a whimsical collocation is this—(I do not remember the author.) ‘His exertions to relieve the king from his habitual vices, which were probably well intended, and proceeded from a sincere regard to his welfare’—a substantive should never be introduced between a relative and its antecedent.
“In a great many instances, ignorant people, instead of instructed people, have set the tone of pronunciation. I am sorry the world is not made of combustible matter, that I might set it on fire—hollow the earth—fill it with gun-powder—give me a match—what a noble fire-work it would make in the firmament!
“ ‘And into chaos pulverise the world.’
There! a line from the finest tragedy that was ever written—Chro-non-hoton-tho-lo-gos—a line of which is full of emphasis, though it only consists of a name—
“ ‘Aldiborontiphoscophornio.’ ”
Bentham rendered many services to the English language by the invention and adoption of new words and locutions. Some of these have already become classical, such as international, codify, codification, maximize, minimize, maximization, minimization, and many besides.
Others, such as forthcomingness, anteprandial, uncontradictable, though not accepted by public opinion, will, hereafter, when their value is felt, be probably recognised as useful auxiliaries to thought.
Some of his peculiar phrases were merely humorous and grotesque. His rule, as observed above, was, instead of a verb alone, to employ generally a noun in conjunction with it, for the purpose of dividing them for convenient use; and he frequently burlesqued his own theory. He would say “make-ringtion,” instead of “ring” the bell.
In his choice of words, Bentham was most particular. When I said to him once, “Did nothing of the sort occur to you in after-life?” “What do you mean by after-life?” he retorted. “Use no preposition, when you can find an adjective.”
He would use the phrases, “opulent mutton,” for “rich mutton;” “virtuous soup,” for “good soup;” “plausible potatoes,” for “tolerably good potatoes.”
Bentham excused the employment of his parenthetical style, by the argument, that a parenthesis enables a writer to avoid those objections to a general principle, which grow out of a particular exception.
Bentham’s opinions of some of his contemporaries, I record in his own words:—
“Peel is weak and feeble. He has been nursed at the breast of Alma Mater. Like the greyhounds of a lady I know, which were fed upon brandy to prevent their growth, so he feeds upon old prejudices to prevent his mind from growing. He has done all the good he is capable of doing, and that is but little. He has given a slight impulse to law improvement in a right direction.”
“The Whigs, during their short reign, instituted a Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at Edinburgh, which Canning left out as of no use. That was Oxford! How shallow! Canning and Peel are birds of the same feather.”
“Cobbett is a man filled with odium humani generis. His malevolence and lying are beyond anything.”
“Robert Owen begins in vapour, and ends in smoke. He is a great braggadoccio. His mind is a maze of confusion, and he avoids coming to particulars. He is always the same—says the same things over and over again. He built some small houses; and people, who had no houses of their own, went to live in those houses—and he calls this success.”
“Rammohun Roy has cast off thirty-five millions of gods, and has learnt from us to embrace reason in the all-important field of religion.”
“George Dyer’s book on the Constitution, is full of cringes and congés upon paper. A book without a subject or an object.”
“Dr Priestley was no favourite of mine. I thought him cold and assuming. He annoyed me by treating Dr Fordyce as an ignorant man. Now, I worshipped Dr Fordyce on account of his chemical knowledge. He knew everything that was then known. Dr Priestley assumed that he had made discoveries which were no discoveries; for example, the muriatic acid in a gaseous shape. He professed to have found it, but it was found by Van Hamel two hundred years ago.”
“I had once a good opinion of Napoleon: and as a French citizen I voted for his being Consul for life. I do not distinctly remember the grounds which induced me to do this: I thought it was the least evil.
“Buonaparte’s Code was only for despots. Talleyrand said my law projects were works of genius, but not adapted for purposes of tyranny.”
“Brougham.—Insincere as he is, it is always worth my while to bestow a day on him.
“I shall try to subdue him, and make something of him. I shall see whether he has any curiosity to assist in tearing the established system of procedure to rags and tatters.
“I am going off the stage. Brougham keeps on. When I am in the grave I shall have the advantage over him. He will, perhaps, disappoint me. Nothing so bad to be conceived of any man for which I am not prepared from any man.”
Bentham was much delighted with Brougham’s phrase, “The schoolmaster is abroad.” How comprehensive,—he said,—how expansive—how eloquent—how appropriate that word, abroad!
“Judge Richardson would have gone farther with law reform, but he was stopped by the Attorney and Solicitor General.
“B— says, that it is understood that Best makes all the rout he is making in order to be troublesome, so that he may get to be Chancellor of Ireland, with a peerage.”
“The Bishop of Llandaff, in the Lords’ debates, (of 16th May, 1817,) insinuating that Catholics’ oaths are not to be trusted,—think of this, and contrast with it the proof given in ‘Swear not,’ of universal perjury in Oxford men, and indifference to perjury in Cambridge men.”
“One day I met Eldon at Wilberforce’s. He had got into a controversy with a man, who was greatly his inferior, on the subject of law reform; and Eldon had a triumph. I took no part in the argument, but ventured on a joke or two, of which Eldon took no notice. I do not think he understood them.
“Eldon’s eloquence is gossiping. Ellenborough’s is commanding: it is fierce and atrocious, the object of my abomination.
“There is a pretty Tory trinity of Scott’s. The two lawyers and Sir Walter.”
Bentham thus estimated the character of Sir W. Jones: “He was considerably above the par of lawyers; but his mind was narrow, and his tout-ensemble disagreeable.”
I mentioned to Bentham that Sir R—W— was going to Florence. “He can do no good here—he can do no harm there: so let him go,” was his reply.
Speaking of a gentleman, whose usefulness had been greatly diminished by a too earnest pursuit of his own particular objects, Bentham said, “He is wholly under the influence of narrow interested feelings, antipathy and selfishness included. He hates the ruling few; but he does not love the subject many.”
“Lyseen’s book on Italy is a very curious book. In talking of their superstitions, it appears by one line, as if he believed them—and another, as if he scorned them; but the facts he has collected are most valuable, and scattered over the book in prodigious numbers.”
“The Pursuits of Literature are sad trash, written in the worst spirit by a trumpery author.”
“D— is close as an oyster. He should be called Osterius, like the man in Fleet Street, who wrote his name in huge letters, and took so much merit to himself for having reduced the price of oysters. He is close, and will be close to the end of his life.”
“B—, why does not B— avail himself of the facts I brought forward? Did not Lord Tenterden turn a blind eye, and a deaf ear, to them? It is natural the Judges should seek their own interest. See Lord Eldon, how he sets Acts of Parliament at nought; and the others practising monstrous extortions. If there had been any incorrectness in my statements, O I should have had it thick and threefold!”
Bentham had a succession of secretaries, many of whom have been distinguished in various professions after they left him, and of their different characters he often liked to talk. This is a sketch of one or two of them, verbatim from his lips:—
“C.’s father was a mechanic of the gentleman class, at Birmingham. He invented a pump for the navy, with some improvements. He engaged in partnership, made many pumps for the government, and much money out of them. My brother’s acquaintance with the father, led to my connexion with the son, who became my amanuensis. The father was a very interesting personage, and he had a beautiful house at Greenwich, whence there was a high and expansive view, and I had hope of having it for my Panopticon,—a magnificent instrument with which I then dreamed of revolutionizing the world. C. had two sons, Charles, the oldest, and Edward. They distinguished themselves at Westminster School. Charles married very early, a lady with a good fortune. His misfortune was, his getting acquainted with a man who was a drunken fellow, and he caught from him the contagion of drunkenness. Edward came to me. He was a remarkably placid, kind-hearted young man,—most remarkably so,—vastly kind and sensible. He had a disposition to study. I inoculated him with my fondness for chemistry, which I had acquired by looking into German books occasioually. He became fond of chemistry, and taught himself German. I communicated to him my brother’s notions, and my own, on the subject of posology, as to the means of forming a conception of a proposition without a diagram, on which the ideas were only individual, so that a man might have the individual without the general ideas.* He attended to this, and studied Hamilton’s Conic Sections, and went through the whole without the use of a diagram. I could not keep him long, and to my great regret indeed. Parting was a great grief to me. He put his going on his mother. I suppose he was ennuyé. He must needs go into the army, and went to the Cape, and other places. The army did him no good. He afterwards got hold of Southey, who bedevilled him entirely. He deteriorated sadly. He was quartered in Scotland, where he became acquainted with the family of a rich physician of the name of W—. Mrs W— had no children, but she had a niece, whom she brought up as if she had been her daughter. C. found such favour in their sight, that he married this niece. In process of time they quarrelled. His temper was totally changed.—I owed to him my acquaintance with Dr Macculloch, in 1794. As I said, he married this woman. I was musical,—she was musical,—and he was desirous of our meeting. I had then begun to shut myself up, and I declined it. Some eight or ten years ago he called to see me, for the express purpose of converting me to servilism. He had heard of my having intercourse with the U.S.; and spoke in terms of the utmost insolence, contempt, and abhorrence of the U.S. He assumed that I was quite gone wrong, and that a few words from him were to convert me. I gave Macculloch to understand, that there was no great use in his coming again. I thought it not unlikely, that if he came to live with me I could reconvert him, but there was no time for that. He talked with the utmost respect and affection of what I was, but said I had sadly fallen off. He hoped I should see matters in their proper point of view, and abandon those extravagant and mischievous notions with which I was impregnated. His father had inherited an estate of £500 a-year, from an ancestor of the name of Smith,—and had the estate called Sandhurst, purchased by government for the military college. He gave me once a loaf, which reminded me of my boyhood, and I kept it till it grew green, during Panopticon distress.”
“—’s eldest brother had no introduction to me. He became, I believe, a purser in a small vessel, which, touching at a watering-place in Kent, he met Mrs H. and married her. She had £400 to £500 a-year. Her only daughter died in her arms, who intended to have left her a large portion of the estate, but before the pen could be put into her hands, she died.”
“— — came when his brother went. He was a quick, ready fellow, but had no judgment. My brother used to say, ‘His mind is the child of your mind,’ but no! he is of no opinion, or of anybody’s opinion—but he is quick and has plenty of business. He lived here five summers, while I was at Ford Abbey with his gang of relations, during which I allowed him £100 a-year, but I could not endure his having all the mob here, and I put an end to it. He got acquainted with a family of the name of —, the father a lieutenant in the navy. They were of good family, and had some property. He was very glad to be admitted, and married one of the daughters. He has a monstrous number of children.
“There was a man of the name of —, who had a patent of some sort. In Devonshire was a mine of marble, which he bought, and went on working this mine of marble. — had such an opinion of it, that he took an interest, and engaged his brother to sell his wife’s dowry for £2000 to invest. I adventured, and lost £8000, and £2000 of my brother’s. Place said it would have succeeded, if properly managed. I believe the money, after all, was not paid for the mine, and the man went out of his mind.”
“My brother made acquaintance with the father of the —’s—a man of cleverness and experience, and a head on his shoulders. He got an appointment in one of the dock-yards. He had two sons, W— and T—. I took W— first, who was with me two or three years. He was forward, but cold, yet I once drew tears from his eyes. He became reporter to the Chronicle, which was his making. T— was a good boy, who died young. They had a cousin, whose name was H—, and who lived with me the first and second years of my being at Ford Abbey—a queer fellow: a stiff, innoxious, inoffensive creature, like the master of a college—starched, and fit for a parson. He went to Cambridge—tried for a fellowship—failed—took orders—and is now a curate at P— ;—his father, an opulent tradesman, having bought a living for him.”
John Neal to Bentham.
“Portland,Maine, 25th July, 1827.
“My dear Sir,—
This part of the United States has greatly improved since I was here last, eight years ago; and beyond all belief, since I left it in my boyhood, seventeen years ago. Education is attended to with more zeal throughout New England, I suspect, than anywhere else on earth,—I would not even except the small and populous district of Germany, where universities and colleges are as plentiful as academies are here; and what will gratify you exceedingly—you who are, of a truth, a philanthropist in your views of education, and a philanthropist of neither sex (by which I do not mean to class you with the no-sex of Byron)—is—(you see how much I am indebted to your pill-boxes for the fashion of this paragraph)—is, that here the education of females is attended to as a thing of equal importance with that of males; and that at Boston High School I was actually led to think of you, and of that Hazlewood Institution, which has been so largely indebted to you, and which is now spreading its mild and encouraging influence (though in a secret way, and through a multitude of unconscious channels) over every part of this country; and I could not help saying to myself, how happy it would make the philosopher of Queen’s Square Place, or better yet, the benevolent old man of Q. S. P., whose real character is but just beginning to be understood by about one person in every million of those to the happiness of whom he has devoted his whole life, if he could but stand with me at the desk of the aforesaid High School, and see the cheerful faces below him, a hundred beautiful girls or more, mothers and wives in miniature, all studying as he would have them study, so as to be happier for their intellectual exercise: here a little party undergoing the examination of a grave-looking child, with light eyes and clear complexion, the youngest it might be of the whole class, all of whom appeared as proud of her as we were; and there another tidy, trim-built couple, running a race together side by side in algebra! Think of that, Sir! Think of Jeremy Bentham leaning on his two elbows, and overlooking, from the top of a high desk, with his white hair flowing against his face, at least one hundred young, beautiful, and good human creatures, made happier by the improvements in education, for which he has been labouring so long, and every now and then pairing off to run races, not with hoops and skipping-ropes, (though they are not neglected,) but in algebra! But let me describe this:—Against a wall, there is a large black board, upon which the pupils write in chalk. There is but one school a day, instead of two; but it lasts rather longer than one usually does, and is divided in such a way, that such of the children as like it, may walk about and be happy. Some of them, therefore, do walk about, and prattle over their tasks; but others of a more ambitious temper, contrive to amuse themselves by giving challenges in algebra. Suppose a challenge given and accepted, the combatants pair off to the same spot before the black board: the question is read, and they may begin when they please, either when the reader begins to read, (which makes it a very difficult exercise, though some are very adroit at it,) or after the question has been gone through, in which case the risk of forgetting a part of the terms, may perhaps counterbalance the risk of mistaking them, if you begin before you fully comprehend the whole. The one who gets the answer first wins the race. And such is their inconceivable readiness, that one seldom gets a-head of the other more than a few figures; and I have seen complicated questions done by children of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen years, in a few seconds, which would have employed me for half-an-hour, and I used to be thought quick at figures. But I have seen something of this kind with you, at your British and Foreign School Society. The children there did marvellous things, and appeared to be happy; but then that was a show-day, while in the Boston High School for girls it was not a show-day. I happened in, as they say here, by accident; and saw nothing but their every-day exercises. Mr Pierpoint, the Unitarian preacher, of whom you have heard me speak so often and so highly, was, I suspect, one of the two or three who got up this admirable school, which at once has placed our daughters on the same footing as our sons, in all that can materially affect their minds, or materially help them in the education of their children.”
Brougham to Bentham.
“September 22, 1827.
“Know, then—I purpose to get up, (after a week’s notice, and no more, to the Honourable House,) and say, that a self-delusion has gone forth, of all being right at Common Law, because all is somewhat, and but a little more, wrong in Chancery; and therewithal I mean to open my Budget of Legal Common Law enormities—to lift the floodgates of whatever stores I possess or can borrow, (and herein don’t doubt your reservoirs being freely tapped,) of exposition—detail—illustration, homely and refined—attack, invective, sarcasm, irony, broad-joke, and drollery—in short, every kind of attack, not neglecting the pathetic, on our Criminal Code, and Debtor and Creditor Law. I mean, moreover, to carry my motion, not by moving for leave to bring in a code, or even one γϱυ of the said code, for I well know all powers of Church and State are against that; but by moving for a good commission, as good as the charity one was bad; and I know that their report must produce some proofs of changes, and large changes, being required. I thus, by propounding even this as a matter of figures, obtain all the inestimable didactic advantages of the academic, sceptical method—and there is not a part of our law or practice so received and unquestioned that I may not make the subject of discussion. These things coming from a practical man, who is making many thousands a-year by the craft, must have a good effect. And now, to answer your second query—Why out of office is better for this great delivery than in? If I were Attorney or Solicitor General, they would have a right to gag, at least to mitigate me; and I want to be well delivered of my burthen before that happens.—Yours ever.”
Bentham to Brougham.
“Q. S. P., 24th September, 1827.
“My dearest best Boy,—
You are not so much as fifty. I am fourscore—a few months only wanting: I am old enough to be your grandfather. I could at this moment catch you in my arms, toss you up into the air, and, as you fell into them again, cover you with kisses. It shall have—ay, that it shall—the dear little fellow, some nice sweet pap of my own making: three sorts of it—1. Is Evidence. 2. Judicial Establishment. 3. Codification Proposal—all to be sucked in, in the order of the numbers.
“Apropos of the Judiciary Establishment, it may be of use that you should know in the first instance, that, in the course of thirty-six intervening years, that plan has undergone some alterations, or, as Honourable House says,—amendments. Pursuer-general, for example, is become Government Advocate; Defender of the Poor, Eleemosynary Advocate.
“French judges were, out of uncontrollable necessity, then located by the people—mine everywhere, by the Minister of Justice. Patriotic auction, now pecuniary competition, is not conclusive upon his choice—only helps to guide it, &c. &c. Note.—That Judicial Establishment was then, only a part of it, in terminis, the rest, only in general description, and that not completed; now it is in a complete state, and the whole of it in terminis, though, as yet, in MS. only; in which state, if any part of that which is in print finds favour in your eyes, you will see the necessity of seeing it.
“Inter alia, when once the whole field of legislation is covered, as it so surely may be, with a stratum, or edifice, or growth, which you please, of statute law, by an infallible method, I prevent it to all eternity from being choked up in any part of it with a jungle of common, alias Judge-made law, stuffed, as hitherto, everywhere, with tigers and jackalls, by whom, with the addition of a few land-crocodiles of the Eldon breed, (need it be said,) the people are devoured.
“In conclusion, hear grandpapa again, and accept his blessing, which, however, (remember!) is but a conditional one, and conditioned for your continuing as a law reformer till the end of the next session, the same bonus puer which you were on the 22d of this instant September, 1827. Should you become naughty any part of that time, though but in a parenthesis, the Bête Noire shall be set upon you, and will gobble you up at a mouthful, screaming and sputtering notwithstanding.”
Brougham to Bentham.
“October 6, 1827.
Many thanks for the pap, I am already fat on it. I did not acknowledge it, being busy eating it; and saying nothing at meals is the way with us little ones—when hungry.
“I shall be in town next week, late.—Yours dutifully.”
Bentham to Brougham.
“Q. S. P., 9th October, 1827.
“Dear sweet little Poppet,—
If it continues, unus bonus puer, it will toddle hither immediately upon its return; and besides some more pap, made in the same saucepan, it will get fed with some of its own pudding; for a dish there is, which, in the vocabulary of Q. S. P., goes by the name of ‘Master Brougham’s pudding,’ though if, in an indictment for stealing it, it were named by the name of pudding, defendant prisoner would be acquitted, had the whole of the noble army of martyrs kissed their thumbs in proof of the fact.
“Seriously, if you think seriously of making any use of that stuff of mine which you have, it will be material, (as I am sure you will be satisfied,) that you should have the earliest cognizance of a quantity of other stuff that is connected with it.
“At sight of this, employ two words in naming a day when I may expect you. All other engagements shall give way to the one so made. Any day, so named, will accordingly be considered as fixed, without answer on my part.”
“30th November, 1827.
“My dear Boy—
You have now been breeched some time; and, with a little study, you are able, I am sure, to get a short exercise by heart, and speak it quite pretty. Here is one for you: the next time you toddle to Q. S. P., let me hear you say it; and if you say it without missing more than four words, I have a bright silver fourpence for you, which you shall take and put into your pocket.
“When you say it, you are to fancy you are in the House of Commons; that I am Speaker; and you sitting on one of the forms, with a pretty silk gown on your little shoulders, and a fine bushy wig on your little pate; and then you start up, as fierce as a little lion, and say what is in the paper which is here enclosed.
“Do as you are bid—I am sure you can, if you will—and the one I have mentioned is not the last of the silver fourpences you will receive from the hands of your loving guardian,
“Master Henry Brougham.
“P.S.—In some places, you will see various readings marked by brackets. Give my respects to your grandmamma, and beg of her to choose for you which you shall say.”
Bentham to Col. Young.
“December 28, 1827.
“This moment received, and with the delight you may imagine, through Bowring’s lips heard, both your letters, that to him and that to me included. Now comes something which it may be of use to you to hear, and which I venture to send you through him, not thinking it fit to be transmitted through any ordinary amanuensis. Lord William Bentinck, not many days ago, sailed from hence. A few days before his departure, Mill paid me a morning visit, a very unusual thing with him; for, in general, he waits for summons from me. He said he came as the harbinger of good news. For the purpose of bringing him in contact with Lord William, Douglas Kinnaird had made a dinner; but, as his custom was, instead of a tête-à-tête, it was a mob dinner—mob composed of between thirty and forty individuals. However, some way or other, they two were brought into more special contact, and a conversation ensued—the particular import of which I do not remember, except that it ended in the expression of a desire of renewal of acquaintance on the part of Lord William. Now, as Providence had ordained, so it was, that Mrs Grote, the banker’s wife—you know more or less about her—had an acquaintance with Lord William. It had been formed at the country residence of an intimate, and, I believe, a relation of hers, Plomer, formerly Member for Hertfordshire. Rebus instantibus, an arrangement was formed for a really tête-à-tête dinner at Grote’s, appointed to take place the then next Thursday, which was either yesterday se’nnight, or yesterday fortnight, I forget which—I think it was the 10th, he being to sail the 15th of this month. Mill has, at all times, been a declared, and, I have every reason to think, in this instance, a sincere trumpeter of Panopticon, recommending it within the field of his dominion, and, in particular, Bombay, during the vice-royalty of Elphinstone.
“He said he had trumpeted once, and should, on that occasion, trumpet again the said Panopticon. If so, said I, you may as well have a copy to give him, for your text or subject-matter. Yes, said he; but in that case, your name and his should be inscribed in it. Agreed, said I—and so it was. After this day, I saw Mill again, and in general terms he reported to me the result. At the nick of time, comes out a number of the Scotsman, Edinbro’ newspaper, which you cannot but be more or less acquainted with, taking for its subject not only an immense Evidence work,* (a copy of which, you will receive along with these presents,) but also the author thereof—a transprint of which, in a number of the Examiner, is likewise destined to accompany them. Mill said, Grote having, I forget how, in hand a copy of the original, made Lord William hear it from beginning to end. You will judge whether ’tis not natural that this matter should have given me some place, somewhere or other, in an odd corner of your Calcutta sovereign’s good opinion; though, should this even be the case, how any very determinate use should be capable of being made of it, I do not see, unless it be the disposing him to set up a Panopticon there,—a measure to which he expressed himself well inclined. As yet, all this is trifling enough; but that which is not so, is contained in fewer than a dozen words, which I have now to mention. They are these:—‘I am going to British India; but I shall not be Governor-General. It is you that will be Governor-General.’ Having said these words, he gave me a strict injunction of secrecy, the demand for which is sufficiently evident. * * * * * * * A general proposition to this effect, renders needless a host of details. Another piece of information, also in generals, was, that Lord William was, in his judgment, a well-intentioned, but not a very well-instructed man; but something more particular and proportionably instructive, on this head, was, that he said to Mill,—‘I must confess to you, that what I have ever read amounts to very little, and that it is not without pain that I can read anything!’ Quoth Mill,—‘As to this book, it is not only a preëminently useful, but an amusing book; and so much so, that I could venture to recommend it for Lady William’s reading in that view.’ Well said, James Mill!—if it was so said; but that is more than the author himself would take upon himself to say of it.
“As to your notion of my being governed in my notions about anything whatsoever by a certain person, you will more effectually learn from the writer of this than from the inditer, how complete, on this occasion, is your misconception. This about the Stamp Act I look upon as rather good news than otherwise. I hope it may lead to permanent good. * * * *
“What occurs to me, with a view to the expected dissolution of Mrs Company, and George the Fourth (whom God preserve!) stepping into her shoes, is this—that you should lay your heads together, and form, in gradation, a number of schemes, one over another, or under another, whichever end of the ladder you choose to consider as uppermost, all of them with a view to their being, one or more of them, presented in due form to Parliament, to periodical press, or any other constituted authorities. Scheme of government the first, that which, in your own view of the matter, is most desirable; but of that, in proportion as it is desirable the acceptance being improbable. Scheme the second, that which appears in the next degree desirable, and thence in the next degree less improbable—and so on, upwards or downwards, as you please, as many schemes one under or above another, as your invention, supported by your patience, can supply. Of course, in this instance, as in every other, proportioned to their fear of those in subjection, will be the probability of condescension and compliance on the part of rulers—and fear will bear a natural proportion to the sense of impotence, as will that sense to the degree of relative indigence. Just now, under existing circumstances, namely, apprehended expense, though so perfectly free from danger on the score of a Turkish war, the increasing refractoriness of the Irish, and the sinking state of our finances, the probability seems to be that by a moderate stir, considered in general, and by the existing stir your letter speaks of in particular, no inconsiderable effect on this tottering administration may not unreasonably be expected. An additional embarrassment may be produced by the refractoriness of Canada. * * * * *
“Among your enemies, they being on all occasions the enemies of everybody and of everything that is good, you number Judge and Co. In the five cartloads herewith sent, particularly the fourth, you will find no small store of stones to stone them with. Coming with your recommendation, and your account of him, abstraction made of the importance of the errand which has brought him to this country, your Mr Crawfurd,* cannot fail of being received at the Hermitage with two pair of open arms.
“Farewell, my ever dear and respected friend! With what delight, on your return to your native Britain, I should clasp you psychologically in my embrace—physically my arms would not reach you, quotn the now octogenarian hermit of Q. S. P.
“P.S. 16th February, 1828.—This day, I have commenced my eighty-first year, alive and merry.”
Bentham to the King of Bavaria.
I am that Bentham of whose work on legislation so much is said in M. Bexon’s proposed Code. Since that time I have not been idle. Respect for your Majesty’s time enjoins economy in words.
“Causes of this address: the delight inspired by your late speech, and the hope of rendering assistance to designs so generous, so exemplary, and, especially from a throne, so unexampled.
“Provincial States—Penal Code, all-comprehensive, and in harmony with the public voice.—Justice administered with open doors.—Sole ground of decision, as far as practicable, vivd voce evidence:—on all these subjects, with so many others inseparably connected with them, this speech of your Majesty’s found me occupied.
“Nothing can well be conceived worse adapted to their professed ends, than the aggregate mass of our law, really existing and purely fictitious taken together, (for purely fictitious is whatever is called unwritten law,) with the Judiciary Establishment and system of Procedure thereto belonging: whatsoever of prosperity we are in possession of, being the result of causes, other than the aptitude of those professed means, with reference to their declared ends.
“The labour of sixty years of the fourscore I have lived, has, at length, succeeded in drawing to these truths the eyes of the public, and even of Parliament.
“Of a proposed Code of mine—all-embracing, all-comprehensive in its extent—an outline, with considerable explanations of detail, is in preparation; and will, I trust, be ready for presentation in the course of our next Session: some parts excepted, which are declaredly reserved, as not being suited to present times. In proportion as a fair copy advances, any person sent by anthority of your Majesty shall be welcome to transcribe it.
“In the meantime, your Majesty’s acceptance is requested for a few articles in print, all aiming at being contributory to the above purpose. These are:—
“I. Codification Proposal:—here mentioned in the first place, because, by the annexed testimonials, assistance may be lent to an anticipative judgment, whether, by information from the source in question, adequate payment for any further attention is likely to be made.*
“II. Proposed Constitutional Code. Vol. i. this, unbound; vol. ii. not being as yet printed, nor, indeed, quite completed: Preface, embracing both volumes, consequently not capable of being prefixed.
“This requires not only explanation, but apology.
“The political communities which, on this occasion, I had in view, were those whose constitution may be considered as being as yet unsettled. Such are, for example, the newly formed, or newly forming States, of late Spanish America. A representative democracy is the only form of Government which those States, or any of them, seem disposed to endure. It is, moreover, the only form of Government which, to political communities so circumstanced, I could, with any degree of sincerity, or on any tenable grounds in point of argument, take upon me to propose. Your Majesty’s magnanimity will forgive this declaration; your Majesty’s discernment will note the use of it: after such an acknowledgment, there can be no concealed design: no design to injure on pretence of serving.
“So far as regards those countries,—the above-mentioned testimonials will, some of them, help to show whether my labours in this vineyard have been altogether without fruit: so likewise the published translation made of those of my works into Spanish. In those countries, no young man, who is not conversant with them, is regarded as having had a liberal education: such, at least, is the information I have repeatedly received from official sources.
“To return to the above-mentioned proposed Code. Though, in what regards the supreme power, not adapted to any form of Government other than a Republican, yet in no inconsiderable quantity, may be seen in it matter which, if applicable with advantage under any one form of Government, may be so under any other.
“Follow a few examples:—
“1. Plan for keeping in its state of all-comprehensiveness, and whatever symmetry may have originally belonged to it, an all-comprehensive Code, when once formed: preserving it, at the same time, from being overrun, and obscured, and loaded, by an overgrowth, composed of what is so self-contradictorily called Unwritten Law: that is to say, of deductions made, and made by any and everybody that pleases, from judicial decisions. What is proposed to be done for this purpose, on the occasion of the proceedings of Legislative bodies, may be seen in this volume: to wit, in Ch. vi., Legislature, Section 29, Members’ Motions: [Works, vol. ix. p. 190-91.] What is proposed to be done for this same purpose, on the occasion of the proceedings of judicatories, will be to be seen in the as yet unprinted volume: that is to say, in Ch. xii. Judiciary Establishment, Section 19, Judges’ contested-interpretation-reporting function; Section 20, Judges’ eventually-emendative function; Section 21, Judges’ sistitive, or say, execution-staying function; Section 22, Judges’ preinterpretative function, [p. 502 to 512.]
“2. Plan for an all-comprehensive and systematical registration of the proceedings of all Public offices. Ch. viii., Prime Minister, Section 10, Registration System, [p. 209]: and Ch. ix., Ministers collectively, Section 7, Statistic function, [p. 232 to 253.]
“3. Plan for carrying economy and aptitude, at the same time, on the part of functionaries, to an ideal point of perfection, as indicated by three words, destined for the title of a separate publication: namely, Official aptitude maximized; expense minimized: and it is shown how, so far from being repugnant, diminution of expense is subservient to augmentation of aptitude. Chapters and Sections—Ch. ix., Ministers collectively, Section 15, Remuneration; Section 16, Locable who; Section 17, Located how; Section 18, Dislocable how: [p. 266 to 294.] In a monarchy, this of course cannot be applicable to the situation of monarch: but it may to any or all subordinate ones.
“The tract entitled Letters to Toreno, is sent on account of some views which it contains relative to Penal Legislation, and which are not to be found elsewhere.
“Some annexed manuscript Tables of Contents, as indicated by Titles of Chapters and Sections, may help to convey a faint anticipation of my views on the subject of the Judicial Establishment, the Penal Code, and Judicial Procedure: between criminal and civil no demand having, on this occasion, been found for any line of separation.
“Another accompaniment of this address is a packet of eight leaves, containing so many exemplars, all written at the same time by the same hand: name of the system of transcription which they exhibit—the manifold system. Mechanical as it is, the sort of operation, the result of which is thus exemplified, forms, by the application thus made of it, no inconsiderable article in the list of those on which, in my own view of the matter, the usefulness of my Procedure Code depends. With the exception of any such suits as, by their want of importance, fail of affording a sufficient warrant for the expense,—each portion of discourse, or other material incident whatsoever, on the occasion of any suit, civil or criminal, as it passes before the Judge, is minuted down in writing: minuted down, that is to say, in this same manifold form; to wit, either in the first instance, or in the form of so many copies taken, by one and the same operation, of a rough draft. In this way, as far as fourteen exemplars have actually been taken at once: and eight, in characters as legible as these, have habitually been taken, for several years past, for commercial and comparatively private purposes. An account of the invention, and its uses, as applied to all government proceedings, judicial more particularly, may be seen in the accompanying Code, in Ch. viii., Prime Minister, Section 10, Registration System. [Works, vol. ix. p. 209.]
“As to beauty,—for purposes of such superordinate importance,—a quality of such subordinate importance will not, assuredly, be deemed worth regarding.
“As to usefulness, one great use is this. In case of Appeal, these Exemplars, one or more of them, go up to the Appellate Judicatory, by the Letter post. This, except to a party who chooses to employ an Advocate, will, at the Superior Judicatory, constitute the whole of the expense.
“For registration and preservation, of written instruments giving expression to transfers made of property in all its shapes, and to obligatory agreement of all sorts,—preservation of them from falsification, as well as from destruction, the usefulness of it will be equally incontestable.
“The invention is by a lady of good family, whose husband is a gentleman of note, and in easy circumstances. What makes this mention necessary, is—that to perform the operation would require some instruction: a few weeks might even be necessary; and, otherwise than through them, no such instruction is to be had. They would, I will be answerable for them, with pleasure afford it to any person coming with authority from your Majesty to receive it.
“Of the appropriate paper, the price is here less than that of the most ordinary writing paper: the cost of the apparatus, consisting of the thinnest and cheapest pieces of silk (the more worn the better)—the habitual wear and tear would not raise it above that price. I see no reason for supposing the sort of paper not to be already made, or at any rate without difficulty capable of being made, in your Majesty’s dominions. Meantime, in this country it may be had in any quantity for the experiment; but, in this case, would be to be added of course the price of freight.
“This letter, more or less of it, will, probably, sooner or later, be printed and published, unless commands from your Majesty to the contrary are received. Should the intentions manifested in it be regarded as meriting so high a reward, it will be conferred by a letter, written in your Majesty’s own hand, notifying the receipt of this. In this shape alone do I receive rewards at the hands of monarchs. In this shape, I received my sufficient reward from the late Emperor Alexander. In my correspondence with that monarch, as printed in my herewith sent Papers on Codification, it may be seen that any service it may be in my power to render to crowned heads is not the less zealous—and assuredly it is not the less sincere—for being, in the ordinary sense of the word, gratuitous.
“A nearly complete list of my works is added. Such of them as are still in print are at your Majesty’s service, gratuitously; or at the bookseller’s price, as your Majesty pleases. Of the Constitutional Code, vol. i., herewith sent, a Spanish translation has, at the expense of the author, been made, and printed for gratuitous distribution.
“To conclude. Till now—in vain, if disposed to insincerity, could I deny it—all the arguments I have been able to find on the subject of monarchy, tend in disfavour of it. Even now, the only argument I can see—but it is no weak one—in favour of that form of government, is this same speech of a King of Bavaria.
“With unfeigned respect and admiration, nor altogether without hope of usefulness, I remain, Sir, your Majesty’s servant to command,” &c.
The King of Bavaria to Bentham.
It was only in the course of the month of August that I received the letter you addressed to me from London, on the 20th December, 1827, by which you have kindly sent me your work, entitled Codification Proposal. I thank you much for your attention. I have communicated these writings to the Commission charged with the projects of Legislation, which will not fail to avail themselves of the knowledge of an author so enlightened, in all which may be applicable to our states, our constitutions, and our usages. Receive the expression of my gratitude, and that of the sentiments of esteem, with which I am, &c.
“Munich, 10th Oct., 1828.”
The following are memoranda from Bentham’s conversation in the years 1827-8:—
Speaking of public men, hostile to good government, Bentham said: “The enemies of the people may be divided into two classes. The depredationists, whose love of themselves is stronger than their hatred to others; and the oppressionists, whose hatred to others is stronger than their love of themselves.”
“Malice is a murderous instrument in the hands of a cursed lawyer, by which he may commit his murders in the name of the law.”
“In defensive force the principle is, no doubt, involved, that attack may be remotely necessary to defence. Defence is a fair ground for war. The Quaker’s objection cannot stand. What a fine thing it would have been for Buonaparte to have had to do with Quaker nations!”
“How did I improve and fortify my mind? I got hold of the greatest-happiness principle: I asked myself how this or that institution contributed to the greatest happiness—Did it contribute?—If not, what institution would contribute to it?”
“I am never disposed to revenge a deed of injustice done to myself; but to another, when done, I should punish the perpetrator by dashing him against the wall.”
“In law, a tax is a prohibition to every man who cannot pay the tax. This is understood in trade, but seems not to be understood in anything else.”
Law and Lawyers.
“The Roman law is a parcel of dissertations badly drawn up: the views of the Roman lawyers were, however, more expanded than the views of the English lawyers.”
“The principle of justice is, that law should be known by all: and, for its being known, codification is absolutely essential.”
“What a strange state of legislation it is when a case for a shilling is called penal—and, it may be, for a man’s whole property, and then it is civil. I cannot use the word capital crime. Why not mortal?”
“Wherever you see the word void, there is rascality for the cursed lawyers—and this in all its conjunctions. It is a sacrifice of the ends of justice to the ends of judicature: so nullity,—so badness.”
“Simple taxation to the amount of the sinister benefit of the lawyers, would be as nothing in comparison to the present evil: it would be merely depredation to the amount, without denial of justice.”
“The late Francis Horner mentioned to me (1806) a case he knew of, in which thirteen representations, one after another, were made to the Lord Ordinary. Representations are papers put in merely for delay, in the same form of words, and there is a fee on each to the Judge’s clerk. What is any such representation but a bribe? What does bribery lose of its baseness by being unpunishable?”
“What can be done with lawyers? Hold up rascality, and what then? Demonstrate, and you get no answer,—but if there be the slightest flaw in your arguments, it is laid hold of, and becomes an object of public attention.”
“Under the present system of refusing the evidence of unbelievers, any man has the power of conferring pardon by declaring himself an unbeliever. This may be done in a multitude of ways. The king may send a man to murder another, and afterwards pardon him. This is absolute power over the life of every subject. This was done by a late statute, and in order to get rid of an absurdity, they chose to deprive the public of a security.”
“My project would be, to have a black-book, clearly printed, containing the record of all offences. My lord brother* would figure there for defending the old statutes for attainder of blood. In a newspaper the impression is transitory—evanescent; but in such a book, published every year, the infamy would be permanent. Horne Tooke had taken note of the people that had deserved ill of their country, and it was used as evidence of high treason, and that he meant they should all be massacred.”
“Pleadings are a most perfect nuisance,—to be expunged altogether: written pleadings are of no more use in a court than they would be in a necessary-house. Now, suppose this foolish system were applied to the evidence given before the House of Commons: they would have to wait one year for every answer, and the answer would have to wait another year for elucidation.”
“Deontology.—Aristotle’s virtue, fortitude, is a virtue or a vice according as applied. You must know the nature of the case in which a man has to give exercise to the quality, before you can decide on its being a virtue or not,—but when I was thirteen I was already too cunning to be taken in by that.”
“They talk against suicide. And yet there is not a text in which it is prohibited. But how little do Christians care about the commands of Christianity. Was ever a text more clear than that, ‘Swear not at all,’—but it has been cavilled away by glosses and meanings which in no other case would be listened to for a minute.”
“Utility was an unfortunately chosen word. The idea it gives is a vague one. Dumont insists on retaining the word. He is bigoted, old, and indisposed to adopt what is new, even though it should be better.”
“It is sometimes necessary to write a whole book, in order to work out a single truth, which may be expressed in a single sentence. In literature, like philosophy, there is often a result of simplicity, which is got at by elaborate reasonings.”
“I have done my part for Law Reform. The subject is more likely to be taken up when I am dead, and I shall reap the profit of it, even in the way of reputation. No doubt, possession is better than expectation—but expectation of happiness may be happiness.”
“Fanny Wright told me Socrates was pure as an icicle. I answered that it was my misfortune to read Greek, and to know better. What I read of Socrates was insipid. I could find in him nothing that distinguished him from other people, except his manner of putting questions. This would have been good, had it been explained why; but the devil a bit of an explanation was there. For didactic purposes, it is good for bringing forward the appropriate subject of speculation.”
“Antiquarianism is the natural resource of aristocracy. All its memorials are monarchical and aristocratic.”
“I never could endure a commonplace. I am not equal to it. I could not make a speech, of the worthlessness of which I was conscious.”
I once recommended Bentham to read some book; and he said: “By daylight, I have something else to do—by candlelight, I cannot see.”
“I never read poetry with enjoyment. I read Milton as a duty. Hudibras for the story and the fun: but Hudibras ended in nothing—but an Epistle to the Widow.”
“I should like a collection of verses from the simplest to the most complex. There is much to be done yet with language. Now, first take a substantive—then a substantive and adjective—then a substantive, adjective, and verb: and so on.”
I remarked to Bentham that he often wrote without looking at the paper on which he was writing. “Yes,” said he, “as on a stringed instrument, the mind takes in the whole piece by a volition—a complicated volition embraces the whole; but if there are staccato notes—if the passage is interrupted or difficult, then a separate volition or act of the mind is wanting: if four or five consecutive notes follow, the manner of producing each note separately from the rest, is not thought of.
“I cannot write in the ordinary way. It would fatigue me. I hold the paper in my hand, which rests on the table, and thus get on much faster. I write about 16 pages a-day. I have a great abhorrence of waste, yet I am profuse in the use of paper. I had rather give twopence, than waste a penny.”
“Between sleeps, I cannot do much in the way of invention, not having the signs before me. I am troubled by tunes, or by the recollections of past events. These recollections are always plaguesome; for, if the events were painful—painful must be the memory of them: and if pleasurable, the pleasure is departed. The putting aside one’s thoughts, is the great instrument of peace. At night, I cannot easily solve a problem, though it does not long remain a difficulty. I apply to it one of my keys—such as this: the good and evil produced by the different classes of offences, enables me to look for the proper remedy. There is always some nostrum for the case.”
“When I was looking into old MSS., I expected to find the names and writing less and less legible as they were more and more ancient; but, going backwards from Elizabeth’s time, the writing is more and more intelligible.”
“What remarkable letters are these of the Earl of Essex! They might have been written at the present day.”
“The taking the money from the Canadians by the English Government, in order to do them mischief, is just like the story in Count Fathom, where the beautiful lady in the coach-house has her pocket picked, and the money is employed for her own seduction.”
“The Hebrew is a fine language for the expression of simple ideas. It wants the inflections which result from men’s throwing their thoughts about them.”
“Were not pen, ink, and paper necessary to writing, writing would be a very agreeable thing; but pen, ink, and paper are never disposed unanimously to obey the writer’s mandates,—there is generally something amiss with one or other of them.”
“My ‘idleness’ is to do that which does not belong to the order of the day. Anything which presents itself with a particular demand for recordation, I set down, if it present itself with an apt expression or method. Now, my order of the day is one of the three codes. When not busied with these, deontology, logic, and language, occupy my thoughts.”
“Few things are more wanting than a code of international law. Vattel’s propositions are most old-womanish and tautological. They come to this: Law is nature—Nature is law. He builds upon a cloud. When he means anything, it is from a vague perception of the principle of utility; but more frequently no meaning can be found. Many of his dicta amount to this: It is not just to do that which is unjust.”
“In England, the most expensive plan is always preferred: 1st, because economy would set a bad example; 2d, because ignorance has no means of judging but from expense.”
“When I was made a Bencher, I accepted the rank, as I thought it would be the means of saving me from persecution. They were some time in choosing me, and I was some time—I believe six months—in accepting.”
“The American colonies really said nothing to justify their revolution. They thought not of utility, and use was against them. Now, utility was the sole ground of defence. What a state the human mind was in, in those days! I was not then sufficiently advanced in the study of government to show the true grounds of opposition; that a country could not be well governed by one so very far from it; that appeals are an instrument of despotism in the hands of the rich against the poor. It seemed no part of duty to excite enmities from one set of men against another set of men; for by exciting enmity, you destroy all the effects of your deliberate counsel.”
“The Danaides filling with water, vessels full of holes, are alike the emblem and the prophecy of the Wisdom of the Ancients, about which Bacon talks. They but anticipate the endeavour to gorge the appetites of the ruling few with the elements of felicity taken by unpunishable depredation from the subsistence of the subject many.”
“A proper device for ‘wisdom of ancestors,’ would be a man with eyes behind, and none before.”
“Polemics are a pretence to know things essentially unknowable.”
“Nemo omnibus horis sapit, is the best elucidation of non omnes possumus omnia. The mind cannot be permanently kept on the stretch.”
“The principle of pensions of retreat is so obviously wrong, that I wonder it should not have been more frequently attacked. The assumption is, that the more you give for service, the better service you will have. Now, independently of salary, all public offices confer power which is not to be had out of them,—yet out of them there are no pensions of retreat, nor are they found necessary for securing the best services.”
“When the Insolvent Debtors’ Court was set up, I expected no good from it, except the discharge of debtors, and I have not been disappointed. I thought they had neither the will nor the power to make a good thing of it: not the will, for they had not the interest,—not the power, for they had not the machinery. But the failure is much greater than I had any idea of.”
“Costs can only be cured by local jurisdictions—justice accessible everywhere. It is now the interest of attorneys to have as many witnesses as they can. They get paid for attendance, examination, and so on, all of which might be avoided by examination by the judge. They have also more evidence than can ever be heard, as matter of precaution. Character-evidence has no check. You might go on to examine evidence of the character of the evidence giver, and so on ad infinitum. It is all vague; so good character is no evidence against a fact, and bad character is worse—it is vague assertion without a specific fact.
“Expenses ought not to be thrown on the parties. Would the public bear it? They ought to bear it. The nonlitigants have the benefit of that protection which the litigants pay so dearly for.
“In every case, the injured man who pays costs, suffers an aggravation of the injury.
“Of what use are all these petty peddling reforms of the law? the abuses must be swept away in a mass.
“Our laws are made by judges for the benefit of judges.
“I should support juries at the cost of my life. They are a check upon the despotism of the judges, who are only the instruments of the despotism of the king,—though, in a proper judicature, neither would be wanting.”
“In one of Frederick of Prussia’s projects, there is a foolish declaration, that he would have all law-suits ended in a twelvemonth. Fixation of penalties, and fixation of time, are a prodigious source of evil, which I am combating with all my might. Frederick, by fixing twelve months, gave a sort of license for any suit to last as long as this.”
“Deontology—In writing my Deontology, I took the virtues as referred to by Aristotle—traced such of them as would blend with mine, and let the rest evaporate.”
“The distinction between pleasure and happiness, is, that happiness is not susceptible of division, but pleasure is. A pleasure is single—happiness is a blended result, like wealth. Now, nobody would call a rag wealth, and yet it is a part of the matter of wealth.”
“A good system of morals, would give the practiser of them the pleasures of sympathy and the benefits of friendship. It would teach him to refrain from annoying others.”
“Revenge is a dear bought, uneconomical pleasure. It purchases everlasting hatred at the price of a moment’s gratification. Consider when a wrong has been done, if exposure would prevent its repetition. If so, it is an act of self-regarding prudence; but the exposure should be temperate, prudent, and appropriate to the occasion.”
“The classification of the virtues resolves itself into four: pure self-regarding prudence, extra-regarding prudence, negative-effective benevolence, positive-effective benevolence, or the benevolence accompanied with or followed by beneficence. For a man to take care of himself, is prudence—of others, is benevolence; and these two heads exhaust the subject. There is benevolence on a small scale, and benevolence on a large scale. In treating the subject, take the simple cases first, the complicated afterwards. The pleasure of effective benevolence, on the widest scale, few are susceptible of—it is a choice and aristocratical pleasure. You must show, how, by consulting the interests and happiness of other persons, pain may be avoided—pleasure created.
“The great difficulty is the mistaking the adjacent for the permanent interest. An atomic speck upon the eye, will cover an island. The mistake may be seen in a thousand instances. A man cohabits with a woman. He obeys the impulse of interest, and gets diseased. Esau gets a mess of pottage. He obeys the impulse of interest, and loses his birthright. M— makes the same mistake in gathering together his hundreds of thousands.”
“On how many occasions do we give pain, when we might give pleasure?
“Every act of kindness is, in fact, an exercise of power, and a stock of friendship laid up; and why should not power exercise itself as well in the production of pleasure as of pain? If you do not draw down friendship, you alienate enmity.”
“Remember we do not exercise, or ought not to exercise, even a besoin in vain. It should serve for manure. Tread not on an insect.”
“Deal as scantily towards yourself as you please, but do not deal so towards other people.”
“There are many religious people who had rather see men miserable than innoxious. Unhappiness is the instrument by which they would make us angels; but the brutes are often interested in corruptions—out of them they gain influence and reputation.”
“Logic.—What is the use of the dialectic part of logic? Is it not a parcel of stuff that leads to nothing? The nomenclature which shows the relation of one proposition to another in the way of reasoning? I remember when reading, even at thirteen or fourteen, that I could learn nothing from the examples given, which are generally sad nonsense; and I asked myself ‘Cui bono?’ and could give myself no answer. In writing, the thing is to get the whole of the subject before you.”
Bentham frequently spoke of the value of logic, and of the undeserved neglect into which the study had fallen in later times. He insisted on its universal application to all the purposes of art and science. “From a given point, as that of a triangle,” said he, “a man may make excursions into all parts of the field of thought—he may apply the true principles of logic to the whole domain of knowledge.”
“I have been influenced through life by short texts, which were impressed on my memory in boyhood. Among them the favourite have been the three words from Thucydides, which Clarendon has made the motto to his history:—
“ ‘ϰτῆμα ἐς ἀεί.’
That verse of Lucan:—
“ ‘Nil actum credens dum quid superesset agendum.’
The line of Homer:—
“ ‘οὐϱανῷ ἐστήϱιξε ϰάϱη, ϰαὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ βαίνει.’
With its Latin translation:—
“ ‘Ingrediturque solo et caput inter nubila condit.’
“I have endeavoured to bring two elements into my writings—invention, and correctness; and have kept the quodlibet cum quolibet constantly in view.”
“Who would not be comfortable, if it depended on his own will?”
“The humility of the English church is, to be clad in purple and fine linen, and to live upon turtle, venison, and pineapples.”
“What an occasion of felicity on the part of the inhabitants of New South Wales is the introduction of the pumpkin!—yet I could not tolerate those blue-bottle flies which blow the meat even while it is trundling on the spit. But New South Wales is the place to go to and live at for ever, without disease. I am reconciled to the loss of Panopticon when I think of the mass of happiness that is being created there. Wentworth may in time become a good minister of justice. If the people be attacked by a military force, they must retreat into the interior to the other side of the Blue Mountains.”
“In our system, all that can add to the opulence and wealth of the ruling few, is made provision for; but the happiness of individuals is not thought of.”
I have before mentioned Bentham’s dislike to the maxim—“That nothing but favourable things should be told of the dead.” One day he said to me, “ ‘Gloria in excelsis!’ To talk of De mortuis nil nisi bonum, is as much as to say, De excelsis nil nisi bonum. Who ever heard of any mortui that were not excelsi? This maxim is one of the inventions of despotism: it perpetuates misrepresentation of the ruling few at the expense of the subject many; it employs suppression instead of open lying, for the purpose of deception; it would shield depredation and oppression from exposure; and when it is too late to prevent misdoings by present punishment, would protect the misdoers even against future denunciation and judgment. Aristocracy gets all the benefit of the maxim; for the poor are never honoured with unqualified posthumous praise. And thus, the world bestows its foolish confidence on those who always betray it. Thus, all distinctions are levelled, but those of wealth and prosperity. Thus, the fallacy becomes an instrument in the hand of tyranny. Thus, in the two Houses of Parliament men are always flattering one another: the most opulent, the most extravagant, and thence the most rapacious. Witness kings, who get the greatest portion of this flattery; and in the same spirit judges are always for punishing, with the greatest severity, those who utter anything to the disadvantage of kings.”
“Nobody need say a word to show the worthlessness of the Whigs as a party. They have been shattered to pieces a thousand times. But that is no reason you should quarrel with any one of them. You are running your head against a post, where he is concerned: and he is running his head against a post, where you are concerned.
“The Whigs may be in a situation not to advocate all that is desirable; but that is no reason why others should dissemble their sentiments, and consent to be slaves, because the Whigs find it for their interest to be so.”
“I wonder how any pleasure can be found in descriptions of pictures, or descriptions of music. Pictures are to be seen—music is to be heard; but to write about them, gratifies neither seeing nor hearing.”
“O that I could decompose myself like a polypus. Could I make half-a-dozen selfs, I have work for all.”
“The beauty of Parmesan cheese is its innocence: of other cheese, its corruption.”
“It is very desirable for the purposes of government, that a register should exist of all the sailors in the merchant sea service, in order to know what the radical strength of this portion of the national defence is.”*
“In all cases of oppression, care must be taken that the oppressed shall not be subjected to the uncertainty of redress, and the certainty of after vengeance.”
“Invention and memory often operate at the expense of one another.”
“Lord L. is hardly a man to regain the ground he has lost. The toes of his amour-propre have been terribly trod upon.”
“They say Tom Moore’s poetry has offended the king.—Kings are fair game, and sharp sportsmen cannot help attacking them.”
“Many of Peel’s projects are merely for the creation of new offices with large salaries.—The places will fail, but the salaries will have to be paid; and then there comes a cry against reform, as the cause of the unnecessary salaries.”
He spoke with great satisfaction of an article in No. 2. of The Jurist, on Grand Juries. “It is capital,—but the last sentence is opposed to everything that precedes it,—a conclusion hostile to the premises. Grand Juries should be preserved according to the old receipt for preparing cucumbers,—‘Pepper them, and salt them, and — throw them to the dung-hill.’ ”
“I have helped to cure myself of my fears of ghosts, by reasoning thus:—Ghosts are clothed, or not clothed; now, I never saw, nor fancied I saw, a ghost without clothes: so if there be ghosts of men, there must be ghosts of clothes too; and to believe this requires a farther stretch of belief, and farther evidence and authority.”
“ ‘Pour aimer les hommes il faut en attendre peu.’ This sentence of Helvetius has been a real treasure to me.”
“I wish, instead of the Ballot, which is vague, the word Secrecy-of-Suffrage were used. In truth, representation requires only four things to be perfect—Secrecy, Annuality, Equality, Universality.”
“The value of money is, its quantity multiplied by the felicity it produces.”
“What Bacon did was to proclaim—‘Fiat experimentum;’ but his own knowledge of Natural Philosophy was ignorance.
“What Locke did, was to destroy the notion of innate ideas.
“What Newton did, was to throw light on one branch of science.
“But I have planted the tree of Utility—I have planted it deep, and spread it wide.”
“Monarchy.—Sad lot of humanity under an absolute monarchy,—under an aristocracy-ridden, and by-corruption-working mixed monarchy. Disposed of according to the humour of a single being,—a human being,—though in character separated from every other in whose hands the same vast mass of power is not condensed. He lives encompassed with a perpetual cloud; deeds of darkness are all his deeds,—and thus far is he made the image of the divinity. With no other human being has he such intercourse, as every other human being continually holds with his fellow men. From his cradle, he is taught that all human beings are subject to his power, and created to his use. It is not in human nature to resist so flattering a position—of whomsoever else it may be the creed, his creed it will naturally be: and not being in the situation of anybody, what feeling can he have for anybody?
“To his favour men are indebted for their rise—to his displeasure, for their fall. How can the man who does anything which he had rather not have done, be other than an offender in his eyes!
“For half a century, the most worthless of the people have been enriching and amusing themselves with misgoverning and mistreating the rest. Tired of the monotony, Fortune has arisen from her lethargy, and, broom in hand, clears the cabinet of the worst of the vermin with which she had filled it, leaving some of the least bad, whom she found there, to give more or less variety to the scene.*
“Were they placed there for fitness for the business of government? Not they. But they had rendered themselves agreeable to the monarch’s humour and obsequious to his will. What removed them? Inaptitude for government? O no! It was a fit of ill-humour,—nothing more.”
On Brougham’s Law Reform.
“February 9, 1828.
“Mr Brougham’s mountain is delivered, and behold!—the mouse. The wisdom of the reformer could not overcome the craft of the lawyer. Mr Brougham, after all, is not the man to set up a simple, natural, and rational administration of justice against the entanglements and technicalities of our English law proceedings.
“When quarrels take place, one course is obvious, as a step to the right understanding of the matter, and the prompt settlement of it. That course is hated and opposed by lawyers. It is to bring the parties into the presence of the judge. This is and was the one thing needful. Let the plaintiff make out his prima facie case to the judge. If the judge see fit to entertain the suit, let the defendant meet them face to face. So would the interests of truth be served—but not the interests of lawyers.
“The demand—the defence—the evidence—would thus be presented in the simplest and most intelligible form, and, in most cases, the suit be speedily terminated. The costly machinery with which Justice encumbers her go-cart would be got rid of. In complicated questions, that is, in exceptions to the general rule, professional men might be introduced as assistants or substitutes. Wilful falsehood must be punished as now, or lies will undoubtedly abound. Those who have read Mr Bentham’s Rationale of Evidence, know what he means by a Mendacity License. The man who is sheltered from the punishment of falsehood, has obtained a mendacity license. The system of special pleading is the pregnant, the prolific mother of lies. That is truly a mendacity license,—a reward and an encouragement to falsehood. All lies are bad,—judicial lies are the worst of all. Are they not, Mr Peel? Are they not, Mr Brougham? Those who like lies and lying, whether for the purposes of selfish interest, or those of private and public injustice, let them cling to special pleading with the tenacity of the fondest affection. But if lies and injustice be objects of abhorrence, so will special pleading be. Mr Peel will laud it, and so will Mr Brougham. Special pleading cried up by both. Bavius and Mævius! Mr Peel and Mr Brougham! Those who laud the one, may laud the other. Boys of the same school,—heirs of the same inheritance,—preachers of the same faith! Shake them in a bag: look at them playing at push-pin together. Mr Peel will have no short pleas; so he establishes long ones. Mr Brougham will tear up this and that and t’other root of lies, with the special care to plant others just as noxious in their stead. Mr Brougham! instead of six hours, you may talk for sixty. The public will be enlightened at last. They will look upon you as the sham adversary, but real accomplice of Mr Peel, unless you can sacrifice (hard sacrifice, but how illustrious!) your interest and profit in this wholesale manufacture of lies,—of lies as mischievous as were ever devised by their great author and father. You know their paternity. ‘Is it not written in the Book?’
“But Mr Peel tells us, that the appearance of both parties before the judge is impossible, and so thinks Mr Brougham. Impossible? I have made a little discovery or so, if I could gently insinuate them. Imprimis, I have found out that an impossibility may be—indeed it may be—a fact. A French dramatist whispered it in mine ear. ‘Celà ne se peut pas,’ said a positive old gentleman. ‘Je ne sais pas,’ replied a modest doubter like me. ‘Je ne sais pas si celà se peut, mais je sais bien que celà est.’ A second, I have heard of a court—have not you, Mr Brougham?—called a Court of Conscience. Were you ever there, Mr Peel? for you might have made a third discovery, that in that court the parties do appear—ay, in their own persons—and plead, without a mendacity license, in the presence of the judge. And a fourth discovery might have flashed through your mind, that if a man would take the trouble to attend in a dispute about nine-and-thirty shillings, he might (might he not?) be persuaded to attend about one of nine-and-thirty thousand pounds: and this might have suggested a fifth, that if one man can be brought to attend in the cause of another man, he might—possibly he might, Mr Peel, if the experiment were made—be induced to attend when the cause was his own.
“Right honourable gentlemen! and learned gentlemen! you will deem all this very paradoxical and pretending. But note, I do not praise the constitution of the Courts of Conscience, I speak only of their practice. Learned gentlemen in their wisdom, and they are wise enough in their generation, have taken care to hide the good beneath a veil of evil, in order that the good might not ramify and recommend itself elsewhere. And with a sixth discovery, viz. that the constitution of a court is one thing:—the practice as to the admission and exclusion of evidence, is another—I depart.
Bentham to Rammohun Roy.
“Intensely admired and dearly beloved collaborator in the service of Mankind!—
Your character is made known to me by our excellent friends, Colonel Young, Colonel Stanhope, and Mr Buckingham. Your works, by a book in which I read, a style which, but for the name of an Hindoo, I should have ascribed to the pen of a superiorly well-educated and instructed Englishman. A just-now-published work of mine, which I send by favour of Mrs Young, exhibits my view of the foundations of human belief, specially applied to the practice of this country in matters of law.
“Now at the brink of the grave, (for I want but a month or two of fourscore,) among the most delightful of my reflections, is the hope, I am notwithstanding feeding myself with, of rendering my labours of some considerable use to the hundred millions, or thereabouts, of whom I understand that part of your population which is under English governance or influence is composed.
“With Mr Mill’s work on British India you can scarcely fail to be more or less acquainted. For these three or four-and-twenty years he has numbered himself among my disciples; for upwards of twenty years he has been receiving my instructions; for about the half of each of five years, he and his family have been my guests. If not adequately known already, his situation in the East India Company’s service can be explained to you by Colonel Young. My papers on Evidence,—those papers which you now see in print—were in his hands, and read through by him, while occupied in his above-noticed great work; a work from which more practically applicable information on the subject of government and policy may be derived (I think I can venture to say) than from any other as yet extant; though, as to style, I wish I could, with truth and sincerity, pronounce it equal to yours.
“For these many years a grand object of his ambition has been to provide for British India, in the room of the abominable existing system, a good system of judicial procedure, with a judicial establishment adequate to the administration of it; and for the composition of it his reliance has all along been, and continues to be, on me. What I have written on these subjects wants little of being complete; so little that, were I to die to-morrow, there are those that would be able to put it in order and carry it through the press.
“What he aims at above all things is,—the giving stability and security to landed property in the hands of the greatest number throughout British India; and, for this purpose, to ascertain by judicial inquiry, the state of the customs of the people in that respect. For this same purpose, a great increase in the number of judicatories, together with the oral examination of all parties concerned, and recordation of the result will be absolutely necessary: the mode of proceeding as simple as possible, unexpensive and prompt, forming in these respects as complete a contrast as possible with the abominable system of the great Calcutta Judicatory: nations of unmixed blood and half-caste, both of whom could serve on moderate salaries, being, on my system, as much employed as possible.
“Though but very lately known to your new Governor-general, Mr Mill is in high favour with him; and (I have reason to believe) will have a good deal of influence, which, in that case, he will employ for the purpose above-mentioned.
“He has assured his lordship that there can be no good penal judicature without an apt prison and prison-management; and no apt prison or prison-management, without the plan which we call the Panopticon plan,—an account of which is in a work of mine, a copy of which, if I can find one, will accompany this letter. At any rate, Colonel Young can explain it to you, with the cause why it was not, five-and-thirty years ago, established here; and all the prisoners, as well as all the paupers of England, put under my care:* all the persons being, at all times, under the eye of the keepers, and the keepers, as well as they, under the eye of as many people as do not grudge the trouble of walking up a few steps for the purpose.
“For I know not how many years—a dozen or fifteen, perhaps—I have never paid a single visit to anybody, except during about three months, when a complaint I was troubled with forced me to bathing places, and at length to Paris. Thus it is that Lord William and I have never come together; and now there is not time enough. Half jest, half earnest, Mr Mill promised him a meeting with me on his return from India; for, old as I am, I am in good health and spirits, and have as yet lost but little of the very little strength I had in my youth. Though the influence of my writings is said to be something, of anything that can be called power I have not had any the least atom. I have some reason for expecting that, ere long, more or less use will be made of my work on Judicial Procedure by government here. But, from the influence possessed by Mr Mill, and the intense anxiety he has been manifesting for some years past for the completion of it, my hopes have in relation to your country been rather sanguine. Of the characters of it I cannot find time to say anything, except that, by the regard shown in it to the interests of the subject many, and by its simplicity, which I have endeavoured to maximize, I have little fear of its not recommending itself to your affections.
“What regards the Judiciary Establishment, will form about half of the second of two volumes, a copy of the first of which (with the exception of six introductory parts) being already in print, is designed to form part of the contents of this packet.
“While writing, it has occurred to me to add a copy of a work called Panopticon; the rather because, at the desire of Mr Mill, it is in the hands of your new Governor-general, Lord William Bentinck, to whom Mr Mill has been recommending, and, as he flatters himself, not altogether without success, the erection of a place of confinement, upon the principles therein displayed. More than thirty years ago, but for a personal pique taken against me by the late king, George the Third, all the prisoners in the kingdom, and all the paupers, would, under my care, have been provided for by me upon the same principle. To the Prime Minister of the time, (from 1792 to 1802,) with his colleagues, it was an object of enthusiastic and persevering admiration; and not only was an act of the Legislature, which (you know) could not have been enacted without the king’s consent, obtained for the purpose, but so much as related to the experimental prison carried into effect as the purchase of a large spot of ground for the purpose, and the greatest part put into my possession; but when the last step came to be taken, George the Third could not be prevailed upon to take it; and so the affair ended.
“In my Codification Proposal, you will see letter for Del Valle of Guatemala, alias Central America, in late Spanish America. He is the instructor of his country; such an one as you of yours. I thus mention him to you. I shall mention you to him. Several papers he has sent me have made known to me his history, his occupations, and his designs. I hear him spoken of, from various quarters, as by far the most estimable man that late Spanish America has produced. If there be anything that you could like to transmit to him, it would be a sincere pleasure to me to receive it, and transmit it to him accordingly. Yours and his are kindred souls. Though in his country highest in estimation, it is still uncertain whether he is so in power, there being another man whose party is at war with that to which Del Valle wishes best; but, as far as I can learn, that of Del Valle is most likely to be ultimately prevailing.
“Bowring, with whom you have corresponded, is now living with me. He is the most intimate friend I have: the most influential, as well as ardent man I know, in the endeavour at everything that is most serviceable to mankind.
“Farewell, illustrious friend! You may imagine from what is above, with what pleasure I should hear from you. Information from you might perhaps be made of use with reference to the above objects. But you should, in that case, send me two letters—one confidential, another ostensible. If I live seven days longer, I shall be fourscore. To make provision for the event of my death, you should do by your letters to me, as Colonel Young has done by his: send it open, enclosed in one to Bowring.
“We have high hopes of Lord William’s good intentions: so much better than from so high an aristocratical family as his could have been expected.
“I have been asking our common friends here, over and over again, for their assurance that there is some chance of your paying a visit to this strange country. I can get little better from them, than a shake of the head.
“P.S. Panopticon. Should this plan, and the reasoning, meet your approbation, you will see that none of the business as to which it is applicable, could be carried on well otherwise than by contract. What say you to the making singly, or in conjunction with other enlightened philanthropists, an offer to Government for that purpose? Professors of all religions might join in the contract; and appropriate classification and separation for the persons under management: provision correspondent to their several religions, and their respective castes; or other allocations under their respective religions. How it would delight me to see you and Colonel Young engaged in a partnership for a purpose of that sort!”
In answer to a request of Burdett, that he might be allowed to come and dine, and talk over Brougham’s Law Reform, Bentham answers:—
Bentham to Sir F. Burdett.
“Q. S. P., 11th February, 1828.
I see how it is with you. You don’t know where to go for a dinner; and so you are for coming to me. I hear you have been idler than usual, since you were in my service; always running after the hounds, whenever you could get anybody to trust you with a horse. I hear you are got among the Tories, and that you said once you were one of them: you must have been in your cups. You had been reading High Life below Stairs, I suppose, and wanted them to call you Lord Burdett. You have always had a hankering after bad company, whatever I could do to keep you out of it. You want to tell me a cock-and-a-bull story about that fellow Brougham. * * * I always thought you a cunning fellow; but I never thought it would have come to this. You want to be, once more, besides getting a bellyfull, as great a man as—.
“Well, I believe I must indulge you. No work will there be for you on Wednesday; I can tell you that. That is the day, therefore, for your old master to be charitable to you. So come here that day a little before seven. Orders will be given for letting you in.—Your friend to serve you, &c.
“P.S.—You were got cock-a-whoop somehow or other, when you began this letter of yours. You thought that, because you were writing to so declared a democrat, you might venture to address a Master (and such a Master!) in the way your letter shows. You dreamed we were in the United States: I your quondam employer; you my quondam helper. When you had written the two words, you came to your senses, and recollected yourself. Your intention was to scratch out those two words: I mean the words, ‘Dear Bentham.’ I can scarce bring the pen to write, I am so ashamed of you. * * * You have always been a giddy fellow, ever since I have known you; sometimes one thing, sometimes another: your mother spared the rod, and spoiled the child. But I am as indulgent as you are giddy. Yes: your intention was to have scratched out those words, and you forgot it. I take what could not but have been the will, for the deed.”
I addressed these verses to Bentham on the completion of his 80th year; and I insert them, because he more than once spoke of them with pleasure:—
Bentham drew up the following
“Address, proposing a Plan for Uniting the Catholics and Dissenters for the Furtherance of Religious Liberty.
“It is the wish of some persons to do away with political arrangements, by which any persons are subjected to disadvantage in any shape, on the account of opinions on the subject of religion; and thus, to unite all subjects of this realm in the bands of Christian charity. On this occasion, they look with especial desire to the case of the Roman Catholics.
“Neither are even the Jews excluded from their good wishes, or proposed to be excluded from their endeavours; for though the Jews are not themselves Christians, they are not, on that account, in the less degree proper objects of Christian charity. With regard to the Jews, however, they have not, as yet, taken any measures, nor held communication with them.
“The persons in question are men whose influence, with reference to this end, has manifested itself in the aggregate body of the Protestant Dissenters.
“Their wishes embrace, with no less cordiality, their fellow-subjects in Ireland, than those in Great Britain; and they look to a coöperation with the Catholics of England as a means of affording assistants, in this particular, to the Catholics of Ireland.
“For bringing about the wished-for state of things, as above, the following are the political arrangements, and thence the enactments, that would be necessary:—
“1. To repeal every statute by which, under the name either of punishment, or under any other name, any distinction is established, disadvantageous in any way to any person, on account of any opinion promulgated, or supposed to be entertained, on the subject of religion.
“2. To insert a clause, in the requisite terms, for abrogating, so to speak, the Common Law;—that is to say, to prevent from being done by Judges, or by their authority, anything which, after the above proposed repealing enactment, could not be done under the authority of the legislature.
“On the supposition that, on the part of the English Catholics in general, there exists a disposition to coöperate with the body of English Protestant Dissenters, for the above or any other purpose, then comes the question, what may be the course best adapted to be taken, with a view to such coöperation.
“The course habitually employed by the Protestant Dissenters, is this: 1. In each denomination, each congregation sends two deputies to the Assembly, acting in behalf of that particular denomination. Each such particular Assembly sends six deputies to the General Assembly of the Protestant Dissenters.
“What is proposed, is, that the Catholics of England, proceeding in such manner as shall be most agreeable to themselves, should appoint on their part six deputies, to sit in the General Assembly as above.
“Among the Protestant Dissenters, are denominations more than one, each of which is more numerous than that of the English Catholics. The English Catholics, will not, therefore, by this arrangement, be subjected to any disadvantageous distinction in respect of quantity of influence.
“The cordiality of the regard entertained for the Catholics, will, on this occasion, it is believed, be found manifested by several considerations.
“They [the Dissenters] stand clear from all the objections that, in narrow minds, apply to the Catholics.—1. They have no Pope.—2. They are not of the same religion with the Jesuits.—3. No ancestors of theirs committed any such cruelties as were committed by the ancestors of the Catholics, when the power was in their hands.
“Exceptions to a comparatively inconsiderable amount excepted, they are already in possession of those exemptions, which it is their desire to see the Catholics possessed of in common with themselves: in possession, and by a custom of longer standing than the longest which is necessary to give an irrefragable title to land,—howsoever not possessed by the letter of the law: in a word, they have seats not only in all subordinate official situations, but even in Parliament.
“In the case of the Irish Catholics, there are several circumstances which, as yet, stand in the way of a direct co-operation. But by coöperating, as above, with the Protestant Dissenters, the English Catholics might form a bridge of communication, and thence a bond of union, between their Catholic brethren of Ireland, and the Protestant Dissenters of England.
“Moreover, by an example of this kind, the liberal-minded among the Irish Protestants, and, in particular, the Presbyterians, might be better disposed, many of them, to the throwing their weight into the scale of the Catholics.
“As to the number of persons to be deputed, as above, by the English Catholics, six seems to be the only number proposable, consistently with that equality which, in the present case, would be equity. Of that number, what may be the composition, will rest altogether with the members of the community in question—the English Catholics. In the mode above-mentioned, they have an example before their eyes, the adoption of which may perhaps save trouble; but any other imaginable mode lies open to them.
“In a few days, the case of the Political Dissenters will be laid before Parliament, by Lord John Russell, so far as regards the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts: but, should he succeed in his motion, no change would thereby be essential in the wishes or endeavours of the persons here in question in behalf of the English Catholics.
“It cannot surely be doubted but that the greater the number of the applicants, the greater will be the probability of success on the part of persons of all descriptions, who regard themselves as labouring under injustice.”
In 1828, Bentham was engaged with Mina, who was then contemplating the invasion of Spain for the government of that country. Mina, if he succeeded, was to take the title of Constitutional Dictator for four years: at the end of which, a democratic constitution was to come into operation, and the constitutional functionaries to be nominated. Such constitution to be open to all future beneficial changes, and at a period to be defined, the constitution was to give the electoral right to all persons able to read; and the evidence of their being able was to be obtained from their reading extracts from the Constitutional Code itself. The possession of the right of suffrage would, it was supposed, interest all possessors of the suffrage in support of the Constitution by which it was conferred; but as the power of the clergy might be employed for the purposes of misrule, the Dictator should have the power of taking away the suffrage from classes or individuals, during the term of his Dictatorship, or for a shorter period. But as a man unapt to vote might be fit to serve his country in other positions than as a voter, the alienation of the suffrage should bring with it no alienation from public functions; as, in fact, the possession of such functions, where associated with money or power, would dispose the possessor to support the Constitution. It will be remembered that the Spanish Constitution of 1812 founded the right of voting after a definite time upon the ability of the voter to read and write.
O’Connell, in one of his impassioned speeches, (July 1828,) after eloquently exposing the unknowable state of the Law, the wholly inefficient reforms of Peel, and the necessity of a thorough purification of the Augean stable of abuse, ended by calling himself “an humble disciple of the immortal Bentham.” No personal intercourse had, up to this time, existed between the philosopher and the Liberator; but the immense services which O’Connell was able to render to the great objects Bentham was pursuing, could not escape his penetration. And well do I remember the enthusiasm—the joy with which he referred to some of those eloquent outbreaks with which O’Connell every now and then attacked the abuses of the law—the craft of the lawyers—the costliness and inaccessibleness of justice to the people.
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Q. S. P., 15th July, 1828.
“Jeremy Bentham to Daniel O’Connell,—
Health and success.
“Figure to yourself the mixture of surprise and delight which has this instant been poured into my mind by the sound of my name, as uttered by you, in the speech just read to me out of the Morning Herald: the sound I say, for it is only by my ears that I am able to read the type of it. By one and the same man, not only Parliamentary Reform, but Law Reform advocated. Advocated? and by what man? By one who, in the vulgar sense of profit and loss, has nothing to gain by it; but a vast (but who can say how vast?) amount to lose by it: a man at the very head of that class of ‘conjurors,’ which, with so much correctness, as well as energy, he thus denominates. Yes, only from Ireland could such self-sacrifice come; nowhere else: least of all in England, cold, selfish, priest-ridden, lawyer-ridden, lord-ridden, squire-ridden, soldier-ridden England, could any approach to it be found. ‘Nil vulgare te dignum’ said, I forget who, to Celsus: ‘Nil vulgare te dignum,’ says Jeremy Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Parties in person, in the first instance, before the judge. Yes, without this for the general rule, exceptions to a small extent excepted, (all of which lie before me perfectly defined,) no justice can have place; nothing better than oppression, corruption, and, instead of justice itself, a noxious and poisonous mixture of sale and denial of justice. Plaintiff and defendant both state their own case. Yes, there it is! You, Sir, gave the strongest of all possible pledges for perseverance. Daniel O’Connell! there I have you; and, so sure am I always to have you, never, so long as I have life, will I let you go. No, never: for having thus spoken, could you, even if willing, make your escape! The Rubicon you have now passed; Rubicon the second, and beyond comparison the most formidable: the Parliamentary Reform Rubicon is but a ripple to it. The most formidable of all Rubicon’s being thus passed, never can you repass it without disgrace.
“Some time ago—I believe I may say some years ago—I sent you a copy of my Parliamentary Reform Bill. Even then you did not leave it unmentioned, nor, consequently, unhonoured; no, nor unapproved. But you were not then seconded; the time was not then ripe for it. Long before this, in the natural course of things, that copy will have dropped from off your shelf. Another will follow the present letter; and the purpose for which this other copy is now sent, is another purpose. It is that of suggesting hints relative to the organization of a system of communication between man and man, for all imaginable political good purposes: a mode by which every friend to good government may know, at all times, where to find every other.
“Another little work, which by the same opportunity solicits your acceptance, is my Codification Proposal. ‘The system of law at present used in England is a disgrace (you say) to the present period of civilisation.’ Labouring towards the clearing these, and all other countries, of this disgrace, has been the occupation of by far the greatest part of my long life, and will be that of the small remainder.
“Mr Peel is for consolidation in contradistinction to codification: I for codiflcation in contradistinction to consolidation. In the few drops of really existing law, floating here and there in the cloud of imaginary law, made on each occasion, by each man for his own use, under the name of common-law, his object is to lighten the labour employed by learned gentlemen in making use of the index you speak of. My object is to render it possible to ‘lay gents.’ to pay obedience to all rules which they are made punishable, and every day punished, for not obeying. In his opinion no such possibility is either necessary or desirable.
“Another Nuzzeer, as they say in India, is composed of my ‘Indications respecting Lord Eldon.’ In the body, though not in the title, are Indications respecting Lord Tenterden, and the, to him, profitable extortion, established, as may there be seen, by his open connivance. Coupled with this indication, is that of the sale and denial of justice now authorized and established by Act of Parliament. Compare this with the Church-building tax, not only non-Church-of-Englandists, (in which negative profession you and I agree,) not only non-Church-of-Englandists, but Church-of-Englandists themselves object to being taxed for addition to be continually made to the existing number of nests of reverend sinecurists.
“Bad enough this, unquestionably: but what is, beyond comparison, worse, is, the measure by which, in 1825, Lord Eldon and his Mr Peel, and, in a word, the whole firm, as I term it, of Judge & Co., concurred in giving to judges the power of imposing upon the people law taxes without stint, on condition of passing the whole profits into their own pockets.—I say, in comparison of that extortion which has religion for its mask, the extortion with justice for its mask is not crime, but virtue. By the Church-building tax no other mischief is done, over and above the taking the money by force out of the pockets of the proprietor, and adding it to the mass of the matter of corruption by which, with such unhappy success, men are urged to profess to believe that which they disbelieve.
“By the money exacted, under the name of fees, by judge from suitor, justice is sold to all who can and do pay those same fees with their etceteras,—denied to all besides: and by multiplying ad libitum, as they have been all along in use to do, and will continue to do, the number of the occasions in which those fees are received, they give continual increase to the aggregate amount of this same plunderage. This foul disease, thus injected into the body politic by as shameless a set of operators as the world ever saw, I have thus endeavoured to present in its proper colours. Oh, that to mix and apply them the hand of an O’Connell had been granted me!
“Another Nuzzeer is composed of five too large volumes of the Rationale of Evidence. Of various objects which it has, one is the showing that, from beginning to end, the existing practice in that subject is a tissue of inconsistencies and absurdities in design, as well as in effect, as opposite to the end of justice as it is possible for judicial practice to be. As for you, occupied as you seem and ought to be, that you should honour with a perusal the whole, or so much as a tenth part of it, is out of the sphere of possibility; but among your professional friends you have disciples, and, by the index, it may happen to yourself to be now and then conducted to this or that point—if not for information, at any rate for a laugh; for when absurdity is wound up to a certain pitch, a laugh will now and then afford payment for the toil of reading through it. Here, however, I behold you already on my side. It must have been perceived by you, that those witnesses by whose evidence deception is least likely to be produced, are those in whose instance the interest taken by them in the cause is most surely and openly conspicuous. This you must have seen, or you would not have recommended that they should be always heard.
“Should your shelves happen to contain a copy already, this may go to the shop, and perform the office of a mite cast into the Catholic-Rent Treasury.”
Bentham was desirous that O’Connell should take up a temporary abode at his house, and writes to him:—
“17th July, 1828.
“To obviate disappointment, it is necessary that my peculiar manner of living should be known to you. My lamp being so near to extinction, and so much remaining to do by such feeble light as it is able to give, I never (unless of necessity, and then for as short a time as may be) see anybody but at dinner hour, that which is here a customary one—seven o’clock. As to place, I never dine anywhere but in my workshop, where the table admits not of more than five. Having learned, from long observation, that as in love so in business, when close discussion is necessary, every third person is a nuisance; in addition to any inmate I may have, I never have more than one person to dine with me—a person whom either my inmate or myself may have been desirous to hold converse with. After the little dessert, the visiter of the day, if mine, stays with me; if my inmate’s, goes with him into the inmate’s room till tea-time—my two young constant inmates taking, as above, their departure of course. The evening, not later than to half after eleven, is the only time I could regularly spare for conference, so far as regards the purpose of questioning. Your mornings would be passed in reading any stuff in print, or in manuscript, or in receiving explanation from some young friend of mine, or in ambulatory conference, for health’s sake, in the garden with me. Let not the word appal you, for, how much soever your inferior in wit, you would not find me so in gaiety. My abode, you see, is not without strict propriety termed a hermitage. Servant of the male sex, none—cookery, for a hermit’s, tolerably well spoken of. At to the hermit himself, smell he has absolutely none left; taste, next to none; wine, such as it is, guests, of course, drink as they please—the hermit none. None better has he to invite you to than a few remaining bottles of Hock laid in in 1793; older, at any rate, than that which Horace invited his friend to in an Ode I have not looked upon these seventy years.”
Daniel O’Connell to Bentham.
“Would to Heaven I could realize your plan—how I should relish a political retreat in your hermitage, to prepare for all of practical utility that my faculties enable me to effectuate. But I cannot leave Ireland. The progress of political and moral improvement seems to me to want my assistance here; and certainly there would be some retardation in the machinery, if my shoulder was not constantly at the wheel, and my lash on the shoulders of those who help to force it forward. Without a metaphor, I am not able to leave Ireland, even for the purpose of replenishing myself with the reasons of that political faith which is in me. I am, in good truth, your zealous, if you will not allow me to call myself your humble disciple. It is said somewhere, that Irishmen frequently catch glimpses of sublime theories, without being able to comprehend the entire plan. For my part, I certainly see a part, and would wish to comprehend the details of the whole. My device is yours:—‘The greatest possible good to the greatest possible number.’ And I say it with sincerity, that no man has ever done so much to show how this object could be realized, as you have. I sincerely wish I could devote the rest of my life to assist in realizing this object; but my profession gives my family at present between six and seven thousands of pounds in the year, and I cannot afford to deprive them of that sum: all I can do, is, to dedicate to political subjects, as much time as can be torn from my profession.
“I am deeply imbued with the opinion that our procedure is calculated to produce anything but truth and justice; and if ever they are elicited, it is by accident, and at an expense of time and principle, which ought both to be otherwise employed. How is it possible that law stamps and law fees have survived—about forty years, I think—your protest?
“I am also convinced, that, to be without a code, is to be without justice. Who shall guard the guardians?—who shall judge the judges?—A code! Without a code, the judges are the only efficient and perpetual legislature. There is a melancholy amusement in seeing how the ‘scoundrels’—pardon me—do sometimes legislate. In England, it is bad enough. In Ireland, where the checks (such as they are) of parliamentary talk, and of the press, are either totally removed or rendered nearly powerless, the mischief of judicial legislation, is felt in its most mischievous, ludicrous, and criminal operation.
“Mr Brougham’s evils are plain, and sometimes well displayed. His remedies are but patches placed on a threadbare and rent coat, and cut out of an unused remnant of the original cloth. They serve only to show the poverty, as well as want of skill, of the owner, and artificer of both.
* * * * * *
“With respect to Parliamentary Reform, I have only to say, that I want no authority to convince me of this—that without election by ballot, it is not possible to have perfect freedom of selection. With a ballot, the inducement to corrupt the voter would be destroyed, even by the uncertainty of his giving the value after he got the bribe. Ballot is essential to Reform.”
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Queen’s Square Place,
“Here is the 31st of August come, date of your letter the 3d of the month, and no reply yet sent, nor so much as the little cargo of books, which my first letter spoke of as sent already. Misconceptions and disappointments, not worth mentioning, have been the causes.
“Parliamentary Reform, Law Reform, Codification—all these agenda crowned with your approbation—nothing can be more satisfactory, nothing more glorious to me—nothing more beneficial to the so unhappily United Kingdom, from thence to the rest of the civilized world, and from thence, in God Almighty’s good time, to the uncivilized. One thing only missing—your sojourn at the Hermitage,—I say your sojourn,—for your visit, at any rate, is promised.
“Now for matter—a rather untoward effect, to speak in the official naval style, has been produced upon your friends and allies here, by the transformation—degeneration they call it, of Radical into Constitutional—Constitutional, as it has been observed by many, Mr Peel himself would have no objection to. If Constitutional is synonymous to Radical—if it means all that Radical does—what the need, and where the use in changing it? If it means not so much as Radical, here then is departure—here is backing out, and so soon after the advance. If, after so many years of consideration, this is relinquished, what security can the two other innovations—projects but of yesterday—promise themselves for their being adhered to and preserved.
“So far as regards Parliamentary Reform, something to this effect, mixed as usual with his bitter, violent, and coarse vituperation, you cannot but have seen in roasted-wheat-seller Hunt’s letter in the Herald, which, I take for granted, you and yours regularly see. The paper in which that speech of yours is, is not before me; but, according to my recollection, though to accommodate somebody else, you consented to the substitution of ‘Constitutional’ to Radical in some papers proposed for general acceptance: Radical was the reform you, in your individual capacity, declared your adherence to. This recollection, flattering myself with its being a correct one, I adhere to—Facile credimus id quod volumus—but others contradict me.
“Now, then, of all who join with you, what could have been any one’s inducement to adopt anything that is not Radical Reform, to the exclusion of that which is? A reform which is not Radical, is moderate reform; and a reform which is moderate reform, is Whig reform. What then can have been the inducement to adopt Whig Reform to the exclusion of Radical Reform, but the prospect of gaining over, or steadying, in some proportion or other, the Whigs?
“Now, according to my conception of the matter, in any proportion that could give probability of success to your cause, as well might you look for assistance from Mr Peel and his coadjutors as from the Whigs. If the present system of representation by intimidation is necessary to the Tories, it is still more so to the Whigs. The Tories, in addition to such quantity of the matter of corruption as they possess in the shape of means of intimidation, are in possession of all that exists in the shape of means of allurement,—money, power, factitious reputation, factitious dignity—compound of power and dignity in the shape of peerage—compound of power, dignity, and vast opulence in the shape of bishopricks and archbishopricks—not to speak of deaneries, canonries, and prebends—all of them so many avowed sinecures, in addition to those others, which, being so many little-to-does about nothing, are so many effective sinecures. Now, of all these good things, what is it that is in possession of the Whigs? Nothing but an always varying number of seats out of the 658—always varying, but at the utmost not more than what constitute a comparatively small minority, at no time sufficient to carry so much as a single measure. Now, then, this being all that they have to trust to for whatever share of importance they may possess, is it in the nature of man that they should fail to cling to it with the most determined pertinacity? Is it in the nature of man that they should, any one of them, join in the procurement of the ballot?
“For any one to join in promoting the ballot, what would it be but to commit suicide? In fact, joining in promoting the ballot, would be being a Radical and not a Whig; for, let but the ballot but be established, away slip all the seats from under them. Some will be filled by Tories, some by Radicals, in proportions which, as things stand at present, it will not be possible to determine. Now, then, without the ballot, think what would become of you and your cause? True it is, at a spurt, at a time of extraordinary excitement, by a political miracle such as was never yet exemplified, and perhaps may never be so again—a miracle such as no country but Ireland was ever capable of exemplifying, one seat has been filled, and so perhaps, in I cannot pretend to say what quantity, some others. But if, by continuance of the same miracles, all the seats in Ireland were thus filled, how much would you be the nearer to the accomplishment of your wishes? Obtain the ballot for Ireland, you will obtain it for England and Scotland likewise. This done, you obtain a good government with the faculty of framing a real constitution, instead of on every occasion dreaming of an imaginary one, and with the opposite fact staring you in the face, pretending to believe it and talking of it as if it really were a real one.
“Here, among Englishmen, some few members there are, I am well assured, one of whom will, in the course of the next Session, move for the ballot, and by speech as well as votes, be supported by others. This, then, is what you should be prepared to join in, or rather to be beforehand with, and prepare for. Petitions from all Ireland, either for Radical Reform, or, if you are not strong enough for that, for the Ballot by itself. Ballot alone would be slower, whether surer, it is for you, not for me, to judge.
“ ‘Six or seven thousand a-year’ professional profit, to take care of, and push as far as it will go, for the benefit of a family! Well, this is sincere and honest, and I thank you for it. Nor would it be part of my plan, I think, were you even at my disposal, that you should give it up—especially if Parliament were, after all, inaccessible to you. But what it would make me happy to see you agree with me in, and accordingly treat us where you are with a speech or two in consequence, is what I myself am satisfied about, and perfectly persuaded of, viz., that if Law Reform were carried to its utmost length, which is what my system, if proposed and adopted, would effect, you, personally considered—you, such as you are, would not be a sixpence the less rich for it. All the business you could find time to do you would, in every state of things, be altogether sure of; and in respect of all-comprehensiveness and clearness, were the state of the law carried to its utmost possible length, you would not have one brief the less, nor for any brief one sovereign the less. I should think rather the more: for the less the money spent upon attorneys and official lawyers, the more would be left to be spent upon barrister’s eloquence. In common law, in particular, none of the fees for incidental parts of a suit are so large as those which are given when the vital part of the suit comes upon the carpet, i. e. at the trial, the speech, and cross-examination on the question of fact. The shorter each suit, the greater the number of suits with these speeches in them, that would come upon the carpet in a given space of time: for my plan, which is simplicity itself, would dry up the source effectually, of incidental questions. Nor would my plan, I should suppose, be, even in respect of profit, detrimental to the interest of the higher branch of the profession taken as a whole,—for it includes judgeships as many as there are spaces in the country, each, upon an average, being a square—of, say from ten to twelve miles of a side, (analagous, in this respect, to the judgeships in the French system—always understood, that, under my system, on any judicial bench, every judge more than one is a perfect nuisance, destroying responsibility, multiplying the expense by the number of the judges: with other objections too numerous to enumerate;) while, instead of the feeble control, if any, which may be thought to be applied to abuse, by multitude of judges, I apply a perfectly efficient control, by a system of appeals, to which I give a degree of facility, beyond anything of which a conception can even as yet have been entertained. Then, instead of so many barristers with professional profits, varying from naught to hundreds, and here and there a very few, thousands—here would be so many judges with fixed salaries, not exposed to uncertainty; and the power and dignity of the judge, instead of the no power and no dignity of the representative of everybody from the peer down to the half-starved thief. Now, then, as to the glory you would reap from the accomplishment of a second, I should rather say a third task, to which no hand other than yours is equal, and the felicity beyond all example—beyond even conception, which you will give to more than twenty millions of human beings in the two islands, besides et ceteras upon et ceteras. This is not a picture for such an old and blunt pencil as mine to attempt to delineate. An imagination such as yours, will, in the twinkling of an eye, supply every demand which a purpose such as this can ever make on it. Here, then, is your own personal interest in every shape, in perfect harmony and accordance with the public interest, to an extent equal to that of the surface of the globe. Is it possible, that, if there were any such discordance, as, for the reasons above-mentioned, I do not anticipate, between the universal interest and the hair’s-breadth interest of your brethren of the profession, the hair’s-breadth interest should, in your scales, weigh more than the universal interest?
“I have spoken of the thing as being in your power, and that by means of speeches of which you give me hopes. But what are the speeches I have in view?—what the proposed scene of them. Not the House of Commons; for in that place, the most brilliant and even effective speech that man ever made, or ever could make, would be a flash in the pan and nothing more. No, the scene I have in view, lies in the places, wherever they are, in which the effect of a speech might be to engage the people, one and all, to petition Parliament for Law Reform. And leaving speeches altogether to you, in framing petitions apposite to the purpose, I shall not be altogether without hopes of affording such assistance as might be of use.
“Farewell, illustrious friend! comforter of my old age! invigorator of my fondest hopes!
“Somewhat more of this scribble I was threatening you with in my mind; but for one and the same post, this is quite enough.”
Bentham had a great objection to partings. He said, he saw no reason that people should inflict upon themselves or others the pain of saying adieu. “Your welcome,” says Bodin, in a letter to him, “is so cordial, so affectionate, so hospitable, that you are quite right in prohibiting the utterance of a farewell. I love to think of your philanthropic laboratory, where you raised over my head your famous stick, whose beneficent despotism ordered nothing but a most willing obedience.” Bentham had a favourite stick: he called it Dobbin; and often, in his playfulness, he raised it over the shoulders of his visiters. Bodin was one of Bentham’s favourites. His works on the French Revolution had immense popularity in France. He was a coadjutor of Thiers. He became, as his father had been, a member of the Chamber of Deputies; and died in the flower of life, an object of strong affection to all who knew him. He had taken as his motto—his name was Felix—“Maxima Felicitas plurimorum.” He hurried to Dumont to obtain his sanction for its use; and Dumont approved the classical rendering.
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“September 13, 1828.
“Hunt and Cobbett I contemplate with much the same eye, as the visiters of Mr Carpenter, the optician, contemplate the rabid animals devouring one another in a drop of water. Hunt I never saw, nor corresponded with. Cobbett I saw once at the house of a common acquaintance; and, without so much as the shadow of a dispute, half-an-hour sufficed me for seeing him exactly as he is. As a speaker, Cobbett, they say, is nothing: Hunt very great. His moral character nothing has changed, nor presents a probability of changing: his intellectual character has received prodigious improvement. In the city of London, his influence has, of late, exercised by means of his speeches, become very considerable. What he has done as yet has been unexceptionable; but so intense in him are the passions of envy and jealousy, that whenever he sees anything at once great and good proposed by anybody else, the greater and better it were, the more strenuous would be his endeavours to defeat it.”
“September 19, 1828.
“As to your political creed, nothing occurs to me to which I could not subscribe; and, in particular, to that rational and efficiency-helping principle, which has always been mine—that neither to the minutest improvement that is attainable, nor to any the most insignificant coadjutor who is obtainable, should acceptance be refused.
“It is not without a sort of trepidation, that I ever see the word Constitution issuing from your pen. In regard to Common Law, you are sufficiently aware that it is a mere fiction in regard to the Constitution: but are you sufficiently aware that it is but part and parcel of that same fiction? I cannot but flatter myself you are. ‘I deem it impossible’ (say you) (Morning Herald, 19th September, 1828) ‘to have a Constitution at all worth naming, without Radical Reform.’ Well then, as it is we have not a Constitution worth naming; so think I; and accordingly, when I come to speak of the mischievous features of it, as they exist in practice, de facto, though there are no determinate words by which they are made what they are de jure,—I prefix, by way of sarcasm, the epithet matchless, so commonly prefixed to the name of the idolphantom by the admirers of it.
“Short-lived assemblies of legislators have an innate disease, the emblem of which may be seen in the stone of Sisyphus. In my Constitutional Code, chap. vi., sect. 24, Continuation Committee, should curiosity carry you thither, you will see a proposed remedy, and, I flatter myself, a cure for it. But for this, an annually, or even a biennially—not to say a triennially elected Legislature, might go on for ages, without giving consummation to an all-comprehensive Code, or even any very considerable part of one. It was not till a very few years ago—say three or four—that the infirmity which put me upon the remedy occurred to me.”
“23d September, 1828.
SiBallot before the rest of Radical Reform—Modus Procedendi.
“An idea that strikes me just now is this:—For a commencement, the most promising course—[is to take that measure]—to which the resistance is likely to be least extensive. What say you, accordingly, to the beginning with the Ballot alone? Among leading men, I have heard of several who would be prepared to give support to it; and I have been informed, that next session, among the English members, a motion to that effect will be made. The bug-bear, and abhorrence-moving Radical Reform would thus be laid aside. The aristocracy could not be so completely struck at. Many there are who would not like to see the value of their votes diminished by the addition of such a flood of fresh men, and yet would be glad to have their own votes free. Accordingly, I cannot but think, howsoever strenuons and extensive the opposition to the Ballot alone might be, it could not but be much less so than if Radical Reform in all its features were brought upon the carpet at once.”
Of Hunt, Bentham again writes to O’Connell:—
“Sept. 19, 1828.
“What is past cannot be recalled; but, in future, if he can be kept from abusing you, so much the better. In his pericranium, the organ of abusiveness is full a yard long. It must be driving at something. Driving at what is abuseicorthy—it may do good; for there is no small strength in it: driving at what is praiseworthy,—it either does nothing, or does evil. Driving at the city of London abuses, he has already done considerable good, and is in the way to do considerably more.
“All that a vituperative epithet proves is—that he who uses it is angry with him on whom he bestows it, not that he has any reason for being so.
“Should you ever again have occasion to speak of Henry Hunt, I hope you will not again bring it up against him, as if it were a matter of reproach, that he sells Blacking or anything else; for, besides that there is no harm in selling Blacking, the feeling thus betrayed belongs not to us democrats, but to aristocrats, who make property (and that more particularly in a particular form, the immoveable) the standard of opinion. Moreover, men of our trade should be particularly cautions as to the throwing into the faces of antagonists vituperation as to their trade; for thereupon may come in reply—Junius’ aphorism about ‘the indiscriminate defence of right and wrong.’ J. B. will tack to it a predilection in favour of wrong as being the best customer. Accordingly, what is it I so much admire you for?—not for your travels in the track of our trade, but for your excursions from it, and even against it.”
Daniel O’Connell to Bentham.
“Derrynane,Sept. 13, 1828.
“I am here amongst my native mountains, for a few, very few weeks. I decide all the controversies in the district. I never allow a witness to appear, until the plaintiff and defendant have both fully told their tales, and agreed their points. In nine instances out of ten, other testimony is unnecessary. This tribunal is so cheap, it costs them nothing; and is so expeditious (I decide as soon as the parties have exhausted their arguments, and offered their witnesses on the facts, ultimately in dispute) that they reserve for me all their disputes, and it appears to me that they are satisfied with the results. This deduction I the more readily draw from the purely voluntary nature of their submission to my awards. It proves, however, nothing, but as far as it shows me the great value of hearing the parties themselves.”
“Derrynane Abbey, 6th October, 1828.
“Allow me to assure you that your letters can give me no other sensation but that of pleasure. I did not speak to you of long-cherished opinion respecting yourself, least I should have the appearance of flattery, even while I kept myself within the strict lines of sober truth. But let me not be so accused whilst this one sentence breathes from me,—that I am convinced that no one individual, in modern times, approaches in any degree to the practical and permanent utility of Bentham. You will have contributed more to the great approaching change from the plundering forms of government to the protecting modes of administering the affairs of mankind, than any one man that ever existed.
“I owe you many, many obligations. I long felt the pressure of the present system of law, including, under that word, all its details. My conviction of its iniquity was so strong, that for the people at large I deemed it better that there should be no tribunal at all than the existing mode of recovering debts. I would have left to the poorer classes every debt a debt of honour, and no sanction under which credit could be obtained, but that of the personal character of each individual, giving to each that as a stimulant to deserve confidence. You have satisfied me that that contract may be enforced for the people at large by the natural and domestic plan of proceeding, and the obligation to appear in person ceases to be an inconvenience, or, at least, cannot reasonably be objected to by the favourers of a system which compels the uninterested witnesses to give to third persons their time and trouble.
“Why do I trouble you with these subjects? Simply to show you that it is needless to offer me anything in the way of apology. Though not as able,—of course I am not, I am as anxious to be useful as you are; and the ‘strike but hear’ of the Grecian, is one of my maxims. I belong to a religion which teaches the merits of good works; and I am quite a sincere votary of that creed. Besides the pleasure of doing good, and the gratification which a light heart feels even at the attempt to be useful, there is—I hope I say it without any tinge of hypocrisy—a higher propelling motive on my mind. There is the stimulant, I hope, of religious duty and spiritual reward. There are many who would smile at my simplicity. And the ‘liberaux’ of France, who hate religion much more than they do tyranny, would sneer at me. Yet it is true. I do look for a reward exceedingly great, for endeavouring to terminate a system of frand, perjury, and oppression of the poor.
* * * * *
“My opinion of Hunt is, that his Radicalism is not love of liberty, but hatred of tyranny, mixing, I think, with hatred of anything superior of any description. These men, I mean men of this description, are, however, necessary. They are the pioneers of reform; but they get so unsavoury from their trade, that it is absolutely requisite to send them to the rear when the practical combat comes on. My letter to Hunt was founded on this idea. I did intend to dismiss him to his proper station, and I would, if you had not interfered, have followed that letter up with one letter more, which should have terminated the contest on my part. I still think of writing a few lines; but they shall not be disrespectful, ‘car tel est votre plaisir.’ You shall be my thermometer of Hunt’s political utility. Tell me to throw him overboard altogether, and I will do it without alluding offensively to his Blacking. But reminding him of his pride, as ‘Lord of the manor of Glastonbury,’ tell me to treat him with respect, and I will do so, subduing my mind to your judgment upon his future power of usefulness.”
“Merrion Square, Dublin. Oct. 26, 1828.
“In future, I fear I shall be able to write you only on Sunday. I do no business, that is, profane work on that day; but works of charity are not only allowed, but are commanded on that day; and where is there a work of charity so great as the giving protection by law, and preventing law from being the scourge of the poor, and the vexation of even the wealthy. This is my excuse for writing on Sunday; and if it be lawful, as I deem it to be, to extract a single ass out of the pit on the Lord’s day, it must be equally justifiable to assist in extracting an entire people from the worst pit that ever asses were coaxed or cudgelled into. But why do I waste time and paper on this subject?” * *
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Q. S. P., 2d November, 1828.
“Received yesterday, yours dated Dublin the 27th: it makes letter the sixth. You are unus bonissimus puer, as Cicero would have said, if ever there was one. I have some pretty little silver pence in my treasury. I have looked out one of the brightest of them, to put into your little hands when you come in February to seat yourself in my lap. Presently after, dropped in British-India and Political-Economy Mill, one of the earliest of my disciples. He had been seeing a man of the name of Glyn, who, I believe, is a somebody; he had been over a good part of Ireland lately, and was all praise and admiration of you, more especially on account of your prudence—that was the word. Mill knows Ensor extremely well: still better than I do. Good intentions, prodigious learning, sharp wit, poignant satire—all this Ensor has. Close and consistent reasoning? Alas! not; unless his attack upon your wings, which I admired at the time, but which is now out of my head, be an exception. Mill says he is impracticable, and in Parliament he sees not very well what particular use he would be of. But somewhere or other, with the above qualities, he might be of use in Ireland, for aught we know to the contrary. He professed admiration of me. I published a ‘Parliamentary Catechism,’ and ‘Parliamentary Reform Code,’ both with ample reasons. Afterwards, he published a ‘Parliamentary Reform Code’ of his own, widely different from mine, taking no notice of mine, and without anything in the shape of a reason. Against the Tories and Whigs, though I would not answer for any defence he could make, he would, I should suspect, be always on the right side; and as for cursory attacks in a guerilla warfare, I should be not surprised if he were of use. Smart on particular points might be his attacks. As to you, a small part of what you said to me sufficed to satisfy me that you could not have done otherwise than as you did. As to other places, whether it would be of advantage to Ireland for him to be seated, may depend upon the number of seats at your command. Though, of such as this and that country affords, some might be better than he; others not quite so good. In private life, you know what he is—I should expect to hear of his being exemplary, upright, and beneficent. The last time he was in London, he never called on Mill, nor did he serve me with notice of his existence: I ascribe this to his regard for my time. I tried to see him, to thank him, and praise him for his attack on your wings—the thing I could praise him for, consistently with sincerity. I wrote to him, but he was gone. So much for Ensor.
“Follows some matter about myself, written a few days ago, under the notion, that possibly more or less use might be made of it in its quality of a batch of puffs. Say more or less, or nothing at all of it, as may be best to the cause; in comparison of which, everything that regards the individual is as a grain of dust on the balance.”
“An odd coincidence. This day has brought me an extract from the Globe of Wednesday, the 22d October, in which, at a meeting preparatory to the grand meeting at Tralee, after speaking of Codification, you are made to conclude in these words: ‘I have been in correspondence with Mr Bentham on the subject, and two admirable plans of a Code have been transmitted to me by that celebrated Jurisconsult.’ Who Bowring is, you know from Mr L’Estrange. This same day comes a letter from him to me, dated Leuwarden, (in the Netherlands,) 18th October, 1828, in which are these words: ‘Meyer said, in the public assembly room at Amsterdam, that Brougham’s speech was a poor affair after all; and that he (Meyer) had written as much to Sir James Mackintosh: that Brougham had forgotten the one only remedy—Codification,—and that you alone were the man to make a Code.’ This was much from Meyer, who is the great authority in this country, and of whom you may hear more from Falch—(Netherland’s Ambassador to this Court.) Meyer is the author of a work, in five or six volumes, intituled ‘Esprit Origine et Progrès des Institutions Judiciaires.’—Londres, 1819, &c.* I have heard it spoken of as the most esteemed book on Jurisprudence that exists on the continent of Europe. This day also, comes from Blondeau, Judge and Jurisprudential Lecturer in Paris, a present copy of a miscellaneous work on that subject just published.
“Within this week, Dr Monstadt, Professor of Jurisprudence at Heidelberg, to whom Say, the economist, had given a letter of introduction to me, in answer to an invitation I had sent him, wrote to Richard Doane, a young Templar, aged 23, who has lived with me these nine or ten years past, and whom you will not be sorry to see, a letter, dated London, 18th October, beginning in these terms:—‘Etant redevable, sans doute, à votre recommendation amicale et bienveillante de l’honneur que M. Bentham a daigné de m’accorder, je le dois regretter doublement, que.’ * * Speaking of the invitation, he says—‘Quant à l’objet de votre lettre, j’en suis profondément touché, et je vous prie, Monsieur, de vouloir bien repondre au vénérable Nestor du liberalisme parmi ses contemporains, que le plaisir de pouvoir lui présenter les homages personels de mon respect et de ma reconnoissance, a été le but principal de mon voyage à Londres, et que jamais de ma vie j’ai été plus emû que par cette precieuse invitation. Je m’empresserai à en profiter soigneusement.’ He is a man of strong talents, extensive learning, high reputation, a zealous utilitarian at heart, and in lectures, as much as he dares to be; and has seen a good deal of Europe, especially Austria, where he resisted strong temptations to enlist under the banners of despotism. For his recreation at leisure hours, he is about to make translations of my works into German, beginning with the ‘Fragment on Government,’ which was the earliest.
“Usury, Tactics, Fallacies, Evidence—are already, he says, in that language.
“Our voices, you see, are in no great danger of being in the condition of a voice crying in the wilderness: others, in chorus, will not be wanting.
“In another passage of his letter Bowring says,—‘There is a great Utilitarian Society in Holland, consisting of twelve thousand members, and spread over the whole land. Its name is Tot nut van’t algemeen’—‘Public Utility.’ Now, what if we can move it!”
Daniel O’Connell to Bentham.
“There is a rebuke also contained in your advice, not to pain or disparage too much. I love the impulse which induces you to give me this rebuke. It is quite true the ‘fierce extremes’ mingle in our estimate of men: it cannot be helped; nay, I am convinced that it is necessary to be warm with one love—to glow with one resentment. I, who have helped to convert the people of Ireland from apathy, despair, and from nocturnal rebellions, into determined but sober politicians, ought to be able to form some judgment as to what is likely to conduce to obtain that coöperation so necessary to give a prospect of success. Of course, I judge of these things with that partiality which self-love inspires. But giving a rebate by reason of my self-love to the sterling value of any opinion of mine!! I do declare it to be my decided opinion, that we should speak in the strongest terms consistent with truth, of our friends and of our enemies.”
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“November 16, 1828.
“Continue to be the sun of your Laputa,—your sublimely soaring island: giving light, warmth, and direction to it. Warmth, without consuming heat. Let not Phaeton be forgotten; parce puer stimulus; et fortius uters loris. Diverge not either to right or left. Meddle not either with a man’s trade, or with his patronymics. All such irrelevancies, there are people enough here that will be froward enough to set down to the account of fallacies. This last stuff I believe I have come out with already; but in this track of my cadences I hope I have not yet fallen quite so low as an old friend of my brother’s here—the quondam Russian ambassador, Count Woronzoff, (father of the general you are reading of;) which said diplomatist, being four or five years older than your humble servant, actually tells the same story three or four times over in the course of the same sitting.—Farewell.”
Bentham to Chamberlain Clark.
“Q. S. P., Aug. 1828.
“We are both of us alive. I turned of eighty—you, little short of ninety. How little could we have expected any such thing when we were scraping together at O. S. S. House, two parts out of the three in a trio, and amusing ourselves with ‘the Church’ and ‘Monkey dogs.’ I am living surrounded with young men, and merrier than most of them. I have lost but little of the very little strength I had when young; but do not expect to reach your age. I have made an appointment to walk to Vauxhall and back again on the 12th, if the weather is favourable. But as to visits, for these many years I have never paid any, nor received any but for a special purpose.
“The bearer is Mr Mill, author of the celebrated History of British India, which, if you have not read, you cannot but have heard more or less of. Under the obscure title of Examiner, he bears no inconsiderable part in the government of the threescore or fourscore millions, which form the population of that country. On the death of the chief of the four Examiners, which is expected to take place ere long, he will succeed him, with a salary of £2000 a-year.
“He was one of the earliest and most influential of my disciples. The house he lives in looks into my garden.
“Hearing of the two spots in your neighbourhood, in both of which I several times took up my summer quarters, he expressed a desire to make a pilgrimage to them, as he did once to my birth-place in Red Lion Street, Hounds-ditch, and the unfortunate half-burnt-down residence in Crutched Friars. There are your own quondam residence in Chertsey, which you cannot but remember, and the farm-house at Thorpe, to which George Wilson and I used to repair in the long vacation, as you probably remember.
“Perhaps, after reading this, you may have the charity to send some servant or retainer to accompany Mr Mill, and conduct him to the two spots.
“Farewell: and, according to the Spanish compliment, live 1000 years, in addition to the ninety you have lived already. You have four years to run before you overtake your mother, or the last of the scriveners—scrivenorum ultimum.”
end of volume x.
Printed by William Tait, Prince’s Street.
[* ] See this process described in Works, vol. viii. p. 156.
[* ] The Rationale of Evidence.
[* ] John Crawfurd, formerly governor of Sincapore, and anthor of the “Account of the Indian Archipelago.”
[* ] In the same volume, this tract is followed by another on the same subject, of anterior date; and one on the subject of the Penal Code, that had been proposed for Spain. (Note to the letter.)
[* ] Lord Colchester.
[* ] See Constitutional Code, Book ii. chap. x. sect. 16.
[* ] In allusion to the dissolution of the Canning Cabinet in 1827.
[* ] See the work on Pauper Management, in vol. viii. of the Works.
[* ] There are seven volumes of Meyer’s book. It is a history of the most prominent legal institutions of modern Europe.