Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to the Duke of Wellington. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
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Bentham to the Duke of Wellington. - 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.
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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.