Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXIII.: 1828—29. Æt. 80—81. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
Return to Title Page for The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CHAPTER XXIII.: 1828—29. Æt. 80—81. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 11.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
1828—29. Æt. 80—81.
La Fayette.—Col. Stanhope.—J. B. Say.—O’Connell, Hunt, and the Radical Reformers.—Rammohun Roy, Lord W. Bentinck, Col. Young, and the State of India.—Letters to the Duke of Wellington.—Law Reform.—General Miller.—Del Valle, and Spanish Politics.—Livingston.—Death of Dumont.—Remonstrance with O’Connell.
In sending to La Fayette that portion of the Constitutional Code, entitled Defensive Force,* for his approval, criticism, and correction, Bentham writes:—
Bentham to La Fayette.
“August 15, 1828.
“On this occasion, my principal object has been to render the condition of the subject many, among the military, and under them that of the non-military, as comfortable and desirable as the nature of the case will admit. With a view to late Spanish America, (in which country, so far as they go, such of my works as have been edited in French by Dumont, are the only subjects of reference, having all of them been translated into and published in Spanish,) the one here in question is translating into that language, and about half the quantity of the English impression is already in print, with copies of it in Mexico. At different times my friends here have heard, from the Creole diplomatists here, that a young man of the higher orders there, is not regarded as having received a course of instruction suitable to his condition, unless he has gone through those same works. What the degree of sale of the Spanish edition is, may be learnt from Bossange Frères, by whom they have been successively published. These things I mention, for the purpose of clearing myself, as well as I am able, from the imputation of unwarrantable presumption, by endeavouring to waste such time as yours in an occupation not worthy of it.
“As to myself, I am somewhat younger than I was, when, as far as a troublesome complaint allowed, you saw me happy at Lagrange. The gloom in which the complaint involved me, has since been dissipated by cure. Felix Bodin, who for some weeks has been ocular witness of the difference, will, I should hope, ere this, if you have seen him, have given this evidence in my favour.
“The rose truniere, alias Rose de Syrie, about which I gave you so much trouble, turns out to have been nothing but an accidental variety of our common English holly-oak, which, and in greater perfection, I had already. But it was to the sentimental association that the flower I saw there was indebted for the principal value it possessed in my eyes. The race sprung from Lagrange is accordingly distinguished, and preserved distinct with religious care, and shown with corresponding pride and vanity to all visiters capable of appreciating it. I shall not forget your picture of human felicity: scene, the United States—drawn first in English, then in French, for the edification of the Jesuit-begotten imps, to whom it was what a spout of holy water is to their best friend the devil. Whenever, for the first time, your name is mentioned here by a visiter, out that same picture comes of course. Had the thing been possible, I would give no small price for a copy of it taken in short-hand.”
“August 18, 1828.
“Now that I have pen in hand,—a duty which, unpleasant as it is, I cannot shrink from,—is to inform you of what the most intelligent friends of good government in general, and in France in particular, say here of the existing accusation of the French ministry. What is said is, that it amounts to nothing, and forms not any substantial and warrantable grounds for punishment, being composed exclusively of a tissue of vague generalities in a declamatory style, unsupported by any specific article of charge; that the only part which, upon the face of it, bears anything of this last-mentioned character is, that which concerns the opening of letters at the Postoffice; and that in this case the charge is deficient in respect of the precision necessary to give support to conviction upon substantial and tenable grounds.
“In this opinion it is proper that I should at the same time mention, that nothing of mine is comprised, my time not admitting of my obtaining any approach to an adequate conception of it. I have kept my mind turned from the subject altogether.
“In this respect our articles of charge, as contained in the accusations called Impeachments, in and by which the functions of Judge have been exercised by the House of Lords, and those of Accuser by the House of Commons, might, in the character of models, or, as the term is, Precedents, afford some instruction. I may, perhaps, before this letter is closed, be able to procure a list of the most apposite and recent of these impeachments, with references as to the publication in which they may respectively be seen.
“With one observation more, which is my own. On hearing read, (for it is only by my ears that I can read any such small print as that in newspapers,) on hearing read a short paragraph relating to the mode of proceeding on this occasion, it appeared to me that application made from the Chamber of Deputies for documents to serve as evidence (preuves) to ministerial offences, had experienced refusal. This same refusal presents itself to me as being a flagrant violation of the spirit of your Constitution, if the Charter can be called a Constitution, and that Constitution has any spirit in it—as flagrant a violation of that spirit, as well as of one of the most incontestable principles of justice as can easily be conceived. Thus much as to the spirit: as to the letter, for the reason above-mentioned, I have refrained from taking cognizance of it.”
In introducing Colonel Leicester Stanhope to J. B. Say, Bentham says:—
Bentham to J. B. Say.
“9th September, 1828.
“Well then, now for his claims to such distinction; though I have not time (not to speak of yours) for more than a small part of them. The services rendered in British India to the East India Company by the late Marquis Hastings, (in so far as conquests costing more than they produce are services,)—services, more extensive than were ever rendered before by any one governor in that part of the world,—are matter of notoriety. Marquis Hastings was a lord, like other lords. Two private secretaries he had, one for military affairs, Colonel Young,—also an intimate friend of mine,—a man of most transcendent worth, in respect of morality, intellectuality, and active talent,—uniting the accomplished utilitarian statesman with the man of letters, the mathematician, &c., &c.,—and this Stanhope: in these two men, those, who were in the way to be informed, have seen the real authors of the so-brilliant successes to which the Marquis gave his name. Stanhope is, moreover, a highly distinguished Philhellene: of his services in that cause, in that unhappy country,—services, like all others that have been expended there, unhappilyso unavailingly,—his interesting work on Greece, among other things, contains some particulars. But here I must cut short. He is one of the ten or eleven sons of the Earl of Harrington, Captain of the King’s Body Guards, Governor of Windsor Castle, &c., &c. Of his three sisters, one is married to the premier peer of Ireland—the Duke of Leinster, another to the heir-apparent of the English Duke of Bedford. Abstractedly considered, La Fayette would not like him the better for this, any more than you and I. But, considering that, notwithstanding all this, he is as thorough a Radical as the best of us, here you see is no small merit. In a letter I gave him once to Dumont, I spoke of the disadvantage he labours under, in respect of birth and parentage; adding, with equal candour and discernment, the observation that this was no fault of his,—he could not help it. Dumont received this tout bonnement: he took my illustrious friend for a bastard, or something of that sort; and, for aught I know, received him accordingly.
“Know you anything of Arthur O’Connor,—an Irishman,—Lieutenant-general (at any rate so he was in Buonaparte’s time) in the French service? He was at the head of the Irish Rebellion, anno 1798. He has an estate, of between £3000 and £4000 a-year, in Ireland: retaining it still, because Lord Castlereagh, of blessed memory, could not come at the evidence necessary to get it from him. He is married to a daughter of the Marquis de Condorcet, with whom he has a fortune of £2000 a-year,—the Philosophic Marquis, who was a retainer of D’Alembert, and had not a liard, having married a rich wife, anno 1813,—O’Connor, though made a Lieutenant-general by Buonaparte, had not seen him for some years. On the commencement of Buonaparte’s reverses, O’Connor called on him, and said, You are an emperor: I, as you well know, am a republican. I would not, therefore, seek to obtrude myself: but now, under existing circumstances, I thought it might not be displeasing to you to hear, from my own mouth, that my fidelity, respect, and gratitude continue unimpaired. Buonaparte shed tears, [once in the course of his reign; so (you know) did Plato.]”
La Fayette to Bentham.
“Lagrange, November 10, 1828.
“My excellent and illustrious Friend,—
Since your last and muchvalued communication, dated end of August, has reached me, I have received neither printed books, manuscripts, narrative, or visit from Monsieur Rey or Felix Bodin. It is true I have remained on my farm at Lagrange, and have devoted only a few, say as many, hours as were requisite to improve my mind by yourenlightened and philanthropic letters, and to cheer my heart with the testimonies of your esteem and friendship. Not that I think my observations might be useful to you. Besides the weight of correspondence, and a series of diversified duties which press upon me in a manner disproportioned with the length of the day, I am too old and rusted a soldier to be so serviceable as any of your more recent military men, excepting, perhaps, in those general ideas when the republican citizen takes the lead of tactics, and at that more lofty point of view you have nobody to consult.
“The baneful emulation for standing armies had, from the reign of Louis XIV., prevailed in Europe, small powers striving, like the frog in the fable, to imitate their betters. When the Revolution of ′89 roused and armed a great nation, to the institution of the National Guard of France, upon which Mr Comte has lately published an interesting book, were owing the first successes against the counter-revolutionary coalition, and after the imperial despotism, neglecting, or rather fearing, the principle of an armed organization of the people, depended upon its own genius and the powers of a numerous and admirable regular army, whose superiority was confessed by Britain, and attested by victories. You have seen the almost invincible host and omnipotent Napoleon repelled by a popular insurrection of Germans; the fate of your gallant troops, inured to the trials and dangers of the Spanish war, in their attack upon the hasty lines of New Orleans, defended by an American militia, has been a matter of European wonder. Yet, when in the Chamber of Deputies we ask, not for the dissolution of the standing army, but its reduction within proper bounds, so as to form a regimental nucleus for larger importations in time of war, when we insist upon limiting the conscription time to three years, under the colours, and a Lancastrian primary education, and three years on furlough—so that young men, when they are taught the use of arms to repel an invasion, do not lose the destination of their future life; when we consider standing troops as the vanguard of an armed nation, and call for a general system of national guards, naming their own officers,—which, in countries where the government is not, like in the United States, the people itself, appears to us a necessary condition, even for the maintenance of discipline,—we are opposed not only by the prejudices, remembrances, and counter-revolutionary hopes of the ancien régime, but by imperialism, militarism, and wilful forgetfulness of men, many of whom, had they not found in the National Guards a source of glory and advancement, might have remained in the inferior ranks of society and regular armies. To the federation of 1790, fourteen thousand deputies, duly elected, were sent by upwards of 3,000,000 of National Guards. The militia of the United States amounts to 1,100,000 men, equal to defend independence, liberty, equality, territory, and legal order, against a coalition of the rest of the world.
“I thank you, my dear Sir, for your observations on the impeachment of ministers. Let me be allowed, as a disciple of the American School, to adopt the principles which limit the judgment of public men to dismissal from office and future incapacity, leaving it with the courts of justice to try them, as other offenders, by common law. In Europe it is not the case. On the greater part of the continent, a minister is responsible to his own master, and often to the master and mistress, wherever there is what is called a Constitution, (not a written Constitutional act, originating with the sovereignty of the people, framed by their special representatives, accepted by them, as it is practised in the United States, as we had introduced at the beginning of the French Revolution, but a series of precedents, chartered grants, the acknowledgment of rights made by royalty, on the presentation of privilege, as you have it in England; or a written Charter, acknowledging some rights, abridging others, denying many, among which, the first of them, the National right to make it:) under this mock Constitution, I say, the mode of impeachment of ministers includes the whole proceeding of the law. What is called popular representation accuses. Hereditary legislators become hereditary judges. The French charter has specified two offences, treason and concussion, which, indeed, extends far, if misadvising the king, or oppressing the king, is treason, and the misappropriation of public money is concussion: the sense of the Chamber of Deputies, after better elections, has secured their dismissal, the object being less their being brought to punishment, than of such men obtaining a farther removal of chances for the return to office. It is wished to effect the dismissal of administrative agents still supported by the court, which would be the result if a committee of inquiry were named by the house, an advantage which your Parliament has over our Chambers. This may, in some measure, explain the hesitation, embroglio and minorities for energetic resolutions, which you have justly remarked in the management of that affair. Your communications of English precedents cannot but be very welcome.
“Several packets have arrived since I last heard from the noble kind-hearted friend, of whom you have said she had the sweetest and strongest mind that ever was lodged in a female body: [Miss F. Wright] the singular part, suited, as you observed, to her singular character, may be misrepresented by people not well acquainted with the purity of her heart, the candour of her mind, the enthusiasm of her philanthropy, the disinterestedness of her views, and the vivacity of her hopes; her talents, indeed, part of which evaporate in theories, of the certainty and utility of which she has not a doubt, might have been, I think, more efficaciously employed, even to promote her own humane purposes; but to know, to respect, and to love her, will ever be, in my sense, one and the same thing.
* * * *
“I am much obliged for the preference you are pleased to preserve in behalf of my Syrian Rose, although its intrinsic merit has not stood the proof of a more commercial-horticultural examination: sentimental associations are not strange flowers on the soil where she originated. There, they tell love tales: here, it has been consecrated to friendship, a friendship more cordially reciprocated.—Your affectionate friend.”
Bentham, on occasion of Henry Hunt’s attack upon O’Connell, wrote to him this anonymous letter:—
“I am not personally known either to yourself or to Mr O’Connell: but I am, and have long been, a sincere and most zealous friend of Radical Reform,—that cause which you and he espouse. Proportioned to my attachment to that cause, is my regret at the thought of the damage, which it stands exposed to sustain from this personal altercation between two so preëminently powerful supporters of it. In his letter, the vituperative matter (I am persuaded) cannot have damaged you in public opinion, in any the smallest degree. In your letter, likewise, the argumentative matter, I am equally persuaded, would have produced more good effect to the cause, and raised you still higher in the esteem and admiration of the readers, if it had been entirely divested of the matter of the same sort, which, though less in quantity and coarseness, it nevertheless contains. Along with this letter, I am writing one to him with the same object. The proper subject-matter of consideration, with a view to present practice, is, not what he has been, but what he is at present: and that is—the only man perhaps in the world, by whom, for many many years to come, Radical Reform, or any approach to it can be brought upon the carpet, with any the smallest chance of success. His instruments are the vast majority of the people of Ireland—his operations, by means of those same instruments, petitionings for Reform: for Reform in whatever shape, for a commencement, may be deemed to afford the most promising prospect of success. For the prayer of the petition, what I should prefer, is—the ballot: in the first place alone, without any other of the features. Why alone? Because, in Ireland, the forty-shilling freeholders compose the main body of his strength; and the ballot being their sole permanent security, against the option between slavery and starvation, the other features would, in comparison, be as nothing to them: and because, to my knowledge, there are several in the House of Commons, who would vote for the ballot, but would not vote for any adequate, if any, extension of the right of suffrage. If that can not be carried, still less would it be possible to carry Radical Reform in toto: on the other hand, suppose it carried, we should then push on with increase of strength. Now, then—suppose him to have got up a body of petitioners for the ballot? a body strong enough for the purpose of appropriate and necessary intimidation? think of the support it would give you, on the occasion of a speech from you, at a meeting of the Livery in Guildhall: whereas, without such a support, the finest speech that ever was or could be uttered, would be so much sound, and nothing more. And so, again, in meetings of the Common Council, of which it is among my ardent wishes to see you a member. He, in his part of the field, you, in yours—could you but prevail upon yourselves, or be prevailed upon, to forget, on both sides, the irrelevant matter in question, you might, on his arrival in London, act in concert, and with greatly increased effect.
“ ‘No:’ you may say—‘he is insincere,’ or ‘he is fickle, and he will back out again, as he has done already.’ Well, then, for the purpose of the argument—be it so: still, the further he has carried matters on in our track, before he has backed out, so much the better, for, so much the better shall we be able to do without him when he is gone.
“But my opinion of him, is—that at present, in his declared advocacy of Radical Reform, even in its complete extent, he is sincere.
“I cannot stay to give all my reasons. But some of them are these:—
“1. I remember when, several years ago, he brought upon the carpet Radical Reform, in its whole extent: making express reference to Bentham’s Parliamentary Reform Catechism, or Radical Reform Bill, or both, I forget which. At that time he gave the matter up: how could be do otherwise?—no support could he find; to have persevered would have been, thenceforward, to render it impossible to make any part of the great progress he has made. In his place (I remember well) I should have done the same.
“2. Next, as to the matter which you have so powerfully brought in charge against him: and, in particular, the giving up the forty-shilling freeholders. At that time, I was witness to great difference of opinion between a number of intelligent men, all zealous Radical well-wishers to Reform—all of them completely—either unexposed to, or superior to, sinister interest in any shape. If I misrecollect not, I myself was for the giving up the votes of the men so circumstanced. Why? because, their condition considered, I could not, at that time, see any, the smallest probability of their doing as they have done. Nowhere but in Ireland could any self-sacrifice, in point of numbers, so extensive, or a thousandth part so extensive, have been produced: nor even there, without a sort of miracle: or even by miracles, for more than a time of precarious duration—a time of preternatural excitation.
“Abominable as the other conditions are, every one of them, to my mind—considering him as an Irish Catholic, (I myself am neither Irishman nor Catholic,) I know not how to regard him (I must confess) as blameable, either on the score of honesty or judgment, for being desirous of making these concessions, rather than lose emancipation altogether: emancipation in the other remaining shapes.
“Now, then, with this opinion, with what justice can I think ill of a man for taking the course which, without any personal interest in the matter, I myself took, or should have taken? Now, as to the late occasion:—On that occasion, he gave up the motion for Radical Reform, and submitted to the substitution of the word Constitutional, which, as you think, and as I think, means nothing at all. This submission he made. But why? for the same irresistible reason for which he made the former one, as above; because, either the motion of which the word Radical stood part, would have been carried against him, or, if carried by him, would have produced such a schism as might have left him in a state of comparative impotence. So much for the motion: but, as to his own opinion, he then declared, and has since repeatedly declared, that, by Constitutional Reform, he meant Radical—nothing short of it.
“Other passages in his political conduct there are, for which I cannot find any such justification: such was his adulation and prostration in regard to the king. But the failing belongs partly to his nation, and partly to his profession. The Irish are in extremes naturally; and lawyers, being paid for being so, are so habitually. But, since that time, he has had a most instructive course of political experience: and, according to my view of the matter, he has profited by it. He seems to me much improved.
“As to you, Sir, forgive the liberty implied in bestowing upon yourself that same commendation. Of late, I have had the pleasure of hearing it bestowed upon you, and without a dissenting voice, by many flowers of our Radical flock, whose sentiments and opinions in relation to you were, till of late, very far from favourable: and, amongst them even rivals: but such rivals, whom no opposition, on the ground either of interest or sentiment, could ever draw aside out of the path of sincerity and justice.
“To you, it is no unexampled course, to unite with men with whom you have had differences. Witness Mr Cobbett.
“I have never seen either yourself or Mr O’Connell. He knows not of my writing this: nor of my having any such thing in my thoughts: he cannot: for it has not been in them longer than this day or two.
“But I have some reason for thinking that I have some influence with him: and if, by an answer to this, you will express a disposition to come to an accommodation, and enter into an union with him, as above,—whatsoever influence I may have with him, shall for that purpose be employed. If you lay on me your injunctions not to let him know that any such disposition on your part has been manifested, those injunctions shall most punctually be complied with: but it seems to me it would afford a better promise, if you would not: for, at any rate, it is not with you that the proposal for an accommodation would, in this case, have originated: and here would be so much proof of sincere affection to the cause, and of good temper, of which you would have set the example: to him, all that would remain would be, to follow it: to follow the example set by you.
“I forbear giving you my name: it is not necessary to the production of the effect desired: and it might have the effect of loading with irrelevant matter, a business of such transcendent importance, which is already but too much encumbered with it. I flatter myself that, without discovering the name of the individual, your discernment will discover in the sort of person, one in whom, at any rate, for a purpose such as the present, the requisite confidence may be placed, without any such risk as need oppose a bar to it. A letter, directed to A. Z., at Mr Byfield’s, stationer, Charing Cross, will come to hand.
“P.S.—I dread the appearance of another hasty and hot letter from O’Connell, before that which I am writing can reach him. Suppose any such letter to arrive, would it not be better to put it aside unread: at any rate, till you have seen what, if anything, the letter I am writing to him has produced?
Colonel Young to Bentham.
“Calcutta, September 30, 1828.
“My dear and venerated Friend,—
I failed not to send off to Rammohun Roy, my excellent friend the Brahmin, his portion of the package’s contents and your letter to him; and he tells me, in a note, that he will endeavour, to the utmost of his ability, to write to you on the subject of your letter, and thank you for your notice of him. He is a very sincerely modest man—far too diffident indeed for the remarkable and unique station he fills among his benighted countrymen. His whole time almost has been occupied for the last two years in defending himself and his son against a bitter and virulent persecution which has been got up against the latter nominally—but against himself and his abhorred free opinions in reality—by a conspiracy of his own bigoted countrymen, protected and encouraged, not to say instigated, by some of ours—influential and official men who cannot endure that a presumptuous ‘Black Man’ should tread so closely upon the heels of the dominant white class, or rather should pass them in the march of mind. Rammohun Roy, after an arduous and prolonged battle through a gradation of tribunals, has at length, by dint of talent, perseverance, and right, got the better in the last resort; but the strife, and the magnitude of the stake, and the long despair of justice, have shattered his nerves and impaired his digestion and bodily health, and his energies of mind. It is now over, and I hope most fervently that he will recover himself again. Not only has he no equal here among his countrymen, but he has none that at all approach to equality, even among the little ‘sacred squadron’ of disciples whom he is slowly and gradually gathering around him in despite of obstacles from his own and our people, which no one can rightly appreciate who has not seen and felt the difficulties which the condition of society here opposes to a reformer, and, above all, to a native reformer. But he perseveres, and does make a distinct and visible progress, slow as it is—very slow! It must increase in a geometric ratio, if he is only spared long enough to organize the elements he is gathering together of resistance to superstition and fanaticism, religious and political. His main efforts are directed, and judiciously so, to the primary step in the process of amelioration—of throwing off the yoke of priesthood and of caste. The diabolical genius who devised the separation of Hindoos into orders, who are cut off from all social and intimate connexion of what may be called a domestic nature with each other, set at work an instrument complete and effectual in its operation for the political as well as the religious prostration of mankind. Where men may not dwell with each other in domestic association—where they cannot eat or drink, intermarry, and intercommune together, because of difference of tribe and privilege—where this evil has been fixed and imprinted by many centuries of habitual acquiescence, and under horrible penalties of excommunication—where such is the frame of society, how can men combine for any useful purpose of improvement or resistance? No wonder that the Hindoos have always been enslaved and oppressed when they are thus effectually divided! Till these barriers can be weakened or broken down, nothing can be done by them, or perhaps for them. It is against this anti-social element of Hindoo society that Rammohun Roy directs his quiet—his secret—but his persevering endeavours; and by avoiding any public alarming of the Brahminical and higher orders of his countrymen—and, I may add, of our own jealous aristocracy of colour and of place, he is obtaining the slow but distinct progress to which I have adverted—he is gathering round him a secret society of Hindoos of various castes, whom he persuades by degrees to associate, and even eat together at his house: Those who go beyond this awful line of demarcation can never recede; that is, the higher orders (and he is himself of the very highest caste) of Brahmins, and others, who are committed by the act of degradation implied in domestic intercourse with inferior tribes.
“I fear I may have failed in impressing you with the same notions which I entertain, of the infinite importance of this line of conduct. As I have said before, one must have personal experience of the abominations of this sort of politico-religious aristocratical frame of society, to appreciate it. Without that it is natural that philanthropists, at a distance, should think Rammohun Roy wastes his time and expends his valuable life and labours in work of an inferior sort,—and you may fancy that he moves too slowly, and does not come forward with sufficient boldness, to strike at greater evils, and attack men and measures of a higher order. But to what end should he labour at such works if the ground be not prepared to receive the seed? As yet there are none or next to none fit to comprehend the more lofty imaginings which his master-mind can grasp, and on which he loves to expatiate in the confidential society of some three or four heterodox Europeans. But he is ploughing, and harrowing, and planting, and our ‘after-comers’, if he lives long enough, will see the fruits. It is strange, you will think, that such a man should be looked upon coldly, not to say disliked, by the mass of Europeans,—for he is greatly attached to us and our régime. Not that he loves our churches, or priests, or lawyers, or politicians; but because he considers the contact of our superior race with his degraded and inferior countrymen, as the only means and chance they have of improving themselves in knowledge and energy. But it is one of the thousand curses inflicted by the Company’s régime in India, that nineteen in twenty, or rather ninety-nine in a hundred, of the only Europeans who are allowed to come to this country, are employés, civil or military, who resort hither to scrape up and carry away all they can, and as soon as they can, without heed, or care, or concern in the prosperity of India. A dominating race thus encamped in a conquered country, and an infinitesimally and small minority in numbers, naturally looks with the extreme of jealousy on all improvements, physical and mental, of the Indigines, or even of their own mixed descendants; nor will it ever be otherwise till resort is free to all who can bring with them or obtain the means of supporting themselves, settling, colonizing, and amalgamating, and identifying themselves and their posterity with the natives.
* * * * *
“To the evil of general jobbing and general distrust, there is a remedy fully and universally applicable,—Public opinion. If independent Europeans were not kept out, and being here, if they could speak freely through the press, and were not liable to deportation at will, then there would be such a check on the proceeding of secretaries, and boards, and councils, as would deter them from jobbery and injustice. Then the supreme authority might safely and satisfactorily leave nine-tenths of its trumpery avocations to inferior functionaries. Then there would be time to legislate and improve, and, before all things, to codify, while our statute-book is yet manageably small, and our corps of the law have not yet maintained a strong and separate interest, powerful enough to put down all improvement! Publicity,—a free press would thus prevent our minds from stagnating, and our local government would gradually assume its proper functions, and would take much of its tone from the opinions of those it ruled. There would be time to do good.
“Lord William Bentinck seems very frank and plain, very inquisitive, and endowed with considerable sagacity; his temper is excellent, I hear. I think he will encourage the press, because he is honest and diligent; clean hands and clear head, ’tis not such who fear publicity. I think he will promote education, and do away the murder of women and children. I think he will admit natives to higher offices of trust, and do away the exclusion of black and coloured men from the administration of justice. He is the only man I have yet seen in power, who seemed to think as if he thought Patronage was not private property but a trust. Already he has delivered himself very considerably from the trammels of clique, and the bureau here, who usually possess themselves of a new comer, and never leave him till they bring him down to their own level, as opposers of all that is liberal.
“These are no slight éloges, but they are rather prognostics than predications.
“All happiness attend you, my venerable and dear master.—Yours affectionately and sincerely.”
Bentham to the Duke of Wellington.
“Queen’s Square Place,Westminster,
Listen to me: your name will—ay, shall be greater than Cromwell’s. Already you are, as in his day he was, the hero of war. Listen to me, and you will be what he tried to be, but could not make himself—the hero of peace,—of that peace which is the child of Justice.
“After subduing the three kingdoms, he attacked the army of lawyers. They repulsed him. They were too many for him.
“About sixty years ago I deserted from it, and have been carrying on against them a guerilla war ever since.
“I have got together a body, which is every day augmenting. I am now on the point of attacking them in force.
“The materiel of my army may be seen in the volume accompanying this, intituled, ‘Justice and Codification Petitions.’
“On the opening of the next campaign in Saint Stephen’s, my Commander-in-chief (a truce to his name for the present) will commence the attack. His baton, the Bill (styled the Despatch Court Bill) which I have prepared for him.
“Under him will serve some stout fellows, whom I am occupied in enlisting and training.
“But a truce to allegory. It is time to speak in plain language.
“Our whole Judiciary Establishment, with the system of procedure, self-styled the regular, by which it works, is one entire mass of corruption: fruits of it, depredation and oppression,—both upon an all-comprehensive scale,—its proceedings have, from first to last, had these for its objects and effects. Mere illusion the so indefatigably trumpeted purity of it. In comparison of the plunderage made by it, trifling is that made by the most corrupt, whichever it is, of those whose corruption is most notorious. By the plunderage which they make, they are always more or less exposed to punishment. Of that which our Judges make, the whole mass is intrenched in impunity; and by Parliament itself, under their influence, the fortress has recently been made impregnable. I mean—by the Statute of the 22d July, 1822, (3 Geo. IV. c. 69,) by which the Judges are authorized to impose on the afflicted suitors taxes without stint, and put the money into their own pockets.
“Open the accompanying volume. To one of the pages you will find a keep-place paper pinned. A single glance will suffice to show you fourteen charges. By the unreserved confession even of practising lawyers,—lawyers high in practice,—high even in Mr Peel’s confidence,—these charges are incontestably, every one of them, proved.
“The eyes of the people at large are fast opening, not to say already opened: opened to the slavery in which they have been so long held by lawyers. Soon will you hear the self-emancipated slaves, chorus upon chorus, in full cry for justice! ‘Away,’ say they, ‘away with the technical, the unintelligible mode of procedure—the regular, as the somonstrously-irregular chaos so falsely calls itself. Give us the only plain,—the only intelligible,—the only honest,—in a word, the summary mode. Give us the only mode employed by those who wish sincerely, seriously, and steadily, to give execution and effect to that rule of action for the effectuation of which this adjunct professes to be employed. Give us the mode employed in the Small Debt Courts. Give us the mode employed in the courts composed of Justices of the Peace acting singly, or in any numbers elsewhere than in Quarter Sessions. Give us the only mode employed where evidence is to be elicited—where information is to be obtained, by either House of Parliament,—the only mode, in a word, which is employed where a real desire has place to bring out ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.’ Thus say already in numbers, and will say every day in greater and greater numbers, the people at large. But, to crown all, speaking, as I do, to the Head of the Army, I say—Give us the mode—the only mode—employed in and by Courts-martial!
“Yes! give us the simplicity, the honesty, the straightforwardness, of Courts-martial.
“Yes: look here, Duke! Here you are at home. Had you a military offence to try—had you a dispute to settle between two officers—would you be satisfied to let five years pass before so much as the first question put received an answer? Would the sound of a word—the word equity, or any other—suffice to reconcile you to an absurdity so palpable, so abominable—to every mouth that can gulp it down so dishonourable? But, if not, in what respect can such a delay, with the expense and lawyer’s-profit for which it was created, be more conducive and favourable to civil than to military justice?
“No! the head of the army—in so far as it depended upon him—as often as a military wrong took place one moment, would not wait another moment before he applied the remedy.
“There sits Lord Eldon! for five-and-twenty years and more, to the ruin of so many thousands of families, head of the law. What says this, or any other head of the law, to the five years? Would he abate so much as a single moment of it? Ask him. Not he indeed.
“Think now of the difference! and—the cause of it—what is the cause of it? What but this:—The head of the army would be a ruined man—his army a ruined army—were he mad enough to establish any such matchless absurdity; or, though it were but for a moment, permit it to have place. But the head of the law, who not only permits it to have place, but would be ready to faint at the thought of its ceasing to have place—in what way is he a sufferer by it? Instead of being so, he is, and to a matchless amount, a gainer by it. His vast, his needless, his useless, his most mischievous income, so many times as great as that of the head of the army, is mainly constituted by it.
“Theory! speculation! visionary! enthusiast! Utopian! Of words such as these is composed the only sort of answer which the opposers of Law Reform—the defenders of established turpitude—are wont, or can find, to make to such damning truths.
“Head of the army! I repeat the question. In any Court-martial that ever sits, would you have five years elapse before so much as the first question received an answer? Would you have every innocent man, who, by some untoward occurrence, had been brought before a Court-martial, regularly plundered of his last shilling before he received his acquittal? Well, then, if you would not, and forasmuch as you would not, you are as undeniably a theorist, a speculatist, and so forth, as I myself am.
“By the last returns, a sum, within a trifle of £40,000,000 was lying ingulphed in Chancery. By this time that sum must have been exceeded. By my plan, this vast sum would, within a trifle, be given to the right owners, instead of being, in so vast a proportion of it, divided by the lawyers amongst the lawyers, while the remainder remained in the gulph, ready to be drawn upon by them, as occasion offered.
“Supposing now, for a moment, this money given by you to those it belongs to! Behold, what a flood of gratitude! I, for my part, shall be in my grave: my soul the flattering unction will not reach. But you! you may still be where you are. Then will you, king-like, be anointed by it!
“So much for procedure—judicial procedure—the system of operations and written instruments, which should be employed, and professes to be employed, for giving execution and effect to the rule of action—the guide, provided by Government, for the conduct of individuals.
“Now for the rule of action itself.
“Turn now to the articles of war,—the rule of action for military men. Instead of this, or any other body of really existing law, composed of a determinate set of words, emanating from a body of men, by universal consent, authorized to make laws—to this visible and tangible rule of action, would you, if it were in your power, substitute the contents of a vast library, continually increasing, composed of self-contradictory wrangling, talking backwards and forwards—pages employed by dozens, scores, not to say hundreds—in pretending to settle the meaning of this or that single word, left still more doubtful at the end of the palaver, than it was at the beginning of it? matter, replete with the most contemptible absurdities and pickpocket lies under the name—yes, avowedly under the name of fictions: coming, every syllable of it, from a set of men, (the Judges,) not one of whom so much as pretends to any such right as that of making law? but on the contrary, as often as called upon, abjuring it, even at the very moment when employed in spinning, spider-like, out of their own bowels, this same spurious matter to which they give the force of law?
“Instead of the articles of war, put into every military man’s hands, suppose a porter’s load of that same lawyer’s trash laid upon his back, how would he know in what manner to conduct himself? how would he know in what manner to save himself from being shot? Instead of the words of command spoken, suppose so many dissertations, of the length of so many chapters of Blackstone’s Abridgment, put, one after another, into his hands, with a lawyer placed beside him, ready, upon receipt of a few guineas, and not otherwise, to tell him the meaning of it: this supposed, after how many years of training, in this mode, would he be found (think you) in a condition to face the enemy?
“A Law Reform Association—a ‘Noble Army of’ Reformists, some of them ‘Martyrs’—an army of this sort I am raising: a Legion of Honour with members for Grand Crosses. There, if you will head it, will be a tower of defence to you: a support from without doors. Ere long you will see it in the field. Will you refuse the command thus offered? Instead of accepting it, will you openly throw your shield over the now so-completely-exposed turpitude of this established and still continued system of pillage and oppression, under the mask of justice; or (what will be the same in effect) will you remain neuter and inoperative?—Forbid it, honour! forbid it, justice! quoth your sincere well-wisher,” &c.
Bentham to Daniel O’Connell.
“Q. S. P., 15th February, 1829.
“Dear, honest, supremely public-spirited, truly philanthropic, consistent, persevering, self-devoting Friend!—
“I have seen Bowring. O’Connell needing ‘introduction’!—what a joke! And to whom?—to a queer old hermit, half gone in dotage, sinking through it into the grave!
“Enclosed you have here your second ‘Brief:’ not, indeed, in Pimlico-order, (as our phrase says,) though so near to the Bird-cage Walk into which Q. S. P. looks, (being contiguous to Pimlico and the new Palace;) but, however, in such order as will serve the purpose—I mean of acceleration: these proofs being sent de bene esse, till superseded by a completed copy.
“So, as to the ‘Abridged Petition,’ spoken of in the herewith-sent advertisement, it could not accompany its lengthy, ‘full-length’ precursor: but will follow it, before your leisure, (not to speak of patience,) has been long enough to carry you through the aforesaid long one.
“As soon as it has, serve me with notice—name your day—all other engagements vanish. As late as half-after seven, for the sake of maximizing my writing-time, is the time, not before, which my dinner (tête-à-tête it will be) usually finds itself on table: but if it does not suit you, name yours, and the other vanishes: if it does suit you, at ¼—a quarter before the half-hour—for the sake of circumgirating the Hermitage,—come to the embrace of
“Aged 81, if he outlives the present four-and-twenty hours.”
“Q. S. P., 25th February, 1829.
“Liberator of Liberators,—
Herewith you receive, in print, the proposed Petition for Codification. Item, the proposed Petition for Justice at full length.*
“Not yet completed is the proposed Abridged Petition for Justice. I hope and believe another week will not have passed away, before this is likewise completed—meaning the writing of it: for completed the printing of it will scarcely be, even then.
“Of the use expected from the Abridged Petition, the advertisement gives some account.
“Besides curtailments, there are additions in it: want of conciseness will, I hope, be found compensated for by amelioration.
“As we can see one another so seldom, and to both time is so precious, better we should not meet till you have the tout ensemble: special cause of exception excepted.
“A primary auxiliary power has presented itself to me, and its assistance engaged. But this, too, will keep till we meet.
“I conclude, more Romano, for the present. ‘Vale et me ama.’
“P.S.—Cheering, in the highest degree, has been Bowring’s information of your sacrifice of professional profit to universal benefit, in being, at any rate, in contemplation, and on the cards.”
Bentham to the Duke of Wellington.
“Queen’s Square Place,Westminster.
Think of the confusion into which the whole fabric of Government would have been thrown, had you been killed; or had the trial of you, for the murder of another man, been substituted in the House of Lords to the passing of the Emancipation Bill!*
“I told you I was your well-wisher. Even in the common form of a letter I never speak unadvisedly. I now prove myself so.
“The circumstance that induces me thus to put myself forward is this:—For the entire extinction of this most pestilential practice, I have a plan, of the success of which, I have little more doubt than of my own existence. It is grounded—partly on experience furnished by this country; partly on experience furnished by another country; partly on the attention I have, for between sixty and seventy past years, been paying to the springs of action in human nature; partly on the acquaintance I have made with the penal code, and the system of judicial procedure, as they are, and as they ought to be, in all their details.
“If there be that man upon the face of the earth, in whom self-sacrifice, and so much more than self-sacrifice, to no imaginable good purpose, are less excusable than in any other, it is yourself. In the first place, in your case, what symptom of deficiency in personal courage would be your utter refusal to engage with any man in any such contest? Yes: if, for the first time, you had just been taking in hand a pair of colours. In the next place, even supposing it conclusive proof of such an infirmity, would it have rendered you incompetent, or any other man competent, to conduct the business of Government? In what shape, either to yourself, or to your country, would any evil be produced by an imputation of that sort, comparable to that which would be produced by your sudden death?
“T’other day, O’Connell was with me. Amongst other things, he gave me his history in relation to duelling. About a dozen years ago, it happened to him to kill his man.† He declares himself, in private as well as in public, and (strange as it may seem to many of us) as far as I can judge, with sincerity, to be a believer in the religion he professes in public. Not without visible signs of emotion, did he speak to me of the catastrophe. The effect produced by it on his mind was (he said) such, that he made a vow, and that vow was—to make atonement for the transgression: and that atonement consisted in the determination never to engage a second time in the like contest; but to submit to any insult or indignity, how atrocious soever, rather than seek or accept of satisfaction in that shape. Yes: and to make this determination matter of general notoriety; and to this his determination he had hitherto maintained, and ever resolved to maintain, the most inviolable adherence.
“Not so much as five minutes had the report of the occurrence reached me in this my Hermitage, when I sat down to write the scribble, which, in the original, would not have been legible to you: in the meantime, what I hear is—that instead of being the challengee, which would have been too bad, you were actually the challenger, which is still worse. Friends, forsooth!—How narrow must have been the views and minds of friends, by whom advice, with such effects in the train of it, could have been given!
“These friends—in name, profession, and appearance; to whom were they so in reality? To yourself, to the king, to Great Britain, to Ireland, to the human species at this present time? To the same species at any future time?—Put to each of them these questions: and take note of his answers.
“In the United States, I am neither unknown nor unheeded. The President, and the present Finance Secretary, were my familiar friends. Propensity to duelling is, in that country, the cardinal vice. In that country, still more than in Ireland, the plague in that shape rages. If I live two years, or at the utmost, three years longer, I shall be, in no small degree, disappointed, if I do not see the plague (as the Bible phrases it) ‘stayed.’
“For my own part, in former days, I thought I saw some benefits from it to mankind, and committed the mention of them to writing; and, if I misrecollect not, to the press.* On further consideration, I have arrived at the persuasion, that they amount to little, if anything; and that, at any rate, they are, in a prodigious degree, outweighed by the mischievous effects; of which I am prepared to give a list.
“Mere insensibility to danger of pain and death is a virtue which man possesses in joint-tenancy with the bull, the bear, and their challenger—the dog.
“Now then, if to personal and physical, you add moral courage, I will tell you what to do. Go to the House of Lords. Stand up there in your place, confess your error, declare your repentance; say you have violated your duty to your sovereign and your country; and promise, that on no future occasion whatsoever, under no provocation whatsoever, in either character—that of giver, or that of accepter of a challenge, will you repeat the offence.
“Here am I, leader of the Radicals, (in that character, at least, am I, and I alone, every now and then, spoken of,) leader of the Radicals, more solicitous for the life of the leader of the Absolutists, than he himself is! What paradoxes, what prodigies, has not the field of politics given birth to of late!”
I am sorry that I cannot find the Duke’s answer to this letter: but it was immediate; for Bentham sent a rejoinder on the following day.
“Q. S. P., 23d March, 1829.
“My dear Duke,—
Opened this moment this note of yours. I must at you once more. I am an Englishman. More than that, I have my designs upon you. I want to make you do what Cromwell tried at, and found it was too much for him. I cannot afford to lose you. Your country remains plunged by you into a danger you seem not to be aware of; I am.
“This moment you present yourself to my mind’s eye with a brace of bullet-holes,—not in the skirts of your coat, but in your body: dupe to some rascal, who has looked to it as a ladder to his ambition or a feast for his vengeance. If one is not enough, others may follow: this in any number.
“Think not this is mere fancy: for in aid of imagination, in comes memory. Three cases it presents at the same moment,—O’Connell once more; Colonel Burr’s; and Target Martin’s.
“First, as to O’Connell’s. What I did not mention before is this. O’Connell was sure of his mark. He had made himself so in an odd way. In his part of the country reigns a commonwealth of dogs: their practice was to attack men on horseback, biting the horses’ heels.
“Think not this incredible. A similar commonwealth had place years ago, and probably has still, at Constantinople. Anno 1785, it made war upon me there: fortune saved me. O’Connell travelled with pistols, and practised with them upon those dogs, till he became expert as above. Hence the contrition spoken of in my last.
“2. Colonel Burr’s case. Colonel Hamilton stood in the way of his ambition. Burr determined to put him out of the way. He too had made himself sure of his mark. Not confession this, but boast. I had it from himself. Anno 1807, or thereabouts, he was my guest for months.†
“3. Target Martin’s. John Wilkes got him christened by this name: the import you see already. In this Martin’s case, it was an affair of speculation. How to use pistols, he had learnt from his target: whom to use them upon, from the case of St Becket, in Hume’s History. George the Third was his Henry the Second.
“4. Another case comes in this moment. Adam’s,—Lord Commissioner Adam’s case. Shooting at a great man by his leave, then figuring away and making a friend of him. Speculation this in another shape.
“Speculations, such as they are, I have likewise,—but, so it is, it has never happened to them to take exactly this turn. Should it ever, you see already how I should proceed, taking you to practise upon. Common Law offers me, as you will see, her license. When my target had holes enough through it, I should look back into the newspapers, and say to you, or of you, something in the style of what Lord Winchelsea said—‘A brace of balls you would put into the skirts of my coat: another brace I should put into your body. Here am I, then, a great man; you a dead one. Now, then, for this my greatness, what should I have to pay? At the outside, the cost of a year’s lodging in a comfortable apartment, in a handsome stone building called a prison, with a pleasant garden to it.’ This punishment is what, as above, I call a license.
“With reminiscences such as these in his mind, could a man do otherwise than I have done, and am thus continuing to do? Had I not, I should, in case of your falling a victim, as above, to rage or speculation, read my own condemnation in my own Penal Code. In it stands a class of offences designated by the title of Negative. It runs through all the other classes. Omission to do something from the want of which comes an evil; such as is produced by this or that written act; in which way murder may be committed as surely as by sword or pistol. By omitting to administer food, a jailor, for example, has murdered his prisoner—a nurse her child.
“ ‘England expects every man to do his duty.’ This done, I have done mine. Whosesoever head any blood of yours may fall upon, one there is upon which none of it shall fall—and whom it is you once more see.
“P.S.—Respect for your time has substituted to a lengthy letter this abridgment. My social affections are warm: the promptitude of your attention had called forth the garrulity of old age.”
Bentham had a box inscribed by him, “1829, Laudatoria aut Exhilarantia,” in which I find this letter from O’Connell:—
“28th May, 1829.
“My revered master has given me great satisfaction by his ‘Despatch Court.’ Would it were instituted tomorrow! I return the entire manuscript: some portion I am unable to decipher; but I have read the rest, and derived great pleasure from the perusal. It must be—there must be a Despatch Court. There is a pressing and daily increasing necessity for such an experiment, and the experiment once made, every court will soon become a Court of Despatch. We must not, however, lose sight of the right of appeal. As a general rule, it must be preserved, though the experimental Despatch Court may be without appeal. No page. Blank is left for the uses of appeal.
“I have consumed some time struggling for my seat for Clare. I hope it is not time lost. I am certain it has enabled me to be, in disposition and from conviction, more independent of party of every kind in the House. I expect to be returned for Clare again. I expect it confidently. Now for Utility—Utility—Law—Church—Finance—Currency—Monopoly—Representation. How many opportunities to be useful!
“I leave this city for Dublin on Saturday morning. Let me have a line by the post, to say whether you can allow me to go to you at a quarter before seven on Friday the 29th, and to remain with you till eleven. You must, in that case, give me some fish, as I do not eat meat on Friday. Any one kind of fish, I am entirely careless which—I have a most orthodox dislike to every kind.
“I do most fervently hope that you will live to see the British Isles blessed with your Code. My humble efforts shall be most persevering to attain that most useful object.
“I will not express—indeed, I could not express—my affectionate veneration to you. It increases as the period when I can start forward in the race of legal utility approaches, and becomes more certain. Luckily, the New Chancery Bill and Justice of Peace Bill are postponed until next session. Much has been made of more untoward materials. With the greatest respect, your to-be-useful disciple,” &c.
General Miller to Bentham.
“27th June, 1829.
“I shall give you my opinion as to the best form of government for the new States of America, for the sake of obtaining, in return, the benefit of yours.
“Let us begin with Buenos Ayres, or the United Provinces of Rio de la Plata, which I consider one of the most important points of South America, on account of its position, productions, navigable rivers, and commercial capabilities.
“Soon after Rivadavia was appointed Secretary of State, (in 1821, I think it was,) he made the federal system the ground-work of his administration; and the flourishing state of affairs which ensued, goes to confirm my impression that federalism is, of all forms, the best adapted to the wants and genius of the natives of the provinces of the Rio de la Plata, if not of the whole of South America. The prosperity of Buenos Ayres excited the attention of the other provinces, and, I think, proves the soundness of their judgment; they successively sent in their voluntary adhesion, and they were admitted into the federative union.
“In 1826, Rivadavia was advanced to the Presidency of the Republic, when, most unfortunately, he could not let well alone. The system which had worked so well was discarded, and the spirit of innovation substituted the ‘one and indivisible,’ or, as they called it, the ‘central’ form of government; but gaucho sense would not tolerate the measure which deprived them of a positive good, nor gaucho pride brook the change which conferred on Buenos Ayres a palpable supremacy. Division arose, and the provinces severally withdrew from the federation. We have seen that fine portion of America retrograding from bad to worse, until it has become a question, whether a war of colour will be the fatal consequence of Rivadavia’s grievous error. Where this horrid state of things is to end, is difficult to foresee; but it appears certain, to my mind, that Buenos Ayres might slowly restore the provinces to the federal bond by the reestablishment of a good government; but that she will never be able to conquer them by force of arms. Nor, indeed, ought she to wish it; for provincial jealousies and petty feuds cannot deprive her of the metropolitan precedency, which geography assigns to her, in the Argentine territories, and which might render her an emporium, like what Venice was in former days. Having said so much relative to Buenos Ayres, it is unnecessary to add much with regard to Peru, or any other of the States; for I have observed that a strong family likeness runs through the different Spanish-American nations as far as I have had an opportunity of observing them. Peru, under a liberal, steady, honest, economical administration, would soon be possessed of the elements of wealth, strength, and happiness. More than one Palmyra would probably be seen to arise in the midst of her arid and now tenantless deserts, and Lima might become a second Tyre. If the mines of Potosi could draw 180,000 inhabitants to one of the most barren of regions, can we doubt the power of the precious metals, the staple produce of Peru, reperforming a similar miracle, whenever human enterprise, prompted by the love of gain, shall be left uncramped by vexatious restrictions and oppressive misrule?
“I have sometimes been asked, if I thought monarchy suitable to the wants and wishes of the South Americans. To this question my answer has invariably been a negative. In this I am borne out by the untimely fate of Iturbide, and by the failure of the ‘President for life’—that half-way-house sort of elective monarchy which was overturned in Peru and Bolivia, and rejected in Colombia. I do not mean to say that no monarchies can be established in South America. What I assert is, that no king can be forced, or force himself, upon the South Americans. There is scarcely a fortified town throughout the continent, and there is no aristocracy upon which to rely. The only way in which a monarchical form of government will again be adopted in these States, will be from some President—let us suppose in Chili, for the sake of argument—rendering himself extremely beloved and popular; the people might then elect him king.
“Of the democratic forms, I give an unhesitating preference to the federal. It is upon this point that I should feel most happy to be favoured with your friendly instructions. Let them be plain, and suited to the capacity of an unlettered soldier of fortune, who may, perhaps, be placed in circumstances where his opinion may be called for, and where it may be listened to with some attention.
“In taking into consideration any legitimate system, as applicable to Spanish America, do not, I beseech you, lose sight of the facts that the people there must be counted as something; that standing armies are there peculiarly incompatible with lasting tranquillity; and that no government, however strongly fenced round by bayonets, can long stand its ground, unless it be the people’s choice, and upheld by that support which is to be permanently secured only by justice and integrity.”
José del Valle (the President of Guatemala) to Bentham.
“Guatemala, the 19th May, 1829.
Want of conveyance, in consequence of the little intercourse between this country and England, has been the cause of my silence during the preceding months. I was not able to send my letters, and I had not the honour to converse through them with Mr Bentham. But your respected voice has reached me, through the medium of the works which you have written for the universal good of mankind. You, Sir, have multiplied yourself in them: you live in all civilized countries: you will live in all ages. A wise man is, of all beings, the one who most approaches the divinity which is omnipresent.
“I avail myself of the opportunity now offering itself in Mr T. Ackerman, by whom, to your metropolis, I have the pleasure of sending you a collection of the gold and silver coins of this Republic.
“Neither the coins of this country, nor those of other nations of the ancient and new world, are as I would wish them to be. In monarchical countries, they exhibit the effigy of the kings and their armorial bearings. In the United States, that of liberty and an eagle, with the device of the federal system—E pluribus unum. In the Mexican Republic, the cap of liberty and an eagle perched on a nopal, (the cactus, or cochineal feeding-tree,) with a serpent in her beak. In Central America, the tree of liberty, and five volcanoes, representatives of the five States which form the Republic. In the Peruvian, a female figure representing Liberty, and the armorial bearings of the city of Lima. In the United Provinces of the River of Plata, the Sun, symbol of the Union, and the cap of liberty. In Chili, a volcano emitting fire, a column supporting a small globe, above this a star, and, higher still, the word Liberty, &c.
“The other symbols of American Republics have the same defect, for there are diverse nations which have eagles, nopales, &c. In the pictures of serpents, suns, eagles, &c., I see a something like relics of ancient barbarism; and the cap of liberty appears to me an affectation, unnecessary where it (liberty) positively exists, and ridiculous, where it is only nominal.
“In all nations, which are not oppressed by tyrants or despots, there ought to exist a legal liberty. The symbol which represents it, might, in this case, be put on the coins of all constitutional governments; in which case, the application made of it, would be coextensive with the distinguishing character of the form of government which it is designed to present to view: and in each political State, to this generally applying, should be added a specially applying symbol peculiar to itself.
“I should like to see that, in monarchies and in Republics, the coins bore on the obverse side, an image representing Congress, Parliament, or Cortes; and on the reverse side, the bust of the king, or of the supreme chief of the Republic: that further, on the first be expressed the name of the Congress, Parliament, or Cortes, and the number of deputies and senators that form it; and that on the second be shown the name of the monarch or respective chief of the nation.
“The coins would then partake of the august character which distinguishes the high powers. They would be precious monuments for the history of the constitutional epochs, and eternal opprobrium to the tyrants who seek to annihilate constitutional government, and to make themselves absolute.
“Another thought which strikes me at this moment: might there not be on the reverse side an image representing the two highest powers—the Legislative and the Executive; and on the other side the map of the Kingdom or Republic—upon a very diminutive scale.
“The map of a nation, would give to its coins the most unequivocal character of nationality. They would be more conformable to the spirit of the age, which is not like former ages—pleased with lions, castles, ladders, and apes; but, on the contrary, with everything that is positively useful, and adapted to the existing civilisation. It would inspire a taste for the study of the geography of the country, even down to the lowest class of the people.
“I do not know whether you, Mr Bentham, have everturned your thoughts to the subject of coins—those thoughts which have been applied with so much utility to legislative science. If mine were worthy of your suffrage, this would afford me real satisfaction. If on the contrary, I shall at least enjoy that of having endeavoured at the improvement of what appears to me to be in want of it.”
The following are extracts from Bentham’s answer:—
Bentham to José del Valle.
“September 8-13, 1829.
What you say on this subject shows the expandedness and expansiveness of your mind. It would, however, have been still more gratifying to me, to have seen it when applying itself to subjects on which its labours might have been employed in the production of effects, in which contribution to public happiness had been more determinate and unquestionable.
“First, as to exhibiting the outline of the territory of the State. This, by wars and treaties, would be constantly exposed to variation; and in case of cession, could be liable to excite painful comparisons and recollections.—Secondly, as to numbers of the members of Legislative Assemblies. These too, whatsoever be the number of the Assemblies of which the Legislature is composed, would be continually experiencing variations: naturally and generally in the way of increase—such variations have been experienced in England, in France, and in the Anglo-American United States, &c., &c.: I am inclined to think almost everywhere.
“Liberty of the Press, in the ordinary acceptation of the word.—So far, so good; but in that sense it may have place, and at the same time a state of things opposite to that looked for from it. Under every government, and in particular a democratical one, the principally effective literary instruments of good and evil are the periodical; and amongst the periodical, the most effective, those of which the recurrence is most frequent: the daily, more than the every-other-day papers; the every-other-day, more than the weekly; and so on. Suppose now, one such paper in existence, and no more, here the liberty would be a mere illusion; instead of useful, that paper might be worse than useless. First, take that which is the most natural supposition—this one paper edited by government, or under the influence of government. All truths by which indication is given of imperfections in the system of government, or misconduct on the part of the governors, are suppressed: all lies and bad arguments, tending to produce, on the part of the people, approbation of those imperfections, or that misconduct, or disbelief of their existence, are inserted; and all contradictions to those lies, and counter-arguments against, and refutations of those bad arguments, are kept excluded.
“Even suppose that, for a time, the newspaper editor—this master of public opinion—is honest, and gives insertion to communications, which, on any of the above accounts, are unpleasant to Government. Of such a state of things, the duration will always be precarious. For the more active he is in this line of beneficence, the more troublesome will he be to the constituted authorities, and the stronger will be the interest by which they will be incited to gain him over at any price. Being thus gained over, he will not only be useless to the cause of the subject many, but worse than useless. Good, in the shape of reward, thus misapplied, does double the mischief that could be done by evil thus misapplied, in the shape of punishment. All that the fear of punishment could do, would be to restrain the man from serving the cause of the people; while hope of reward, besides producing that negative bad effect, might, in any degree, be producive of the positive bad effect of causing him to do positive disservice to the interest of the people.
“Even suppose him still honest and honest to the end, still by giving publicity to his own notions, to the exclusion of all others, he might lead public opinion astray to any degree; and would be sure so to do, to a more or less considerable degree, though without intending it.
“Now, then, how to obviate this evil, and reduce it to its lowest pitch: in one of the new words of my coinage, to minimize it. This is matter of no small difficulty; and, as yet, has never anywhere, that I ever heard of, been attempted.
“As to what is written in the person of the editor, there is no remedy: of this part the tendency will be such as by whatsoever motives he is inclined to make it. Against this partiality the only remedy is that which can be applied by other persons in the character of his correspondents. If matters can be so ordered that he shall stand bound to give place to observations in equal quantity made in opposition to his own, or those of any other writer upon the side which he advocates, this is as much as can be done. When Miranda, son of the celebrated General Miranda, with whom I was on intimate terms, went some years ago from this country, in which he was born and bred, to Colombia, I think it was—at that time Venezuela—to set up a newspaper in the English style, I drew up for his use a little plan, having for its object this species of impartiality and independence, as far as practicable. At so short a warning, I have not been able to lay my hands on it, or I would have sent it to you, or a copy of it,—if I succeed, you shall have a copy by the next conveyance. In the meantime, you will perhaps turn your thoughts to the consideration in what manner, as matters stand in your country, the problem may be accomplished.
“The King of France is determined to endeavour to reëstablish despotism. I have before me the words of a short but decisive conversation on the subject between him and the Duke of Orleans. This from a man who had it from the duke. The people are determined to resist the king; in which case, if they succeed, the Duke of Orleans will succeed to the crown: probably with an authority still more limited than at present. Here there will be a civil war, unless the king grows frightened and yields, which seems most likely.* A man is taking a lithographic copy at a press I have, of a pamphlet on the popular side, destined for dissemination in France. I believe this leaf will contain the last words of my long and miscellaneous epistle. Regard the length of it as a measure of the affection with which I am yours,” &c.
The following is a list of editions of the Works of Bentham that had appeared in the Peninsula, transmitted for the use of Del Valle:—
In Spain, Dr Toribio Nuñez, dedicated to the Spanish Cortes (in 1820, printed at Salamanca) his Espiritu de Bentham, or the Social Science, founded on the works of J. B.
In 1821, Jacobo Villanova translated Bentham’s Panopticon, in consequence of which the Cortes decreed that all the prisons of Spain should be in future built on the Panopticon plan.
In 1822, Dr Ramon Salas printed, at Madrid, a Translation of the Traités, in which, however, he has introduced other matter from the works of J. B.
In 1825, the Tratado de Pruebas Judiciales y Teoria de Penas Legales was printed at Paris, edition in 4 vols. 18mo, to be had at Bossange Frères.
In 1822, the Cortes of Portugal decreed the translation of J. B.’s works into Portuguese, at the expense of the nation.
O’Connell to Bentham.
“Ennis, County Clare,
“Benefactor of the Human Race,—
I avowed myself on the hustings this day to be a ‘Benthamite,’ and explained the leading principles of your disciples—the ‘greatest happiness principle’—our sect will prosper.
“I begin my parliamentary career by tendering you my constant, zealous, and active services in the promotion of that principle. You have now one Member of Parliament your own. Stay with us, my venerable friend, remain with us in person and in intellect for a few years longer at the least, and you will see the fee-system and the cobwebs of fiction destroyed—mere cobwebs, which catch the little flies, and allow the wasps to break through.
“I do most potently believe that the hour for successfully introducing a rational plan of procedure, and ‘a Code,’ is fast approaching. I have sent my Bentham’s Library to my country-house, where I shall be able to spend six weeks of the ‘long vacation.’ There will be this advantage from the adjournment of justice till November,—that my zeal for Codification will be accompanied by more of knowledge, before I have the pleasure of seeing you again.
“Accept the assurance of my most unfeigned respect and admiration. My homage is the more sincere, for being capable of springing from one cause only, namely,—my conviction of your paramount utility to mankind; an utility which could never have existed, if, to the most clear intellect in the world, you had not added the perpetual and cheerful energy of continued perseverance.
“I intend to get up a shorter Codification Petition,—indeed, several petitions for ‘Codification,’—that is, for the draft of a Code.
“I think the Honourable House, as there is to be no expense but that of printing, will yield to my reasoning, or if not, to my repetition—not to say my teazing, and advertise, on your plan, for a Code.
“I write in haste to announce to you the return of ‘your member.’ You see you have the same property as a boroughmonger. I have the honour to be, with veneration, and let me add, affection, your faithful disciple.”
Bentham to O’Connell.
“Q.S.P., 25th August, 1829.
“Before me lies yours of the 30th last, dated the very day of your election: it was like a gulp of the intoxicating gas to me.
“I was projecting a long letter to you, reporting progress; but the receipt last night of a paper from Bowring, of which, what is on the other leaf is a copy, proved the necessity of an immediate communication, without a moment’s loss of time.”
“Colonel Jones, (late of the Guards,) a zealous Radical and Pro-Catholic, who is agitating against the Aristocratical Select Vestry System, has adopted the word rents, and projected rents for the purpose of buying seats in Parliament. He has got already between £1100 and £1200, he tells me; but I have no great expectation of success. I have put petitions in his hands, with a view to engage him to agitate for Law Reform.
“You have not, I am sure, forgot the project for sending forth preachers of Law Reform. Major Cartwright, by circuiting and preaching, (though in voice and manner a most feeble preacher,) obtained petitions, with—I think it was not less than—1,200,000 signatures.
“Real Property Inquiry Commissioners, original number five, as per their ‘First Report’: lately three have been added, though not yet publicly announced. I have from all of them—all eight—an engagement in black and white—an engagement to publish, without any reservation, whatsoever I shall address to them in such their quality. The correspondence is curious, and I think of sending it to the newspapers.
“Despatch Court Bill wants not much of being completed. Completed it assuredly will be, unless I am dead or disabled first, before the times are in readiness for putting it to use. My friend, Bickersteth, who, in his capacity of silk-gownsman at the Chancery Bar, is quite overwhelmed with business, approves of the bill without reserve, as far as it has gone, and will guarantee it against all imputations on the score of ignorance.
“If itinerant agitators go to preach Law Reform, and procure signatures, they should go in couples—an Irishman for eloquence, and to give statements of such law abuses in Ireland, as apply also to England: an Englishman, to obviate local prejudices; a fit Irishman, you would, I imagine, easily find:—but an Englishman—! there would be the difficulty!”
O’Connell to Bentham.
“Respected and revered Master,—
To begin with the beginning—I did get your half letter as I was leaving the Cork Assizes, and wrote a reply; but an accident caused it not to be sent, and then I had a thousand things to add—and then I determined to write fully when I was just about to open the winter’s campaign.
“I give myself six or seven weeks here of comparative mental inexertion. This is the wildest and most stupendous scenery in nature—and I enjoy my residence here with the most exquisite relish. I have a pack of beagles with which I hunt on foot three days in the week. They are of the very best and most sagacious quality. I am in truth fascinated with this spot: and did not duty call me elsewhere, I should bury myself alive here. As to the remainder, the change of scene—of hours—of habits—of exercise—gives a new tone to my mind, and I leave this place with a new impulse, and with my mind new strung for reform and utility in every shape and form. To-morrow I spend, as my last day this season, in hunting. On Monday, I leave for Dublin—all for work—incessant work.
“I give you this sketch to show you why I have been less active in pursuit of useful change for the last six or seven weeks.
“My winter’s campaign commences. My first duty is to discharge my debt to you.
“The History of the Catholic Association (Wyse’s) omits that part of the struggle which is most interesting, and is most instructive,—I mean the working up of small means into mighty engines. The progress from political infancy, through political infantile squabbles, into something of youthful strength, and then into great manhood and vigour.
“This session—now or never, for Law Reform. We must begin the first day of the session before the king’s speech, if possible. No delay. No vacation. The Law-despatch Court is independent of the Code. It is just what, in my judgment, ought to be brought on at once.
“I will be in London, please God, a week or ten days before the ‘Honourable House’ sits. I will take with me a great number of petitions for justice, speedy, inexpensive, and real justice.
“But it is not now practicable to send round in Ireland law-preachers—preachers of Law Reform. You can form no adequate idea of the present state of the public mind in this island. We are in the last stage of the politico-religious fever. I have been watching its symptoms, and permitting nature to take its course. Believe me, the patient will be soon well, and strong soon, and fit to teach a lesson to the nations on all subjects of public amelioration. The Orange symptoms might easily be exasperated by irritation. It is left to disappear of itself; and is disappearing. You shall—you will hear of Ireland with pleasure, before the traffickers meet again in St Stephen’s Chapel. I am much deceived, if Law Reform and Parliamentary Reform do not meet with powerful assistance from Ireland shortly—very shortly.
“I get the Westminster Review by post as soon as it is published. The triumph over the Edinburgh is complete. That controversy is terminated, unless the Edinburgh renews it. I am also an active agent for the circulation of the Westminster. Not one of the mercenary agents can be more zealous. Simply because I feel the value to public opinion of that work.
“I have no objection that you should show my letters to any person you please. I give you the most unlimited discretion on that subject, both for the past and future, including the present. I do this without any feeling of vanity; because I know, that a man, ignorant as I am, may possibly be the means of suggesting a train of thought, which may lead superior minds to objects of great utility. Do with my letters just what you please.
“I trust the American Republics will at length settle into peace. The number of selfish beings which their revolutions have produced, desirous of converting the popular struggles into individual advantage, is not creditable to them. But their materials for change were of the worst description; and to this, I verily believe, much of the conduct of Bolivar, which appears suspicious, is to be attributed. Look back, however, at his career, and behold what eminent services he has rendered to Liberty. It was his generous persevering ardour that, in spite of every motive to despair, enabled him at length to crush the Spaniards in Colombia; and thereby, to lay the foundation of freedom in other, and even very distant provinces. He first taught the natives that the Spaniards were not invincible. Then he established the perfect equalisation of civil rights amongst all castes and colours. Do not, I beg of you, give him up without sifting the evidence against him closely. His accusers, amongst his countrymen, are mean and selfish individuals, who cannot submit to the superiority of talent and virtue. Society is in its most discordant elements around him; and it may be difficult to confide power to an unformed, ignorant, scattered population. If I must abandon my reliance on the purity of Bolivar, I will shed a tear for poor human nature. But no: I venture to prophesy that he will live to have his patriotism and disinterested virtue recognised all over the world.
“I know General Miller, and think very highly indeed of him. I read the historical part of his work, and will seize the first leisure moment to read the remainder of it. I do entirely agree with you that he is a very interesting and highly-gifted man.
“My accident was much less serious than as represented in the newspapers. I was not for one moment insensible; but having been dashed violently against the ground, I was unable to rise for about one minute. In ten minutes afterwards, I was as competent to assist my brother, who broke his arm, as if I had not fallen at all. The terrors of the place too are much exaggerated: but why should I detain you respecting an incident which would be forgotten by myself, but that the papers have fabricated ‘an article’ on it; and what is to me really precious, that you have expressed so much of kind solicitude for me.—Believe me, I am most cordially grateful.
“I have read, or rather, am carefully reading your book on Judicial Evidence. It affords me the greatest satisfaction. But I must release you from this lengthened communication: let me first call on you for suggestions—say commands, as to my parliamentary career. If you think it right, I will begin with ‘the Despatch Court,’—that is, the first or second day of the session: then the natural, as opposed to technical procedure—at least a petition on this subject: then an address to procure ‘a Code.’ Every day I will have a petition on some one or more law-abuse. It seems to me, that it will be useful to have a talk on this subject almost every day. So many people have to complain of the expense and delay of the law, that thus stimulating the expression of public opinion cannot but be useful.—I am, with the sincerest respect, your zealous disciple,” &c.
Edward Livingston to Bentham.
“New York, 10th August, 1829.
I had intended to delay the request, that you would do me the favour to accept and peruse the Codes of Criminal Law which I am preparing for the State of Louisiana, until I could offer the whole system for your examination: but a delay has taken place of which you are the cause, in preparing the Code of Evidence; and my impatience to have a direct communication with you, has induced me, perhaps indiscreetly, to send you the parts of the system which have been printed, for consideration, together with the preliminary reports explanatory of their provisions. The Code of Evidence which is wanting to complete the system, was ready about two years since to be put to the press, when I heard of the publication of your ‘Rationale of Judicial Proof,’ [Evidence,] and I could not think of taking another step, until I had received all the lights I was sure this work would throw on the course I was pursuing. Notwithstanding my endeavours to procure a copy from England, I have, by some unaccountable fatality, been constantly disappointed, but have lately been fortunate enough to procure the only set I believe in the United States. I am now studying it closely, and already find more than enough to make me rejoice that I was not more precipitate in my publication. While at the same time I feel a pride in discovering that many of the provisions I had inserted, have received the sanction of your judgment.
“It is more than thirty years ago that, then representing this city in the House of Representation of the United States, I made an ineffectual attempt to mitigate the severity of our penal laws. The perusal of your works edited by Dumont, fortified me in a design to prosecute the subject, whenever a fit occasion should offer: it occurred about twenty years after, by my election to the Legislature of Louisiana, whither I had removed; and I used the confidence of that State, by offering them the system you will find in the accompanying package. It is now under the consideration of a Joint Committee of both Houses, and its fate will be decided in the course of the winter session. The favourable notice taken of the first report in England, and elsewhere in Europe, has had a considerable effect in predisposing the public mind to receive it.
“In laying before you this work, I offer you little that you have not a legitimate title to; for, hereafter no one can, in Criminal Jurisprudence, propose any favourable change that you have not recommended, or make any wise improvement, that your superior sagacity has not suggested.
“With the greatest veneration for your character, and the highest admiration of your useful labours, I am, Sir, your most obedient servant.”
Dumont, the most distinguished of Bentham’s disciples, preceded him, by a few years, to the grave. The announcement of this event was communicated to him by Dumont’s nephew:—
“Geneva, 4th October, 1829.
“The friendship which you felt for our excellent uncle, his attachment and admiration for you, imposes on his family the painful duty of announcing the misfortune we have just experienced. M. Dumont has been removed from us—removed most unexpectedly; and what adds, if it be possible to add, to our grief, far away from his family. He left us, a few weeks ago, full of health, for a journey in Italy. At Venice, a slight indisposition induced him to precipitate his departure; but, arrived at Milan, the disorder assumed a serious character, and in a few days he died. If anything could lighten our loss, it would be to think that no sufferings accompanied his last moments, and that he slumbered away in the arms of the friend who accompanied him. Accept, Sir, the expression of the sentiments of respect and veneration with which the excellent man, for whom we mourn, has inspired us for your person.”
A few days before his death, Dumont thus wrote of Bentham:—
“What I most admire is the manner in which Mr Bentham has laid down his principle, the development he has given to it, and the vigorous logic of his inductions from it. The first book of the ‘Principles of Legislation,’ is an art of reasoning upon this principle, of distinguishing it from the false notions which usurp its place—of analyzing evil—and of showing the strength of the legislator in the four sanctions, natural, moral, political, and religious. The whole is new, at least with regard to method and arrangement; and they who have attacked the principle generally, have taken good care not to make a special attack upon the detailed exposition of the system.
“Egotism and materialism! How absurd! Nothing but vile declamation and insipid mummery! Look into the catalogue of pleasures for the rank which the author assigned to those of benevolence, and see how he finds in them the germ of all social virtues! His admirable ‘Treatise upon the Indirect Means of Preventing Crime,’ contains, among others, three chapters sufficient to pulverise all these miserable objections. One is on the cultivation of benevolence; another on the proper use of the motive of honour; and the third on the importance of religion, when maintained in a proper direction—that is to say, of that religion which conduces to the benefit of society. I am convinced that Fenelon himself would have put his name to every word of this doctrine. Consider the nature and number of Mr Bentham’s works; see what a wide range he has taken in legislation; and is it not acknowledged, that no man has more the character of originality, independence, love of public good, disinterestedness, and noble courage in braving the dangers and persecutions which have more than once threatened his old age? His moral life is as beautiful as his intellectual. Mr Bentham passes in England, whether with justice or not I am unable to determine, for the chief, I mean the spiritual chief, of the Radical party. His name, therefore, is not in good repute with those in power, or those who see greater dangers than advantages in a reform, especially a radical reform. I do not pretend to give an opinion, either for or against, but it must be understood, that he has never enjoyed the favour either of government or of the high aristocracy; and this must guide, even in other countries, those who desire not to commit themselves; for Mr Bentham’s ensign leads neither to riches nor to power.”
In a letter to O’Connell of 29th October, Bentham speaks of “the public-house licensing system” as “a most maleficent source of corruption, oppression, and depredation;” and says, “Among your Parliamentary agenda will naturally be the extinction of it. But this will be included in the local judicatories.” O’Connell answers:—
O’Connell to Bentham.
“Merrion Square,Dublin,Nov. 4, 1829.
“I found here, awaiting my arrival, a letter from my revered master. I hasten to reply, before I am entangled in the act of profession. My time now reckons by the minute; but did I count it by the dropping of my heart’s blood, I would devote some of it to the man who has done more to ensure the destruction of abuses, and the establishment of common honesty, than any other human being I ever knew or read of.
“The Honourable House! shall hear the name of Bentham—a name which, it would seem, has been considered too harsh hitherto for ‘ears polite.’ I will, if you approve of it, drive at once to the framing of the Code. No committee to cushion it, no reward to create contention, and excite patronage and favouritism. Your plan, simply printing at the public expense—the sentiment of glory and utility the only stimulants—you will live to see your work printed at the national expense, and I trust finally adopted: my humble name will, in spite of the sneerers, be found in some margin, or beneath the last page; and I too will have done the good work of facilitating right and justice, and abolishing perjuries and useless oaths.
“The public-house licensing system is really more surprising, if possible, than abominable. How John Bull can be so stupid a dolt as to submit to it, is portion, however, of that practical despotism which the jurisdiction of irresponsible Justices has established with an iron hand in England and Ireland, without responsibility or any that exists almost perfect as a mockery: and without appeal, the Bench of Justices, collectively and in detail, have made the people feel despotism in its worst shape—its emaciating consistency of oppression. But for collateral advantages in these countries, I would prefer to live under the simple tyranny of a Turkish cadi, to the endurance of the complicated oppression of an unelected, irremovable, irresponsible, incorrigible Bench of Justices of the Peace—all this they are in fact. This remedy comes within the immediate head of local jurisdiction.
“The King’s Bench is the avowed accomplice of the crimes of the magistracy, but you catch my sentiments on these subjects, I will endeavour to avail myself of your accuracy and distinctness of mode of redress. From your faithful disciple.”
Bentham was much distressed by some of O’Connell’s attacks, of a personal and almost private character, by which he deemed he was damaging the cause of Reform and lowering his individual influence and reputation. He told me he had been considering how best to make an effort to check his excitable but most beloved friend, and he determined to write to him an anonymous letter, of which this is an extract:—
Bentham (under the name of Phil-O’Connell) to O’Connell.
“London, 10th November, 1829.
This comes from a sincere admirer of you, and a zealous friend to the Catholic cause, so far as is consistent with the welfare of all besides.
“It is with proportionable grief that I read your tirade—your altogether undiscriminating tirade—against the Liberals, as contained in the Morning Chronicle. I flatter myself you will see that, in what I am about to say, my object is not to cast reproach upon you, or to cause an atom of unnecessary uneasiness in your mind, but merely to do what depends on me towards prevailing on you to abstain from such reproachful sallies in future.
“To the class of Serviles, or to that of Liberals, are generally recognised to belong all men with whom, on a political account, you have anything to do, even Serviles, those called also sometimes Tories, sometimes Absolutists. Under the denomination of Liberals, are commonly regarded as included as well Whigs as Radicals.
“Absolutists are all of them against you; and accordingly so are you, and of necessity, making unceasing war upon them. Under the head of Liberals are comprised all to whom you can look for assistance in the character of friends.
“What on this, or any occasion, could have possessed you thus to run-a-muck (Malay like) against all your friends? Yes, against all your friends, with the exception of a comparatively small number of zealous Catholics.
“To what useful purpose can you thus wage war upon them? In proportion as you damage their reputation, (supposing on your part the capacity of thus producing in any degree that effect,) would not you be weakening your own force?
“No, surely, by any such vague reproaches: for which no specific grounds are alleged, and for which all such grounds would be out of season, by any such ungrounded reproaches, if any reputation be impaired, it will not be that of those against whom, but of him by whom they are uttered.
“On what supposition is it that you thus make war upon them? Is it not that they are either Non-Catholics, or Non-Christians?
“But in either case, what good is it possible you should derive even from success in this same unnatural war? Is it by vague reproaches, in that or any other shape, that any man can expect to convert any other man to the Catholic faith, or to any other?
“Talking in this strain, you afford gratification (it may be supposed) to your own momentary feelings,—and sorry am I to be obliged to call them your own antisocial feelings;—you, who so laudably abound in social ones of the best and most extensive class. This gratification you afford yourself. But how dearly do you not expose yourself to pay for it!
“All this while, what is the object and end in view of the liberty I am thus taking with you? Is it to give you pain in any shape? This you will see it cannot possibly be: for if it were, it is not in this private, but in the most public manner, that I should address you. It is, on the contrary, to preserve you from all future pain, if possible, from the like source: it is to prevail upon you to abstain from drawing it down upon yourself, by any more such manifestations of hostile feeling towards almost all those, among whom, for any of your great and beneficent purposes, you can look to find friends.
“True it is, that what is past cannot be recalled. But what I comfort myself with the hope of, is, that when you come forward upon the great carpet, with your noble plans of real reform, the memory of these escapades will be drowned in the blaze of your unexampled merits, and your matchless eloquence.
“Would you wish? can you endure? to see a specimen of the effect actually produced by this sortie of yours? Read it, if you have not read it, in The Examiner, in the No. of the earliest day thereafter ensuing. Perhaps it was noticed in Examiner more than once.
“Being of the number of your sincerest admirers, and, however unknown, friends, I sign myself,
And in a letter to O’Connell, signed by himself, and written at about the same time, he says—
“Nov. 7, 1829.
“Dan, dear Child,—
Whom, in imagination, I have, at this moment, pressing to my fond bosom,—put off, if it be possible, your intolerance. Endure the conception, and even the utterance of other men’s opinions, how opposite soever to your own. At any rate, when you assume the mantle of the legislator, put off the gown that has but one side to it,—that of the advocate.
“As to evil tendency of opinions, and insincerity in the profession of them, and any sinister interests by which in the character of motives, the declaration made of those same opinions may have been produced,—these are points quite different and distinguishable from the entertaining of those same opinions; not that under the assurance, could I but entertain it, that I should thereby avoid giving you pain, not that there is any opinion of mine, that it would cost me any pain to forbear exhibiting to your view, but that in the nature of the case no such assurance is obtainable. It would require that I should be in possession of an exact list of all your opinions,—at any rate of all that are of any considerable importance in a religious or political view, present and future, all your opinions, not present alone, but future likewise.
“What a comfort it would be to me could I but receive your assurance that you have taken yourself to task on this ground, and that the result of it has been a resolution to embrace, in words as well as deeds, that charity which is called caritas, and which, whatever it thinks, (for we are not masters of our thoughts, at any rate, and in particular, of my opinion, I who write this feel too plainly I am not,) avoids, at any rate, speaking evil. ‘Evil speaking,’—speaking evil of any person, for not doing that thing which it is not possible to do, or for not doing anything which it is not possible to avoid doing,—in a word, for the non-performance of impossibilities.”
Again Bentham writes:—
“Nov. 10, 1829.
“Behold here a further source and subject of anxiety. Take, take in good part, my dear child, a sermon upon these texts.
“The Solicitor-general knowingly and wilfully committing an act of deception, a suppressio veri, by abstaining from bringing forward a matter-of-fact, the certain consequence of which would have been the acquittal of a knot of men, against whom, in a capital case, he, by commission from the crown, was acting as advocate, these men not being, any one of them in truth, guilty of the fact charged. Let all this be taken for granted, and the conduct manifested by it shall be as bad as you please, and, in a moral view, the censure merited by it as severe as you please. Well, but what then? What is this but acting as an advocate? doing what every advocate is hired to do, and consents to do for hire. For this reason, amongst others, it is, that under my system the two branches, the professional and the judicial, are kept inexorably distinct. When the length of time which is long enough for an apprenticeship to the art and mystery of judicature has elapsed, admitted to the office of judge [shall be] no person who has ever practised as an advocate. Therefore it is, that (extraordinary exceptions excepted) if I admitted of an exclusion of evidence as a security against deception, sooner should this fall on an advocate than on a robber or murderer.
“But you, the most illustrious of all advocates—does it belong to you to pledge yourself to bring forward your great wheel to break this fly upon? Could you put it to any such use without bringing down no small part of its weight upon yourself? In vain, were I so disposed, could I conceal the self-regarding interest by which this sermon, wearisome as it cannot but be, has been produced. It is the fear of seeing worn down, and rendered less respected, less feared, less efficient, this mighty instrument—the use of which stands engaged to me, for crushing in its whole enormous mass, the machinery of injustice.
“The man in question, be he who and what he may—suppose him brought before the Honourable House (not that it is possible he should be) for what he did: how obvious and sure his answer! ‘What,’ says he, ‘was it that I did, more than anybody else in my place would have done? that which universally—at any rate generally—is understood to be the duty of every advocate, to every client, in every case?’
“This done, should I have been instrumental in the shedding of innocent blood? Not I, indeed. My duty to my client having been thus done: nothing would have hindered me from doing what is the duty of every man to justice: namely, to preserve myself from the having been instrumental in the shedding of this same innocent blood. That which would set everything right is a pardon; and this is what, under full assurance of success, I should have set myself to procure.
“What, again, if he should say, although the individual charges brought against these men were false, yet, from all circumstances taken together, I was persuaded of their having been guilty of the offences charged, or others of the same description? In that Honourable place, an exculpation of this sort would it not be listened to? Observe I speak only hypothetically: for of the particular circumstances of the case, other than as above, I have not taken any the slightest cognizance.
“Observations to the effect of the above sermon, I hear from men who are zealous friends to us and our great cause, and what to say in vindication I cannot find. If, upon cooler reflection, it should happen to you, to see that matter in the same point of view, you will, of course, take the best course that can be taken for backing out.
“Inconsistency! inconsistency! this is one of the rocks which my perhaps too sensitive—I hope too sensitive—imagination presents you, but too often to my view as in danger—not of splitting upon, indeed, but of being cast upon, and more bruised, than without severe suffering on my part, I could behold you. How could I forbear boring you with these sermons? Are we not linked together by our most philanthropic, most meritorious, our strongest and fondest hopes? Your reputation, is it not mine? All the while, with delight, gratitude, and hope, do I think of the excellent temper and endurance, with which you bore—yes: and upon my suggestion, in relation to the so unworthy Radical, our false brother Hunt.
“If, after all, this does but annoy you, without producing preponderant good, speak but half a word, and my dear quinquagenary child shall never more be thus tormented by the old hermit, his octogenary self-constituted guardian.”
Bentham to O’Connell.
“Dec. 8, 1829.
“Wellington is civil to me—gives immediate answers, all in his own hand, to letter after letter, that I send to him. I have written him about Law Reform, telling him, if he will listen to me, he may do what Cromwell tried at, and failed in:—the lawyers were too many for him.
“Herries, the Cabinet Minister, on receiving a little tract of mine, ‘Emancipate your Colonies,’ writes me a homage-paying letter, speaking of himself as ‘honoured,’ &c.
“With all this I am dispirited. I am at my wit’s end—and wherefore? Even because of you.
“He has declared war against you. Are not you a Liberal? Can you deny that you are? Would you wish to deny it? Since the name was invented, have you ever ceased to answer to it? On the Monday he is at your feet; he was a Benthamist. On the Thursday, you are the object of his declared abhorrence; he is an anti-Benthamist. And in the meantime, what is it you have done? Can you have any doubt of this? If, after that declaration, any doubt is left, look to his silence. His letter of more than a month ago, Nov. 4, is the last you will have from him.
“He is a tool in the hands of the Jesuits. He is a weathercock, and their breath the blast that determines its direction.
“Those to whom you are most indebted for what you are, for your having devoted the whole of your long life to the service of mankind, those by whose means he himself became what, till the other day he was,—a Benthamist, these are now among the objects of his proclaimed abhorrence.
“In England, the men of his own religion are cold to him, and indifferent; Liberals, all to a man, his warm friends, and the only ones: and this is the return he makes to them.
“The friends of liberty all over the world, those are the men he thus makes war upon. The liberal Spanish Cortes,—the liberal Portuguese Cortes,—all over late Spanish-America, the constituted authorities, with the exception of Bolivar, till t’other day the Liberator, now the Subjugator. The declared enemy to all useful lights, who, after trumpeting my works, and declaring that they had given to politics and morals the certainty and precision of mathematics, has made it a crime in every man to have so much as one of them in his possession. In a word, he has made himself to be, in his part of Spanish-America, what the beloved Ferdinand was—completely absolute; with the single exception of the person of the despot he has reestablished the ancien régime.
“And what is it that has produced the alliance between him and O’Connell? One simple merit, which absorbs and stands in the place of all others,—he has reëstablished, and is reëstablishing monks. Well, and what of that? Are these monks Jesuits? No! but tell them they have taken the vows to disobey the command, which says, increase and multiply; and this is the merit which, in the eyes of a father of a family, suffices to outweigh the most flagitious crimes.
“With inflexible pertinacity, he adheres to the religion of his fathers,—to the opinions under which he was born and bred. The Liberals, in all their varieties of opinion, do the same thing: and thus it is, by pursuing the very same course that he pursues, they have made themselves the objects of his abhorrence.
“In what consists their crime?—the crime of the very worst of them? In differing with him on a question of evidence, on the credit due to statements of facts, self-declaredly improbable,—statements written in early, and comparatively uninstructed ages,—statements unsubjected and unsubjectable to the test of cross-examination. Granting these statements to be all true, yet is it a crime—an unpardonable crime—not to be convinced by them? not to be able to comprehend what he himself declares to believe to be incomprehensible?
“He thinks it is in the infallibility of the Pope, or of the Church, (whoever it is he means by the Church,) and, after all, in whose infallibility is it that he is believing? in whose but his own. His opinion is, that their opinion is infallible, and is not his own then the opinion on which his confidence of the supposed infallibility rests?
“Fasting, prayers, celibacy, self-tormenting in any or all shapes, can it atone for, and, in the scale of good and evil, preponderate over all-comprehensive beneficence?
“This, and more in abundance to the same effect, is what I have been doomed continually to hear from all around me: and what can I find to say in answer? Just nothing. I am struck dumb. I stand mute. I shrug up my shoulders: this is the condition in which you have placed me. Will you? can you, say anything, do anything that will help me out of it? Unless you can, to what end come hither and take your place in the House of Commons? The men you have declared war against, is it to them that you look for support? The Whigs and the Radicals—of these are composed the Liberals—remain the Tories. Is it to the Tories that you look for coöperation in the dissolution of the Union? To the Wellingtons and the Peels for the abolition of their own tyranny? If it is to Irishmen alone that you look for the shaking off the yoke, and, among Irishmen, to the Roman Catholics alone, whose wish it is to be governed by the Jesuits, will not any endeavour of yours go farther where you are than here?
“My dear, dear O’Connell—Oh no! it is not in anger—it is in grief of mind that I say this. Hate me as you will: I defy you to make me hate you,—I defy you to prevent me from being your well-wisher; and not merely your motiveless well-wisher, but your faithful servant, and your benefactor, if possible, if, by anything I can say or do, any addition can be made to your greatest happiness, as witness these presents, written in a moment of dejection—not to say despondency, at the close of a night occupied in dreaming of you.”
To this O’Connell replies:—
O’Connell to Bentham.
“Merrion Square,Dec. 13, 1829.
“My dear Sir,—
I went to Drogheda on Saturday; and, therefore, did not read your last letter till Sunday. I came back to this town yesterday noonday: thus I account for not replying instantly, as you desired.
“Now to reply to your questions: 1stly, I read your former letters attentively, without being in any degree offended. Add—I was not—I am not—nor ever shall, or will be—I never can be offended with you.—Reason—because I deem you the most useful man to the world at large that I ever knew. I have scarcely ever read of any man who could fully compete with you in point of practical utility.
“If you had not attacked Judge & Co. by direct face-blows, the absurd superstition, by which they were surrounded, would have protected a most unjust, mendacious, and vexatious system under their wings, for at least another century.
“I cannot write more at present: but I do owe you a long letter—and thus promise to pay within the meaning of Lord Tenterden’s act, which has already cost several hundreds of pounds to discover that meaning.—With the most sincere respect, yours most faithfully.”
And Bentham rejoins:—
Bentham to O’Connell.
“Q. S. P., 18th Dec., 1829.
“My dear O’Connell.—
This moment comes yours of the 15th: heavy on my mind was the pressure from which it has relieved me. In comparison of former letters, however, there comes here a sort of coldness that prevents the relief from being quite complete: ‘respect?’ yes:—‘affection,’ mention or intimation of it?—none. O’Connell! I love you with a father’s love. A man at my age is old enough to be grandfather to a man of yours.
“I had taken measures for causing inquiry—personal inquiry—to be made of you, whether the two successive letters of mine to you had come to hand: the book I take for granted has; for had it not, you, in this letter of yours, would have said as much. I have taken measures which, I hope, will be time enough to be successful to stop the inquiry.”
[* ] See Works, vol. ix. p. 333 et seq.
[* ] See these in the Works, vol. v.
[* ] In allusion to the Duke’s duel with Lord Winchelsea on the 21st March.
[† ] Mr D’Esterre, of the Dublin Corporation, who challenged Mr O’Connell for calling that body a beggarly corporation.
[* ] See Works, vol. i., p. 378.
[† ] See preceding vol., p. 432.
[* ] This letter is dated, it will be observed, a little more than ten months before the events anticipated in it took place.—Ed.