Front Page Titles (by Subject) ADVERTISEMENT FOR TRACT THE FIRST AND SECOND; OF THIS SECOND * PUBLICATION, Namely, On the then proposed Spanish House of Lords. ( Anno 1820.) - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs)
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ADVERTISEMENT FOR TRACT THE FIRST AND SECOND; OF THIS SECOND * PUBLICATION, Namely, On the then proposed Spanish House of Lords. ( Anno 1820.) - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 8 (Chrestomathia, Essays on Logic and Grammar, Tracts on Poor Laws, Tracts on Spanish Affairs) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). In 11 vols. Volume 8.
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ADVERTISEMENT FOR TRACT THE FIRST AND SECOND; OF THIS SECOND* PUBLICATION, Namely, On the then proposed Spanish House of Lords. (Anno 1820.)
To those who have formed any conception, how slight soever, of the state of political society in Spain, and in particular of the enormity of the shares, possessed by the privileged orders, in the landed property of the country:—by the clergy, not less than a third of the whole; by nobles of different classes, estates equal in extent in some instances to an average English county, and those estates so entailed as to be unalienable,—to any person so informed, it can scarcely be matter of wonder that endeavours should have been employed to insert into the Spanish Constitution, in addition to the assembly composed of the Representatives of the whole people, privileged and unprivileged together, an assembly composed exclusively of the Representatives of that comparatively small, though still too large portion, with powers to this small part, in pursuit of its own particular and thence sinister interest, to frustrate all measures proposed by the Representatives of the whole for the good of the whole. This is legitimacy and social order, under the matchless constitution, the envy and admiration of the world. This is what accordingly was proposed to be made legitimacy and social order in Spain. A curious question is—how it should have happened that the Old Man of the Sea, whose gripe still continues on the neck of the modern Utopia, should not, in the early days of the Spanish national assembly, have fastened himself upon the neck of Spain. Yet, somehow or other, such is the escape on which Spain, from early times, and, from her Portugal, in these times, have respectively to congratulate themselves. That, in such a state of society, endeavours to that end should have been employed, is nothing wonderful: the wonder would have been, if they had not been employed: the wonder is, how they should have failed of being successful.
While corruptionists and their dupes are in extasy at the sight of their Utopia with her stag-neck, and three Old Men of the Sea fastened upon it, Spain and Portugal are congratulating themselves on having each but one of them, and his hold growing every day looser and looser, while they are cheered by Yankeeland, whose neck has, for these forty years, been free from all such vermin, and who bids the habitable globe observe and declare, whether, in any and what respect, she is the worse for it.
At a time when these prospects, which are now so happily realized, had not so much as opened, the name of Bentham had become familiar to whatever was liberal in the great southern peninsula of Europe. That exclusion which the system of corruption has hitherto put upon it in England, the united force of Censorships and Inquisitions has never been able to effect either in Spain or Portugal. Spite of both those bars, scarcely had those works of his, which were edited in 1802 by M. Dumont, made their appearance in France, than they found their way into both the two adjoining kingdoms. Those works, with which, neither in Oxford where he took his degrees, nor in either of the other Church of England Universities, not to speak of Scottish ones, any candidate for the loaves and fishes could confess an acquaintance, without blasting the prospects of his life,—not only now are, but, almost immediately after their publication, were, taken in hand and fed upon at Salamanca and Coimbra: fed upon with a delight, the fruits of which have in both countries manifested themselves in the acts of the sovereign body, as well as in the speeches made in it; and, ere these pages have issued from the press, will probably in this country meet the public eye. In different parts of Spain, were read, (it may be imagined with what secrecy,) courses of lectures, of which those works formed the text-books: lectures, upon those gratuitous terms which, to patriotism and philanthropy, are so natural, to legitimacy and social order, so suspected and formidable. One of these lectures had a Lawyer for its reader; it was that Mora above-mentioned; another a Churchman: for it is only in England, that to Lawyers and Churchmen, with only here and there an exception, and still fewer that dare show themselves, everything that tends to reform or genuine improvement—everything, in a word, that tends to the advancement of the greatest happiness of the greatest number—is an object of horror and abhorrence. Of the above-mentioned works of Bentham, notice has reached this country of no fewer than three, if not four translations, as being finished and ready for the press, besides extracts in periodicals. But, on the one hand, such is the unavoidable bulk of those works, on the other hand, such the scarcity of money, and the smallness of the market for literary productions in general, nothing in that way from the Spanish press has yet reached this country, except a sort of analytical view, in a hundred and forty 8vo pages, having for a first title, Espiritu de Bentham, and for a second title, Systéma de la Ciencia Social, por el Dr D. Toribio Nunez, Jurisconsulto Espanol, breathing in every page the most rapturous admiration, and devoting to public reproach the government of his country, in case of their neglecting to make their utmost profit of the treasures thus offered to their hands.
Under these circumstances, it is not impossible that the Portuguese language may get the start of the Spanish: the Regency of Portugal having, in obedience to a special order from the Cortes dated the 13th of April last, already given commencement to a translation of the whole assemblage of such of his works as are not entirely out of print, according to the list that will be added to these pages.
While the great question above spoken of was in agitation, the distinguished Spaniard spoken of in the former tract just published, was urgent with Mr Bentham to come forward and throw his weight into that one of the two contending scales, towards which the inclination of his opinion was so naturally anticipated.
Of that application the present tract is the result. Upon its arrival at Madrid, it was with all despatch translated into Spanish, by the gentleman by whom it had, as above, been called for. As soon as an opportunity could be found, a plan of proceeding having been settled amongst some leading members of the Cortes, it was read in full assembly, in its character of an Address from Mr Bentham to the Cortes, and received with loud, abundant, and all but unanimous applause. An entry, there is reason to believe, was made of the transaction in the Journals of that House. But, whatever be the cause, as yet no copy of any such entry has in this country been received.
A document, expressive of the sensation made by it in one of the most distinguished and influential of the political clubs, by which the power of the tribunal of public opinion was then, and by some of them continues still to be, exercised at Madrid, had better fate. Being read at one of the meetings of the celebrated club mentioned in our newspapers as being held at the sign of the Cross of Malta, it was commented upon in an unvaried strain of eulogy. In conclusion, it procured for the author the quality of Honorary Member of that Society, as testified by a letter, the translation of which is subjoined below,* accompanied with a formal instrument of adoption, conceived in diplomatic language. Some months, however, had elapsed before the instrument reached London: such is the difficulty and uncertainty with which the intercourse between this country and that inland capital is embarrassed.
Before the advice, thus submitted by Mr Bentham to the sovereign body of Spain, had been presented to that Assembly, advice of a contrary tendency had, as may naturally be imagined, not been altogether wanting. An illustrious house in this country has the reputation—if not of giving birth to it, at least of having, with no small care and fondness, fostered it.
Be this as it may, some time before the question was brought before the Cortes, endeavours were used to form a ground for the proposed Institution, by a reference to the place it occupies in the frame of the English Government. Of panegyric, there was of course no deficiency. Of the existence of a determinate Constitution, as belonging to that Government, the never-failing assumption was of course made. The opulence, power, and prosperity, in every shape so conspicuous in England, were on this occasion, as on so many other similar ones, brought to view, and magnified. The fallacy so regularly employed on those occasions, was employed on this. Of causes, obstacles, and uninfluencing circumstances, the usual olio was made. Whatever feature or degree of prosperity the institution in question had not been able to exclude, it received of course the credit of. If not in Spanish, at any rate in French, there was Blackstone, and there was De Lolme. Upon this stock, with the addition of whatever assistance may have been received from the above-mentioned great house, a man of distinguished literary celebrity and influence, Don Felix José Reynoso, set to work, and, under the title of “Examen de los Delitos de Infidelidad,” (Examination of the Offences of Infidelity,) published a book in which the desirableness of an Upper House in the Representative system of Spain was much insisted upon. What was the precise species of transgression meant on this occasion to be designated by the word, “infidelidad,” (the same in root, and everything but termination, as our English word infidelity,)—to what part of the field of thought and action the error thus imputed was meant to be represented as belonging—whether to that which regards conduct, or that which regards opinion—is more than can here be stated: nor, under that or any other interpretation, does it seem altogether easy, to discover the course taken by the ingenuity of the author, in making out the connexion, if any such there be, between either of the alleged errors above-mentioned, and the service promised to the people, by the introduction of a set of delegates, chosen by a comparatively small portion of the people, with interests opposite to those of the greater number, and with power to frustrate every endeavour which should have the greatest happiness of that greater number for its end in view. Whatever was the course so taken, the ingenuity displayed on this occasion, by the Spanish admirer of English Monarchical and Aristocratical vetos, in his endeavours to involve the subject in the customary cloud, seems not to have been altogether unsuccessful. At the then approaching election of Deputies from the province of Seville to the Cortes, a man, of whose regard for the greatest happiness of the greatest number, no doubt seems ever to have been entertained, Riego, so well known in England as well as everywhere else, as one of the three military men to whom Spain is principally indebted for her deliverance, scrupled not to propose him as being pre-eminently fit to serve in the Cortes for that Province, nor, on that occasion, to support him with all his influence. The virtues, moral as well as intellectual, of the illustrious publicist, were, by the still more illustrious soldier, enlarged upon in the warmest strain of panegyric. Whatsoever may have been the case with regard to the moral class of these virtues, to whatsoever was said in attestation and praise of those of the intellectual class, the most unqualified assent appears to have been attached. The more irresistible his powers of persuasion, the greater (it was said) will be the danger, if in such a situation they should come to be employed in giving their support to such a cause: to a proposed new part, by which, so sure as introduced, the force and effect of whatever is good in any of the other parts of the fabric, would be destroyed.
The opinion of the people in question had been formed: formed, after everything that had been said to them by the echo of the great English House against the offence of “infidelidad,” and in favour of an additional sovereign body, composed of, and chosen by, a set of laymen, already favoured above the rest of their countrymen, nobody could say why, and a set of churchmen, of whom the best that could be hoped for was—that, as in England, Deans, Prebendaries, and Canons are, they should be Sinecurists. All that the felicity of Don Felix could find to say on that side, they had heard: and, for anything that hath as yet appeared, nothing had been said to them in print by anybody on the other side. All this notwithstanding, their opinion was decided against the Spanish House of Lords. Whether that opinion was altogether a groundless one is a question, in finding an answer to which, it seems not impossible that the following tract may afford to the English reader some assistance. To the English reader, the question cannot indeed be anything more than a mere matter of curiosity: so closely does he feel himself held in the embrace of the grand Boa Constrictor with a coronet on his head. Not so to the man of Norway: for, somehow or other, in that country, whether for want of food, or from what other cause, the crested and bone-crushing dragon is found not to thrive. On the declivity of an elevated rock, scarce able to keep his hold, he may be seen lying in a languishing state: the men, whose bones he would once have crushed, have become too many for him. The sceptre indeed, as it could not fail to be, is outstretched to save him. Glory to the man, should any such arise, by whom this instrument of despotism and misrule shall have been rightly dealt with: dealt with, as the Boa, where he is in vigour, deals with the people’s bones.
[* ]Second, viz. in allusion to the Tract on the Liberty of the Press, see vol. ii. p. 273.
[* ] “The Patriotic Society of the Friends of the Constitution, established at the Malta Coffee-house, has heard publicly read, from its tribune, the work which you have consecrated to the service of Spanish freedom: and, in proof of the gratitude with which the people in general, and this Society in particular, have received, and the estimation in which they hold this fruit of your illustrious labours, do themselves the honour of transmitting to you the title of honorary associate, saluting you with the feelings of the most cordial fraternity.
“Madrid, 18th Sept. 1820. “El Ciudadano Presidente Patricio Moore.Andres Rogo del Gamya, Secretario. Manuel Barcelo, Secretario. Ciudadano Jeremias Bentham.”