Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXV.: 1830—31. Æt. 82—3. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
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CHAPTER XXV.: 1830—31. Æt. 82—3. - 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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1830—31. Æt. 82—3.
Del Valle.—Jeux d’Esprit.—Burdett.—Sir James Graham.—Livingston.—Santander.—Duc de Broglie.—French Revolution of 1830.—Letter to the French People.—Introduction of Rammohun Roy.—La Fayette.—Brougham.—O’Connell and Libel Law.—Irish Coercion.—Parliamentary Candidates’ Society.—Notices of Bentham in American Periodicals.—William Tait.—Cobbett.—Prosecution of Archibald Prentice.
Del Valle to Bentham.
“Guatemala, 21st May, 1830.
“My ever dear Father,—
I received the precious letters and the books that you had the kindness to send to me. Unalterable are my affections, and great is my gratitude.
“I hoped for an opportunity to express that gratitude, when the earth began to be agitated, and we had to seek out other habitations. We commenced by experiencing earthquakes of little consequence at first, but repeated since, and becoming alarming. From four o’clock in the morning, of the 21st, to five in the evening of the 22d of April last, there were fifty-two shocks. On the 23d following, at nine o’clock at night, there was one so strong as to destroy the roofs of many houses, to overthrow the walls of others, and to rend the arches of many churches. On the 3d of the present month, we felt another of some duration, which was successively followed by others of equal or less force. Many towns and a number of houses on various estates have been ruined. The Government of the State, and various families, have removed to Tocotenango, a small Indian village near to this city: others sought out straw huts (ranchos) near the suburbs; but I and others passed to Ciudad Vieja, which is a town a short distance from this capital. We have now, however, all returned to our habitations, but we are not free from apprehension, as the earth is still agitated, and it has been observed, that, in other times and places, earthquakes return more violently in the rainy season. The overthrow of Old Guatemala took place on the 29th of July, 1773.
“This horrible example, and some equally disastrous that other countries have exhibited, have not been sufficient to induce men to profit by experience; and I would beg you to notice this, in the different cities, and different towns that have been built either on volcanoes or in their immediate vicinity. In this Republic, the southern side, which is one series of volcanoes and which seem placed to beautify and afflict our country, is certainly the most inhabited. On this side, either upon the declivity of volcanoes, or near them, are the cities of St Miguel, St Vicente, St Salvador, Old Guatemala, Guezaltenango, &c.
“A choice so sad for a people who possess a territory sufficient for all the human race, is one of the many causes of its backwardness and retrogression. Little enough is done in times of rest, and nothing can be done in seasons of earthquakes.
“We established, in November last, an Economic Society of the Friends of the State of Guatemala, and I was elected Director. I delivered at the installation, a discourse which I have the honour of transmitting to you. I wrote the Prospectus, and the number for the first month, which I also send. I shall proceed in writing other numbers, which I shall equally forward; and when the laws are printed, I shall have much satisfaction in presenting them to you. The Society will do much good in countries where the resources, which abound in Europe, are but scanty. The earthquakes have suspended our operations, but we are immediately about to recommence.
“Your name is honoured in the number for the first month, and will be so in the succeeding numbers, if I am connected with it. Your genius will give it weight and value, and will coöperate in dissipating those clouds, still dense, that obscure the atmosphere of this country. The pamphlets published by the Society instituted in your capital for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; the Popular Library issued by the Society for Elementary Instruction, at Paris; books, and Catechisms for Youth, are requisite for those who know how to read in this land. Convinced of this truth, I have proposed, and our Economic Society decided on, the translation of some of the principal that have come into my hands, and I have sent to Paris for the succeeding parts, with the same object.
“It is necessary to improve agriculture, to create industry, and to extend commerce. But they are ignorant of the road that would lead to this end: they know not where they ought to commence. They do not possess the economic sciences, nor have they agreed on their cultivation. Submerged for above three centuries in a chaos the most lugubrious, can we expect the sudden production of legislators, statesmen, financiers, &c.?
“The mind is affected with the most sad sentiments, at seeing the perpetual creation of public offices, (empleos,) while nothing is thought of that education which is necessary to fit men to fill them. We will have a multitude of legislators; and there does not exist a single school where the science of legislation is taught. We must have many statesmen, but we have no hall (aula) in which can be learnt even the elements of good government. I have said this in my Memorial upon Education; and I shall not cease to repeat it. Perhaps at last, the voice of reason may be heard.
“The immediate departure of the bearer of this letter, does not permit me to proceed at greater length. For the same reason, I defer, until another opportunity, my observations on your important letters.
“I beg of you in the meantime, to accept, Señor Bentham, the cordial sentiments, and the respectful consideration with which I affirm myself,” &c.
I believe the three following jeux d’esprit, by Bentham, appeared in some newspaper, in 1830:—
Bentham to Burdett.
“Q. S. P., 17th June, 1830.
“My dear Burdett,—
Along with this goes my proposed Codification Petition, that petition which relates in a peculiar manner to myself; and which, if I do not over-flatter myself, you were kind enough to undertake, not merely to present to Hon. H., but to imbed it in your speech, in such sort as to make it a matter of obligation to Hon. H. to receive into its ears so much of it as you will be pleased to pour into them,—this being, according to what I have heard, without contradiction, an acknowledged right. Of course, if you find it to such a degree grating to the aforesaid honourable ears, that honourable gentlemen run out of the House, as they used to do when Orator Burke was pouring forth the torrent of his eloquence, you will stop in time. To accommodate the proceeding as well as may be to these contingencies, I have divided the matter into four or five topics, marking the topics at the top of the margin of each page.
“If ever there was a paper which, for the importance of the subject matter, as measured by the extent, presented a prospect of experiencing this indulgence, it is this: for the extent of it is neither more nor less than that of the whole field of legislation—a field which does not want much of being coextensive with the whole field of thought and action; and this, with your unexampled brilliancy of imagination, you will deal with better than anybody else could do.
“Now for a convivial gossip at this Hermitage: I hope neither gout nor anything else will hinder you from appointing an early day for it. Meantime, you will have looked over it, and marked any such passages as you think had better be omitted or changed.
“Should anything prevent your taking upon yourself this holy function, Joseph Hume has promised to take it upon himself; and if you perform it, you will have him for a certainty for your support, and he accordingly will be furnished with a copy in time: so likewise O’Connell, who, they say, shines more particularly in reply,—in reply in the generality of cases; but in this case, his assistance at that period will be more particularly desirable, on account of the grimgribber matter which the matter of my petition will, if it receives any determinate answer, elicit from opponents. But what I should rather expect is, that they will not dare to grapple with it, but fabricate a pretence for getting rid of it, out of a quirk composed of some vague-generality phrase, or move the order of the day upon it, &c., &c.
“Lest they should be prepared with a stratagem of this sort, I shall propose to Hume and O’Connell, as well as yourself, to keep the matter secret between you three, till the very moment of making the speech, for which you will naturally select a time when there is a good attendance.
“O’Connell I see has given notice of an intended motion for Codification. This is without concert with me; and I shall beg of him in time to let drop that motion; and, instead of making it, to take upon himself the function proposed to be allotted to him as above-mentioned.
—Yours most truly.
“P.S.—Excuse the non-autography of this epistle. All my few remaining minutes are (you know) counted. My writing time I devote to Codification. Letters, &c., I dictate at times when I cannot write—for example after dinner, while vibrating in my ditch—in the ditch opposite the chair which (I hope) you will occupy in a day or two.
“The present place of your existence being unknown to me, and consequently the fate of the accompanying packet appearing more or less problematical, let me beg the favour of a single line to inform me of the receipt of it, without waiting to speak of the contents.”
But Burdett did not undertake the task. He answered Bentham that he would consider of it; and Bentham considered this as a withdrawal.
Bentham having sent his “Official Aptitude Maximized, and Expense Minimized,” to Sir James Graham, because he had signalized himself in defence of economy, was much gratified by his acknowledgment of the receipt of the book in these terms:—
Sir James Graham to Bentham.
“Grosvenor Place, 19th June, 1830.
Permit me to offer my sincere thanks for the present of your valuable work, which I shall study with the respect due to the productions of the most enlightened and honest jurist, every mark of whose approbation is regarded by me as an honourable distinction.—With sincere respect, Sir, your faithful and very obedient servant.”
Edward Livingston to Bentham.
“Montgomery Place, (New York,)
I thank you sincerely for the valuable books with which you have enriched my library, and the kind and instructive letter by which they were accompanied. These favours would have been sooner acknowledged, if they had not arrived just before the closing of the Session of the Congress, when all the business, which the procrastination, prevalent I believe in most legislative bodies, had put off from day to day, is pressed forward, and renders a week or two before the adjournment a very laborious period for those who wish to do their duty. Escaped, at length, from the bustle of public life to a retreat I have on the banks of the Hudson, I devote my first leisure to the cultivation of a correspondence from which I expect to derive as much profit and pleasure in its sequel, as I have already derived instruction from its commencement. Not having kept a copy of my letter to you, I did not perfectly recollect its contents; and my only fear, on hearing that you had published it, was, that it should have imperfectly expressed how much my work is indebted to yours for those parts of my attempts to reform the laws of my State, which have found favour from the public. From the printed copy you have sent me, I find this apprehension was well-founded; and therefore take pleasure in acknowledging, that although strongly impressed with the defects of our actual system of penal law, yet the perusal of your works first gave method to my ideas, and taught me to consider legislation as a science governed by certain principles applicable to all its different branches, instead of an occasional exercise of powers called forth only on particular occasions, without relation to, or connexion with, each other. I have lately observed, with great pleasure, the just homage that has been paid to your talents and services in the British House of Commons, rendered more valuable by its coming from a statesman and lawyer of the first eminence in the kingdom. It must be a matter of the highest gratification to you to witness, not only the prevalence of your doctrines, but to hear their truth acknowledged by those whose professional prejudices they so severely attack, and whose pecuniary interest they tend to destroy. I think I understand the outline of your plan for the gradual amelioration of a written code, without the aid of judicial decisions, and thus obviating one of the strongest objections that is made to a system of written law; but I should wish exceedingly to see the outline filled up, for I feel some pride in having made a similar proposal in relation to our Civil Code in the year 1823, and I wish to see whether your details can be applied to the general proposition I then made: you will find it from page 8 to the end of a short report which I enclose. It supersedes the necessity for that which one of our most celebrated jurists (Mr Duponceau) calls the malléabilité that is found in the common law; that is to say, the permission it gives to judges to make ex post facto laws. The plan traced in this report was not pursued. The gentlemen joined with me in the commission, were unfortunately too impatient for the completion of this task to enable them to do the work in the manner we had proposed. I was overruled; and the Civil Code was reported and sanctioned in the form you will now see in the copy sent to you. Yet, imperfect as it is, it has been a great blessing to the State; but not greater, I think, than the rejection of the common law procedure in civil suits. A simple system was substituted, based upon the plan of requiring each party to state, in intelligible language, the cause of complaint, and the grounds of defence. I comprised it in a single law of a few pages; and although, from its novelty, many questions may be naturally supposed to arise under it, before the court and suitors become accustomed to its provisions; yet our books of Reports, from 1808 to 1823, contain fewer cases depending on disputed points of practice, than occurred in a single year, 1803, in New York, where they proceed according to the English law, which has been in a train of settlements by adjudication so many hundred years. An anecdote to exemplify this may not be unacceptable to you. When I was pursuing my profession at New Orleans, a young gentleman, from one of the common-law States, came there. He had been admitted to the bar in his own State, and was, of course, entitled to admission in ours, if found by examination sufficiently versed in our laws: he had studied them, and was ready to undergo the examination, but expressed to me his regret that a long time must elapse before he could make himself master of the routine of practice, with which on our system he was entirely unacquainted; and, asking to be admitted into my office until that could be effected, requested me, with much solicitude, to tell in what period I thought he might, with great diligence, be enabled to understand the rules of practice, so difficult to be acquired according to the common law. I answered, that it was not very easy to calculate to an hour, but as he was engaged to dine with me the next day, at four, I thought I could initiate him in all the mysteries of the practice before we sat down to dinner: nor was there any exaggeration in the statement. What will your articled clerks, tied for seven years to an attorney’s desk, say to this? I have hitherto been too busily employed in extracting the good from your works to think of making any objections to any part of the doctrines they contain; and, indeed, it has happened so frequently, that on the second persual, my assent has been given to positions which I thought unsound on the first, that I always hesitate long before I venture to deviate from them in any of the provisions of my Code. I have in some instances done so; and although I cannot immediately comply with your request of stating the reasons of my dissent from you in those points, yet it shall hereafter be done, and, as you desire, fully and frankly.
“I knew before the receipt of your letter, that I was under great obligations to Mr John Smith; but was not aware, till you apprized me, of those I owe to Dr Southwood Smith, to whom I shall soon write to express my acknowledgments. To Mr John Smith I sent, by Mr M‘Lane, a copy of my projected Code, and had written to him twice before.
“You will naturally inquire whether my system has been adopted by the States which commissioned me to prepare it. I am sorry to say that they have not yet taken it into consideration. A joint committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives, was appointed last year to examine it during the recess, and report upon it at the succeeding session; but the prevalence of the yellow fever, and other circumstances, prevented them meeting: the next winter, I hope, will find them disposed to pass upon it.
“In the other States, advances are making to free themselves from the reproach of being governed by unwritten, and therefore, unknown laws: none have, however, progressed so far as to form a general system: methodizing their statutes, and giving the force of law to some of the judicial constructions of them, is the present extent of their daring.
“If cheap editions of some of your works could be struck off, it would aid the great cause; but our lawyers are all politicians, and our politicians are all party-men, and party-men in all countries are alike. To you I need not describe their characteristics, or point out those causes which render them indifferent to anything unconnected with their prevailing passion. The mass of the people, therefore, must be first enlightened by a knowledge of your principles, before their representatives can be persuaded to act upon, or even to examine them.
“I send with this letter a copy of the Civil Code of Louisiana; a number of the papers printed by order of the Senate, or House of Representatives, some of which may prove interesting to you; together with a number of other pamphlets relating to the civil and criminal statistics and institutions of the several states. My Code of Evidence is printed, but I will not submit it to your inspection until the introductory report, which is nearly finished, can accompany it.—With sentiments of the highest respect and esteem, I am, Sir, your most obedient servant.”
An invitation to General Santander gives an amusing description of the quò eundum, in order to reach Bentham’s abode.
“1st July, 1840.
“Dinner with the Hermit, at the Hermitage, a quarter past seven on Monday. On entering St James’s Park by the gate, called Storey’s gate, at the end of the street called Great George Street, you will find yourself in the alley called the Bird-cage Walk: midway in this alley are the barracks for recruits. Before reaching this building, you will see a garden entered by an iron-rail gate, near the barracks, where you will see a sentinel. Having entered this gate, you will find yourself in a narrow path, which takes you in a straight line to a walk, where there is another iron gate, which you will find open. Enter by it, and you will find yourself in another garden, on the left of which is the house I inhabit. You will mount by a step, which takes you to a door; and you will find yourself in a small hall, with a staircase before you, and a small chamber at the left, at whose door you will knock: as to porters, or other men-servants, they are a sort of animals not kept in my den.”
General Santander to Bentham.
“Hamburg, 29th July, 1830.
“Bolivar is acting prudently, in giving way to that general opinion which is opposed to his permanence at the head of public affairs. It would have been happy for the reputation of his country, and for his own, had his retreat, like that of Scylla at Rome, been voluntary. But we withdraw, leaving Colombia the prey of hostile parties—divided into two camps, just ready for civil war. Instead of giving us peace, tranquillity, and freedom, he bequeaths hatreds, and resentments, and passions—a demoralised army, and a wretched example. What has his unhappy dictatorship brought to Colombia, and his overthrow of the Constitution of 1821? His daring has not had even the justification of success: his despotism has torn Colombia into pieces by factions and discord, and filled honourable families with mourning:—the scaffolds of criminals have streamed with the blood of honest citizens. Immorality and anarchy have triumphed; and Colombia has been dragged back to fanaticism and ignorance. In the last three years, Bolivar has sullied all the glories with which his perseverance, his boldness, his activity, his disinterestedness, and many other virtues, distinguished him during the War of Independence. Alas! the same sword which overthrew Spanish domination, has destroyed the liberties of the Colombian people!”
In 1830, were published De Montrol’s Memoirs of Brissot, from which a quotation has been given in the early part of the work.* The author, in transmitting his work to Bentham, says:—
“Allow me to address to you the memento of one who is celebrated in our revolutionary history, by the virtues of a noble life, and the courage of a noble death. You will read, not without pleasure, his record of the friendship which bound you and him together: his eulogium will seem more flattering, dictated as it was by the most austere of our Republicans, in a moment when he never dreamt of disguise.” M. de Montrol says, the genuineness of the Memoires has been impugned; and calls on Bentham to authenticate the fact by his own knowledge. In answer to which, he writes: “I know not how any suspicion, as to the authenticity of the Memoires, can have arisen: I will mention one little corroborative circumstance. He refers to my habit of dining with my father in the house I now occupy, and at four o’clock: a circumstance so trivial, so unconnected with anything important, so little likely to be mentioned, could be known only to an intimate friend.
“Time has made sad ravages on my memory; and especially on those parts of it where foreign languages were stowed away: so, if you use this letter, you must do what Voltaire did with Frederick the Great’s poetry—or what Dumont did for me, by translating my Anglo-French into veritable French.”
The following is titled—“Note by Jeremy Bentham on one of the Letters of Brissot de Warville to him, anno 1784, or thereabouts”:—
“London, 20th July, 1830.
“In one of his letters to me, my friend says:—‘Votre sécheresse me désols.’ Of the contents of this letter of mine, I have no recollection. Sure I am, that there could have been nothing angry in it, or positively unfriendly; and, accordingly, by this same word sécheresse, nothing positive is indicated—nothing more than perhaps the absence of some of those expressions of affection which would naturally find their way into my addresses to him. Perhaps the cause of this complaint of his may have been this, namely: that on this occasion, my letter to him was nothing more than a mere letter of business: some little money transaction between us on the occasion of books and periodicals sent to me by him from Paris at my desire; from it will be seen the chief subject of this little correspondence, in which he will be seen drawing on me for a sum of £5 odd, which I accordingly paid. What I have always borne in memory, is, that the articles he sent me were not exactly those which I had desired him to send; but that what they wanted in quality, was in some measure made up in quantity, being such as he could come at on easiest terms. In those days I was very poor, but my friend was still more so. He was in want of the little sum of money in question to be paid in London, where I was. I paid the draft and accepted the articles whatever they were, which were sent in compensation for it. The sécheresse he alludes to, may, perhaps, have had for its cause, the disappointment thus experienced by me. That, upon the whole, there was no want of kind feeling on either part, is surely not unsatisfactorily shown by the manner in which he speaks of me in his Memoires. A friend here, on reading this word, sécheresse, put it to me, whether I would not keep back this letter: it would have been the simplest way, and would have saved me the time employed in this explanation; but the idea of suppression was not pleasing to me—that of misrepresentation and insincerity seemed associated with it.”
Bentham to the Duc de Broglie.
“August 13, 1830.
“The opinion with which I was not long ago favoured by you on the subject of Imprisonment for Debt, afforded me the heartfelt satisfaction of beholding in you a friend to justice. It is not, however, by that, or any other isolated and unconnected operation on the field of procedure, that the ends of justice can be accomplished, and the benefit of the services of the functionaries belonging to the judicial department imparted to all who stand in need of it.
“In this respect, Buonaparte’s Codes have made a prodigious advance beyond anything that ever went before them, and present to view a pattern of perfection in comparison of that system of abomination under which I have had the misfortune to live, and which so large a portion of my long life has been occupied in the endeavour to expose to that full and general abhorrence which must take place before any effectual reform can be accomplished.
“But the system, the greater part of which is exhibited by these Codes, will, if I do not grossly deceive myself, be seen to be yet at a sad distance from that degree of perfection which the nature of the case admits of. After all that has been done by it, it leaves the benefit of justice still out of the reach of the vast majority of the whole numbers of the people: for besides the fees which it attaches to all the several operations and written instruments which it necessitates, it supposes and necessitates, on both sides of the suit, the intervention of professional assistants or substitutes of the parties under the name of Avoués, behind whom link, without being once held up to view by any of the Codes, the further and still more expensive assistance of Avocats, on both sides of the suit. What is the consequence? That those who are utterly unable to purchase the assistance of these professional men, without breaking in upon their own means of subsistence, must go without justice—must submit to depredation and oppression at the hands of all those who are content to pay the price of this maleficent service: the expense on the plaintiff’s side, having the effect of denying remedy to wrong in every shape; and that on the defendant’s side, of lending the assistance of the several functionaries, official and professional, together with the use and service of judicatories, in the infliction of wrong in every shape, for want of the means of defending, on the occasion in question, his just rights.
“As to the Cour de Conciliation, in name it affords remedy without expense,—remedy accessible to all without distinction,—without that distinction which has place between those who are, and those who are not, in condition to defray the expense.
“But the supposed remedy is little better than an empty name; and against those against whose machinations the demand for justice is most urgent, it amounts absolutely to none,—I mean the whole class of mala fide suitors: suitors whose plan it is, by means of relative opulence on their side, coupled with relative indigence on the other side, to engage on their side the power and services of the judge; to their case this same supposed remedy is clearly inapplicable. By resort made to the Reconcilement Court, their plan would be defeated; and they are under no obligation to resort to it.* To the ordinary courts, and to these alone, they apply themselves; for there it is that the faculty of depredation, or that of oppression, whichever it is that is most to their taste, or both in one, is upon sale, ready to be exercised at the expense of whatsoever relatively indigent individual they have marked out for their victim.
“Unfortunately for mankind, the interest of professional lawyers on this ground is in a state of direct and inexorable opposition to the interests of the rest of mankind; and the same everywhere,—in the unchangeable nature of the case, the influence of that body can never cease to be very great.
“The interest of non-lawyers is, that in the business of procedure, expense and delay be at a minimum; the interest of professional lawyers is, that those evils be at a maximum: expense for the sake of the lawyer’s profit, of which, in so large a part, it is composed: delay for the sake of the occasion it produces for expense.
“Under the English Judicial Establishment, official lawyers are large partakers of that same sinister interest: under the French to a comparatively minute extent, if any.
“If reaping pecuniary profit in proportion as the ends of justice are contravened by them, and their professed duty thus violated, is not corruption, I know not what is: if not, it is, at any rate, something worse, being practised by wholesale, and in the instance of every individual suit whatsoever; whereas, in the mode styled bribery, it has never, by the most abandoned offender, been practised but in here and there a suit: and the money being received under the name of fees, the act of maleficence (for be it understood it is not an offence) is practised with the full assurance of impunity; and the profit, direct and (by means of patronage) indirect together, is so enormous, that you would find difficulty in giving credit to it.
“I am wandering, and must have done.
“In a word, the object of the liberty I am thus taking is this. Notwithstanding all that has been done (and it is no small matter) by Buonaparte and his draughtsmen—his codifiers, towards the remedying the cost, still in France the benefit of justice remains inaccessible to a very large portion of the community,—I believe far the largest; and to another vast portion is not attainable, without a grievous and most oppressive tax paid to the professional lawyers, the sum of whose enjoyments from that source bears but a very small ratio to the sum of the sufferings produced by the same cause in all other breasts.
“In this state of things, notwithstanding the comparative disinterestedness and generosity of the French character, any such expectation as that of finding, in the instance of the influential portion of the body of professional lawyers, any sincere coöperation with anything other than the most determinate opposition to any plan well adapted to the diminution of their own profit, would be altogether inconsistent with any the smallest insight into human nature.
“The object of this is, therefore, to endeavour to learn whether I may entertain a hope of a disposition on your part to contribute in your country, by your endeavours and your influence, towards the removal of so cruel an evil as that in question, and to honour me with your coöperation towards that end. Dr Bowring obliges me by being the bearer of this letter: he is my most intimate and confidential friend, and a man so well qualified for giving all the required and desirable explanations is not to be found.—I am, Sir, with the most sincere respect, yours,” &c.
The Duke replied, that he hoped, when the agitating events were passed, which then occupied every public man’s attention in France, he should be able, “à têteréposée, et avec maturité d’esprit,” to occupy himself with the important subject of Law Reform.
On the Revolution of the Three Days in France, it was Bentham’s intention to address a series of letters to the French people. Only one, however, was written, as follows:—
Bentham to the French People.
“Queen’s Square Place, Westminster,London,August, 1830.
‘Your predecessors made me a French citizen. Hear me speak like one.’ So said I, anno 1793. So say I now, anno 1830.
“I have written, and I have written. I have written, and I have torn.
“I had then been more than twenty years occupied in the study of what belongs to the happiness of nations;—thirty-nine more years have been added to those twenty. I was then somewhat known among you: I am at present, I hope I may say, somewhat better known. There are those who have said to me—‘Speak now again to these your fellow-citizens: what has these forty years been your right, is now become your duty.’ Hearing this, I took up the pen.
“Circumstances have been changing every day—circumstances continue changing every day—circumstances will change every day; but principles remain unchanged. It is from them I speak to you.
“A proclamation of La Fayette lies before me. It is that which was issued by him on accepting the command of the National Guards of Paris. Date of it, August . . . . In this behold my text—at any rate my main text. In it I read these words:—‘Parisian energy has reconquered our rights. . . . . Nothing is definitive but the sovereignty of those rights.’ Thus far the veteran hero whom it so delights me to call my friend. Now for an observation which to some may appear a trifling one.
“Rights are fictitious entities—the people real ones. Realities, on this occasion as on all others, realities I prefer to fictions—even the most innocent ones. Realities—I understand them better. But should my friend say to me—‘Our fellow-citizens will understand us better if we say rights’—even so let it be. Let us say what we will, our meaning is the same.
“Think you this is a question of mere words? Not it, indeed. I will tell you why I say people. In ‘the Sovereignty of the People,’ I behold a locution which, even in the sink of corruption from which I write—even in this seat of ill-disguised despotism, has, at public dinners, been for years a not unfrequent toast. It comes before ‘the King;’ and not for these many years, if ever, has any servant of the king dared prosecute for it.
“So much for the Commandant of the Parisian National Guards and his Proclamation.
“Now for the Lieutenant-general of the Kingdom, and his.
“ ‘Attached by inclination and conviction to the principles of a free government, I accept beforehand all the consequences of it.’ This delights me: this is good sense: this is good logic. ‘All rights must be solemnly guaranteed, all the institutions necessary to their full and free exercise, must receive the developments of which they have need.’ This, though in letter-press it stands antecedent to what is said as above of principles, is, in reason, one great consequence of it; but to ‘developments,’ I should have preferred modifications, or, to speak out, changes.
“Now for interpretation: from words I pass to symbols. ‘I hastened,’ (says in that same document this same functionary,) ‘I hastened,’ (so and so,) ‘wearing those colours, which, for the second time, have marked among us the triumph of liberty.’ Here there is one change, and that a speaking one. And what is it that it speaks a second time, if not that which it spoke the first time—the Sovereignty of the People?
“While writing what I have been tearing, I had before me another text—‘the Charter is a truth.’—Charter?—I do not like—I never liked the sound. Charters and the Sovereignty of the People cannot have existence, in the same place, at the same time. Admitted into the Chamber of Legislation, I behold the Sovereignty of the People throwing the Charter out of the window.
“Oh, would but some prosperous breeze blow it over to London! I should pick it up with transport—stick it on my hat, and cry—Charter for ever! Yes: this refuse of France would, for England, be a feast. Behold here (I would say) Magna Charta the second! Magna Charta the first has been long worn to nothing—trodden under foot by our Holy Brotherhood—the Lawyers. Before this clear and ably-fashioned reality, that miserable fiction—matchless Constitution—that maleficent phantom, which every corruptionist makes for himself—makes for his own purposes—makes, on each occasion, out of his own leaven—would flee away screeching, and drown itself in our Thames.
“ ‘Let no evil ever be lessened. Let every existing evil (as does all evil, unless nipt by remedy) receive continual increase.’ This is what is meant by—for incontestably this is included in—that which is said by those who say, ‘Let us have no change.’ ‘Let all evil be perpetual,’—this would be too much to say; this is what in those same words they dare not say. They therefore change the words: which done, they say, ‘Let us have no change;’ and out of these words they make an established principle.
“There you have the principle: now, think of the consequences. What, if this had been the principle when William the Second of England kept laying waste the country, to convert it into hunting-grounds? What, if when Louis the Fourteenth of France laid waste the Palatinate to make a frontier of it? What, if having by Louis the Eighteenth been put into a charter, and by a successor of his that same charter declared to be a truth, that declaration were to become law: and that law an immutable one? the ceremony of an oath having, moreover, as by Art. 74. of the same charter, been called in, and supernatural terrors added to all natural ones, for the pious purpose, and in the pious hope, of preserving for ever all evil from diminution,—wrong, in all shapes, from all remedy? ‘Le Roi et ses successeurs jureront, dans la solemnité de leur sacre, d’observer fidèlement la présente charte constitutionelle.’
“Behold here, my fellow-citizens, one of the rocks, which in many places and many times,—perhaps in all places, and at all times, when occasion presented itself,—men, old in power, and men new in power, have joined in splitting upon.
“Let things as they are continue unchanged for ever, has, in all places, and all times, been the cry of all those who, reaping good for themselves from the evil done by those same things to other men,—good, in justification of which no direct and undeceptious argument was to be found,—sought refuge for it in this fallacy.
“Nor was this fallacy without an outward show of truth. ‘All change produces preponderant evil,’—this would be too manifestly false,—to all eyes, too clearly so,—to be advanced by anybody. But, ‘All change produces evil,’—this, it cannot but be confessed, is little less than true. But, ‘All change produces preponderant evil,’—nothing less than this would serve to preserve from the reproach of maleficence, universal and perpetual maleficence,—the no-change principle.
“So much for power when old. Now for power when new.
“This constitution is perpetual and unchangeable. Such, in these terms, or what is equivalent to them, (for there is not time to look for them,) was the declaration of our first National Assembly. Add to this, so of every other.
“Altogether natural is this: for, to every man in power, natural is a mixture of intellectual and moral weakness,—of folly and maleficence. For, mark well, my fellow-citizens, the propositions that are involved in it.
“1. No change that can possibly have place in the state of things, or in the state, conduct, and disposition of men, can be such as to render it contributory to the greatest happiness of the community, to make any change in the changes which we have been making for that purpose.
“2. We, who compose the majority of the body to which we belong,—we are to such a degree wise, that there exists not any the smallest probability, that, at any future point of time, those who have then succeeded to us will be equally so.
“3. We are, moreover, to such a degree good that there exists not any the smallest probability that, at any future point of time, those who have then succeeded to us will to wisdom equal to ours, have added goodness equal to ours.
“So much for 1791, or thereabouts. Now for 1822, or thereabouts. Then came the Spaniards, with their constitution. More modest they than we were. In their view years, during which the state of things and persons would be so sure to continue without change,—not more than four: years, during which matchless goodness would be so sure to continue in union with matchless wisdom, not more than the same number: all this while, provided the body were but called the same, no matter how different the individuals.
“Farewell, for the present at least, my beloved, my now so much more than ever admired, fellow-citizens. I have done what I have felt to be in my power, towards laying the foundation, a necessary foundation for all future good, for remedy to all existing evil. I have blown up (I hope you will think I have) the dead-weight I saw the ground encumbered with,—the no-change principle.”
Rammohun Roy brought to England the following Letter of Introduction to Bentham from a highly valued correspondent:—
“Calcutta, 14th November, 1830.
“My dear and venerable Friend,—
This letter will be presented to you, or transmitted, waiting your leisure, by no less a person than the distinguished Rammohun Roy.
“You have heard of him often from me, and from others, and know that he is one of the most extraordinary productions of the ‘march of intellect.’ A Brahmin of the highest order, and therefore an aristocrat by birth; one of the privileged class, and a man of easy fortune by inheritance; deeply learned in Sanscrit, Arabic, and everything oriental; he has, nevertheless, unassisted, and of himself, been able to shake off prejudice of almost every kind, and to give his natural understanding fair play.
“If I were beside you, and could explain matters fully, you would comprehend the greatness of this undertaking. His going on board ship to a foreign and distant land—a thing hitherto not to be named among Hindoos, and least of all among Brahmins. His grand object, besides the natural one of satisfying his own laudable spirit of inquiry, has been to set a great example to his benighted countrymen; and every one of the slow and gradual moves that he has made, preparatory to his actually quitting India, has been marked by the same discretion of judgment. He waited patiently, until he had, by perseverance and exertion, acquired a little but respectable party of disciples. He talked of going to England from year to year since 1823, to familiarize the minds of the orthodox by degrees to this step, and that his friends might, in the meantime, increase in numbers and in confidence; as it was of the utmost importance to the preservation of his rank and influence with the Hindoo community, who care less about dogmatics than observances, that he should continue one of ‘the Pure,’ and should not be suspected of quitting Hindooism for any consideration of a personal nature. He has externally maintained so much and no more of conformity to Hindoo custom, as his profound knowledge of their sacred books enabled him to justify—relaxing, however, by little and little, yet, however, never enough to justify his being put ‘out of the pale.’ I need not say that in private it is otherwise, and that prejudices of all sorts are duly contemned by our philosopher. But so important does he judge it to the efficacy of his example, and the ultimate success of his honourable mission of experiment, that he should maintain the essentials of his Brahminical sanctity—that even in the flagrant and outrageous act of making this voyage and sojourn, he is contriving to preserve appearances to a certain point, which he considers sufficient to save his Caste, so that on returning, he may resume his influential position against the abuse and calumnious reports which the whole tribe of bigots will not fail to raise against him while in England, and when he comes back. He now judges that the time is come, and that the public mind is pretty well ripe for his exploit; and he embarks in two or three days in the Albion, for Liverpool; where he has friends and correspondents in Cropper Benson, and others of liberal feeling.
“The good which this excellent and extraordinary man has already effected by his writings and example, cannot be told. But for his exertions and writings, Suttee would be in full vigour at the present day, and the influence of the priesthood in all its ancient force; he has given the latter a shake, from which, aided by the education and spirit of bold inquiry gone forth among the rising nations of Hindoos, it never can recover. I need hardly tell you that the liberalism of such a mind is not confined to points of theology or ritual. In all matters involving the progress and happiness of mankind, his opinions are most independent; and he is, withal, one of the most modest men I ever met with, though near fifty years of age; and though he is the most learned and enlightened of his countrymen and nation, and indeed has held that position for the last fifteen or twenty years, and has received praises enough to have turned the head of any other man alive.
“It is no small compliment to such a man that even a Governor-general, like the present, who, though a man of the most honest intentions, suspects every one, and trusts nobody, and who knows that R. M. R. greatly disapproves of many acts of government, should have shown him so much respect as to furnish him with introductions to friends of rank, and political and Indian influence. Either they will find him intractable, and throw him off, or they will succeed in what no one hitherto has succeeded—in beguiling or bending the stranger.
“A stranger, however, he is, and of such sort as has not before appeared among you; and he will stand in need, doubtless, of all the kindness and attention that friends here can procure for him. You have weightier and other matters to occupy you; nor are your habits such as to enable you to be of service to R. M. R. in the ordinary way. Yet I felt assured you would like to see and converse with my Indian friend; and, indeed, I recollect you expressed such a wish. For the rest, you will probably make him over with his credential to our friend, Bowring, and the reprobates,* and Stanhope.
“I most truly rejoice to hear and to see printed proofs that you continue to enjoy your accustomed health, strength, and spirits. No one among all whom you know wishes more truly and earnestly than I, that you may continue to enjoy those blessings for the sake of us all.—Your affectionate and attached friend.”
Bentham to La Fayette.
“London, 2d Nov., 1830.
“My ever dear and honoured Friend,—
I have done my best towards executing your commands about second chambers.†
“Through a private channel, I embrace the opportunity of sending to you two copies of a tabular view of the composition of our House of Commons,‡ from the Spectator. This dissection might (I thought) in one way or other, be matter of curiosity, and eventually even of use, not only to yourself, but even to our ‘King of kings,’ considering how well he is acquainted with our Carte du Pays. In addition to what the table exhibits on the subject of patronage, let me tell you, that whole classes of commercial men have for supporters their representatives, namely, those of the West Indies, and those of the East Indies: and in former days the Nabob of Arcot alone had to himself a number of them—I do not remember the exact number, three or four at least—all located at his expense, and paid or not paid besides. In those days the price was not more than £3000 or £4000, namely, for sitting as long as the Parliament lasts. In the only two instances that have come to my certain knowledge, it has been just now as high as £6000; a more common price is (I believe) £5000. Some have hired a seat by the year, and paid £1000 a-year, which, when it can be managed, seems to be the most prudent course.”
I insert an interesting conversation between O’Connell and C. Sinclair Cullen. It took place on the 7th November, 1830—it was communicated to Bentham on the 8th, and on the 9th Cullen died—died suddenly, while in the apparent possession of health. Bentham considered him one of his dearest friends:—
Headed in Bentham’s writing.
“O’Connell’s Conversion to the Anti-Second-Chamber-Faith, 7th November, 1830.
“Copy of a Statement written at Q. S. P., by Cullen.
O’Connell to Cullen—spontaneously, in the course of a conversation on other matters, November 7, 1830—“I have read Bentham’s letter to La Fayette. It has made a convert of me to one Chamber. I was prejudiced in favour of two Chambers. When I took up the pamphlet, I said—‘No—he is wrong here: Bentham will be unable to persuade me of this.’ But he has convinced me. I did not yield to his reasons in the first few pages—but as I advanced, I found the chain of reasoning not to be broken; and, taken altogether, I think it conclusive.
Cullen.—“I never could see a reason for two Chambers—but I could not have proved it, as Bentham has. I am glad he has emancipated you. It will simplify your scheme for Ireland. Indeed, it is a great thing for the world to undeceive them on this subject. The delusion about a Second Chamber has involved all the constitution-makers and liberty-founders in delays, perplexities, contradictions, and mystifications, that have proved injurious or ruinous to freedom. It is a grand thing to have made the road to a sensible constitution easy and plain, by clearing away the rubbish and superstition of a Second Chamber, as Bentham has now done, for ever.”
Bentham to Brougham.
“Q. S. P., 19th Nov., 1830.
“My dear Brougham,—
It is with no small gratification that I heard Doane’s account of the kind mention you made of me in the short conversation he had with you this day: finding thereby that the state of your affections towards me harmonizes so exactly with that of mine towards you. Whatsoever may be in the Westminster Review notwithstanding, be assured that no sentiment of personal hostility has ever had place in anything I have said of you there or elsewhere.
“It is accordingly truly delightful to me to see such good reason for believing that no considerable, if any, uneasiness has been produced in your mind by what has been called my ‘truculence:’ for assuredly, if you were sitting opposite me, (as I hope you will shortly be ere long,) it would not be possible for me to witness any symptoms of uneasiness on your brow, without imbibing, through the channel of sympathy, more or less of it. Not that in substance my course would be altered by any such irrelevant observation: for, if you were my brother in the flesh, instead of being my soi-disant grandson in the spirit, (Oh, naughty boy!) never could I sacrifice to my regard for any individual that affection for my country and mankind, to which my whole soul has been devoted, for I forget how much more than threescore years. As I am dealing with you, so dealt I by my friend Romilly: for, on the occasion of the Westminster election, he being, in my phrase, no better than a Whig, I wrote against him in favour of—I forget who, (Douglas Kinnaird, I believe,)—of whom I knew nothing, but that he stood upon Radical ground. What the Review has said of you, either this time or the former time, I know not; nor do I think I ever shall. Sure enough did I send in the meat for that meal; for it was what nobody else could have done; but, as to the dressing, I neither know how it was done, nor who were the cooks.
“I have understood that it was you that let slip the dogs of war at me in the Edinburgh, and perhaps elsewhere. The more there are of them, the more tickled I shall be; and in so all-comprehensive an assurance you would find a good and valid license, should you ever suppose yourself to have need of any such thing.
“I have my views, you have yours; but, in all other respects, I am—yours most truly, &c.
“P.S.—Since writing the above, I have heard (for I cannot read) the Morning Chronicle, in which I see my suspicion, that your Nolo Officiari was Nolo Episcopari carnalised, confirmed, though not put absolutely out of doubt: I say since, and, I assure you, upon my honour, so it is. What to say to it, I know not. If I could assure myself, that by this change delay, vexation, expense, and denial of justice will not be increased, nor the abolition of those scourges rendered less probable or less speedy, it would be matter of sincere delight to me to see a mind such as yours turned aside from fee-gathering by the indiscriminate defence of right and wrong, by the indiscriminate utterance of truth and falsehood, and concentrated to the service of mankind.
Brougham to Bentham.
“Hill Square, Sunday Morning,Nov. 21.
“My dear Sir,—
Many thanks for your kind letter; but how could you listen to such a tale of tales as that I, of all your friends, ever could have let slip the dogs in E. R. at you?
“The truth is, I had a correspondence of weeks, and all but a rupture, with Jeffrey on the subject. He had got committed on the point before I could remonstrate, not having a conception of what was doing till I saw it on my table in print, and published.
“I succeeded afterwards in stopping the useless, and worse than useless controversy between varying or differing allies; for so it was,—not enemies.
“I want to see you one of these days; and when you summon me to dinner, I will attend; but don’t make it next Wednesday, for I go that day to our society’s monthly meeting.—
“Jan. 9, 1831.
“At Bath I shall have leisure fully to avail myself of your suggestions before any bills are in committee. I am happy to find that we differ but little (if we differ at all) as to the examination of the parties. I propose that tho examination should take place immediately after an action is brought, and before any expense is incurred. I also approximate to your views, as I propose giving the judges authority to require security from plaintiffs, if it appear, from the examination of the parties, that a suit is hopeless, or vexatious. The establishment of a code of laws is a matter of great importance. I shall, with a mind perfectly unprejudiced, consider all that you have written on that subject.—
I am, Sir, with the greatest respect, faithfully yours.”
Bentham to O’Connell.
“31st Jan. 1831.
“Once more. The proceeding by way of attachment in the case of the two Dublin printers brings to my mind a state of things which had place about sixty-five years ago, and does not seem to have attracted attention on the present occasion: it may, peradventure, by the mention of it, be rendered, under your management, serviceable to the cause of the people. Lord Mansfield, in those days Chief Justice of the King’s Bench in England, was notorious for his absolutism. A project of his was, in cases which, by the constituted authorities, were regarded, or professed to be regarded, as abuses of the liberty of the press, to substitute to the trial by jury, trial by the Court of King’s Bench alone, viz. by motion for attachment, followed by a quantity of affidavit work by writ of attachment accordingly; whereupon the defendant, having been taken up and committed to prison, had tendered to him, in the same prison, a paper of interrogatories, to which, whether by written instrument, or vivâ voce, I forget which, he was commanded to give answer. In this way a printer of the name of Bingley was dealt with: and while in prison, one of these interrogatory papers was tendered to him, and he was commanded to give answers, which answers he refused to give; and for this contempt, as it was called, he continued in prison for I forget how many years; nor do I recollect in what way his imprisonment terminated, whether by death or by disincarceration. On account of this proceeding, and others of a similar tendency, my Lord Mansfield became the object of a very extensive and well-merited odium, insomuch that he became an object of attack to a man in so singular a situation for a libel-writer, as that of a Master in Chancery: the title of the libel was, ‘A Letter concerning Libels, Warrants, Seizure of Papers, and Security for the Peace,’ &c., 6th edition, 1766; followed by another, entitled, ‘A Second Letter on Libels, 1770.’* The form in which expression was given to the imputations was, I remember, the hypothetical;—if any Lord Chief Justice should do so and so, and so on with a train of ifs, and, I believe, a pretty long one. In Clark’s Law Catalogue, the sixth is an edition, and the only edition, of this pamphlet mentioned. From this you may imagine the run it had, and the sensation it made. The other enormities alluded to were acts of the secretaries of George the Third, whose abominable misgovernment, and endeavours to introduce absolutism, have been sufficiently brought to view. This case of Bingley I should expect to find in Burrowes’ Reports; but neither time nor eyes admit my making search for it. Between the application of the power of the judges without the jury, to the purpose of inflicting punishment for alleged offences committed by abuse of the liberty of the press, and its application to the purpose of punishing offences committed by physical resistance to, or non-compliance with, the mandates of these same judges, there is a very broad and clearly visible line of distinction. If punishment for such resistance or non-compliance were made to depend on the will of a jury, or of any other authority, other than that of the judges themselves, theirs would be a state of impotence, and the whole fabric of the judicial establishment would fall to pieces; whereas, in the case where the offence consists in alleged abuse of the liberty of the press, not any the least danger is there that any such consequence should follow; whatsoever be the attacks made upon them in this way, neither motives nor means can be wanting for engaging defenders, in any number that can be desired; whereupon a suit is thus carried on in the court of public opinion,—a court of dernier resort, which never acts under that corrupted and corruptive influence, under which the highest of the soi-disant courts of justice always act. The pamphlet is anonymous, nor is there in print, that I know of, this man’s name as its author; but I had a slight acquaintance with the man, having been in his company, and to him it was ascribed by everybody. I cannot suppose that you will be under any great difficulty in finding out the ‘materiel et personnel’ of this war, in your libraries, public or private. My notion is, or say what I should expect to find is, that owing to the odium excited on that occasion, by this mode of proceeding, in the case of alleged abuses of the liberty of the press, it fell into disuse, and has never since been revived.
“I remember being present, in the capacity of a student, at the time of the discussions in that case of Bingley. Here are facts, meaning indications, of supposed facts: to you it belongs to find logic and rhetoric grounded on these facts.
“Written what is above, from dictation, made between sleeping and waking, by one who was once your correspondent, and even host, and will ever be your admirer and sincere well-wisher, though not always and without exception your approver.”
O’Connell to Bentham.
“22d February, 1831.
“I should have answered your letter sooner, and should have endeavoured, when I was last in town, to have seen you; but for a reason which does not belong to the characteristics of my countrymen—I mean a sense of shame. I am ashamed of my inutility. I had formed a confident hope, that my career in Parliament would be one of considerable usefulness. I had flattered myself that, in the British Senate, I could and should be able to advance the sacred cause of rational and cheap government, and assist to cleanse the Augean stable of the law. My first mistake consisted in entertaining a high opinion of the moral worth and intellectual power of the House of Commons; and I shaped my course mildly and gently, in order to propitiate the opinions of men whom I respected. You have a right to despise rather than pity me for this gross mistake. The consequences are, a shipwreck of my Parliamentary fame, and the great difficulty I now have to assert a power, which, perhaps, would have been conceded to me, had I exerted myself strongly in the first instance. Under these circumstances, I am ashamed to call myself your disciple. I deem myself not worthy of your patronage or friendship; and I console myself only by working for useful objects in a lower grade, and endeavouring to make up by perseverance and moral energy, for the loss of the more brilliant prospect of usefulness which, I think, lay before me.
“But in every situation, and under all circumstances, your principles and your powers of mind are to me objects of cultivation and great respect. My respect, my veneration for you is unchanged and undiminished; and if you can point out anything in which you think so humble a labourer as I am can be useful, pray, pray command me. Rely on it, that the principles of legislation which you have advocated, are deeply impressed on my conviction; and if I can contribute to substitute real justice to the workings of Judge-made law, it will afford me pride and consolation.
“I write with a proud but wounded spirit—that is, my proud spirit is wounded and humiliated at the failure I have experienced, in my palmy hopes, of doing great and extensive good to mankind; and I feel under the necessity of limiting my exertions to the amelioration of the institutions of one of the finest, but most oppressed portions of the human race.
“In conclusion, I beg of you to accept my most grateful thanks for your letter—for your continued kindness—for your patronage—for your preëminent usefulness. I also beg of you to believe that your principles, founded as they are on plain sense and irreversible reasoning, form the cherished political creed of, my dear Sir, your sincere admirer and devoted servant.”
Bentham to O’Connell.
“26th February, 1831.
“My dear O’Connell,—
You have cried peccavi, come up this day se’ennight and receive absolution from,” &c.
I do not know to whom this letter, on the Repeal of the Union, was addressed:—
Pacificus against the Conquest of Ireland.
The debates on the occasion of O’Gorman Mahon’s motion have just reached me. In the representation given of them in the Morning Chronicle, I behold a portrait of Honourable House. The portrait of Britannia will not, I hope, be a pendant to it. Honourable House has one object of regard. Britannia, I hope,—one of her children, I am sure, has another, and that a very different one. Honourable House has one end in view, an end at which it aims. Britannia I hope—one of her children, I am sure, another, and that a very different one. Honourable House has one principle by which its sentiments, and, when the time comes, its means, and proceedings, and will—in a word, its actions, if conformable to those its sentiments, are directed. Britannia, I hope—one of her children, I am sure, others, and those very different ones. The principle of Honourable House is the absolute government principle; the principle by which Britannia will, I hope, in her deeds—one of her children, I am sure, in his words—be guided, yes, and governed, is the greatest-happiness principle.
“On the part of Honourable House, (unless sadly misrepresented,) an almost unanimous determination stands expressed—I say expressed, for inward feeling is one thing, expression another; (and everywhere, and in Honourable House in particular, but too often a very different one,)—yes, a determination to coerce, and risk a civil war, rather than to consent to the Repeal of the Union.
“Now, then, by what motive is this determination, supposing it to have place, produced? Is it by any regard to the happiness of the millions—of the millions on both sides, or on either side of the water? No such thing, Sir, this is not so much as professed; and though any such profession need not so much as ten or a dozen words, those ten or a dozen words are not thought worth the expenditure of, for the purpose of fixing a mark to intention and endeavours. Well, then, on the event in question, Sir, the M. P.s,—the M. P.s, to the amount of a few hundreds, are determined to go forth, to gird on their armour, and with fire and sword to lay Ireland waste, subdue the insolent Irish, and, by God’s help, which it will cost them no more than one day’s fasting to secure, to establish an aristocratical tyranny of the inhabitants of the one island over those of the other: laying it waste, in the meantime, with fire and sword for that godly purpose. Will they? so let them, then, with Mr Speaker for commander-in-chief, having first effected a junction with the force of the Right Honourable House, under the command either of the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or the late commander-in-chief his Grace of Wellington, or Earl Grey, in his quality of First Lord of the Treasury, or in that of champion of his order, as it shall please the Right Honourable House to determine. Yes, Sir, I say once more, forth let them go. By steam they will go; and when from the steam-boat they have disembarked on the banks of the Liffey, let the Liberator and his fellows lay hold of them, toss them in a blanket, and then toss them back again into the steamboat, with fuel to fire them back again, or into the Liffey—no great matter which.
“To the transportation of this force, I say, Sir, I have not any the smallest objection, bearing in mind the proverb which begins with ‘Good riddance;’ but lest I should be called to order, what it continues and ends with, shall remain in innuendo. O yes: this force, so much of it as you will; the whole of it, if such be your pleasure. But as to any addition to it, 10,000 men, for example (not that such a number would be sufficient)—100,000 men? No: nor 10 men: no, nor a single man: no, nor half a man, nor so much as a ninth part of a man.
“For the achievement of this conquest, if to that band of heroes any addition be made, money and men will be necessary. Well, then, in the first place—the money, where is it to be found? From the people, so many millions sterling as will be required? No, not a penny, (I hear a voice crying,) no, not a penny of it. Not a penny will be had but from taxes. ‘Refuse the Taxes,’ is a cry that has been already heard, and on such an occasion, if on any, will be repeated.
“This will not serve the purpose, any further, than as they use the bayonet, or fire on those they are sent to kill; and suppose the 100,000, or any part of them should, when the word of command is given—the word ‘fire’—may not the firing either be in the air, or, if it must be in a line parallel to the earth, may it not be in the direction in which it will meet the very leaders who have been above-mentioned?
“Here, then, agreed; agreed inwardly and outwardly, in profession, as well as object and endeavours, are the Tories and the Whigs. But the Radicals?—have they reckoned on the Radicals?—they did not say they had: they did not think it worth their while to say as much. But if, notwithstanding, they did inwardly so reckon, they reckoned, (I trust,) as says another proverb, without their hosts. Tories and Whigs in concert will make enactments—will issue orders. But the Radicals—what is it they will do? They will, I hope, present petitions; petitions, and the sooner the better: that thus, in limine, the plague of tyranny may be stayed, and the honest blood of both countries saved from flowing.
“ ‘The bad example of Paris and Brussels,’ forsooth! when the baroneted offspring of Spinning Jenny speaks thus, he speaks in character—he speaks as might have been expected. But Lord Althorp! I am sorry to see him join in any such sentiments—much more to see him take the lead in them. But a few petitions from his brother balloters will bring back to his strangely-forgotten duty, this advocate of the ballot. Let them learn in time. Let them make haste to petition; and, with one accord, choosing for their presenter the first-born of Earl Spencer—put into his hand their petitions, that, by the presentation of them, the result of passion and humour, the fault of the moment, may thus be expiated.
“This, then, let the people petition for: and when they are about it, let them go a step further, and petition for the dismissal of the Ministry, by whom this declaration of war has been made: for their dismissal, not merely for this their bloody purpose, but for the so extreme discordance of their actions with their professions: for their sham Reform under the guise of half Reform: for their sham Parliamentary Reform: for their sham Finance Reform: sham Law Reform, with the learned paragon of insincerity, the Vaux—etiam Vox et preterea nihil—at the head of it.
“So sayeth, and so prayeth, though without fasting,
In 1831, Bentham took an active part in the formation of the Parliamentary Candidate Society. Its object was to direct public attention to the men who were most likely to forward the popular interests in the House of Commons. Among the parties whom Bentham was desirous of recommending, were Rammohun Roy, as a representative of British India, a half caste, and a negro, in order to subdue the prejudices of colour, and to hold out encouragement and hope to the rest of these races. Bentham wrote, on this occasion, credentials for some of his acquaintance, many of whom, so recommended, found their way into Parliament on the passing of the Reform Bill.
He was at this time much occupied with a project for establishing a new daily paper, to be called the Universalist. He wrote the Prospectus, and induced some of his opulent acquaintances to become shareholders; but the amount subscribed for did not equal that which was deemed necessary to ensure success, and which, I think, was £30,000.
On relating to Bentham some of the statements made in the North American periodicals, and which were likely to lower him in the good opinion of others, he gave me this memorandum:—
“Jeremy Bentham. False reports that have been spread in the United States, in various periodicals, to his prejudice.
“ ‘1. That by singularities by which he is rendered an object of ridicule and a source of annoyance to others, he is held in contempt by all who know him or see him.’
“This had its origin in a letter which appeared several years ago in The Times newspaper. It was written, or at any rate the matter of it furnished, by a man of the name of Parry, whom, in May, 1830, Dr Bowring saw in the madhouse in St George’s Fields.
“The story was, that being invited by Mr Bentham to breakfast and dine with him, he had no breakfast, and no dinner till ten at night; and that in a public street, on his way to a workshop in London, where Parry was to show him some engineering invention, such was the ridiculousness of his appearance, that he was insulted by a notorious prostitute. The fact was, that Parry breakfasted at Mr Bentham’s; and, after his return to Mr Bentham’s, dined at his usual hour, seven p.m., and left before ten, the hour he mentioned. As to the insult and the prostitute, it had no foundation whatever. Mr D—, a gentleman now at the bar, and who then was, and still is, an inmate of Mr Bentham’s, was of the party.
“Parry, in the character of a workman, under Congreve, inventor of the rockets which go by his name, had acquired some knowledge of engineering. He was a shameless liar. One of his lies was the having refused £200,000 offered him at Washington by President Quincy Adams for one of his inventions. He was sent to Greece to serve under Lord Byron; and by him was he much encouraged in quality of buffoon. He was conspicuous there for cowardice and for lying. The story in The Times imposed, as it naturally might, upon Mr—of New York, and found its way into the North American Review.
“ ‘2. That he is remarkably afraid of death,—so much so, that it is an object of special care to all his friends to avoid all allusion to the subject, in his presence, as much as possible.’
“He is as remarkable for the contrary as for anything else. This story has no foundation whatever. It must have originated in some strange misconception.
“ ‘3. That he is afraid of ghosts.’ This originated in a periodical publication published in one of the United States, by the editor, a man whose declared sentiments and affections towards Mr B. are friendly, and were friendly even to enthusiasm. It is the more likely to gain credit, the author of it having spoken of himself, and with truth, as having been for some time an inmate with Mr B. But for correctness in speaking of Mr B., or any other person, other qualifications are requisite besides friendly disposition and convivial intimacy.
“But this was not wholly without foundation, Mr B. having frequent occasion to speak of what he had suffered, nor even to this day has altogether ceased to suffer, from the stories about ghosts and other imaginary and horrific beings, told by servants to children. But the purpose for which he was led to speak of them was, that it afforded an illustration of the difference between the judgment and the imagination.”
Bentham to W. Tait.
“5th March, 1831.
“Yesterday, (the 4th inst.,) Dr Bowring put into my hands a letter under your signature, in which letter I read the following passage:—‘If Bentham approves of such unions, I shall be gratified by a few lines from him to communicate to the Union. Has he written anything recommending unions of the people? His writings are far too little known.’
“It is with great pleasure that I make communication of my compliance with the wish thus expressed: it produces in me, as you see, the effect of a law.
“In principle I am, and, as long as I can recollect, have at all times been, a decided advocate of the most unrestrained peaceable intercourse between man and man for political purposes; consequently for that union, of which I have heard such warm approbation, from friends in whose wisdom and benevolence I am in the habit of placing the firmest reliance.
“But as to details, I have not received any information. You would therefore oblige me much by furnishing me with any such information as is in print; and, in the meantime, letting me know by post at what time, and by what conveyance, I may expect to receive it; and through what channel I may convey to you any such literary matter, as is too bulky to be transmitted by that conveyance.
“This same principle—namely, of unrestrained political intercourse, so it be peaceable—including even union, will be found pervading, and upon occasion showing itself in freedom, in every plan I ever published; but in a more particular manner in my work entitled Bentham’s Radical Reform Bill, in which are contained my reasons for wishing to see given to the suffrage of the electors of the members of the British and Irish House of Commons, the attributes of ‘Secrecy, Universality, Equality, and Annuality;’ of the first of which, namely, Secrecy, the process called the Ballot, is the appropriate instrument.
“Towards this state of perfection, the nearer that any actually proposed plan appears to me to approach, the nearer it accordingly approaches to the consummation of my wishes.
“As to the plan at present upon the carpet, so considerable is the approval it appears to me to merit, that it is not without high delight that I contemplate it.
“Always understood that it will be followed by the Ballot, which I look upon as a consequence sufficiently assured, to keep alive the most sanguine hope; but not in such sort assured as to warrant any relaxation of the endeavours which are employed for the attainment of it. For without the secrecy in question, I look upon all these other securities as little worth.
“As to my works, enclosed is the latest list of them that has been printed.
“Flattering myself with the having fulfilled your wishes, as expressed in your letter. I am, Sir, with sincere respect, yours,” &c.
When the Whig Government was projecting a prosecution of Cobbett, Bentham wrote the following letter to an influential member of that Government:—
“22d June, 1831.
“Your kindness will excuse this intrusion. The motives will speak for themselves; and if it does no good, it will do no harm.
“For something or other that has been lately published by Cobbett, Government, (I understand,) after having commenced a prosecution against him, and let it sleep for some time, perseveres in bringing it to a conclusion. Several men of whose public affections I am sure, and of whose judgment I think well, agree with me in the apprehension, lest by such a proceeding the administration should be lowered in the estimation of the people. In my opinion, this would be a probable result of any prosecution for anything that goes under the name of a political libel: for, of bad advice in print, if it be in general terms, the bad effect may be more effectually counteracted by good counter advice, backed by reasons also in print; and bad advice, recommending the inflicting injury, in such and such a shape, on an individual, would, in case of the commission of the injury, render the adviser an accomplice, and as such punishable.
“As to Cobbett, a more odious compound of selfishness, malignity, insincerity, and mendacity, never presented itself to my memory or my imagination: and I know not that man for whose sufferings I should have less sympathy than for this man’s; nor do I know any man in whose estimation the intellectual part of his fame holds so low a place as in mine. Moreover, a friend writes to me—‘Cobbett has been abusing you very lately.’ Be it so: his abuse of me is no more a matter of interest to me, than would be a dog’s barking at me. Never, I believe, did he make mention of me for any other purpose, than that of lowering me in the estimation of the public. For a great many years past, never to my recollection have I read ten lines together of anything he has written, or heard, except by accident, a few lines more.
“Were I, for example, to succeed in this my application, in such sort, that for this cause alone the prosecution were dropped, I would not wish that he should know as much: he would (I should expect) labour but so much more to injure me. Such is my opinion of his gratitude.
“A small part of all this might probably have sufficed, as well as the whole, to convince you, that this address has for its cause regard for the public, and not for the individual: and with this confession, I conclude myself, yours most sincerely.”
Bentham was used to keep a memorandum book, in which, under the name of Dicenda, he entered all the anticipated topics of conversation with his visiters. One specimen will suffice:—
“1831—June 21—Dicenda to Bowring.
In July 1831, an action for libel in the Manchester Times, was tried, in which Mr Archibald Prentice was defendant. He consulted Bentham as to the course he should take; who recommended him to require that the words of the indictment should be proved. In consequence of his advice, Mr Prentice took the high ground of insisting that evidence should be given to show the falsehood of the libel, as its falsehood was made the groundwork of the accusation. In spite of the charge of the Judge, he carried his point. Ten of the jurors were brought to concur in his views; and the Jury (not being able to agree) were called into Court and discharged. Previous to the trial, Bentham wrote a letter to Mr Prentice, in which, after commenting on the indictment, he says:—
Bentham to Archibald Prentice.
“Besides giving acquittal to an innocent and calumniated man, though it is not in their power to save you altogether from punishment under the name of costs, it is in the power of the jury, on this occasion, to give a great lesson to all Englishmen, and, through Englishmen, to all mankind. Yes, it is in their power to drive the first pile for the erection of the fabric—the august fabric—of Law Reform. After finding you Not Guilty, let them make it known by the mouth of their foreman, that though it is on the account of the merits that they thus acquit you, yet, had they ever thought you guilty of an offence, and that a serious one, they could not have found you guilty of the facts charged in and by a written instrument of accusation thus crammed with known and notorious untruths; and that wheresoever an instrument of accusation, thus filled with these and other lies, is stated as the ground of accusation, no verdict will any one of them ever concur in, but that which has the words Not Guilty for the expression of it.
“Let them make this declaration, or anything to this effect, and they will give a lesson to the ‘good men and true,’ as jurymen are styled, of the whole community, and the lesson will spread like wildfire. The lawyers, seeing by lies like these and other kinds, that their purposes, instead of being fulfilled as they have been hitherto, will be frustrated, will, with whatsoever reluctance, cease to utter them, and confine their steps to the paths of simple truth, or, at any rate, what has the appearance of it.”
On receiving the announcement of the result of the trial, Bentham wrote to Mr Prentice:—
“Queen’s Square Place,Westminster,July 21st, 1831.
Yes: I do felicitate you, I felicitate the honest and intelligent jurymen, I felicitate the country in general, I felicitate myself, on this your virtual acquittal. I say the country in general: for, further, much further than to the deliverance of one innocent man from the persecution under which he was suffering, do I look for the benefit capable of resulting from this event. It not only always has been, but will now be very extensively seen to be, in the power—not merely of any jury, but of any one man in any jury, to effect no inconsiderable progress in the career of Law Reform. For producing an effect so eminently desirable, a very few juries, and thence a very few individuals, one in each jury, will suffice. Choosing for the experiment those cases in which the acquittal, though of a person by whom the offence has really been committed, will be productive of least evil to the public, (and many are the cases in which it would not be productive of any evil at all,) making this choice, and declaring that the acquittal had no other cause than their determination not to join with the judges and their partners in iniquity, in the contamination of the public morals, by the utterance of such a tissue of solemn and pernicious falsehoods, it will be in the power of this small number of individuals to compel those on whom it depends, to clear all instruments of accusation from the greater part of that mass of pickpocket lies and absurdities with which they have hitherto been loaded. This may a small number of the lovers of justice do; and thus doing, they will thus pave the way for the establishment of that all-comprehensive plan of Law Reform, to the organization of which, nearer three-quarters than half a century of my life has been devoted. And here, Sir, you have before you, my ground for self-felicitation.
“The course which I am thus using my endeavours to recommend to jurymen, is no other than that which I myself would take, were I in their place. In former days, it happened to me to be summoned to serve upon juries of both kinds—grand and special. Having received from nature the experienced faculty of remaining without food for several days, without considerable inconvenience, it would have been in my power in the situation of juryman to command the verdict; and if so disposed, in the situation of member of a petty jury, special or common, to give or sell impunity for any crime at pleasure, not to speak of the giving to one man the property, to any amount, of any other. With what feelings and what views I figured to myself this power in some hands, I leave you to imagine. On the particular occasions then in question, I saw no prospect of rendering to my country in a jury-box, service to so great an amount, as it seemed to me I could render, and was actually rendering in my closet, and thence it was that the invitation never experienced my acceptance.
“ ‘Of a bad bargain make the best,’ says one of our old saws, nor that the least instructive one. Under the rotten and antipopular constitution, for the change of which into a sound and popular one all eyes are looking with such intense anxiety, the main use of juries as at present constituted, is, in my view of the matter, the veto which the institution gives to the people, upon laws; upon bad laws in general, and in particular, upon all those in which the oligarchy, by whom we are plundered and oppressed, have a special sinister interest.
“On a cursory glance, it does not seem to me that you had reason to complain either of the learned gentleman who led as counsel against you, or of the other learned gentleman who, on this occasion, officiated as judge. Thus the law is, says the judge; and in saying it, says what is but too true. Thus the law is—that is the spurious, the judge-made law, substituted to legislature-made law and to parliament-made law; and in this consists the grievance.
“As to the learned counsel—Mischief is capable of being done, says he, by taunting men with offences which they have really committed. In this (though it would not come up to his purpose, by warranting the jury in telling the lies in question) there is unquestionable truth; and it presents a real demand for regulation. Such regulation my Penal Code would accordingly give; but of judge-made law (if to the tissue of irregularities which have no words belonging to them, the name of law must be misapplied) one of the evil properties is, that by it no regulation of anything can be made.
“It is with no small satisfaction and admiration that I have observed the ability with which you turned to account the materials with which I had the pleasure of furnishing you, and the important additions which you made to them.
—Dear Sir, yours sincerely.
“P. S.—My advice to jurymen is plain and unmisunderstandable, and nothing can be easier than to follow it. Examine the indictment, and if in any part there be any assertion that is either notoriously false or not proved to be true, do not join in declaring it to be true, but say, Not Guilty.”
José del Valle to Bentham.
“Guatemala, August 3, 1831.
“My ever dear Father,—
How I envy my cousin,* —with how much delight would I change my fate with his, that I might dwell in the abode of the best legislator of the world!
“I shall take care to give circulation to your Constitutional Code. The light from Westminster shall illumine these lands.
“You desire, as I do, universal instruction: and I labour to advance it. There are authorities to whom it is necessary perpetually to refer, in every branch of science—and you are one of them: in every soil I trace your footsteps.”
[* ] Chap. viii.
[* ] Bentham seems not to have been aware, that, in Denmark, all suitors are compelled to resort to the Courts of Conciliation; and can only commence proceedings at the ordinary courts when the Conciliation Court has certified that a doubtful point of law is at issue between the parties.
[* ] Bentham’s Secretaries.
[† ] See the tract on Houses of Peers and Senates, Works, vol. iv. p. 419.
[‡ ] Three or four editions have been sold of it in the compass of two days.
[* ] Said to have been written by Lord Ashburton, and corrected by Lord Camden.
[* ] Don Prospero Herrera, the Minister from Guatemala to France, who was for some time a visiter to Bentham.