Front Page Titles (by Subject) Pacificus against the Conquest of Ireland. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
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Pacificus against the Conquest of Ireland. - 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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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.”