Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to José del Valle. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
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Bentham to José del Valle. - 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 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.
[* ] This letter is dated, it will be observed, a little more than ten months before the events anticipated in it took place.—Ed.