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