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CHAPTER III.: NOTIFICATION AND PUBLICATION IN REFERENCE TO SECURITIES. - 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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NOTIFICATION AND PUBLICATION IN REFERENCE TO SECURITIES.
Subjects of notification, and thence publicity.
1. Ordinances. 2. Transgressions, or any violations of those same ordinances. 3. Suffrages, or opinions formed by the several members of the Public-Opinion Tribunal, on the subject of or in relation to some transgression, as compared with those same ordinances.
Transgression supposes something transgressed; in the instance here in question that something is something having or designed to have the authority of law.
1. In the first place come the several ordinances, of which misrule in each of the several shapes against which a security is by this system endeavoured to be provided will have been a transgression: ordinances, or supposed rules having the effect of ordinances—of ordinances interdictive of vexation and oppression in all its several shapes. If at the time of giving establishment to security in those several shapes, ordinances adapted to the purpose are already in existence, it is well; if not, fresh ordinances for the purpose must in this case be provided.
2. In the next place come whatsoever instances of transgression happen to take place. If none, so much the better; the ordinances have in the completest manner possible fulfilled their purpose. If any transgressions within the law in question have had place, the number of them being given, the greater the number to which notification and publicity have been secured as compared with the total number that have had place, the better.
3.Suffrages. Understand by suffrages, the opinions produced in the minds of the several members of this same tribunal by the cognizance of the several transgressions. As applied to persons taking cognizance of the several transgressions, the degree of publicity will be as the number of their suffrages.
Note, that in the number of the members of this same tribunal, is included the number of all those on whose obedience or will depends the effect, of the several general salutary tutelary ordinances by which vexation is prohibited, as also of any particular acts or particular ordinances, in consequence of which any acts of vexation and oppression are exercised in violation and transgression of these same general and salutary ordinances. Power on the one part is constituted by and is in greater or less proportion to obedience on the other. It is in the direct ratio of the obedience, and in the inverse ratio of resistance. But the greater the number of the members of the whole community to whom the existence of an act of oppression has been made known, the greater is the number of those by whom, on the occasion of an endeavour to exercise other acts of a similar nature, supposing the first act notified to them, not only may obedience be withholden but resistance opposed.
Rule: abstraction made of the several degrees of influence possessed—influence of understanding on understanding, and influence of will on will included, the actual power of the Public-Opinion Tribunal will be as the number of the suffrages, actually declared in the minds of the several members: its power, as supposed by other persons, and, in particular, the several functionaries to whose transgressions it is the object of the securities to oppose a check, will be as the number of the suffrages which they expect to find formed and delivered.
This influence with its several possible degrees it may be said may be laid out of the account altogether. For of the persons on whom by possibility it is capable of being exercised, the only persons here in question are the members of the political community in question, considered in the character of members of the Public-Opinion Tribunal belonging to it. Thus, accordingly when considered in a general point of view for the most part does the matter stand. One point however there remains in relation to which the sort of influence in question is capable of having a distinct operation. The suffrages, suppose, of all the members of this tribunal take the same direction, they being all of them pronounced in condemnation of the oppressive act in question. Therefore, as between suffrage and suffrage, it makes no difference which of them was the result of a self-formed opinion—which of them the result of an opinion derived from the influence exercised on the mind in question by that of some other member: exercised whether on will, or on understanding, or on both together. But, though, by the supposition, the direction taken by the suffrages is the same, and the ultimate number of them, by what cause soever produced is the number in question, yet the degree of energy with which upon occasion they may respectively be disposed to act in conformity to these same suffrages may be to any amount different: and in each case this degree of energy may be greater or less according to the nature and force of the influence received.
Note, that to simplify the conception, the direction taken by the suffrages in question is, on this occasion, supposed to be the same in the instance of every one of them. But as by this supposition the subject of these suffrages is in every instance some act of oppression exercised by the sovereign or individuals, there is nothing in this supposition that seems to be in any very considerable degree wide of the truth.
So much for the several subject-matters to which the act of notification may have need to apply itself. Now, as to the several successive operations, the performance of which may be necessary to the production of the effect—of the effect, by whatsoever name designated, whether notification or publicity.
These preparatory operations will be in a considerable degree different, according to the nature of the subject-matter, according as it comes under one or other of the three above-named denominations, namely, ordinances, transgressions, or suffrages.
Notification, with respect to ordinances.
First, let them be supposed already in existence, and possessed of binding force.
If, so far as regards the purpose here in question, they are already present to every mind capable of taking cognizance of the matter, it is well. Unfortunately, there is not anywhere, on the surface of the globe, any country in which this sort of omnipresence, or anything like it, has place; not even in that country, the Anglo-American United States, in which the productions of the printing-press are most extensively dispersed: much less in Northern Africa, where even the instrument itself has never yet been in use.
Necessary to the existence of an ordinance in a binding state are three distinguishable operations: namely, scription, sanctionment, and registration.
1.Scription. By this understand the act of composing and committing to writing the matter in question.
2.Sanctionment. By this understand the investing it, with binding force, by some person or persons generally recognised as being possessed of a correspondent power.
3.Registration, or say recordation. By this understand the depositing and keeping, in some appropriate receptacle, the individual instrument to which the Act of Sanctionment has been applied. But for this the correctness and even genuineness of all copies, written or printed, might stand exposed to doubt and dispute.
Minute and useless will the distinction thus brought to view be apt at first sight to appear. Upon a second view nothing, it will be seen, can be farther from being so. Scarcely will that country be seen in which, throughout a vast and indeterminate portion of the field of action and legislation, an operation so essential as sanctionment will not be seen wanting to that matter to which is given nevertheless the name and binding form of law.
Thus far ordinances, appropriate and adequate to the nature of the exigency, have been supposed to be already in existence. If so, it is well. But, suppose the state of things to be a contrary case, what then is to be done?
Case 1. In relation to the matter in question, yet no ordinance of the above description in existence; but in the case of judicial decisions, the standard of reference, composed of anterior decisions, or inferences deduced from them. In the European governments, with the exception of the few instances, if any, in which codification has had place, such is the state of the rule of action, when it is in the state of what is called common law, or unwritten law. On most parts of the field of law, a quantity of matter has been written—written by men not invested, or so much as pretending to be invested with the legislative authority; and out of this huge and shapeless mass of writing, the judge on each occasion makes choice of such portions as appear to him best adapted to his purpose; to the purpose which is most agreeable to him, whatever it may happen to be. In this state of things, singularly unfortunate, if not unskilful, must that judge be who, out of so rich a granary, fails, on any occasion, to find that which is most agreeable to his wishes, whatsoever they may happen to be—to his wishes, guided, as they cannot but be, by what at the moment he looks upon as being his interest.
In the countries in question, if I understand the matter right, some of those memorials have been collected, which in England, over so large a portion of the field of thought and action, occupy the place of law. I mean that sort of matter which consists,—of statements of cases by which judicial decision has been called for, the particular decision pronounced in each case, and the general positions which have been brought forward by the judge in support and justification of his particular decision,—or of such general positions as, in the way of inference, have been deduced from it by men volenter dissertantes—rulers not invested with any such authority as that of a judge.
Case 2. The standard of reference referred to in judicial decisions, composed of inferences drawn, not from former decisions, but from an original standard, composed in a time of remote antiquity.
In the country in question, the standard of reference is, it seems, of this sort, and consists of the matter following:—There stands the Koran, the work of Mahomet, the universally acknowledged standard of opinion and practice in all matters of religion, as well as law. But, for a great portion of these particular cases, to which the occurrences of life are continually giving birth,—in this book, the matter being for the most part of a nature extremely general, is not capable of an application particular enough to serve as an adequately determinate guide. Influenced by this view, different persons, without concert with each other, have at various times set themselves to work to fill up the vacuities, all of them agreeing in the homage paid to the general positions discoverable in the sacred text, but differing from one another in no inconsiderable degree, in respect of the inferences drawn from these important positions, of which, as being included within them, application has been made. With reference to the sacred text, these works of inferior authority stand in the relation of commentaries. Throughout the dominion of the Koran, four of these commentaries have obtained the pre-eminence over all the others. Such is the degree of that pre-eminence as to have given rise, as it were, to two classes of commentaries; commentaries of the first order, and commentaries of the second order. Those of the second order being not exclusively, at least, commentaries on the sacred text, but commentaries upon those of the first order. Commentators of the first order, four as above. Commentators of the second order, not as few as seven hundred.
Though clear of confusion from that source of which indication has been given, as above, in the case of the European, and especially the English Books of Reports, and Treatises deduced from them, the eastern system fails not, however, to labour under very obvious, and such as cannot but be very grievous inconveniences.
In the first place, no one of them having taken for its object of pursuit the greatest happiness of the greatest number, none can, except by accident, have made any clearly defined provision for it in the course of such arrangements of detail as are to be found deducible from it.
In the next place, in opening out the thread of inferences, they have all of them taken, on various occasions, courses more or less different.
From all these diversities, two evil consequences, to an extent more or less considerable, cannot but have taken place. So indeterminate, in this or that case, is the bearing of some or all of these previous commentaries upon the case, that the judge, be his probity ever so great, finds more or less difficulty in determining in what manner he shall make application of them to the case.
The other consequence is, that amidst such diversity the judge, in so far as the union of disposition and opportunity produces, on his part, an inclination for corruption, seldom finds any difficulty in gratifying it.
With regard to aptitude of phraseology—aptitude of phraseology on the part of the rule of action, the source of security on the part of the members of the community,—thus much may with confidence be asserted, with reference to the most aptly penned codes of European law; namely, that, in respect of determinateness of designation, as well as aptitude, with relation to the only proper end of legislation, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, they are in a deplorable degree deficient. Continuing to apply the words which custom has applied to the several occasions, on each occasion the assumption they proceed upon is, that of the word in question the import is adequately determinate,—and scarcely, perhaps, in a single instance is that assumption true.
If such is the case in the instance of those bodies of law, the authors of which, during the penning of them, set and kept before them, all along, a determinate object of pursuit, namely, the greatest happiness of somebody—the greatest happiness of the Monarch whose power was employed in giving birth to them and binding force; still more assuredly must it be the case in the instances in which the rule of action has, from time to time, been spun out, in the way of inference, from a rule which, whatever may have been the talent employed in the making of it, was yet of a mixed character; having something of religion in it, and something of law in it, with here and there a passage of history; springing the whole texture of it out of the occurrences of the day, and that day a very remote one with reference to present days, the state of society being, at the same time, in a great variety of particulars, widely different from what it is at present: widely different, and, amongst other points of difference, far less diversified.
Be the inquiry, however, ever so pressing, be the demand for new and precise definition of binding terms ever so urgent, everything cannot be done at once. With the stock of those terms, whatsoever may be the extent of it, with this stock of instruments, in the penning of the proposed securities must the scribe content himself, putting them to use in the best manner he is able.
In the character of a guide to Judges, the necessity of a collection of ordinances has just been brought to view,—of ordinances in the form of ordonnances,—of an all-comprehensive collection, covering the whole field of Legislation, and putting an exclusion upon every standard of reference that is not in that exclusively adequate guide.
But if necessary even to the Judge,—to the functionary to whose function it belongs to decide upon the conduct of the members of the community at large, pronouncing that decision which never can be pronounced without producing suffering in some shape or other from the lowest to the highest degree,—to a party or parties on one side or the other,—how much more necessary must it not be to an individual in the situation of one who every day of his life is exposed to the danger of being party to a suit for the want of being able to have access to a document which would enable him by anticipation to preserve himself from the sufferings which otherwise cannot but await him at the hand of the Judge.
If necessary to the right termination of these afflictive processes called causes or suits at law, how much more strictly necessary are they not to the prevention of them. Without any such forewarning and trusty instructive guides, a termination in some way or other, these courses of suffering cannot but receive; but by no other means than these means of timely information can they be anticipated and prevented.
It may be matter for consideration whether to this fundamental and all-important institution of rational government, the form of a charter—the form of a declaration of rights, or the form of a contract should be given.
If obtainable, the form of a contract will unquestionably be the more beneficial: whatsoever securities are afforded will thus be fixt upon the firmer basis. The case of a charter remains always more or less exposed to one cause of failure: being the free and sole act of the Sovereign, whatsoever is granted by him on any one day may be taken back by him on any other: when he granted it, it was on the supposition that no bad consequences would result from it: but that supposition being disproved, necessity compels him to revoke it. To this effect are the words which at any time may just as easily be uttered as any others of the same length and number: and wheresoever and by whomsoever in the situation in question uttered, no want of voices to echo them need ever be feared.
So much for charters. Charters the people in question cannot have been much used to. Contracts—compacts—all people are more or less used to: more or less in the use and expectation of seeing them kept: and, at any rate, of regarding the infraction of them as an act of injustice, and a reasonable cause of displeasure and discontent: a reasonable cause for endeavour to obtain remedy.
In the case of a charter, if it be regarded as really obligatory, there is but one party on whom any obligation attaches: in the case of a contract, there are two parties: the people forming one of them. If then the contract form be the form employed, consistency would seem to require that, on the occasion of the solemnity from which it appears to derive its sanction, there should be given by and on the part of the people, thanks to the Sovereign for his entering into his part in it:—thanks with acclamations. Thanks to the Sovereign—to God—to the prophet—to everybody—nothing of this sort need be grudged. But on their part, if anything, what more can be done with safety and advantage? Promise to obey him and all his descendants to the end of time? this would be too much: too much even although, on the part of those potentates, the condition of their performing their part of the contract were attached to the promise on the part of the people. For—what if another form of government should come to be regarded as in a greater degree contributory to the greatest happiness of the greatest number? Promise to obey his descendants so long as the contract were on their part kept inviolate, and so long as Monarchy continued to be the form of Government? This is exactly what seems desirable: but unfortunately, the more desirable on the one part, the less likely to be acceded to on the other.
In the case of England, the Whig Monarchists who brought about the Revolution in the time of James II. saw the advantage attached, as above, to the contract form; and in their arguments employed it accordingly. Their contract, however,—the original contract they called it—was a mere fiction: and of its being a mere fiction an evil consequence was—that, on each occasion, the terms of it remaining to be feigned,—they made them whatsoever seemed to them most advantageous to their own particular interests. But, in the case here in question, there would be no fiction, and there being two contracting parties to this contract, the terms of it might, by mutual consent of both parties, be changed at any time. So long as the terms were kept by the Monarch, the people would not be likely to feel much inclination to change: but, supposing them at any time infringed by him, it would be for them to make themselves amends, and provide for that purpose whatsoever security seemed to them most efficient: for example, the change from the mixed Monarchy to a Representative Democracy: and for the bringing about such change, the securities here in question would prepare them, by giving them power in every shape.
Means of Multiplication of Ordinances.
In the country in question, written discourse, though not printed discourse, being in use, of whatsoever ordinances are in force as such, copies, one or more, cannot but be in existence somewhere. In the metropolis of the country of course. In the seat of the principal judicatory of the country of course. In the case here in question, the first operation therefore that requires to be performed is multiplication. For this purpose the newly invented instrument, called the lithographic press, seems for a beginning preferable to the ordinary printing press, not that there should be any reason why either should put an exclusion upon the other.
The advantages which at the outset it presents itself as in possession of are the following:
1. It is by much the cheaper.
2. It requires for the production of the effect a much less numerous association of Arts, and thence of different artists.
3. Being with difficulty distinguishable from ordinary manuscript, the use of it will be less alarming than the use of the printing press, to artists who at present are employed in the transcription of manuscript writing.
On the occasion of this as of every other mode employable for the abridgement of human labour, an effect which can never be too scrupulously attended to, and which at the same time has been almost universally turned aside from, is its effect on the interest—on the very means of subsistence of the working hands, the whole of whose subsistence is derived from the practice of the art in its present state. In various countries of Europe, in England more perhaps than in any other, prodigious is the mass of misery that has been produced by this means.
First branch of the evil, the distress of the labouring hands whom the introduction of the new art causes to be dismissed, and thus deprives of the means of subsistence. Second branch of that same evil, suffering in the shape of pecuniary loss and other shapes, sustained by those who, trusting to profit by the new art, dismiss in a proportion more or less considerable those hands whom they were wont to occupy in the course of the old established one: suffering, namely produced by the hostility of those who are thus deprived of the means of subsistence,—hostility exercised under the notion of its being in exercise of retributive justice.
To the great capitalist, the sufferings of these his discarded servants, to how many hundreds soever they may amount, has, generally speaking, been of little or no importance. But to no one of all these human beings, strange as it may be in his eyes, is it a matter of no importance. To each of these discarded servants, the difference between comfortable subsistence, and death, or scanty subsistence from the parish funds, is, in reality, of much greater importance than is to the capitalist the difference between the old established rule of profit to which he has been accustomed, and the new rule of profit to which he aspires. The law relative to the subject being uniformly the expression of the will, either of himself or of one belonging to a class still more insensible than he is to the miseries of men less fortunate than themselves, the act by which he deprives them of the whole of their subsistence, is never treated on the footing of a crime, or even of an offence. On the other hand, any act whereby the men, who by him have been deprived of the whole of their subsistence, shall endeavour to retaliate, by depriving him of ever so small a part of his vast opulence, is treated on the footing of a crime, and deep is the turpitude imputed to those who have defiled themselves with it.
As to the depravity, whatsoever may be the amount of it, one thing is undeniable, namely, that he in whose loss it is manifested under the circumstance of neglect in question, is the author of it, and has himself to thank for it.
In his own eyes, as also in those of his superiors, on whom the state of the laws depends, the heart of the man of opulence is no less full of virtue than his purse of money. To himself the difference in respect of profit is no object; but the public, the sole object of his regard,—the public is enriched by it. The discarded labourers, a mean and grovelling race, who care nothing about the public, experience nothing but what they deserve.
In the instance here in question, happily the evil here in question, if so it be that it requires any cure for the existence of it, requires no such cure as in the cases just mentioned. Supposing the securities in question granted, the copies the production of which will be completed, will furnish of themselves a fresh demand, for which no adequate means of supply can at the time, when the demand commences, be in existence.
But, whatsoever be the improved mode of multiplication employed, lithographic press or ordinary press, care should be taken that the employment given to it should not be such as to throw out of employment any of the existing scribes, except in so far as other employment, not less advantageous, is found for them.—Measures should at the same time be taken to prevent the influx of fresh hands into their business. If certificate of the stoppage of the demand for this art be not sufficient, even prohibition might be employed: prohibition absolute, or unless by license.
Next to the operation of multiplying the copies of these literary instruments of national security against misrule, comes the method of their distribution. Distribution is either gratuitous, or for a price,—for example, in the way of public sale.
Of copies to a limited amount, the distribution, it is true, might be gratuitous. But in such a case the demand might be indefinite; for to no man, able or not to read the characters on it, could a quantity of paper be without its uses. Exposure to sale, therefore, presents itself as an indispensable mode. But the price demanded should not at any rate be to any the least amount greater than what will suffice to cover the expense. If it were insufficient, it might be so much the better. On the side of convenience, all that is essential, is that it be not so small as that for purposes other than that of reading, it should be worth a man’s while to purchase it.
Obvious and unanswerable is the reason why, so it does but prevent undue application to purposes other than those designed, the price cannot be too small. The usefulness and the efficiency—the usefulness of these securities will be as the number of the minds by which cognizance of them is taken. On this ultimate security depends the efficiency of whatsoever else can be designated by that name. For the benefit of this security, no expense that can be incurred by a number of copies, equal to those of the individuals able to read them, can be too great.
Application of Public Recitation to Ordinances.
As far as it goes, this operation, compared with swift exposure to sale, presents several advantages.
1. By this means, a conception of the master document in question may be conveyed to minds in vast multitudes, to which, by any other means, it would not be possible to convey it.
2. It is not necessarily attended with any expense.
3. It is susceptible of any additaments applied to it in the view of rendering it the more impressive: of these presently.
On the other hand, the signs by means of which the conception is conveyed, or endeavoured to be conveyed, to the minds in question, being of the supremely fugitive and transient kind, their existence ceasing as soon as it has commenced, deplorably inadequate will this mode of communication uniformly be, in comparison with that which operates by signs, susceptible of indefinite permanency. Nor even for the single instant in which the communication takes place, can the conception derived be generally expected to equal that which has place in the other case, in any of the qualities requisite; namely, in clearness, correctness, or comprehensiveness: much less at any instant separated from that first instant by any considerable interval of time.
Now as to impressiveness. This quality is capable of being raised above the ordinary standard by any one of the following circumstances:
1. The rank of the person by whom the recitation is performed.
2. An extraordinary degree of aptitude on his part, in respect of the properties desirable on the part of a public reader or speaker: for example, clearness of pronunciation, strength and agreeableness of voice, propriety of intonation with reference to the occasion.
3. The place at which the recitation is made.
4. Any circumstance of ceremony with which it may be thought advisable to accompany the operation.
The discourse in question being drawn up and agreed on, the sovereign, for example, in the principal mosque, stationed in an elevated station, in which he may be seen by the whole assembly, takes the paper in hand, and reads it in a voice suited to his convenience. When read, he touches it with his seal—with the seal by which his acts as sovereign are in use to be authenticated; he touches it with his seal, and that instant a signal being given, notification is conveyed to the greatest distance by the firing of artillery, and musketry, and the sounding of drums and trumpets, or whatever wind instruments of music are in use.
After this, for the more effectual information of the surrounding audience, the best reader in all points taken together as above, that can be found, reads the paper over again, and the notifying sounds, as above, are repeated. The ceremony might be preceded and followed by a procession from the palace of the sovereign to the mosque, and back again.
After the reading has been performed, any such declarations of censure on all infractors may be added as the forms of the religion and the usages of the country will admit of.*
In those Monarchies of Europe which are called Constitutional, in them, and in those which have elsewhere sprung from them, it has been customary for the Monarch to open and close the legislative assemblies by a speech from the throne—a speech of which, though not so much as supposed to have been the framer, he is himself the recitator. But of all these general speeches one general character may be given. For the most part they contain nothing but vague generalities. They contain no enactments. They are not intended to give expression to any specific engagements. Indeed the manifest and scarcely dissembled object is to avoid binding the Royal speaker to anything—to keep his hands as free as possible. If on any occasion they amount to anything, it is when the object of them is to notify, though in the most general terms, the assent of the Monarch to a new Constitutional Code, or to any particular law to which a preeminent degree of importance is attached; or to propose, in the most general terms possible, a subject for deliberation and eventual enactment.
In the case of Tripoli, should the consent of the Sovereign to the proposed system of securities be obtained, the design, if I understand aright, is to endeavour to prevail upon him to re-echo from his own lips, not merely a form of words expressive of his assent, but the whole contents of the discourse, unless the length of it should be such as to present an insurmountable obstacle to the physical exertion necessary.
For this purpose, the example, as above, of the Sovereigns of Europe might perhaps contribute more or less to the surmounting of any reluctance of which the novelty of the proposal may have been productive in his mind.
Notification and Publicity as to Transgressions.
By transgression, understand, as above, instances in which the tutelary ordinances, having been established, as above, acts of oppression, as above characterized, happen, notwithstanding, to have place.
Unfortunately in this second instance, the placing the matter in question in broad daylight, is not altogether so safe, nor yet so easy, as in the former instance.
To an operation of this description, the nature of the case will be seen opposing these obvious opponents; namely, fear, indolence, and poverty. It remains for inquiry what can be done towards the surmounting of these several obstacles.
1st. Obstacle—fear. To observe where the fear attaches, we have but to observe the parties whose conjunct labours are necessary to the production of this result.
These are, 1st. The person or persons from whom in each instance the information should come; 2d. The person or persons by whom it should be received. Furnisher of the information any person may be: a receiver of it is as such a sort of public functionary; at any rate, if so it be that he does what is required to the giving publicity to it, as he must do sooner or later, or he might as well not receive it.
In comparison with that which is offered by fear, the force of all other obstacles put together is inconsiderable.
Fear is the expectation of eventual evil, evil at the hand of all those to whom publicity, in relation to the event in question, may come to be disagreeable. Against all such fear, the most effectual of all securities is concealment: concealment of every person by whom anything has been contributed to the publicity of the obnoxious state of things.
Known it is necessary they should be—known to the functionary by whom the information is received or extracted, were it only for the sake of eventual responsibility, in case of disturbance given to the peace of the community and of individuals, by false accounts. To one functionary, or perhaps one set of functionaries, it is necessary that for this purpose every person contributing to the furnishing of the information, should be adequately known: known to the purpose of being eventually forthcoming to the purpose of being subjected to punishment, in case of mendacity or injurious temerity. But to no other person is it necessary that he should be known.
Next come the several persons by whom any part is borne towards the giving permanent and appropriate publicity to the information when received. At one stage or other, some one person at least there must be—naturally persons more than one—whose agency in the business cannot be kept concealed: concealed, that is to say from those from whose power vengeance will naturally be to be apprehended. But when any one person is known, as having borne a part in it, the greater the number of the persons thus known to have done so the better: the greater the number, the higher their situation (meaning their official situation) and the more dispersed their several situations—meaning their topographical situations. For the higher their official situation and the greater the number of the persons occupying those several situations, the more dangerous will it be for the oppressor to endeavour to extend to them his oppressing hand: the higher and more numerous the more dangerous, and the more dispersed the more difficult.
Suppose, for example, by one such functionary, or set of functionaries, information of an act of oppression received and committed to writing. If their situation is that of a set of functionaries constituting a Judicatory of the higher order, then suppose a copy sent to every Judicatory in the Dominion, and by the joint authority of them all made public at one and the same time: made public by whatsoever means of publicity happen to be at their command. Here the security against vengeance from the oppressor is at its maximum: unless it should be deemed advisable, that from this branch of the authority of the State, communication be also made to the Military.
2d. A Case may be supposed in which whether fear have place or no, indolence may oppose a bar, more or less powerful, to communication. Suppose the oppressed party alive and in condition to act, indolence is not in his instance very likely to take place. For affording the requisite excitement, the desire of compensation and vengeance will, generally speaking, be sufficient. But to him, even though living, it may happen that the injury is not for some time known; and the case in which the oppression—the injury—is at its maximum, is that in which adequate excitement is most apt to be wanting. This is the case in which, by the oppressive act, the life of the victim has been made a sacrifice. In this case, whether any connexion of his disposed to come forward and seek redress, be in existence, will be matter of accident. In one case, and that not a very uncommon one, the non-existence of any such person will be an occurrence altogether natural. A dead body, say at the dawn of day,—the dead body of a man is found lying on a high road or some such public place, and for some time nobody knowing whose it is, by no connexion of his is the catastrophe known or suspected.
In a case of this sort, the object is to obtain information from the first person to whose senses the spectacle has happened to present itself in the first instance. Here, for surmounting the resisting force of indolence, three active forces present themselves: appeal to the social affections by a standing authoritative and appropriate discourse, punishment in the case of non-performance, and reward in the case of performance, of this public service. Of these instruments, whether one or more, or all, may with most propriety be applied, will depend upon circumstances; circumstances too particular to lay claim to a place here.
3d. Obstacle—poverty. Understand relative poverty—inability to defray the expense, whatever it may be. Of the operations necessarily preparatory to the ultimate publication above brought to view, an indefinite number may, any or all of them, be unavoidably attended with an indefinite amount of expense. 1. Collecting from places in indefinite number, each of them indefinitely distant, persons capable of serving in the character of reporting, or say, deposing witnesses. 2. Committing to writing the result of their respective depositions. 3. Transmitting from Judicatory to Judicatory, from office to office, copies of the written instrument to which the statement of the case was first consigned.
Though provision might, in some way or other, be made for them, the case required that these several sources of expense should be brought to view. In what particular way any such provision may most conveniently be made will depend upon local circumstances, such as are not within the cognizance of him by whom these particulars are offered to view.
Note here, that as well upon those who are likely to be most willing, as upon those who are likely to be most unwilling, should the tone of whatever ordinances are issued for providing publication be as forcibly imperative as possible. The more irrisistible in appearance the coercive process, the greater will be the security given to him in whose breast any desire to co-operate towards the beneficial effect in question has place: against the wrath of the offended and denounced oppressor he has coercion to plead as his excuse.
Natification and Publicity as to Suffrages—Newspapers: Letter Post.
To the subject-matter thus denominated, the operations which apply to the purpose in hand will be seen to be the following, viz. 1. Extraction. 2. Registration. 3. Multiplication. 4. Transmission or say diffusion.
For all these several operations one and the same instrument presents itself as the efficient and the only efficient instrument. This instrument is no other than a Newspaper: multitude of instruments of this same sort employed by so many different sorts of hands, and multitude of copies of each, as great as possible.
In this instrument may be seen not only an appropriate organ of the Public-Opinion Tribunal, but the only regularly and constantly acting visible one.
In this same tribunal it is by the Newspaper Editor that in each case the motion in which the decision originates is made: and thus much of the matter is no fiction, but the exact truth. Thereupon come the suffrages;—suffrages given by those members of the community being at the same time readers of the Newspaper, or in converse with those that are,—so when it happens to take cognizance of the matter. These suffrages being, from the nature of the case, incapable of being collected, the number of them must in each case be left to inference and conjecture. Meantime thus much may be remarked, namely, that in the instance of each person it is by the real and true opinion, the real and inward affection, not the opinion and affection declared and avowed, that the salutary effector the check applied to misrule is produced: for it is by opinion and affection really entertained, and not by the opinion and affection professed to be entertained by a man that an action in the shape in question is produced.
Newspapers, suppose, two taking different sides of the question in each case: one suppose the side of the suffering people; the other the side of the oppressing Sovereign and his misrule. Here the case is rendered more complicated; motions the tenor of them in every instance visible and permanent. Suffrages expressed or not expressed, i. e. with or without tenor, but in both cases, invisible and evanescent. Of these suffrages some are on the side of one of the writers, others on that of the other.
Greater is the efficiency of this one sort of written instrument than that of all other written instruments put together. On this and that question pamphlets and books, works, small and great, may be written. But by no one of them is any regular cognizance taken of the several occurrences as they take place: for by any publication, suppose any such regularity and constancy of attention kept up, it becomes the very thing here in question, i. e. a Newspaper.
In a Representative Government, at any rate in a Representative Democracy, with the exception of the function of the principal Minister, more important is the function of this unofficial functionary than that of any official one. More important, that is to say, in particular to the great purpose here in question—that of making application of the power of the Public-Opinion Tribunal in its highest character and by far the most beneficial one, of a check upon misrule. Of this superiority the causes are—1. In each individual instance the greater number of the suffrages on which the motions made by these Representatives of the people are taken for their ground, the motions made by these unofficial compared with those made by any official representative. By the Prime Minister impulse is given to the machinery of the political sanction: by the Editor of the prime popular Newspaper to that of the Social Sanction.—But, 2. more particularly the constancy and continuity of action which has place in this case—sources of influence in respect of which no official Representative limited as his motions and discourses are, to particular and scattered reasons and scattered points of form can hold comparison with him.
The aptitude of the Newspaper in question, with reference to the greatest happiness of the greatest number being given, its usefulness will be as the extent to which the diffusion of it has place: in other words, as the number of the persons to whose minds it finds its way.
The circumstances on which the degree of that extent depends, in particular at the outset of the sort of institution in question are, 1st, the constancy; 2, the frequency, of its publication; 3, its mixture with matters of a nature universally interesting; 4, its cheapness—the smallness of the price; 5, the impartiality of its procedure in respect of the admission or rejection of articles; 6, the moderation of its language, i. e. its purity from expressions of vague and ungrounded vituperation and laudation of men and measures.
Of the several qualities the three first are at the same time the most essential, and the most easily secured to it, as being those that are the most completely independent of the mental qualities, moral and intellectual, of individuals.
1. As to constancy. This quality is of all others the easiest to secure. It is moreover a matter of prime necessity that the institution be so conducted. The interest created and kept up by it cannot but be in the closest degree dependent upon the assurance with which, on the occasion of each paper, a reader looks forward to a regular succession of the like entertainment provided by the same hands. So invariably is this property possessed by this species of discourse wherever it has place, that the absence of it not being presented by experience, is not easily presented to view by imagination.
2. Next, in the order of importance, comes the quality of frequency. The number of readers being given, the greater the frequency of its appearance, the greater the degree of diffusion. Nor, in the instance of the aliment thus administered to the mind, is the appetite slackened by the frequency of its application, as in the case of the aliment administered to the bodily frame. On the contrary, it is rather kept alive and invigorated,—the meal of each day operating as an excitement to look out for that of the next day following.
3. Variety, admixture of the political matter with matters of other sorts, in the greatest variety possible. What gives this property an essential claim to notice, is—besides the degree in which the amount of diffusion depends upon it—that it is so little dependent upon the talent employed in the conducting of it.
Suppose, for example, six sorts of matter, each of them interesting to one class of readers, no one sort interesting to classes more than one. By this means, you have six times as many readers, and regular purchasers, as if there were no more sorts of matter in it than one. Each class stands assured of having something in which he takes an interest. As it is on no other terms that he can get anything, no one of them is debarred from the purchase of his one-sixth by the consideration that without more than that sixth it is not obtainable.
When this variety of entertainment is kept up, no imaginable literary composition can, in respect of attractiveness, by possibility enter into competition with this, nor, in particular, with reference to the uses here in question. From the physical association—the contiguity of the natural and visible signs—an association is instantly formed between the ideas of which they are respectively the representatives. Taking up the newspaper, each one is upon the look-out for the master of that sort in which he takes a more particular interest; but while he is upon the look-out for that, matter of all other sorts is continually offering itself to his eyes. Little by little the dryness and repulsiveness of each wear away; each, in some degree or other, becomes more and more familiar to him. And even supposing that matters in which he takes no interest at all, are regularly passed over without a glance, still of those in which he takes some interest, the interest is, little by little, increased.
In what abundance, by the mere circumstance of the being among the contents of his newspaper, a man is led to the reading of articles for which he would not ever have looked in any publication exclusively appropriated to the reception of them, is a circumstance which can scarcely have escaped any person’s experience.
5. Impartiality,—its uses. Wheresoever there are newspapers, there will be, or rather are already, parties; and wherever there are parties, all minor divisions naturally fall under one all-comprehensive division,—the assailants and the supporters of the party which has the power of the country in its hands. If there be any tolerable degree of freedom, a newspaper can hardly have place for any length of time, but rival newspapers, one or more, will start up likewise. Be the number of newspapers ever so great or ever so small, great would be the advantage, in respect of extent of currency, if the editor could prevail upon himself to keep up an impartial course between the two parties,—to give equal admission to attacks and to defences. Obvious altogether is the advantage which the course thus prescribed by justice would secure to him. Readers of all parties would be invited. No readers of any party would be repelled. Number of readers of each party suppose equal; on this impartial plan, the number would be the double of that which it is on the ordinary partial plan.
But, for securing to the instrument of instruction this at once most respectable and most difficult endowment—and this without prejudice to the diffusion of it—what would be the most eligible course? not to make controversial matter on either side, but to admit it on both sides. By the sacrifice of this stimulating matter, the publication would be rendered, by the double and reciprocal insertion, doubly excitative and attractive.
On the part of a newspaper editor, nothing is more easy than to profess impartiality; few things more difficult than to maintain it. But if, in the highest degree, utility depends upon impartiality—upon actual impartiality—in a not much inferior degree does it depend upon the reputation of impartiality,—upon the proportion between those of his readers, in whose eyes he is impartial, and the number of those in whose eyes he fails in respect of a quality so highly desirable: and unhappily he may be in ever so high a degree actually impartial, and yet, and even from that very cause, be partial in the eyes of both.
For keeping up impartiality without diminution of frequency, the most effectual course, supposing extent of sale to permit, would be for the proprietor of the newspaper to employ two editors, one whose assertions were on the one side, the other whose assertions were on the opposite side: the number of days in the year allotted to each being the same. Why not? The answer is, lest in that case there should be a correspondent alteration and division among the customers: one set buying the paper on the government day and not on the opposition day: the other on the opposition day and not on the government day. Not that the greater part of the readers would thus content themselves with no more than half the aggregate stock of facts. But still some there would be, and antecedently to experience it would not be possible to say how many. As to any endeavour to conceal this part of the arrangement it would neither be practicable nor desirable. To exclude fraud and injustice, and to secure harmony, some arrangements of detail would be necessary; nor does the securing such as would be adequate present to view a task of any considerable difficulty.
6. Moderation, or say good temper. Unhappily for securing this quality, important as it is, there is no such simple and effectual recipe as hath been shown to have place in the case of impartiality.
Of moderation, the simplest and clearest description, as far as it goes, that can be given is—the avoiding to employ for the giving expression of disapprobation, whether of men, or measures, or modes of action, any words or phrases of vague and violent vituperation, that express aversion or displeasure, without any precise designation of the cause of it.
Of every violation of the laws of moderation, various and serious are apt to be the evil consequences.
1. By the disgust which it cannot but produce it tends to exclude readers to a number altogether unascertainable and unlimited: and among them not only those who are decidedly attached to the party whose sensibility is thus wounded, but others who are neutral, indifferent, or undecided.
2. By the hostility thus manifested correspondent hostility on the opposite side cannot but be provoked.
3. Among the consequences of such hostility prosecutions—attacks in the field of Judicature will, with more or less frequency, have place.
Hints respecting the best plan for the conducting of a Newspaper.
1. One sort of article by which an interest, more or less exclusive, cannot fail to be excited, is—an indication of sights to be seen: things offered for purchase or hire: prices of goods of various sorts at various places: probabilities in respect of future increase and diminution of price.
2.Accidents. At all times, by occurrences of this sort, more or less of interest can scarcely fail to be excited in most breasts. The greater the interest taken, the greater the assistance and encouragement afforded to the sympathetic affection: that affection, upon the strength of which morality and felicity so essentially depend.
3.Offences. Of matter under this head, the usefulness is of prime importance with reference to the particular design here in question. Of the misdeeds of various sorts from time to time committed, few in comparison, at the utmost will be those committed by the order of the sovereign, or which it is matter of pleasure or advantage to him to see committed. For the greater part they will be of that class by which, while no profit in any shape is produced to men in power, as such, suffering is produced to individuals, and through individuals, danger and alarm to the community at large, and thereby to the Members of Government in the quality of members of the community at large. This being the case, to the publication of misdeeds in general no aversion will be excited in their minds, no objection will have place in their eyes. But the habit of writing and reading accounts of misdeeds of all sorts being once established, mention of the misdeeds committed by or agreeable to men in power, will find their way in along with the rest—will slide in unobserved by the editor, or at least, as if unobserved. And thus the way will be paved for the general admission of misdeeds, in the commission of which the man in power has an interest, or imagines he has an interest.
4.Proceedings of Courts of Justice: especially that of the Cadi in the metropolis: being that by the proceedings of which the greatest interest will naturally be excited.
5.Deaths. Number of in the metropolis, and other principal towns: according to a periodical enumeration, if obtainable. In the case of those of remarkable persons, their names given with any particulars that can be collected of their characters.
6.Births. Those of persons of the male sex may be ascertained by the acts of circumcision: of which a register, if not actually kept, might, it is supposed, without much difficulty, be caused to be kept, by the Imans and Notaries of the several mosques.
7. The like occurrences in the domains of the neighbouring states.
8. Parallels between the particulars indicative of the state of society and manners, as between the state in question and other Mahometan States on the one part, and Christian States in general, or in particular, on the other.
1. Points on which the advantage appears to be on the side of the Mahometan States.
2. Points on which the advantage appears to be on the side of the Christian States.
In all these cases, constant standard of reference the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
9. Indications of physical inconveniency; with or without hints respecting the most eligible means of remedy.
To each class of articles, as above, there might be a use in prefixing the denomination of it on a separate line and larger type; as thus:—Accidents; Offences; Deaths. By this means, 1. Readers would be directed instantaneously to the class, whatever it were, in which he happened to have an interest. 2. The attention would, by this perpetually recurring excitement, be kept awake. 3. By these exemplifications the minds of the readers would be familiarized with the practice and general conception of commanding arrangements.
A degree of diffusion sufficient for continuance being supposed to be already established, now then comes the question,—concerning the general usefulness of it, by what means it may be raised to the highest pitch.
In the first place, as to the only right and proper end of sound action, the greatest happiness of the greatest number. This all-ruling, all-comprehensive, and all-important principle, though not on every occasion brought forward and held up to view in its own name, should, on every occasion, be inwardly kept in view: and even by name, the greater the number of the occasions on which, without exciting abuse and disgust, it can be brought to view the better. For by it a standard is held up, the only legitimate standard by which the mischievousness of misdeeds can be proved, and the degree of it measured and indicated.
Every occasion should be embraced of making application of the greatest happiness principle to the individual occurrences of the day, showing, 1. How morality and happiness depend upon the notoriety of the rule of action referred to by the Judicatories. 2. The advantage of the greatest degree of equality consistent with security in the distribution of the external instruments of felicity in all their shapes: in particular, power and the matter of wealth in all its shapes. 3. Showing how compensation to all sufferers by a misdeed in any shape ought to take place of punishment, because the burden of affording compensation operates as punishment so far as it goes; how punishment should be adapted to misdoing, that by allotting to the more mischievous misdeeds, the more severe punishment, those who cannot reform from misdoing altogether, may be induced to commit the less mischievous in preference to the more mischievous, &c. &c.
Particulars of the mass of literary capital to be provided antecedently to the commencement of the publication of a work of this sort.
Antecedently to the setting up any such newspaper, it would be highly advisable to have a stock more or less extensive of foreign newspapers, to serve as sources out of which heads of information would be brought to view, and might be selected. Of all newspapers the English are by far the most instructive. Next to them, those of the Anglo-American United States. In comparison with these the French are worth but little; the newspapers of all other nations put together nothing at all. The public demand which it is hoped will accompany the paper, will serve to show the prodigious number of articles of this sort that are every year published in England;—also the enormous revenue derived from them: always remembered, that this is among the worst of all sources of revenue, and more especially so would it be in any country in which newspapers are set up for the first time. The reason is, that to an extent more or less considerable, every tax operates as a prohibition, a prohibition applied to the sort of articles taxed: as in the instance in question, though a bounty would not be necessary, a bounty would be less monstrous than a prohibition.*
Suppose a dozen boys receiving at the school in question† their education, the most useful and thence the highest occupation which the best head among them could be put to, would be that of editing a newspaper on his return to his own country. The master might choose for this purpose the most promising, and he might be trained to it even at the school itself before his return.
Antecedently to the setting up as above, a stock of matter should be prepared and kept in readiness: various kinds of matter being tried for the purpose of observing and knowing which of them excited the most interest. As the publication went on, various articles of every sort, advertisements in particular, would of course be sent in by those whose taste were pleased, or their interest, as it seemed to them served. As thus miscellaneous and ever highly interesting matter by degrees came in, the less interesting matter belonging to the original stock would give way to it. It is of the utmost consequence that on no appointed day whatsoever any failure of the appearance of the paper should take place: and by the preparatory stock in question, all such failure might effectually be prevented.
Production and multiplication are effected by newspapers: conveyance by the letter post.* These and whatever other documents require, for the production of their intended effect, to be sent to a distance, are of no use, but in proportion as they are conveyed to their respective destinations. Between any two places in the dominion in question, is there any such establishment as a post for letters? A messenger or chain of messengers travelling at stated intervals between the one and the other? Between the capital, for instance, and the two Universities, or one and which of them? The first thing to be done in this way would be to establish a system of communication of this kind between the office of the Cadi at the capital, and the several judicatories. Next to that would be the establishing the like between each judicatory and the several mosques within its territorial field of jurisdiction, messengers one or more going the circuit among the mosques.
In time, pay received for letters sent from individuals to individuals, might lessen the expense to government. As the number of persons who read and write receives increase, so will the receipts of every such establishment. But at no time should any of these receipts be made a source of revenue. A tax on the intercourse between man and man being a prohibition on all who cannot afford to pay the tax, cripples social intercourse: cripples it for all sorts of purposes, and nips all improvement in the bud.
Of the proposed system of communication, the direct as being the most important object is—personal security; and in particular security against oppression by the hands of rulers. But a system of communication, if once established for the major purpose, will apply itself of itself to all minor purposes. It will contribute to the efficiency of the judicial power as applied to its more obvious and more ordinary purposes. It will contribute to the security of individuals as against injury by individuals.
It will contribute to the increase of commerce: in regard to each article, making known to each possessor of a surplus beyond his occasion, where those individuals are to be found, who, to the desire of possessing the article, add the means of paying for it. Whether for the mere chance of finding individuals in sufficient number able and willing to make use of it for merely commercial purposes, it would be worth while to establish a system of communication in the first instance, would be matter of uncertainty calling for calculation; but, on the supposition that it would be worth while to establish it for the sake of security alone, any the least chance of its being contributory to the increase of commerce, that is to say to the increase of opulence, cannot but operate as an additional probable benefit, and as an additional inducement.
Meantime, in the early state of the establishment, by whom shall the expense, whatever may be the amount of it, be defrayed? A question this which, where any advance is proposed to be made in the track of civilisation, is unhappily obtruding itself at every step. As to the sovereign, the funds of the state, which are all of them his funds, are never sufficient for so much as his own personal expenses; never sufficient, as yet, nor in the nature of the case, under such a form of government, ever likely to be so.
Soldiers in a certain number—say 8000, are at present kept up. If of these a certain number were regularly employed as letter-carriers, they would not be the less fit for service in the character of soldiers: they would be the more fit. By thus changing their situation, these messengers would thus become every day better and better acquainted with the country; and in that way as well as others, be by so much the fitter for service in their character of soldiers.
A slow conveyance, so it were but regular and constant; a slow conveyance extending over a large portion of the territory, might be preferable to a more expeditious one extending over a less portion of territory. For quick conveyance, horses, mules, or dromedaries, would be necessary; but by this means the expense would perhaps be doubled. In certain districts, camels would be necessary for the carriage of the water necessary for subsistence; but this would be only in certain districts.
[* ] In England, when concession was made by King John, and afterwards by his son Henry the Third, copies were ordered to be deposited in certain monasteries: also public maledictions to be pronounced at certain times against all infractors. These means of publicity and impressiveness proved lamentably insufficient, as the numerous recorded infractions and renewals of these charters (such was the name given to the written instruments) abundantly demonstrate. But the means of publicity and permanence which then had place in England, were as nothing compared with those which at present have place at Tripoli: not to speak of the ulterior ones which it might be made to have. Besides that there was no printing press, the arts of reading and writing were not to the amount of a tenth or twentieth part, or more, so extensively in use.
[* ] See farther on this subject p. 571, supra.
[† ] From the memoranda and correspondence of the author in connexion with this subject, it would appear that part of his project was the education of young natives of Tripoli, in Britain; but he does not appear to have put this part of his recommendation definitively into form.—Ed.
[* ] What follows was written, as appears from the dates on the MSS., some months previously to the above considerations as to newspapers: and the circumstance that the subjects though intimately connected with each other were separately treated at different periods, will account for any want of connexion that may appear in the arrangement.—Ed.