Front Page Titles (by Subject) TRACT, No. I.: Letter to the Spanish Nation on a then ( Anno 1820) proposed House of Lords. - 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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TRACT, No. I.: Letter to the Spanish Nation on a then ( Anno 1820) proposed House of Lords. - 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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TRACT, No. I.
Letter to the Spanish Nation on a then (Anno 1820) proposed House of Lords.
Men of Madrid, Members of the Cortes, People of Spain!—if the old man who thus addresses you is an intruder, listen to him with indulgence. He is not a spontaneous one; he would not have spoken had he not been called.
Among the subjects which I understand are before you, none is of more importance—none perhaps of so much importance—as the question, whether, in addition to a Sovereign Assembly composed of representatives, whom the subject many have appointed and can remove, there shall be another, composed of those whom the subject many neither will be able to remove, nor will so much as have appointed! If I may rely on the perhaps too partial anticipations of some amongst you,—my works on legislation having been fortunate enough, some of them, to be honoured by your notice, and, among the works of men foreign to your nation, these having been the only ones thus honoured—even my opinion, though it were but an opinion and nothing more, might, for the present, have its use. In presenting you with it,—naked, or little better than naked, of reasons, as you will see it,—the necessity of the case compels me to break through a habit, which, till now, has been a law to me. I mean, that of placing my whole reliance on the force of specific reasons, keeping my own insignificant personality as completely out of view as possible. To cover with these reasons, to the best of my ability, the whole field of legislation, has been the labour of my whole life. On these reasons, on every part of that field, I have placed my sole dependence. As to opinion—my own opinion—considered in the character of an authority—of a leaning-stock for the opinion of other men—let any man set it at as low a degree as he may in the scale of value, he cannot set it lower than it is set by myself.
Such as it is, however, I have been called upon to give it. Whosoever among you may be pleased thus to honour me, may behold it in this page.
In addition to a Supreme Assembly composed of agents whom the subject many have appointed and can remove, shall there be another composed of men whom they will not have appointed, nor will ever be able to remove? Spaniards! by the simple statement of it, is not the question already answered? Spaniards! think for yourselves! think whether, between an assembly of the ruling few thus constituted on the one part, and the interests of the subject many on the other part, there exists not a point-blank opposition, and that opposition an unchangeable one? Think whether there be a single reform—think whether there be a single considerable improvement in any shape—which a body of rulers, unappointed and irremoveable by the people, will not, on one account or another, deem it for their interest to oppose, and oppose with full effect? For this they will have avowedly full power: and for what purpose can any such power—for what purpose can a veto—be asked for, but to be used? So far as, in their own view, their own interests coincide with yours, so far indeed they will go. But, the unchangeable nature of man considered, can you, on any substantial ground, entertain any the slightest expectation of their going any further? And the rendering the separation of their own interests from yours as complete and as wide as possible, that yours may be made a sacrifice to theirs, can this ever fail to be their constant study? Their study, will it not on every occasion be, to give to the expenditure of government, and thence to the burthens that press upon you, the greatest extent possible, that, out of that expense, they may, in the shape of official emolument, extract the greatest possible profit for themselves and their connexions? Lawyers themselves, or in league with lawyers, their determination will it not be—to keep the amount of expense in judicial procedure, and thence of factitious delay and vexation, as high as possible, for the sake of lawyer’s profit extracted out of the expense? For this cause will they not be inexorable in the determination to keep exposing the unopulent many to remediless injury, at the hands of the opulent, and, at the head of them, the ruling few; denying justice to all but these few, and selling it to them at a price which they would not endure to pay, but for the impunity and the power of oppression which they buy with it? To keep the necessity of having recourse to lawyers as cogent as possible, will they not keep the rule of action in a state of as complete uncertainty as possible? will they not even keep that indispensable instrument of security from so much as coming into existence? The boon, which even Napoleon granted—the matchless boon of a really existing and accessible body of laws—will they not remain for ever determined to refuse? If, on these points, your own experience will not suffice for you, look around you: look to the men alike situated, the men cast in the same mould, the men of law in every other country, and in particular in that from which I write.
You have heard of our English Constitution—of high-born virtue as the cause of it, and consummate happiness as the fruit of it. Circumstances have, it is true, rendered the government of the few less bad here than in any other country: that happy America alone excepted, which took from it all the good, leaving all the bad behind. Circumstances have rendered it less bad here than elsewhere; but as to virtue, judge of it from one fact:—you have heard of our two parties, the Tories and the Whigs: the Tories, oppressors and plunderers in possession; the Whigs their successors in expectancy. Can you believe it? According to a set of principles, openly and deliberately avowed by both parties, making fortunes for the ruling few, at the expense of the subject many, is the very end of government. You must, all of you, have heard of our late minister, William Pitt; you must, some of you, have heard of his right-hand man, George Rose; both leaders of the Tories. You must, all of you, have heard of Burke, Edmund Burke, the most illustrious of writers among the Whigs. Each of these men published, at different times, his pamphlet on the subject of finance—each of them, such is the depravity of the ruling few, feared not to speak of this as an acknowledged principle. I, for my part, have, at different times, published two Defences of Economy: one against that same George Rose, another against that same Edmund Burke; for, long before the Tory pamphlet was written or thought of, Burke, adding treachery and imposture to rapacity, had constituted himself an advocate for economy, for the very purpose of betraying it. I consigned these papers to a periodical publication, called the Pamphleteer, mixing them thus with Government pamphlets, that they might present themselves unawares to this or that eye which, by interest, or interest-begotten prejudice, would otherwise have been closed against them. I have there shown, that, consistently with the conduct, or even with the avowed principles, of these men, not a maravedi would be left in the pockets of the people—not a maravedi, which the ruling few would be able to extract for their own use. But in this unhappy country, to stop the progress of irresistible oppression and depredation, what signifies what 1, what anybody, can write? The contest low is—not between Tories and Whigs: for, though divided against one another in the contest for plunderage, these, it has been for sometime seen, are, by a stronger community of sinister interest, united against the people. No: not between Tories and Whigs; but between the ruling few on the one part, and the subject many on the other, is the real contest. The subject many, if you believe their enemies, are enemies to property: their aim is—to take it, all of it, from its present owners, and divide it amongst one another. “No,” say the subject many, “no such design either ever was, or ever could be, entertained by anybody: by any body of men large enough to make any the smallest commencement towards it; for, long before the property could have got into the undisturbed possession of the supposed intended sharers, the destruction of property would be complete: all property destroyed, all life would be destroyed with it: and, earlier than those of the proprietors, the lives of the destroyers themselves. Scarcely out of our seventeen millions could you find a thousand men blind enough not to see this:” neither, then, have we any such design, nor can you believe we have. But this design which you so shamelessly impute to us—this design which, carried to the extent you speak of, and in the situation of the persons on whom you throw the imputation of it, is so plainly impossible—this design of enriching one’s self at the expense of others—this very design, not only you yourselves have from first to last been harbouring it, but you have all along been carrying it on: carrying it on to the utmost extent which you have found possible. For us to enrich ourselves at your expense is not possible; for you to enrich yourselves at our expense, is a design not only possible, but actually and continually carried into effect: carried into effect, and to the utmost extent to which it has been possible. Of late years, since the French revolution afforded you a pretence, so rapid have been your advances, that the increase of waste and corruption—waste for the purpose of corruption, corruption for the purpose of waste, and both for the purpose of depredation—has almost reached its limits: taxes are added to taxes, and produce is not added to produce.
With the exception of the few that have owed their rise to trade, think whether among those families which we behold seated on the summit of that emmence which is composed of power, opulence, and factitious dignity, there can have been any who have been raised by any thing better than depredation: licensed and irresistible depredation; depredation by that swarm of harpies which, in the field of government, have never been fabulous—by the harpy in the shape of the Soldier, by the harpy in the shape of the Lawyer, by the harpy in the shape of the Placeman, by the harpy in the shape of the Priest. Thus it has surely been with us: think whether it can have been otherwise with you: think whether it can have been any otherwise with any pure monarchy, with any aristocracy, with any mixed monarchy, with any other government, than the pure representative democracy—the truly matchless and unperishable government of the American United States. Leave, then, to each individual harpy the undisturbed possession of what he has: leave it to him, on the sole condition of his remaining quiet. But do not equip him for fresh mischief, as our cock-fighters do their cocks: do not, in addition to the claws which he has, arm him with new and iron ones: do not give him a veto: a veto upon every constitution, that can tend to set limits to the plunderage.
Magnanimous Spaniards! for years to come, not to say ages, in you is our best, if not our only hope! to you, who have been the most oppressed of slaves, to you it belongs to give liberty to Europe. Yes: to all Europe! nor in Europe is there that other nation that has a more incontestable or more urgent need of it than that in which I write. Now is your time or never. Fear not from this country any effectual opposition. True it is that the worst mischief the French ever did you was kindness in comparison with that which our rulers would do to you, rather than you should save yourselves. As they dealt with Genoa, as they dealt with Naples, as they dealt with the Netherlands, as they dealt with Poland, as they dealt with Germany, so would they deal with you: so, and as much worse as were necessary to prevent your salvation. Cooler, more determined, more inexorable enemies mankind never had, nor ever can have. But no such mischief, no, nor any considerable mischief is it in their power to do to you. True it is, that neither against French, any more than against English rulers, could you have any security but from their impotence. This, however, you most happily have at present, and this you will continue to have long enough for the consolidation of your independence. True it is, that the despots have, each gang of them, force enough for the destruction of its own subjects. But they have not, any of them—no, nor all of them together—force enough to destroy you. Men indeed—oh yes, men they have, and in superabundance. But money they have none; and without money, and money in large masses, men cannot be made to move.
Oh yes, my friends! put everything to hazard, rather than let in the menaced veto: the many-headed, the all-devouring, the insatiable monster, worthy successor of the Trojan Horse. In vain would any one pretend that its interest is the same with yours. To be free from arbitrary imprisonment, from forfeiture, from death, from torture, this, it is true, is their interest not less than yours. True, but then, in their own eyes at least, they have to themselves a dearer and counter interest, by which this vulgar and common interest is sure to be eclipsed. The security—the blessing which they could not hold without having you to share it with them—this they behold with disdain, this is without value in their eyes. The power—the factitious dignity by which they are distinguished—distinguished from you and above you—this with them is everything. For his own security then, will each of them be content to trust to other sources: to his own good fortune, to his own address, to that prostration before the footstool of power—to that “prostration of understanding and will,” to which, to make everything else sure, he is determined there shall be no bounds: that “prostration of understanding and will,” which, in so many words, his Lordship of London preaches to us.
Spaniards! in you is our hope; for this long time our only hope: save yourselves, you save us; save yourselves, or we sink. What you, till so lately were, we at this time are. If you had your slaughterers, we have ours: if you had your torturers, we have ours: if you have your embroiderers, we have our tailors. As to our liberties—our so much vaunted liberties—inadequate as they always were, they are gone: corruption has completely rotted them: preserved they cannot be; if ever in future possessed by us, they must be regained. Our government is already become a military one: if but a child cries, a troop is sent to quiet it. As to our Lawyers, they, whether on Benches or on Seats, are what they have always been, and, so long as monarchy lasts, always will be,—tools of power, tools to the Government, all of them, as soon as they can get into it; tools to the Opposition, some of them, that they may show themselves, and till they can sell themselves. Even in our Soldiers more hope have the friends of good government than in our Lawyers. As it is, the forms of it are all that remain; the substance is all gone: the shell we make a show with, the kernel is rotten. Seated—not by us, but by money or by terror, or at the best by themselves or one another, we behold in our representatives, as they call themselves, the most mischievous and most implacable of our enemies.
I who write this, haste to write to you while I am still able; I say, while I am still able: for all sense of security has long been fled from me. Cartwright, Burdett, are under prosecution. Hobhouse has already endured, manfully endured, his punishment: and, unless he saves himself by silence or desertion, punished over and over again, it seems his destiny to be. As to me, who, I hear it said continually, am more criminal than any of them—me, for the fruit of whose labours, criminal as they are styled, the honestest and wisest among you are, at this moment, if I have been rightly informed, calling aloud that they may press it to their lips; there is something—it belongs not to me to say what—that hitherto has saved me. But my hour cannot be far distant. Already, for what I have written, others have been punished. Not in the hermitage from which I write, but in some prison shall I die. I could not die in greater comfort than by dying in your service.