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J. Be. to J. Bo. - 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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J. Be. to J. Bo.
“Q. S. P., 10th April, 1832.
“Sent off this moment to the Foreign-office, by the hands of Mathew, a letter of this same date. Should the matter, of which this packet is the receptacle, ever reach your hands, it will not do so till after my recovery, in which case the disorder so manifest in it will not occasion any affliction to you; or after my death, in which case it will not add to that affliction, though, as you see already, I cannot write a line in addition to those written already without addition to the confusion, the existence of which is so fully proved by the lines which it has for its predecessors. But abundant is your charity. Multitudinous, indeed, must be your sins, if so many proofs I have received of it have not covered them.
“What I perceive but too plainly is, that you are in no want of adversaries, not to say enemies, who will, of course, be on the alert to take hold of everything that can afford them a prospect of their being able to turn to your disadvantage, to which purpose will be endeavoured to be employed every communication by word of mouth. This considered, let the motto of the worshipful company of Scriveners in the city of London—the company of which my father was clerk—be on each occasion present to your mind: you will find in it, if duly observed, a rather better remedy against sufferance from calumny, than a caterpillar enclosed in a bag tied round the neck against sufferance from an ague.”
Bentham died on the 6th of June, 1832. His head reposed on my bosom. It was an imperceptible dying. He became gradually colder, and his muscular powers were deprived of action. After he had ceased to speak, he smiled, and grasped my hand. He looked at me affectionately, and closed his eyes. There was no struggle,—no suffering,—life faded into death—as the twilight blends the day with darkness.
With a view to the advancement of anatomical science, he directed that his body should be dissected; and this direction was carried into effect.
It is not my purpose to trace, even in outline, the character of Jeremy Bentham. It is best portrayed in those self-drawn sketches, and in that correspondence which are here collected. Never was it my lot to see mingled in the same human being so many qualities which exacted admiration and inspired affection: never have I witnessed so much wisdom and so much wit,—so much of the sagacity of a sage, and of the simplicity of an infant, beautifully blended. Benevolence, beneficence, on the largest scale and for the noblest ends, were the passion—if passion may be called the temperament of so calm and philosophic a spirit—were the habit of his existence. The strength of his intellect could be equalled only by the fervour of his affections,—his mental greatness by his gentleness and generosity.
He lived, not to teach alone, but to practice his own magnificent morality,—to show how the felicity of the individual might draw its habitual element from the felicity of the multitude,—how one man might, in the happiness of all men, seek and find his own highest happiness.
In all Bentham said, or did, or wrote, he was under the influence of the two great principles which form the groundwork of his philosophy: to promote felicity, and to diminish suffering. “The greatest-happiness-creating principle,” and subordinate to it “the disappointment-preventing principle,” as he denominated them, were the tests he had accustomed himself to apply to all pretensions, properties, and persons. He expressed himself sometimes with vehemence, when he thought the case required a bold exposure. Where great interests were associated with great abuses, and depredation or oppression exercised towards the many, his indignation often broke out in bitter animadversion. Yet his nature was preeminently timid and childlike. His susceptibilities were most acute; he could not tolerate the infliction of needless suffering, even upon the meanest of living things,—though his philosophy was willing to consent to its infliction, wherever a balance of good was to grow out of it.
Of human nature, Bentham had an exalted opinion. He once told me he had known many men who held honours and riches cheap, in comparison with the delight of doing useful service to their race.
By nothing was Bentham more characterized, than by these microscopic powers of intellect, which enabled him to pursue the investigation of a subject into its most minute details. Seizing the general principle with masterly grasp, he carried out its consequences into all its ramifications. Nothing seems to escape his sagacity, which, as the field of inquiry opens upon him, becomes in a high degree imaginative and inventive. He has been sometimes reproached with not applying equal attention to every branch of the same subject; but had he explored all the regions of thought and action in the same complete and exhaustive spirit which he applied to portions of the field, he would have left nothing to future intellectual labourers. What he did was wonderful in its extent and variety. He laid down the great texts of morals and legislation; and now and then worked some of them out in all their consequences, as in the instance of the Rationale of Judicial Evidence. His mind was like a mine rich in various ores, of which he taught the world only a portion of the uses; but the mine is there, and it will be worked out by others. Enough has been done to show the richness of the materials and the value of the metal. It will give forth treasures for ages.
Perhaps the “Rationale of Evidence,” more than any other of Bentham’s writings, represents the all-embracing character of his mind, as applying general principles to an immense variety of minor topics. It presents all the merits which belong to a masterly conception of the whole subject, accompanied with the utmost accuracy in, and most curious discrimination of the smallest matters of detail: on the one hand, the minutest ramification is traceable up to the great principle from which it emanates,—while, on the other, that principle is followed down with admirable acuteness through all its consequences. The varied questions as to the value of testimony are solved by a profound knowledge of the physiology of man. All the theory of evidence is built upon the solid basis of a sound philosophy. The practices of our courts,—the dicta of our judges,—the fallacies of our lawyers,—are sifted and disposed of with the most felicitous acumen. His object throughout is to distinguish between the ends of law, and the ends of justice,—to defeat the purposes of chicanery, and to forward the interests of truth.
It has been said, that Bentham was little influenced by the writings and opinions of others. This is, to a great extent, true. In early life, he had been a diligent reader of the works of other men. He was a Greek and Latin scholar; but he valued little the philosophy of the ancients. He thought their notions of government, and of the foundations of morals, vague, shifting, inconsistent, untenable. He saw, indeed, in some of them, a faint shadowing forth of the doctrine of utility, and in so far, he thought, they had penetrated into the regions of truth; but in the reverence for authority,—in what he called the ipsedixitism of the schools,—he found nothing but barriers to inquiry, and pretences to infallibility. And, perhaps, it is not to be regretted that Bentham, instead of occupying his attention with the views of other writers, was habitually engaged in pouring forth, for the use of the present and future generations, the contributions of his own. Critics enough there are in the world,—but there are few inventive, few original minds;—it may be doubted if one has appeared in our day and generation so inventive and original as Bentham’s.
But turning from Bentham’s intellectual to his moral nature,—few men have been so amiable, or so happy. In boyhood,—in youth,—in maturer life, he had much to annoy and to discourage him; but as age advanced, everything grew bright within and around him. Associates whom he loved were never wanting to his felicity. Topics of hope,—the progress of knowledge,—the viotories of reform,—the evident spread of his principles,—filled his mind with daily sources of delight. His society was eagerly sought,—his opinions consulted by the most eminent men of his day,—and he was enabled to choose for his companions those with whom he most sympathized,—with whom, and for whom he loved to labour. The daily and weekly newspapers were to him a perennial spring of enjoyment,—to the last he took the deepest interest in public matters, and in the conduct of public men. He paid little regard to the attacks of which he was sometimes the object, and, in fact, was scarcely ever known to read a criticism upon his own writings,—“Why should I be put out of my way?—I have much to do,—I have little time to do it in”—was the excuse he made to himself and others, for not being diverted from his pursuits by any attacks upon him.
Bentham attached the utmost value to time,—he husbanded all his moments with anxious care. Nothing disturbed him so much as to be called away from his beloved pursuits. In fact, he could scarcely ever be induced to receive any visiter except at his dinner-table. He never admitted any one but for some special purpose. He felt no interest in the vague generalities of conversation,—and never would gratify the curiosity of those who from curiosity alone desired to be admitted to his presence.
The striking resemblance between the persons of Franklin and Bentham has been often noticed. Of the two, perhaps, the expression of Bentham’s countenance was the more benign. Each remarkable for profound sagacity, Bentham was scarcely less so for a perpetual playfulness of manner and of expression. Few men were so sportive,—so amusing as Bentham,—none ever tempered more delightfully his wisdom with his wit. Of the wisdom that is called worldly, Franklin had, no doubt, a larger share,—for he had been a great actor as well as a great writer,—and had been engaged in the most interesting parts of the most remarkable events of his day. He was made of sterner stuff than Bentham. He lived in the eye of the world, and had to accommodate his outer man to the world’s usages,—but Bentham avoided the rush and the shock of men. “The tide of tendency” affected not the quiet repose of his mind,—except as it gave new matter for philosophical reflection, and afforded subjects to which he could apply his beneficent councils. The direct links which associated him with society were few,—but to these few he showed an affection and an attachment which exhibited him as made up of the tenderest sensibilities and sympathies.
Bentham’s industry was remarkable. As soon as he rose, he was occupied in composition, and he wrote, on an average, from ten to fifteen folio pages a-day. He was seldom satisfied with the first expression of his thoughts, and generally developed his views over and over again. He was in the habit of composing on long, ruled paper, having somewhat more than an inch in breadth ruled off, for marginalizing. This plan of condensation enabled him more easily to go over the field, and to pursue what he called his exhaustive investigations. Every page was headed with the date of its composition, which he found a great auxiliary to his thoughts. When occupied by some one subject, if something worth remembering occurred to him on another, he noted it on a slip of paper, which he pinned to a small green curtain, that hung near him, and which was sometimes covered with these disjecta membra. He collated and located them from time to time.
The manners of Bentham were polished in the highest degree. He was observant of all the minutiæ of courtesy. Every little object of desire that he could procure for his visiters he invariably procured,—the little enjoyments which he had discovered were acceptable to particular guests, were unostentatiously placed before them. His table was excellently served. He himself greatly delighted in its moderate luxuries. He began with the dessert, as he said he wholly lost the flavour of the fruit if he partook of it after the stronger viands of the first course. In the latter part of his life the sense of taste was nearly destroyed. He drank half a glass of Madeira wine daily. I believe he passed through life without a single act of intemperance.
From the period of his father’s death Bentham possessed a competence, and as far as money was needful to his enjoyments, he had no wishes ungratified. And he distributed his wealth liberally for every purpose which seemed to him likely to increase the happiness of his race. On some occasions he was even betrayed into an imprudent liberality: for he had to sustain some severe losses, the consequence of the sanguine miscalculations of his friends, which were responded to by his own eager and exciteable nature. Happily none of these losses curtailed his pleasures; and he applied to his own case his own admirable maxims,—to look always on the sunny side of things,—to forget as speedily as possible all evils that cannot be remedied,—to hunt for cheerful thoughts,—to be busied with no portion of the sorrows of the past, but that out of which some instruction or some felicity is to be derived.*
Bentham had the benefit of many distinguished followers. He was the founder of a school whose principles at all events are intelligible,—though in the elaboration of these consequences, his disciples have not always followed him. It was made a reproach to him that he was sometimes led astray by a point of detail, and would follow out a fallacy to its destruction through numberless windings, though the influence of that fallacy might be unimportant. But making war, as he did, upon sophisms and sinister interests, we cannot be surprised at his desire effectually to clear the field wherever he found it encumbered, and the examples given of what he called “the exhaustive” faculty was often highly interesting and instructive.
Bentham often confessed that nothing had been more mischievous to him than that bashfulness which clung to him like a cold garment through life. There was never a man so desirous of shunning others, unless some strong sense of duty, or prospect of usefulness, subdued his natural tendency to seclusion. On his early acquaintance with Lord Shelburne, a plan of connecting him with the East India Company, under the patronage of Captain Smith then an E. I. Director, failed. Bentham offended Lord Sydney, by not returning a visit, who had sent his son to solicit him to do so. Once, when Madam de Staël called on him, expressing an earnest desire for an audience, he sent to tell her, that he certainly had nothing to say to her, and he could not see the necessity of an interview, for anything she had to say to him. On an occasion when Mr Edgeworth, in his somewhat pompous manner, called and delivered the following message to the servant, in order to be communicated to Bentham: “Tell Mr Bentham, that Mr Richard Lovell Edgeworth desires to see him,”—he answered: “Tell Mr Richard Lovell Edgeworth, that Mr Bentham does not desire to see him.”
The leading principles of his philosophy Bentham applied to all subjects. If a book had to be considered, his inquiry was, “Is it correct? is it complete?”—correctness and completeness being the two great elements out of which truth must be constructed. His study of the laws and rules of evidence for judicial purposes, led him to apply those laws to all other testimony.
Bentham was a warm admirer of music—especially of solemn music; and of Handel’s solemn music above all other. But modern music he valued little; and least of all, light and frivolous airs.
It is not easy to estimate the extent of circulation which the writings of Bentham have obtained through the whole world. Of Dumont’s translation, M. Bossange calculated that the sales on the continent of Europe had exceeded 50,000 copies.
Bentham’s dress was peculiar out of doors. He ordinarily wore a narrow-rimmed straw-hat; from under which his long white hair fell on his shoulders, or was blown about by the winds. He had a plain brown coat, cut in the quaker style—light-brown cassimere breeches, over whose knees outside he usually exhibited a pair of white worsted stockings—list shoes he almost invariably used; and his hands were generally covered with merino-lined leather gloves. His neck was bare: he never went out without his stick “dapple” for a companion. He walked, or rather trotted, as if he were impatient for exercise; but often stopped suddenly for purposes of conversation. He was remarkable for attention to all that the French mean by their petite morale: a model of neatness and propriety himself, any the slightest deviation from good manners excited his attention, and almost always led to some playful criticism, not likely to be forgotten; for in lesser, as in greater things, he had adopted for his maxim—that a moralist, like a surgeon, should never wound but to heal.
Bentham was very fond of animals, particularly “pussies,” as he called them, “when they had domestic virtues;” but he had no particular affection for the common race of cats. He had one, however, of which he used to boast that he had “made a man of him,” and whom he was wont to invite to eat maccaroni at his own table. This puss got knighted, and rejoiced in the name of Sir John Langborn. In his early days he was a frisky, inconsiderate, and, to say the truth, somewhat profligate gentleman; and had, according to the report of his patron, the habit of seducing light and giddy young ladies, of his own race, into the garden of Queen’s Square Place: but tired at last, like Solomon, of pleasures and vanities, he became sedate and thoughtful—took to the church, laid down his knightly title, and was installed as the Reverend John Langborn. He gradually obtained a great reputation for sanctity and learning, and a Doctor’s degree was conferred upon him. When I knew him, in his declining days, he bore no other name than the Reverend Doctor John Langborn; and he was alike conspicuous for his gravity and philosophy. Great respect was invariably shown his reverence: and it was supposed he was not far off from a mitre, when old age interfered with his hopes and honours. He departed amidst the regrets of his many friends, and was gathered to his fathers, and to eternal rest, in a cemetery in Milton’s garden.
“I had a cat,” he said, “at Hendon, which used to follow me about even in the street. George Wilson was very fond of animals too. I remember a cat following him as far as Staines. There was a beautiful pig at Hendon, which I used to rub with my stick. He loved to come and lie down to be rubbed, and took to following me like a dog. I had a remarkably intellectual cat, who never failed to attend one of us when we went round the garden. He grew quite a tyrant, insisting on being fed, and on being noticed. He interrupted my labours: once he came with a most hideous yell, insisting on the door being opened. He tormented Jack (Colls) so much, that Jack threw him out of window. He was so clamorous that it could not be borne, and means were found to send him to another world. His moral qualities were most despotic—his intellectual extraordinary: but he was a universal nuisance.”
The mice were encouraged by Bentham to play about in his work-shop. I remember, when one got among his papers, that he exclaimed, “Ho! ho! here’s a mouse at work; why won’t he come into my lap?—but then I should be stroking him when I ought to be writing legislation, and that would not do.”
“I have been catching fish,” he said one day; “I have caught a carp. I shall hang him up,—feed him with bread and milk. He shall be my tame puss, and shall play about on the floor. But I have a new tame puss. I will make Roebuck my puss for his article on Canada; and many a mouse shall be catch.”
One day while we were at dinner, mice had got, as they frequently did, into the drawers of the dinner-table, and were making no small noise. “O you rascals” exclaimed Bentham: “there’s an uproar among you. I’ll tell puss of you;” and then added: “I became once very intimate with a colony of mice. They used to run up my legs, and eat crumbs from my lap. I love everything that has four legs: so did George Wilson. We were fond of mice, and fond of cats; but it was difficult to reconcile the two affections.
“From my youth I was fond of cats—as I still am. I was once playing with one in my grandmother’s room. I had heard the story of cats having nine lives, and being sure of falling on their legs; and I threw the cat out of the window on the grass-plot. When it fell, it turned towards me, looked in my face and mewed. ‘Poor thing!’ I said, ‘thou art reproaching me with my unkindness.’ I have a distinct recollection of all these things.
“Cowper’s story of his hares, had the highest interest for me when young; for I always enjoyed the society of tame animals. Wilson had the same taste—so had Romilly, who kept a noble puss before he came into great business. I never failed to pay it my respects. I remember accusing Romilly of violating the commandment in the matter of cats. My fondness for animals exposed me to many jokes. An acquaintance of Wilson’s came to dine with me, and I gave him a bed in my chambers. He had seen two beautiful asses. One of them had the name of Miss Jenny. At Ford Abbey, there was a young ass of great symmetry and beauty, to which I was much attached, and which grew much attached to me—each fondling the other.”
Bentham dined at seven o’clock, in a room he called his “Shop.” It was surrounded by books. In the centre was a platform which occupied most of the room, and around three sides of it, a narrow passage, which he named his “ditch,” or “vibrating ditch.” There was an organ in the room, which was played while we sat down to dinner. It stood opposite the door, in a place just large enough to hold the instrument and the performer, which had been cut through the platform to the floor, and which was denominated “the well,” into which a blind or heedless visiter not unfrequently fell. Upon the platform stood a bookcase named “the Caroccio,” which he could reach without leaving his chair, and a reading stand with the MSS. on which he was occupied, aplate with writing materials, sticks, pens, and pins, wax, scissors, &c. The table was never removed. Opposite him was an armchair for a single visiter, for he did not like to have conversation divided and distracted by the presence of many persons. One, sometimes two secretaries dined with him, who were honoured with the name of “reprobates.” Himself he liked to call “the Hermit,” and his house “the Hermitage.”
A usual phrase on the arrival of a visiter for dinner was, “Let me whisk you round the garden. I always indulge in an ante-prandial circumgyration.” The first time I visited him, when he came to a corner of the garden, in which is a fine sycamore tree, and behind it an obscure brick house, he suddenly stopped, and, laying Dapple on my shoulders, shouted out, “On your marrowbones, Sir!” I saw on a slab, to which he pointed, “Sacred to Milton, Prince of Poets.” It was Milton’s house,—the house he occupied when he was secretary to Cromwell. The garden was an object of special delight to Bentham, who was passionately fond of flowers, and the garden had once, he said, been distinguished for its variety of fruits; but the growing deterioration of the atmosphere had destroyed one sort after another, so that a few currants and gooseberries, with abundance of fine mulberries, were all that time and smoke had left. Anne, the housemaid and waiter, always summoned us to dinner. His table was always liberally, not to say daintily served; and when he discovered that a particular dish was a favourite, that dish was sure to be found by the guest, and often bore the guest’s name. I remember that “fried parsley” was Dr M‘Culloch’s dish, “scolloped oysters” was mine. He ate abundantly, for dinner was his only substantial meal. “Let me have the ensign of authority,” he would say, taking the bell-rope: and at ten o’clock tea was brought in; but he had a tea-pot of his own, which nobody else was allowed to use: the “sacred tea-pot,” he styled it, its profaner name was “Dick;” and Dick was always put over the lamp to sing. Many an odd phrase did Dick give birth to: “Has my Dick begun his song?—then take him off his perch.” “Take down Dicky: he is in a passion. What a piece of work he is making!” In Dicky the tea was made according to Bentham’s peculiar notions of tea-making. The water was put in at once, so that the tea might be of equal strength to the end. To the sacred vessel a history was attached. It had been given by Lind to a Dr Darsent, who had cured his wife of a dangerous disease. When Darsent died at the age of ninety, he bequeathed it to Mrs Lind, then a widow. She gave it to a servant, to whom she paid an annuity; and on her death, Bentham took that servant as his housekeeper; and when she left him in her old age, he allowed her an annuity of £45 a-year. She, however, frequently pleaded her poverty, and the insufficiency of the allowance; and as frequently got some additional money from Bentham. She left, however, a legacy of £200 to her brother; and Bentham induced her to give him, by will, the said teapot. She was an artful, crafty woman, who, having once succeeded, by hysterics, in getting some wish gratified, tried the trick again upon Bentham, when he told her he “understood hysterics, and would have no more of them”: and he had no more of them. “Much,” said Bentham, in mentioning this, “much depends on doing things in a quiet way. Try not to be angry; and if you are, do not let it be seen. People may go into hysterics—as they may shed tears at command. You may be taught to shed tears, as Cicero taught you to stamp with your foot.”
At eleven o’clock water was introduced,—his night-cap brought in, which he tied under his chin,—his watch delivered to the “reprobate” who held the office of “putter to bed,”—his eyes were washed,—his habiliments were doffed,—and during all these proceedings, which lasted exactly an hour, he kept up a perpetual and amusing chit-chat; at twelve o’clock his guests were visited with “ignominious expulsion.” He then withdrew into his room, where he slept on a hard bed. Across the bed, accessible to him even when lying down, was a shelf, covered with jars, jugs, and other conveniences. The “reprobate” usually read to him till he fell asleep,—but sometimes access was denied, and the reprobate waited in the “shop” till he called out “watch,”—the watch was delivered into the philosopher’s hands. He “made every reprobate swear fealty,” he said, “to a trinoda necessitas,—the asportation of the candle,—the transtration of the window,—idem of the trap-window,”—and when these functions were performed, he gave his benediction,—the door was shut, and he was left to his slumbers.
But his rest was often annoyed by his extreme physical sensibility. If his hand touched his body he awoke in pain. He was much disturbed by dreams,—“Last night,” he said on one occasion, “I passed the whole night with Brougham,—and so I move in various companies.”
Bentham preserved his eyesight to the end of life, though he was obliged both at morning and night to remove with a wet spunge the mucus, which otherwise, he said, would “cement his eyelids.” He was also troubled with a discharge of saliva from the corners of his mouth, and on mentioning this one day, he sang humorously:—
In this playful, buoyant spirit he always referred to his infirmities. He was, indeed, one of the happiest of men. He had seldom known illness, had scarcely ever felt pain. In the very later part of his life, he was annoyed with a cutaneous eruption; and he told me one day: “I dreamt I was living in the town of Itch, in which existence consisted of itching. It was a pretty and ingenious fancy of Condillac to endow a statue with the different senses—first separately and then collectively: why should he not have added the itching sense?”
I conclude this Memoir, by quoting the eloquent opinion on his personal character in connexion with the principles of his Philosophy, pronounced by his friend, Dr Southwood Smith:—
“The discovery and application of the true physical law at the foundation of all physical phenomena, has produced a total revolution in the philosophy of physics. The discovery and application of the true psychological law, equally at the foundation of all mental phenomena, is destined to produce a like revolution in the philosophy of morals. Before the principle announced by Newton, as affording the true exposition of the constitution and motion of all physical bodies, has already fallen every other theory, how remote soever the antiquity in which it took its origin, how plausible soever the solution it gave of apparent but deceptive phenomena, how great soever the ability with which it had been defended, and the authority by which it had been sanctioned: before the principle announced by Bentham, as affording the only true theory; and directing to the only right and proper object and end of morals, legislation, and government, is destined to fall every institution, however ancient, how much soever eulogised, how deeply soever venerated, by whomsoever pronounced to be the perfection of human reason, which is not really conducive to human happiness; every law, constitutional, civil, and penal, with whatever danger to partial and sinister interests its abrogation may be pregnant, which is not conducive to security, to liberty, and to justice; every mode of procedure in the administration of the law which does not render justice accessible, speedy, and cheap—which does not minimize delay, vexation, and expense; every rule of conduct, whether relating to public or to private life, the observance of which does not tend to educe, from the source of pleasure it is intended to regulate and control, the largest obtainable amount of felicity, and to exclude, in the completest degree, the corresponding pain with which almost every pleasure is but too apt to be linked; every sanction, physical, judicial, moral, and religious, which does not secure, at the smallest cost of suffering, the most perfect and uniform conformity of the general will and action to the appointed rule.
“And, in like manner, upon this same principle, will ultimately be established whatever institution, law, procedure, rule, and sanction, human sagacity and experience may prove to be productive of happiness and exclusive of misery, however its adoption may be obstructed for a time by ignorance, by sinister interest, and by prejudice growing out of such interest.
“And had the human mind applied itself with all its faculties, with all the energy which those faculties are capable of putting forth, with sincerity of purpose, and with perseverance, to the adoption of institutions, laws, procedures, rules, and sanctions, having such, and only such ends in view; had it devoted itself to this pursuit, from that point of civilisation in the history of our race, which is compatible with labour of this sort, up to the present hour, what would now have been the condition of human society! What would now have been the amount of obtainable felicity, felicity actually and hourly enjoyed by the millions of human beings that make up that vast aggregate!
“If in every community, in proportion as it advanced in civilisation, every institution, constitutional and social; every law, civil and penal; every mode of procedure, judicial and criminal; every rule of action, public and private; every sanction, physical, penal, moral, and religious, had been framed with the sole purpose of securing “the greatest happiness of all its members, the greatest happiness of all of them, without exception, in as far as possible, and the greatest happiness of the greatest number of them on every occasion in which the nature of the case renders the provision of an equal quantity of happiness for every one of them impossible;’ framed with this view, with all the intellectual power which might have been engaged in this service, aided by all the experience accumulated from generation to generation, and to the stores of which every hour of every day must, without ceasing, add; framed, that is, with all the wisdom at all times at command, wisdom necessarily approximating to perfection, with the progression of time—had this been done, not to speak of new sources of pleasure which might, and which probably would have been opened, but of which we have now no conception; not to speak of new creations of felicity, the existence of which, however within the range of possibility, must be admitted to be imaginary, until actually in existence; not to speak of any pleasures the reality and the value of which are not well known and duly appreciated—had the real, the uniform purpose, been what I have been supposing, how many pleasures, now within the reach only of the few, would then have been in the possession of the many; and how many pains, from which only the few have now the means of security, would then have been averted from all!
“The contrast thus presented to the mind, between the condition of the great mass of human beings as it is, as it might have been, and as it actually would have been, had legislators and moralists aimed at the right end, and pursued it with singleness and sincerity, will be contemplated by every man with a degree of pain proportioned to the strength of his understanding, and the intensity of his sympathy.
“At an age when the intellectual power which he felt within him was in its freshness, when the moral affections which warmed his heart were unchilled by contact with the world—when the affectionate sympathy for his fellow-beings, which formed so large a part of his consciousness, and which subsequently became the ruling passion of his life, was in its first ardour, this contrast, in its full force, was brought before the view of this illustrious man. Destined by the will of his father to the study and practice of the English law, he commenced the study, and entered on the practice. But what was the position in which he found himself placed? What, when examined by a simple and clear understanding—what, when the practical operation of it came to be witnessed by a pure and benevolent heart—was the English law? Like every one else, for ages past, he had been told that it was the perfection of human reason. According to those who taught it, according to those who practised it, according to those who subsisted by it, according even to those who suffered by it—suffered evils countless in number and measureless in extent, it was matchless alike for the purity of its aims, and the efficiency of the means provided for their accomplishment; it was a fabric reared by the most exalted intellects; reared with incredible labour, through a long succession of ages, with a difficulty not to be estimated, yet with a skill so admirable, and a result so felicitous, as had never before been witnessed in any work merely human. The understanding that did not bow down before it, that did not worship it with prostrate reverence, was low and base: the hand that was raised to touch so much as a single particle of it, to change it, was profane. It was the master-production of the matured, experienced, and virtuously-disposed human mind; it was the wonder and perfection of civilisation; it gave to this blessed country that amazing amount of felicity, by the enjoyment of which its people have been so long distinguished from all other people in the world, making them the glory of the earth, the envy of the surrounding nations.
“Such was the language universally held, and the doctrine universally inculcated; and that not merely with religious ardour, but with enthusiast zeal; and inculcated alike from the humble desk of the village school, the pulpit, the bar, the bench, the senate, and the throne.
“And yet the English law thus idolised, when the substance of it came to be examined by a simple and clear understanding—when the mode of administering it came to be witnessed by a pure and benevolent heart, what was it found to be? The substantive part of it, whether as written in books or expounded by judges, a chaos, fathomless and boundless; the huge and monstrous mass being made up of fiction, tautology, technicality, circuity, irregularity, and inconsistency: the administrative part of it, a system of exquisitely contrived chicanery; a system made up of abuses; a system which constantly places the interest of the judicial minister in opposition to his duty; so places his interest in opposition to his duty, that in the very proportion in which it serves his ends, it defeats the ends of justice; a system of self-authorized and unpunishable depredation; a system which encourages mendacity, both by reward and punishment; a system which puts fresh arms into the hands of the injurer, to annoy and distress the injured; in a word, a system which maximizes delay, sale, and denial of justice.
“ ‘Shall I uphold this vile system?’ said this just and benevolent man. ‘Shall the prospect of obtaining wealth, shall the hope of being what is called rewarded with titles and honours, tempt me to assist in perpetuating it? Shall I do what in me lies to extend the wide-spread misery which flows from it? No. I will exhibit it in its true shape; I will strip off the veil of mystery which has so long concealed its deformity; I will destroy it. I will do more. For this chaos I will substitute order; for this darkness, light; for this evil, good. The maximum of the aggregate of happiness—by this test I will try evil and good; this shall be my standard, this my guide. I will survey the entire range of human feelings and volitions—such at least as can assume the shape of actions; and as they pass in review before me, I will determine by this rule what shall be sanctioned, and what prohibited. I will rear the fabric of felicity by the hands of reason and of law!’
“With powers of mind fitted for an undertaking thus stupendous, such as in no age or country had ever before been equalled, or even so much as approached; with an ardour and energy such as in no cause, bad or good, had ever been surpassed, he betook himself to the accomplishment of this work. No difficulty stopped him; no danger appalled him; no labour exhausted him; no temptation, whether assuming the shape of good or of evil, moved him; fortune he disregarded; the pursuit of what is called pleasure he renounced; praise could as little bend him from his course, as blame could check it; human fear, human favour, had no control, no influence over him; human happiness was his object, judicial institution his means; and the completeness with which he has succeeded in developing the means, is comparable only to the beneficence of the end.
In order to create, it was necessary that he should destroy; in order to build up, it was necessary that he should pull down; in order to establish law as it ought to be, it was necessary that he should demolish law as it is. Alone he went to the assault, alone he carried it on; every weapon, every mode of attack—ridicule, reasoning, invective, wit, eloquence, sarcasm, declamation, demonstration—all were pressed into his service, and each in its turn became in his hands a powerful instrument. His efforts were regarded first with astonishment, next with indignation. When he was no longer looked upon as a madman, he was hated as an enemy. He was endeavouring to subvert the most glorious of human institutions; institutions which had raised his country to the highest pinnacle of power and happiness; institutions which time, and the experience which time matures, had shown to be at least the nearest approach to perfection which the wit of man had ever devised. Such declarations (and such delarations were made in abundance, and were reiterated with all the eloquence which large bribes given now, and larger bribes promised in future, could secure) did but redouble his efforts to expose the delusion; to show that reason had seldom anything to do in the construction of the institutions thus idolised; that they seldom aimed at the right end, and still seldomer provided adequate means to accomplish the end even as far as the aim was right. Long and earnestly did he labour without any apparent effect; but at last some impression was made; the scales fell from the eyes of men of powerful intellects in commanding stations; the imposture became palpable; the monstrous idolatry before which men had allowed their understandings and their affections to fall prostrate, was seen in its true shape. A revulsion of feeling followed. Point after point was submitted to rigorous examination. Champion after champion stood forth in defence of each; champion after champion was driven from his position, however impregnable he thought it; and now, scarcely a single champion remains. The cumbrous fabric is abandoned; it totters to its fall; it is undermined; it is known to be so. The general admission is, that the law of England, as it is, cannot stand; that it must be taken down, and reconstructed. Glory to the hand that has destroyed it! Glory to the hand that has built up the beautiful structure reared in its place!
“I will endeavour, in few words, to give some conception of the foundation of this new structure; of its main compartments; of its form, such as it has assumed in the hands of its architect, now capable of no further labour. Happily, however, as you will see, what remains to complete the edifice can be furnished by other hands.
“Comprehending in his view the entire field of legislation, this legislator divided it into two great portions—internal law and international law; internal law including the legislative ordinances that concern an individual community; international law, those that concern the intercourse of different communities with each other. His chief labour was directed to the construction of an all-comprehensive system or code (that is, law written and systematic) of internal law. Under the term Pannomion, a term derived from two Greek words, signifying “the whole body of the laws,” he has constructed such a code. This all-comprehensive code is divided into four minor codes; the Constitutional, the Civil, the Penal, and the Administrative. The Constitutional Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the form of the supreme authority, and the mode by which its will is to be carried into effect. The Civil Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the creation or constitution of rights, and is termed the Right-conferring Code. The Penal Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the creation or constitution of offences, and is termed the Wrong-repressing Code. The Administrative Code includes the several ordinances which relate to the mode of executing the whole body of the laws, and is termed the Code of Procedure. Conduciveness to the maximum of the aggregate of happiness—that is the end in view. Each code is a distinct instrument specially adapted to secure this end. Each code has not, indeed, been left by him in a state of completeness; but in no part of either, as far as it has been developed, is place given to a single enactment which has not for its object, immediately or remotely, the production of pleasure and the exclusion of pain. In no part, either of what he has himself done, or marked out to be done by others, is anything commanded—in no part is anything forbidden, but as it is, and in as far as it is, conducive to or subversive of happiness;—no constitutional provision, determining the form of the government and the mode of its operation—no action, bearing the seal of approbation or of disapprobation, selected as the subject of reward or of punishment, which is not brought to this standard and tried by this test. It is only as the details under these two great divisions are studied, that it is possible to form a conception of the steadiness with which this end is kept in view, and the wisdom with which the means devised are adapted to secure it. To the Civil Code he has done the least; but even of this he has laid the foundation, and provided important materials for building up the fabric. For the Constitutional Code he has done enough to render its completion comparatively easy; while the all-important branches of Offences, of Reward and Punishment, of Procedure, of Evidence, have been worked out by him with a comprehensiveness and minuteness which may be said to have exhausted these subjects, and to have left little or nothing in relation to them for any other man to do or to desire.*
“But his labours did not terminate here. He found the science of morals in the same state of darkness as that of legislation. The Fitness of Things, the Law of Nature, Natural Justice, Natural Equity, Good Order, Truth, the Will of God—such were the tests of good and evil, the standards of right and wrong, heretofore assumed by moralists. Every different moralist had a different fancy which he made his standard, and a different taste which he made his test of good or evil; and the degree of conformity or non-conformity to that taste, the indication of the degree of desert, and consequently the measure of reward and punishment.†
“But by establishing the foundation of morals on the principle of felicity; by showing that every action is right or wrong, virtuous or vicious, deserving of approbation or disapprobation, in proportion to its tendency to increase or to diminish the amount of happiness, this philosopher supplied what was so much needed in morals, at once an infallible test and an all-powerful motive. Happiness is the standard and the test, happiness is equally the motive; can there be, if this be not a certain test? can there be, if this be not an all-powerful motive? Conduciveness to happiness—this it is that constitutes the goodness of an action; this it is that renders an action a duty; this it is which supplies a motive to the performance of duty not to be resisted. I am satisfied that a particular course of conduct will conduce to my happiness: do I need any other inducement to make me pursue that course? can I resist the influence of this inducement? No. As long as this is my conviction, as long as this conviction is present to my mind, it is no more possible for me to refrain from pursuing the course of conduct in question, than it is possible for my body to refuse to obey the law of gravitation.
“The object of the science of morals, then, is to show what is really conducive to happiness; the happiness of every individual man; the happiness of all men taken together, considered as forming one great aggregate; the happiness of all beings whatever, that are capable of the impression: for the science, in its enlarged sense, embraces not only the human race, but the whole of the sentient creation.
“According to the felicitarian philosophy, there is no contrariety, and there never can be any real contrariety, between happiness and duty. In the true and comprehensive sense of those terms, happiness and duty are identical; always so; and always necessarily so. They do not always appear to be so; but it is the business of the moralist to show, that whenever an apparent contrariety exists, the appearance is delusive. When he has accomplished this, he has effected his end; because, when he has accomplished this, my will—my action, as necessarily follows in the direction in which it is his purpose to guide it, as a stone projected from the earth necessarily falls to the earth again.
“And the apparent contrariety between happiness and duty, from what does it arise? Either from the representation of that as happiness which is not happiness, or from the representation of that as duty which is not duty. And what is at the bottom of this misrepresentation? Either I take into view only my own gratification, to the exclusion of the gratification of others; or I take into view only my immediate gratification, to the exclusion of a higher gratification at some future period; or I commit both errors at once. Now, it is the business of the moralist to prevent me from falling into either; to make me acquainted with the cases in relation to which the gratification of others is essential to my own; in relation to which my own gratification must necessarily flow from the gratification of others; in relation to which, if I attempt to pursue my own gratification without taking into account the gratification of others, and more especially at the expense of their gratification, instead of securing happiness to myself, I shall be sure to involve myself in suffering: to make me acquainted, in like manner, with the cases in relation to which it is necessary that I should take a comprehensive view of happiness; that I should consider not merely the pleasure of the moment or the hour, but the pleasure of the year, or the remainder of my life. To make these matters as clear to my understanding as the light of day is visible to my eye, is the business of the moralist; often, no doubt, a difficult task: because, although the connexion between a certain course of conduct, and happiness and misery, may be quite as real, and quite as invariable, as that between light and vision, yet not being so immediate, the invariableness of the sequence is not so clearly seen by the mind. To bring this sequence out from the obscurity in which it may be involved, and to make it manifest; to discover and to show what moral antecedents are invariably followed by what moral sequents; to establish in the mind a conviction of this invariableness of connexion between the one and the other—this is the province of the moralist. As he multiplies the antecedents and sequents, in regard to which he makes out the fact that there is this invariableness of relation, he enlarges his science; in proportion to the completeness with which he fixes in the mind a conviction of this relation, he fulfils its end.
“It is this which our great legislator and moralist ever kept steadily in view. Whatever it is for a man’s happiness to do, or to abstain from doing, that, as a legislator, he commands or forbids; whatever it is for a man’s happiness to do, or to abstain from doing, that, as a moralist, he makes it his duty to pursue or to avoid.*
In selecting, as a legislator, the subjects of reward and punishment, he is invariably guided by this principle: that if, by misrepresentation of consequences, by erroneous reasoning, or by fear of punishment, whether physical, moral, political, or religious, a man be prohibited from the enjoyment of any real pleasure, from whatever source derived, an injury is inflicted upon him equal in amount to the balance of pleasure of which he is deprived. For this reason, in no single instance, in any law proposed by him, is anything commanded which is not, in some shape or other, conducive to pleasure; nor anything forbidden, which is not, in some shape or other, conducive to pain.
“In like manner, in deciding, as a moralist, what is proper or improper, right or wrong, virtuous or vicious, he is guided by the principle, that every one must determine, from his own experience, what is pleasurable and what is painful; that no one has a right to insist, that what is gratification to him, and only what is gratification to him, shall be gratification to another; that for any man, in the capacity of a moralist, to say—‘If I do this, I shall get no preponderance of pleasure; but if you do this, you may get a preponderance of pleasure, yet it is not proper that you should do it,’ is absurdity: that if such moralist apply evil in any shape to prevent the act, it is injustice and injury; that if he call in the powers of government to prevent the act, it is tyranny: that nevertheless there are pleasures which are pure, that is, unmixed with pain; pleasures which are lasting; pleasures which are cumulative, the very capacity for enjoying them continually increasing with the indulgence: that these are the truest, because the greatest pleasures; that these deserve the most careful cultivation: but that to imagine that any pleasure can come from a bad source; that whatever yields pleasure, that is, preponderance of pleasure, is not good—good for that reason, and in that proportion—is to despise one pleasure because it is not another, to despise a smaller pleasure because it is not a greater; which is absurd. What a cultivation of happiness is here! What true husbandry of it! What a thorough rooting-out of the tares so often sown with the wheat while the legislator and the moralist have slept!
“After this account of the labours of the philosopher, you will perhaps be desirous of knowing something of his private history and habits; and there are some points relative to both, which now assume a peculiar interest.
“Jeremy Bentham was born at the residence of his father, adjacent to Aldgate Church, in London, on the 15th of February, 1747-8, and died in Queen’s Square Place, Westminster, where he had resided nearly half a century, on the 6th of June, 1832, being in the 85th year of his age. He was a precocious child. At the age of three years, he read Rapin’s History of England as an amusement. At the age of five, he had acquired a knowledge of musical notes, and played on the violin. At the age of seven, he read Télémaque in French. At the age of eight, he entered Westminster School, where he soon became distinguished. At the age of thirteen, he was admitted a member of Queen’s College, Oxford, where he at once engaged in public disputations in the Common Hall, and excited, by the acuteness of his observations, the precision of his terms, and the logical correctness of his inductions, the surprise and admiration of all who heard him. At the age of sixteen, he took his degree of A.B.; and at the age of twenty that of A.M.; being the youngest graduate that had at that time been known at either of the Universities. From early childhood, such was the contemplative turn of his mind, and the clearness and accuracy with which he observed whatever came under his notice, that at the age of five years he had already acquired the name of ‘the philosopher,’ being familiarly called so by the members of his family; and such, even in his youth, were the indications of that benevolence to which his manhood and his old age were consecrated, that a celebrated statesman, who at that period had conceived an affection for him, and with whom he spent most of his time during the interval of his leaving Westminster School and going to Oxford, speaks of him, in a letter to his father, in these remarkable words—‘His disinterestedness, and his originality of character, refresh me as much as the country air does a London physician.’
“The qualities which already formed the charm of his character, and which grew with his growth and strengthened with his strength, were truth and simplicity. Truth was deeply founded in his nature as a principle; it was devotedly pursued in his life as an object; it exercised, even in early youth, an extraordinary influence over the operations of his mind and the affections of his heart; and it was the source of that moral boldness, energy, and consistency, for which, from the period of manhood to the close of life, he was so distinguished. There was nothing in the entire range of physical, moral, or legislative science; nothing whatever relating to any class of subjects that could be presented to his understanding; nothing, however difficult other men thought it, or pretended to think it—or with whatever superstitious, political, or religious reverence and awe they regarded, or affected to regard it, which he did not approach without fear, to the very bottom of which he did not endeavour to penetrate: the mystery regarding which he did not strive to clear away; the real, the whole truth of which, he did not aim to bring to light. Nor was there any consideration—no, not even apparent danger to the cause he advocated, though, by the desertion of friends and the clamour of foes, that cause might seem for a while to be put in jeopardy, that could induce him to conceal any conclusion at which he arrived, and of the correctness of which he was satisfied, or could prevent him from expressing it in the most appropriate language at his command. It was not possible to apply his principle to all the points and bearings of all the subjects included in the difficult and contested field of legislation, government, and morals,—to apply it as he applied it, acutely, searchingly, profoundly, unflinchingly,—without consequences at first view startling, if not appalling, to strong minds and stout hearts. They startled not, they appalled not him, mind or heart. He had confidence in his guide; he was satisfied that he might go with unfaltering step wherever it led; and with unfaltering step he did go wherever it led. Hence his singleness of purpose; hence, in all his voluminous writings, in all the multiplicity of subjects which have come under his investigation, as well those which he has exhausted, as those which he has merely touched; as well those which are uncomplicated by sinister interests and the prejudices which grow out of them, as those which are associated with innumerable false judgments and wrong affections: hence, in regard to not one of them does a single case occur in which he has swerved from his principle or faltered, or so much as shown the slightest indication of faltering in the application of it.
“That he might be in the less danger of falling under the influence of any wrong bias, he kept himself as much as possible from all personal contact with what is called the world. Had he engaged in the active pursuits of life—money-getting, power-acquiring pursuits—he, like other men so engaged, must have had prejudices to humour, interests to conciliate, friends to serve, enemies to subdue; and therefore, like other men under the influence of such motives, must sometimes have missed the truth, and sometimes have concealed or modified it. But he placed himself above all danger of this kind, by retiring from the practice of the profession for which he had been educated, and by living in a simple manner on a small income allowed him by his father: and when, by the death of his father, he at length came into the possession of a patrimony which secured him a moderate competence, from that moment he dismissed from his mind all further thought about his private fortune, and bent the whole powers of his mind without distraction to his legislative and moral labours. Nor was he less careful to keep his benevolent affections fervent, than his understanding free from wrong bias. He surrounded himself only with persons whose sympathies were like his own, and whose sympathies he might direct to their appropriate objects in the active pursuits of life. Though he himself took no part in the actual business of legislation and government, yet, either by personal communication or confidential correspondence with them, he guided the minds of many of the most distinguished legislators and patriots, not only of his own country, but of all countries in both hemispheres. To frame weapons for the advocates of the reform of the institutions of his own country, was his daily occupation and his highest pleasure; and to him resorted, for counsel and encouragement, the most able and devoted of those advocates; while the patriots and philanthropists of Europe, as well as those of the New World, the countrymen of Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, together with the legislators and patriots of South America, speak of him as a tutelary spirit, and declare the practical application of his principles to be the object and end of their labours.
“While he availed himself of every means in his power of forming and cherishing a friendship with whoever in any country indicated remarkable benevolence; while Howard was his intimate friend—a friend delighted alike to find and to acknowledge in him a superior beneficent genius; while Romilly was not only the advocate of his opinions in the Senate, but the affectionate and beloved disciple in private; while for the youth La Fayette, his junior contemporary, he conceived an affection which in the old age of both was beautiful for the freshness and ardour with which it continued to glow; while there was no name in any country known and dear to Liberty and Humanity which was not known and dear to him, and no person bearing such name that ever visited England who was not found at his social board, he would hold intercourse with none of any rank or fame whose distinction was unconnected with the promotion of human improvement, and much less whose distinction arose from the zeal and success with which they laboured to keep back improvement. That the current of his own benevolence might experience no interruption or disturbance, he uniformly avoided engaging in any personal controversy; he contended against principles and measures, not men; and for the like reason he abstained from reading the attacks made upon himself, so that the ridicule and scoffing, the invective and malignity, with which he was sometimes assailed, proved as harmless to him as to his cause. By the society he shunned, as well as by that which he sought, he endeavoured to render his social intercourse subservient to the cultivation, to the perpetual growth and activity, of his benevolent sympathies.
“With such care over his intellectual faculties and his moral affections, and with the exalted direction which he gave to both, his own happiness could not but be sure. Few human beings have enjoyed a greater portion of felicity; and such was the cheerfulness which this internal happiness gave to the expression of his countenance and the turn of his conversation, that few persons ever spent an evening in his society, however themselves favoured by fortune, who did not depart with the feeling of satisfaction at having beheld such an object of emulation. Even in his writings, in the midst of profound and comprehensive views, there oftentimes break forth a sportiveness and humour no less indicative of gaiety of heart, than the most elaborate and original of his investigations are of a master-mind: but this gaiety was characteristic of his conversation, in which he seldom alluded, except in a playful manner, to the great subjects of his labours. A child-like simplicity of manner, combined with a continual playfulness of wit, made you forget that you were in the presence of the most acute and penetrating genius; made you conscious only that you were in the presence of the most innocent and gentle, the most consciously and singularly happy of human beings. And from this the true source of politeness, a benevolent and happy mind, endeavouring to communicate the pleasure of which it is itself conscious, flowed those unobtrusive, but not the less real and observant, attentions of which every guest perceived the grace and felt the charm. For the pleasures of the social board he had a relish as sincere, and perhaps as acute, as those who are capable of enjoying no others; and he partook of them freely, as far as they are capable of affording their appropriate good, without any admixture of the evils which an excessive indulgence in them is sure to bring. After dinner, it was his custom to enter with his disciple or friend (for seldom more than one, and never more than two, dined with him on the same day) on the discussion of the subject, whatever it might be, which had brought them together; and it was at this time also, that, in the form of dictation, in relation to those subjects which admit of this mode of composition, his disciple writing down his words as he uttered them, he treated of some of the subjects which have occupied his closest attention, and in the investigation of which he has displayed the greatest degree of originality and invention. In this manner was composed the greatest part of the Deontology, and nearly the whole of his Autobiography. At all times it was a fine exercise of the understanding, and sometimes an exquisite gratification of the noblest and best feelings of the heart, to be engaged in this service.
“He was capable of great severity and continuity of mental labour. For upwards of half a century he devoted seldom less than eight, often ten, and occasionally twelve hours of every day, to intense study. This was the more remarkable, as his physical constitution was by no means strong. His health, during the periods of childhood, youth, and adolescence, was infirm; it was not until the age of manhood that it acquired some degree of vigour: but that vigour increased with advancing age, so that during the space of sixty years he never laboured under any serious malady, and rarely suffered even from slight indisposition; and at the age of eighty-four he looked no older, and constitutionally was not older, than most men are at sixty; thus adding another illustrious name to the splendid catalogue which establishes the fact, that severe and constant mental labour is not incompatible with health and longevity, but conducive to both, provided the mind be unanxious and the habits temperate.
“He was a great economist of time. He knew the value of minutes. The disposal of his hours, both of labour and of repose, was a matter of systematic arrangement; and the arrangement was determined on the principle, that it is a calamity to lose the smallest portion of time. He did not deem it sufficient to provide against the loss of a day or an hour: he took effectual means to prevent the occurrence of any such calamity to him: but he did more: he was careful to provide against the loss even of a single minute; and there is on record no example of a human being who lived more habitually under the practical consciousness that his days are numbered, and that ‘the night cometh, in which no man can work.’
“The last days of the life even of an ordinary human being are seldom altogether destitute of interest; but when exalted wisdom and goodness have excited a high degree of admiration and love, the heart delights to treasure up every feeling then elicited, and every word in which that feeling was expressed. It had long been his wish that I should be present with him during his last illness. There seemed to be on his mind an apprehension, that, among the organic changes which gradually take place in the corporeal system in extreme old age, it might be his lot to labour under some one, the result of which might be great and long-continued suffering. In this case, he knew that I should do everything in my power to diminish pain and to render death easy; the contributing to the euthanasia forming, in my opinion, as he knew, no unimportant part of the duty of the physician. On the possible protraction of life, with the failure of the intellectual powers, he could not think without great pain; but it was only during his last illness, that is, a few weeks before his death, that any apprehension of either of these evils occurred to him. From the former he suffered nothing; and from the latter, as little as can well be, unless when death is instantaneous. The serenity and cheerfulness of his mind, when he became satisfied that his work was done, and that he was about to lie down to his final rest, was truly affecting. On that work he looked back with a feeling which would have been a feeling of triumph, had not the consciousness of how much still remained to be done, changed it to that of sorrow that he was allowed to do no more: but this feeling again gave place to a calm but deep emotion of exultation, as he recollected that he left behind him able, zealous, and faithful minds, that would enter into his labours and complete them.
“The last subject on which he conversed with me, and the last office in which he employed me, related to the permanent improvement of the circumstances of a family, the junior member of which had contributed in some degree to his personal comfort; and I was deeply impressed and affected by the contrast thus brought to my view, between the selfishness and apathy so often the companions of age, and the generous care for the welfare of others, of which his heart was full.
“Among the very last things which his hand penned, in a book of memoranda, in which he was accustomed to note down any thought or feeling that passed through his mind, for future revision and use, if susceptible of use, was found the following passage:—‘I am a selfish man, as selfish as any man can be. But in me, somehow or other, so it happens, selfishness has taken the shape of benevolence. No other man is there upon earth, the prospect of whose sufferings would to me be a pleasurable one: no man is there upon earth, the sight of whose sufferings would not to me be a more or less painful one: no man upon earth is there, the sight of whose enjoyments, unless believed by me to be derived from a more than equivalent suffering endured by some other man, would not be of a pleasurable nature rather than of a painful one. Such in me is the ‘force of sympathy!’
“And this ‘force of sympathy’ governed his very last hour of consciousness. Some time before his death, when he firmly believed he was near that last hour, he said to one of his disciples, who was watching over him:—‘I now feel that I am dying: our care must be to minimize the pain. Do not let any of the servants come into the room, and keep away the youths: it will be distressing to them, and they can be of no service. Yet I must not be alone: you will remain with me, and you only; and then we shall have reduced the pain to the least possible amount.’
“Such were his last thoughts and feelings; so perfectly, so beautifully did he illustrate, in his own example, what it was the labour of his life to make others!”
I must give a separate place to the Panopticon,* as it occupied so large a portion of Bentham’s life, and is so constantly referred to in his correspondence. In 1830-1, he wrote a volume which he entitled, “History of the War between Jeremy Bentham and George the Third. By one of the Belligerents,” containing an account of the progress and failure of the Panopticon Scheme. It is too long to reprint, but I shall extract from it the most remarkable passages. Bentham begins by saying:—
“But for George the Third, all the prisoners in England would, years ago, have been under my management. But for George the Third, all the paupers in the country would, long ago, have been under my management.
“The work entitled ‘Pauper Management,’* —the work to which this brief, and, it is hoped, not altogether uninstructive nor uninteresting history, is designed to serve as an introduction,—would have become law. But for George the Third, one of the joint wishes and endeavours of Pitt the Second and Lord Melville the First, to which no just condemnation can be attached, (would they had been more numerous,) would have been fulfilled.
“It was with me the war commenced. I confess it. I feel no need of being ashamed of it: it is for the reader to say to himself whether I have or no. Yes, I was the first aggressor,—meaning in the character of a subject making in a certain way war upon his sovereign. But whether that sovereign had not been intentionally an aggressor in endeavouring to plunge his subjects into a groundless war against a foreign sovereign, the reader will judge. I paralysed his hand. I saved the two countries, perhaps others likewise, from this calamity. He vowed revenge; and to effect it he wounded me through the sides of this his country, not to speak of so many others.†
“No muse shall I invoke: no muse would listen to me. A plain tale is all I have to tell: let others, if any, who may feel disposed and able, stick flowers in it.
“Catharine the Second had celebrity, nor that altogether undeserved. In a female body she had a masculine mind. She laid the foundation of a code,—an all-comprehensive code.
“My brother, whose loss I had to lament not many years ago,—my only brother, of whose education, he being nine years my junior, the superintendence fell into my hands, when on a traveller’s visit to that country, was found possessed of rare talents, was arrested, put into office, and succeeded.
“In the year 1786, or 1787, I being on a visit to my brother, of a year and a half, or thereabouts, at Crichoff in White Russia, where he was stationed with a battalion of a thousand men under his command, on an estate then lately purchased by Prince Potemkin, Prime Minister of Russia, under Catharine the Second, the idea presented itself to him of a mode of architecture, to which I gave the name of Panopticon, from the two Greek words,—one of which signified everything, the other a place of sight. A Mr Pinchbeck, a sort of artist, who enjoyed more or less of the personal favour of George the Third, had either anticipated me, or afterwards followed me in the employment given to that name.
“The purpose to which this rotundo-form was destined to be employed by my brother, was that of a large workshop, in which, with or without the benefit of steam-engine power, occupations capable of being in any degree diversified, might be carried on; partitions in the form and position of radii of the circle being employed in separating from each other such as required to be so separated: in the centre was the apartment, styled, from its destination, the Inspector’s Lodge: from thence by turning round his axis, a functionary, standing or sitting on the central point, had it in his power to commence and conclude a survey of the whole establishment in the twinkling of an eye, to use a proverbial phrase. But forasmuch as men had not in these days,—whatsoever may have been the case in the days of Pliny and the traveller Mandeville,—any visual organs seated in the back part of the human frame, it was considered accordingly, that it was material to good order, that the workmen, whose operations were designed to be thus watched, should not be able to know each of them respectively at any time, whether he was or was not at that moment in a state in which the eyes of the inspector were directed to his person in such manner as to take a view of it: accordingly, for the production of this effect, provision was made of an annular screen, pierced in such a manner with slits or holes, that by any person it might be seen whether a person, whom, in this or that other part of the building, he was taking a view of, was knowing whether he was viewed or not.
“Taking in hand this idea, I made application of it for the purpose of the case in which the persons subjected to inspection, were placed in that situation, not only for the purpose of being subjected to direction, but also for the purpose of being made to suffer in the way of punishment: in a word, as a place of labour and confinement for convicts.
“To the carrying this design into effect, two requisites were necessary:—The first an appropriate form of architecture as above, and an appropriate plan of management, so organized as to draw from that mode of architecture, as far as practicable, all the advantages it was capable of affording. In the course of my reflections on this latter subject, I came to my conclusion, that the customary plan pursued in works instituted by Government, and carried on, on account of Government, was, in an eminent degree, ill adapted to the purpose: though to this general rule, particular exceptions there might be; but to the particular purpose then in hand, they had no application. Accordingly, management by contract, I became convinced, was the only plan that afforded a probability of good success.
“In pursuance of the labours of Howard, who died a martyr to benevolence, Sir William Blackstone, the illustrious Commentator on the Law of England—Sir Wlliam Blackstone, in connexion with Mr Eden, afterwards coroneted by the title of Lord Auckland, devised a plan of architecture and management of a prison for the confinement of convicts, and accordingly drew up for that purpose a Bill which received the official denomination of the Hard-Labour Bill. Their plan was in some form or other laid before the public, with such explanations as were thought requisite. The plan of management was—not contract-management, as above, but trust-management: the managing hands, whether one or more, not having any interest in the success: gaining nothing in case of profit, losing nothing in case of loss: in a word, their interest was not to be coincident with their duty. On the contrary, the one was destined to operate in constant opposition to the other: for where a man has nothing to gain by labour, it is his interest to be idle or do anything but labour.
“Actuated by these conceptions, I published, anno 1789, a tract, entitled, ‘View of the Hard-Labour Bill.’* In this work I took in hand the plan of the two illustrious statesmen, applied to it the above principle, examined it in all its details, and the result was what appeared to me to be a complete demonstration of its inaptitude. Blackstone, notwithstanding the war I had made upon him in my ‘Fragment on Government,’ in answer to the present I made him of a copy of that little work sent me a civil note, acknowledging that he and his coöperator had derived assistance from it: they went to work notwithstanding, and obtained an Act of Parliament, under and by virtue of which they fixed upon a site for the erection. It was a spot of about fourscore acres, in the vicinity of Battersea, and distinguished by the name of Battersea Rise. For ascertaining the sum to be paid for it by Government, a jury, according to custom, was summoned, and assessed the value at a sum between six and seven thousand pounds. On payment of that sum it was in the power of Government at any time to take possession of it, and transfer it into any hands at pleasure.
“From causes not necessary to bring on this occasion to view, the undertaking lingered, and the verdict of the appraising jury remained without effect. Meantime, my brother remaining still in Russia, I was unable, for want of his assistance, to determine upon the exact form of the edifice, and through want of means, to make a proposal for the performance of the function in question by contract. In the year 1790, the return of my brother to England, furnished me with the requisite architectural skill; and the death of my father, which took place in March 1792, with the addition of assistance from without, supplied the pecuniary means. Accordingly, in March 1792, I sent in to Mr Pitt, then First Lord of the Treasury; and Mr Dundas, then Secretary of State, afterwards created Lord Melville, a proposal for the taking charge of convicts to the number of a thousand, according to the above-mentioned plan of construction and management upon the terms therein mentioned. This proposal, in the terms in which it was sent in, is here subjoined at the bottom of the page.*
“For giving the requisite powers to the executive authority, an Act of Parliament was necessary. Somehow or other the business lingered: nobody but the King and Prime Minister Pitt knew why. Even Lord Melville, I have some reason to think, remained in a state of ignorance; for, as I still remember, Mr Nepean, then Under-Secretary of State under Mr Dundas, showed me a short note from Mr Dundas to Mr Pitt reproaching him with the delay. What I also remember is, Mr Douglas, created then or afterwards Lord Glenbervie, telling me of something which, on the occasion of an interview of his with Mr Pitt, he had said in the view of expediting it. At length came the day, in 1794, on which the act was passed, by which the doing the business by contract was authorized. And the spot at Battersea Rise, which, as above, had been destined to the reception of a penitentiary establishment on the plan of Sir William Blackstone and Mr Eden, was made to change its destiny, and was transferred to the intended penitentiary to be erected and managed upon my plan. The lingering continued: nobody knew why. Mr Pitt was shy in speaking of it. After three or four years’ interval, the business came upon the carpet in another form. In the year 1797 was instituted the important and influential Finance Committee,—the first by which a report approaching to any such length as that which this Committee gave birth to was produced. Mr Abbot having distinguished himself at Christ Church College, Oxford, where, through the medium of Westminster School, he had succeeded to a studentship, had been received into favour by the Duke of Leeds of that day, and through his means had been sent by a rotten borough to the House of Commons, having been called to the Bar. He was nominated Chairman to that committee by Mr Pitt, at the recommendation of Mr Pepper Arden, afterwards made Lord Chief-Justice of the Common Pleas.
“Mr Abbot was related to me by marriage. When he was between five and six years old, his mother took for her second husband my father, and became his second wife. He and his elder brother were bred up together with my brother in the house which I now inhabit: they going at the same time for instruction to Westminster School. Between the ages of the Abbots there was an interval of two years,—my brother’s was at a nearly equal distance between the two.
“In those days Mr Colquhoun, who, upon the institution of the Metropolitan Police Magistracy in the year 1792, was appointed one of the three police magistrates sitting at the Queen Square Westminster Office, had distinguished himself by his work on the Police. By the above-mentioned Finance Committee, he was brought before them with my proposal, the same by which the above-mentioned Act of Parliament had been procured, in his hand. How this happened I never knew,—whether it was of his own accord, or at the suggestion of the Prime Minister, or some other member of the Government. Among the members of that committee was Mr, now the Right Honourable Reginald Pole Carew. He had become my friend, and a warm partisan of the Panopticon system, through the medium of my brother, with whom he had become acquainted at Petersburg. The task of making a Report on the Panopticon plan was committed to his hands. The Report he drew up accordingly in favour of the plan was couched in such strong terms, that prudence suggested and produced the suppression of it. It went into other hands,—whose they were I do not at present recollect, if I ever knew—whether those of Mr Abbot, chairman of the entire committee, or any one else. Of a speech which, on that occasion, Mr Abbot made in the Committee, the substance was at the time reported to me. Referring to some of the most noted instances of cruelty that history records: ‘We do not sit here,’ said he, ‘to try causes; but the cruelty of the cruelest of those cases was not comparable to that which this man has been suffering.’ On this occasion the Lords of the Treasury were called upon to say whether or no they were prepared to go on with the plan; and if not, why not?—they answered, in cold terms, in the affirmative.
“At this time, however, or before, I was informed that the spot at Battersea Rise, which had formed the basis of the proposal made by me, and acceded to as above, could not be given to me. Two personages [were the parties interested,]—the then Archbishop of York, Dr Markham, in right of the see, the paramount proprietor; Earl Spencer, as lessee under a long lease from that same see. The Archbishop had been headmaster of Westminster School during the five or six years which I had passed in that seminary: he submitted without reluctance: a civil letter which he wrote to me on that occasion, intimating his consent, is still in my possession. Lord Spencer demurred: he refused to cede the spot to me: but he gave me reason to hope that another part of his estate, called, I believe, Battersea Fields, might be conceded to me. His steward, he said, had informed him that the setting up of an institution of that sort, threatened to be detrimental to other parts of his vast property in that neighbourhood. The spot destined to the institution by Parliament, was an elevated one,—the highest part of it at the same height above the water, by which one boundary of it was bathed,—namely, about ninety-two feet,—as the top of the roof of Westminster Abbey. The spot which I had been led to expect in lieu of it, was also contiguous to the river, but was little, if anything, better than a marsh. By the noble earl I was kept from the cold, in hot water, for about a twelvemonth; at the end of which time I was informed that it never had been his intention that I should have either the one spot or the other: but that should he be compelled to give up part of his estate for the purpose, the choice between the two being at the same time allowed to him, it should be the low, and not the elevated ground.
“I was thereupon turned adrift, dislodged from this spot, and sent abroad in quest of another spot: like our first parents, ‘the world before me,’—but if Providence was my guide, she proved for this time but a blind one. Many were the spots thought of, several visited, and two or three provisionally approved of. Of one of them, about seven or eight miles to the south or south-east of London, I remember nothing more at present than that it was elevated,—this property being originally recommended, and always wished for, and to such a degree stony as to be barren. Another is that which is called ‘Hanging Wood,’—an elevated and beautiful spot on this side of Woolwich.
“By what means, in these several cases, the door, after having been opened, was finally shut against me, is not worth recollecting: at length an opportunity that seemed favourable presented itself; the Earl of Salisbury, of that day, happened to be in want of a sum in ready money,—he had a freehold estate at Millbank,—it had for one of its boundaries a line of about half-a-mile in length, and washed all the way by the Thames.
“At length the time was come for putting a final extinguisher upon all hopes. The Millbank estate was now in my possession, all but the one piece of garden-ground, for the buying out of the lease of which £1000 was necessary. The mornings, as usual, were passed in the Treasury Chambers, either in a waiting-room,—not unfrequently the board-room itself,—or the passages. I had become familiar with three of the chief clerks: one day said one of them to me, ‘Well, now you will not have long to wait,—the warrant for the £1000 is gone to the king,—his majesty is a man of business,—seldom does a document wait more than twenty-four hours for his signature.’ The next day came, and the next to that, and so on for three weeks,—a day or two more or less,—all the while the same familiarity and favour in all faces, but the surprise on both parts continually on the increase. On the day that followed, on repairing to the usual haunt, I found everything converted into ice. Upon my putting some question or other, ‘Mr Bentham,’ said the clerk to whom I addressed myself, ‘you must be sensible that this is a sort of information that is never given, and as seldom asked for.’ If these were not the very words, this, at any rate, was the very substance. Here ended all hopes of setting up the prison institution. Still, however, the Millbank estate remained in my hands, part and parcel in the occupation of tenants holding of me at will,—other part, at first in the hands out of which it should have been purchased, and at length the lease having expired, in the occupation of a tenant at will, as before. Not only the land itself was thus in my possession, but the deeds by which it had been conveyed to me. Until those deeds could be got out of my hands, and transferred to certain others, it was not thought advisable to dispose of the land in any other manner. Various were the stratagems employed for the acquisition of these same documents. The recital would be not only instructive but amusing, could time be spared for it.
“I come now to another campaign of the war.
“In 1797, Pitt the First, then Prime Minister, brought in his Poor Bill.
“Universal was the sensation produced by a measure so important and extensive. It had for its leading idea and groundwork a plan that had been proposed by Mr Ruggles, a country gentleman of Essex.
“I took in hand this bill. I dissected it. I proposed a succedaneum to it: this succedaneum I couched in the form of letters, addressed to Arthur Young, for proposed insertion into the Annals of Agriculture, which had been brought into existence a short time before. They appeared, accordingly, in four successive numbers, in the form of letters, addressed to the editor of these same Annals:* the matter of them is that which forms the matter of the body of Pauper Management.†
“It may be seen to contain a complete system of provision for the helpless and indigent portion of the community of England and Wales included: Local field the same as that of Minister Pitt’s above-mentioned Poor Bill. Mutatis mutandis plan of architecture the same as that of Panopticon plan—devised for the lodgement, maintenance, and employment of prisoners. Note,—that it was for persons of the unoffending class that this new plan of architure was originally devised. Principle of universal and constant inspectability the same in both cases: inspectability of the inspectors by the eye of the public opinion tribunal the same in both cases: but actual subjection to inspection in no cases except those in which it was required by the different purposes, or objects in view, of the different, or, in some respects, coincident institutions.
“Arthur Young was in a state of rapture: he presented me with 250 copies of those Nos. of his Annals in which the matter was contained. By me they were distributed, at different times, among such persons in whose hands they presented to my conception a promise of being of use: whether any of the copies were ever on sale, is more than I can remember: among those presented, were one to Minister Pitt, the other to Senior Secretary of State, George—afterwards Sir George Rose, and one I take for granted, but from inference rather than remembrance, to Secretary Dundas.
“All this while Panopticon for Prison management remained upon the carpet. One day I received from Mr Rose an invitation to call upon him—not at his office, but at his house. Days are, on this occasion, of more importance than months, or even years. Notwithstanding the unequivocal and repeated tokens of approbation that had been given to the Panopticon plan by the Planner-General of all the arrangements of the Prime Minister, my intercourse with him had as yet been no otherwise than at arm’s length. In demeanour, master and man, proportions gardées, were alike cold and haughty: the man was passionate, rough, and coarse. Imagine my astonishment who can, when, after giving me to understand that those on whom the issue depended had read the work,* and read it with approbation, he concluded with saying, ‘Come and dine with me here one day the beginning of next week,—Mr Pitt and Mr Dundas will meet you,—and we will settle about this plan of yours.’ The day of the week on which this announcement was made was Friday: I was in the seventh heaven. The Monday passed away—the Tuesday in like manner—the Wednesday eke also. There ended the beginning of the week: on the Thursday I heard, as it were, by accident, by whose mouth I did not long remember, that on the Wednesday, instead of myself, Mr Ruggles had been the guest: but that the entertainment had closed with mutual dissatisfaction. From the above-mentioned seventh heaven this intelligence cast me down, if not to the bottom of the abyss of despair, at any rate but a little distance from it—a bush of thorns having caught hold of the skirts of my clothing and saved me from absolute destruction.
“Before this time I had received intimation from Mr Rose, that strong as had been the approbation bestowed upon my plan by all those to whose department the business belonged, other persons there were by whom it had been viewed with an eye not altogether favourable: who these persons were was not mentioned, nor any description given of them less mysterious than this. What the power was that thus stood in the way was more than at that time I had any suspicion of. There was an end to my situation of Sub-Regulus of the Poor; but my claim to be Sub-Regulus of the imprisoned part of the population still lingered.
“To contract-management was to be substituted trust-management,—in other words, the trustees being constituted authorities, nominees of other superior constituted authorities, management by patronage; or, in still ulterior words, to management by functionaries in whose instance interest coincided with duty—trustees whose interest was at daggers-drawn with duty.
“That everything might be done in due, that is to say, in accustomed form, a committee of Honourable House was duly organized,—number of members twenty-one, appropriately packed for the purpose. On this occasion what other persons were examined I cannot recollect,—the votes of the time would of course show. I of course was of the number.
“This formality being gone through, an act was passed in 1811.
“Never does the current of my thoughts alight upon the Panopticon and its fate, but my heart sinks within me: upon the Panopticon in both its branches,—the prisoner branch and the pauper branch: upon what they are now, and what they ought to have been, and would have been, had any other king than this same George the Third been in those days on the throne. According to the calculations which had then been, with close attention, made, the pecuniary value of a child at its birth,—that value which at present is not merely equal 0, but equal to an oppressively large negative quantity, would, under that system of maintenance and education which I had prepared for it, expense of conveyance to the distant site allowed for, have been a positive quantity to no inconsiderable amount.
“So much for unoffending indigence. As to the criminally-offending part of population, no tamer of elephants had a better grounded anticipation of the success of his management than I had of mine, as applied to the offending school of my scholars. Learned and Right Honourable judges I would not then have undertaken,—I would not now undertake to tame: learned gentlemen in full practice I would not have undertaken to tame: noble lords I would not have undertaken to tame: honourable gentlemen I would not have undertaken to tame. As to learned judges under the existing system, I have shown to demonstration, nor has that demonstration ever been contested, nor will it ever be contested, that (not to speak of malevolence and benevolence) the most maleficent of the men whom they consign to the gallows is, in comparison with those by whom this disposition is made of them, not maleficent, but beneficent.
“Various were my adventures when, year after year, I was sent or encouraged to go upon a place του στω—a land-hunting—hunting after terra firma, which I so oftentimes found slippery as ice,—slipping through my fingers: analogous in some sort was my unhappy chase to that of Fenelon’s Telemachus when rambling in quest of his father Ulysses: as often as he thought himself on the point of receiving the paternal embrace, consigned by some delusion or other to final disappointment. But how sadly different the catastrophe,—how opposite in my case to what is called poetical justice!
“A little before or after the presentation of my convict’s Panopticon plan to Pitt the second in London, I had transmitted it to Ireland, to Sir John Parnell, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, father of the present Sir Henry: favourable in no small degree was the acceptance given to it: out of it grew the two volumes entitled ‘Panopticon,’ &c., which are still before the public; between myself and that worthy man and honest functionary, it produced a correspondence, and in the course of a visit of his to London, a personal intercourse and interchange of convivial hospitality. At one time came to me from the Baronet an invitation to Dublin, for the purpose of superintending the building and organizing the institution there. In this summons was comprised an invitation to take, for the time that my stay in that metropolis continued, his house for my home. All this notwithstanding, somehow or other, I found that, after that invitation, I had sent to Dublin to the appointed office my MSS. for impression, the impression, notwithstanding my instances, stood still; and hence it was that it was continued at my own expense, and put into the form in which it is now visible.
“At this time Lord Westmoreland was Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland: an architectural plan of the prison contemplated for Dublin was put by the Chancellor of the Exchequer into the hand of his Excellency. ‘They will all get out,’ were the very words of the answer, as reported to me. Nor was the observation altogether groundless; for of those safeguards, which are common to all prisons, no graphical representation was, I believe, contained: nor even, for want of room, the plan of external fortification and circumvallation. Be this as it may, the laconicalness of the observation, in conjunction with the tone and deportment which accompanied it, were such as sufficed to show that attempts at explanation would have been fruitless—would have been presented to averted head, closed eyelids, and obdurated ears. Not altogether favourable to the superior was the observation hereupon made to me by the subordinate functionary, and the character in few words given of him: but the maxim de mortuis nil nisi bonum has its counterpart in the shorter maxim de vivis ne maledic,—at any rate when the situation of the vivi is in so high a degree elevated.
“Many years after, a similarly decisive rejection was put upon the plan,—that is to say, the architectural part of it—by a Home Secretary in London. Divers models of different sizes, for the purpose of conveying an impression of the whole together, in particular parts of it, had been put together by my brother, and exhibited in the house from which this is dated, in the room which now is employed as a library.* By appointment enter the Duke of Portland, with two of his Grace’s sons: scarce had he bestowed a glance upon each of the models, when the observation came from him—‘Not light enough:’ such was the substance of the observation, not more than twice as many the words, whatever they were:—nor was this condemnation passed by his Grace in London more groundless than that passed so many years before in Dublin by his Excellency: true it is, that the edifice being circularly polygonal, glass was the sole material of which the boundary all round was composed, with the exception of the aggregate of the iron-bars and leadings necessary for the imbeddings of the panes of glass: and as to the want of light in the Inspector’s lodge in the centre, in the first place, what his duty required was, not to be seen, but only to see, and the partitions, ten or eleven in number, being all of them in the direction of the radii of the circumscribing circle, opposed next to no obstruction to the entrance of the light, even to that station in which light was so little necessary, namely, the above-mentioned central lodge. In the history written by, I-forget-what illustrious Frenchman, under the unpretending title of Fairy Tales, one of the occurrences is the imprisonment of the heroine in a palace, the boundaries of which were composed throughout of one solid mass of glass. Of this archetype, the Panopticon was as near a similitude as the limited power of human art could admit of.
“In form, the edifice had its similitude and its really existing archetype in the once celebrated place of entertainment designated by the appellation of Ranelagh House, or, for shortness, Ranelagh—having originally been built for, and inhabited by General Jones, created by William the Third, Earl of Ranelagh, in Ireland: scene of many an amorous intrigue; and for that purpose indicated as destined by the Viscountess and her learned gallant in one of the prints of Hogarth’s Marriage à-la-mode.† Another and much better-fated similitude, for it still exists and flourishes, is the capital part of the splendid conservatory in the nursery-ground of Mr Loddiges, in the neighbourhood of Hackney.
“All this is true: but not less true it is, that in the room in which the models in question were, dimensions of the boundary fronting the light 25 feet, in it number of windows not more than three, nor those very large ones: nor had any particular solicitude been employed about the removal of little obstructions to the entrance of the light: nor about the choice of the day appointed for the visitation of the illustrious guest at the abode of the humble host: nor had Phœbus vouchsafed at that moment to illuminate the receptacle by his rays.
“Of this condemnatory visit, such as it was, I remember the transmitting information by a note in writing to my friend Mr Wilberforce, in those days one of the most distinguished, zealous, and influential patrons of the measure: an answer of his is still in my possession somewhere; in terms altogether remarkable, if not unprecedented on the part of my pious and benevolent friend, he gives vent to the indignation which that occurrence had awakened in a bosom so unaccustomed to sensations of this nature.”
Bentham was a frequent visiter at the table of Mr Wilberforce, where he met with Lord Eldon then Attorney-general, Lord Stowell, Lord Harrowby, and many other leading political men. Bentham remembered, and often repeated, a strong phrase of Wilberforce: “I will never forsake you; but the Minister is not with you.” There had been a misunderstanding between Pitt and Wilberforce, not such as to stop all communication, for they availed themselves of Lord Carrington’s friendship for both to preserve through him a certain intercourse. Bentham thought that Pitt was not unfavourable to his scheme, for, on more than one occasion, he said that Bentham had been greatly injured and cruelly treated by the procrastination; but Pitt communicated to nobody, not even to Dundas, the real cause of the delays. Wilberforce was disposed to blame Pitt severely—but without sufficient reason. Wilberforce thought Pitt’s opinions on religious matters lax and immoral; and to that laxity he was habitually disposed to attribute whatever was amiss.
The Government, however, was so much compromised by its acts and its promises, that a Parliamentary Committee, Mr Holford being Chairman, was nominated with the consent of the Ministers, for the purpose, as Bentham was afterwards compelled to believe, of crushing the Panopticon plan of management, and setting up the Patronage plan in lieu of it. This was in 1811,—after nineteen years of waiting.
It was only, however, on the progress of the inquiry, that Bentham saw evidence of the concert of a majority to defeat his object; for his supposition had been, that the Committee was nominated for the purpose of giving effect to it. Of Wilberforce, Bentham said:—“From the first to last, his wishes for the melioration, temporal and spiritual, as well as comfort of these peccant members of society, had been sincere: his labours towards the effectuation of those objects correspondent: so long as my share in the promised institution for that purpose afforded a ray of hope, he had stood by me. At what precise time he joined himself to that Baal-peor, it fell not in my way to know. At the time at which these symptoms of tergiversation presented themselves to my observation, he cannot but have understood so much of the nature of the obstacle to the maintenance of the public faith that had been pledged to me, as to see that it was invincible. That which was best, being no longer possible, that which to him seemed next best, was of course that which it was his duty to transfer his endeavours to the accomplishment of.
“By the part he took in the business, my condition was not in any degree or way deteriorated: the change, if any was made in it, was for the better. Of the design he was engaged in, the tendency, and one object at least, was to preserve, as far as might be, a calm in my mind, and prevent any such ebullition as would be apt to produce feelings of an inimical nature towards me in the minds of those on whom the compensation due to me for my sufferings might depend: in whatsoever instance any direct violation of the law of veracity had been committed by other persons, he had no share in it. True it is, he had given me reason to believe, that the course it was intended to be taken in relation to me and my institution by these same omnipotent persons, was not known to him; and that it was in a more or less considerable degree unknown to him, is what I see nothing to prevent me from being persuaded of.”
The sum which Bentham received as compensation for the non-fulfilment of the contracts with him for Panopticon, was £23,000. The amount was paid him in 1813.*
The Panopticon plan had been in discussion for more than a quarter of a century. On the 9th May, 1794, leave was given to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Dundas, and to the Attorney and Solicitor General, to bring in a Bill for the erection of a Penitentiary House, &c. On that occasion Mr Dundas said:—“When first the plan was mentioned to him, (Mr Dundas,) and when he was told that many of those convicts who were transported to Botany Bay for life might be usefully employed in manufactures in this country, he owned he thought the scheme a visionary one; but on more closely examining the mode proposed by a gentleman, whose manufactory was not far from that House, he found that the plan was not only practicable, but also very easy to be carried into effect—viz., by means of a machine which enabled every man to be a manufacturer, without the assistance of any skill whatever. It might be said to be a machine that gave the power of sight without eyes, and of feeling without hands: merely moving the machine answered all the purposes of completing the manufacture. A great number of persons, he was persuaded, might be employed here, where their labour would be very useful to the public: and he believed, that with very little additional expense, the produce of the labour would equal the expense of carrying on the work.”
In remarking upon some observations from another speaker, he said—“The plan would not only be lucrative to the persons employed; but, he was extremely well satisfied, would defray its own expense.”
Instead of the Panopticon, “the unexampled inspectable prison” of Bentham,—the Penitentiary of Millbank was erected,—not to be entered without the order of a Secretary of State; and while it had none of the advantages of the Panopticon, it cost more than ten times the amount the Panopticon would have cost.
Speaking of Panopticon, Bentham said to me in 1822:—“Among my undivulged instruments of amusement and good morals for the prisoners in Panopticon one was singing in chorus: for audience, volunteer visiters in the Central Lodge. Tune 1. Malbrook, Coda to the song, ‘Our worthy Governor.’ Stanza, reciting in verse all the good things he stood engaged to do for them, and stating them as done. This, in so far as done, would be just eulogy; in so far as left undone, merited satire and accusation before all the world. Tune 2. Another pretty melody, and almost as simple—
Words the same, except, that instead of drink, in stanza 1, work; stanza 2, learn; in stanza 3, sing.”
I have not been willing to interrupt the narrative by the introduction of the correspondence, which, in fact, would of itself fill large volumes; but as it appears to me that many of the letters have an interest more than temporary, both from their style as compositions and the intrinsic value of their contents, I have selected some of them, partly in the character of “probative documents,” or “pieces justificatives,” as the French denominate them; and partly as illustrative of the history of the times and of the character of Bentham.
[* ] The Spaniards have an admirable apopthegm, which Bentham was wont to admire: “¿Si hay remedio porque te apuras?—¿si no hay remedio porque te apuras?” If there be a remedy, why dost thou worry thyself?—if there be no remedy why dost thou worry thyself?
[* ] “It will be long before the mass of educated people in this country are sufficiently advanced to read and appreciate these profound and admirable works; but the time is not distant, when, however they may be now neglected by the present members of our legislature, it will be universally deemed alike absurd and disgraceful for any man to aspire to the character, much less to the seat of a legislator, who has not made them his study.”
[† ] “In his work on Legislation and Morals, this philosopher had long ago laid down the principle of felicity as the basis of morals, and shown that all other foundations attempted to be established, different as they are, and even opposite as they seem to be, to each other, are capable of being reduced to two—asceticism and sentimentalism. The principle of asceticism, like that of felicity, approves or disapproves of an action according to its tendency to augment or diminish happiness, but in an inverse manner; approving of an action in as far as it tends to diminish happiness, disapproving of it in as far as it tends to augment it. Whoever reprobates any the least particle of pleasure, as such, from whatever source derived, is, pro tanto, a partisan of the principle of asceticism. The principle of felicity is capable of being consistently pursued, that of asceticism is not. Let but one-tenth part of the inhabitants of this earth pursue it consistently, and in one day’s time they will have turned it into a hell.
“By the principle of sentimentalism is meant that principle which approves or disapproves of an action, not on account of its tendency to augment or to diminish happiness, but because a person finds himself disposed to approve or disapprove of the action in question; that approbation or disapprobation being assumed as sufficient of itself, and the necessity of looking out for any external ground being expressly disclaimed. This is not so much a positive principle, as a term employed to signify the negation of all principle. A principle is something which points out some external consideration as a means of warranting and guiding the internal sentiment of approbation and disapprobation: but that which merely holds up each of these sentiments as a ground and standard for itself, is not worthy of the name.
“In examining the catalogue of human actions with a view of determining which are to be marked with the seal of disapprobation, (says a partisan of this principle,) you need but to take counsel of your own feelings. Whatever you find in yourself a propensity to condemn, is wrong for that very reason. For the same reason, it is also meet for punishment. The proportion in which it is adverse to happiness, the not being adverse to happiness at all, is of no manner of consequence. The degree of disapprobation you feel, is also the measure of punishment. If you hate much, punish much; if you hate little, punish little: punish as you hate. If you hate not at all, punish not at all. The fine feelings of the soul are not to be outborne and tyrannized by the hard and rugged dictates of political utility.
“The various principles that have been formed concerning the standard of right and wrong, may all be reduced to this principle of sympathy and antipathy. One account may serve for all of them. They all consist in so many contrivances for avoiding the obligation of appealing to any external standard, and in referring to the sentiment of approbation or disapprobation as the ultimate reason or the true standard. It is curious to observe the variety of inventions contrived for this purpose; the phrases different,—the principle the same.
“Thus, one man says he has a thing made on purpose to tell him what is right and what is wrong, and that it is called a moral sense; and then he goes to work at his ease, and says such a thing is right, and such a thing is wrong—Why? ‘Because my moral sense tells me it is.’
“Another man comes, and alters the phrase; leaving out moral, and putting in common in the room of it. He then tells you that his common sense teaches him what is right and wrong as surely as the other’s moral sense did; meaning by common sense, a sense of some kind or other, which, he says, is possessed by all mankind: the sense of those whose sense is not the same as the author’s being struck out of the account as not worth taking. This contrivance does better than the other; for a moral sense, being a new thing, a man may feel about him a good while without being able to find it out. But common sense is as old as the creation; and there is no man but would be ashamed to be thought not to have as much of it as his neighbours. It has another great advantage—by appearing to share power, it lessens envy; for when a man gets up upon this ground, in order to anathematise those who differ from him, it is not by a sic volo sic jubeo, but by a velitis jubeatis.
“Another man comes, and says, that as to a moral sense, indeed, he cannot find that he has any such thing; that, however, he has an understanding, which will do quite as well. This understanding, he says, is the standard of right and wrong—it tells him so and so. All good and wise men understand as he does; if other men’s understandings differ in any point from his, so much the worse for them—it is a sure sign they are either defective or corrupt.
“Another man says, that there is an eternal and immutable Rule of Right; that that rule of right dictates so and so; and then he begins giving you his sentiments upon anything that comes uppermost; and these sentiments (you are to take for granted) are so many branches of the eternal Rule of Right.
“Another man, or perhaps the same man, (it is no matter,) says, that there are certain practices conformable, and others repugnant, to the Fitness of Things; and then he tells you, at his leisure, what practices are conformable, and what repugnant: just as he happens to like a practice, or dislike it.
“A great multitude of people are constantly talking of the Law of Nature; and then they go on giving you their sentiments about what is right and what is wrong: and these sentiments, you are to understand, are so many chapters and sections of the Law of Nature. Instead of the phrase Law of Nature, you have sometimes Law of Reason, Right Reason, Natural Justice, Natural Equity, Good Order. Any of them will do equally well.
“We have one philosopher who says, there is no harm in anything in the world but in telling a lie; and that if, for example, you were to murder your own father, this would only be a particular way of saying, he was not your father. Of course, when this philosopher sees anything that he does not like, he says, ‘It is a particular way of telling a lie: it is saying that the act ought to be done, when, in truth, it ought not to be done.’
“The fairest and openest of them all is that sort of man who speaks out, and says, ‘I am of the number of the Elect: now God himself takes care to inform the Elect what is right; and that with so good effect, that, let them strive ever so, they cannot help not only knowing it, but practising it. If, therefore, a man wants to know what is right and what is wrong, he has nothing to do but to come to me.’
“The mischief common to all these ways of thinking and arguing (which, in truth, as we have seen, are but one and the same method, couched in different forms of words) is their serving as a cloak, and pretence, and aliment to despotism: if not a despotism in practice, a despotism, however, in disposition, which is but too apt, when pretence and power offer, to show itself in practice. The consequence is, that, with intentions very commonly of the purest kind, a man becomes a torment either to himself or his fellow-creatures. If he be of the melancholy cast, he sits in silent grief, bewailing their blindness and depravity; if of the irascible, he declaims with fury and virulence against all who differ from him; blowing up the coals of fanaticism, and branding with the charge of corruption and insincerity every man who does not think, or profess to think, as he does.
“ ‘I feel in myself,’ say you, ‘a disposition to approve of such or such an action in a moral view; but this is not owing to any notion I have of its being a useful one to the community. I do not pretend to know whether it be an useful one or not: it may be, for aught I know, a mischievous one.’ ‘But is it then,’ say I, ‘a mischievous one? Examine; and if you can make yourself sensible that it is so, then, if duty means anything, that is moral duty, it is your duty, at least, to abstain from it; and more than that, if it is what lies in your power, and can be done without too great a sacrifice, to endeavour to prevent it. It is not your cherishing the notion of it in your bosom, and giving it the name of virtue that will excuse you.’
“ ‘I feel in myself,’ say you again, ‘a disposition to detest such or such an action in a moral view; but this is not owing to any notion I have of its being a mischievous one to the community. I do not pretend to know whether it be a mischievous one or not: it may be not a mischievous one; it may be, for aught I know, an useful one.’ ‘May it, indeed,’ say I, ‘be an useful one? But let me tell you then, that unless duty, and right and wrong, be just what you please to make them, if it really be not a mischievous one, and anybody has a mind to do it, it is no duty of yours, but, on the contrary, it would be very wrong in you, to take upon you to prevent him. Detest it within yourself as much as you please—that may be a very good reason (unless it be also an useful one) for your not doing it yourself. But if you go about, by word or deed, to do anything to hinder him, or make him suffer for it, it is you, and not he, that have done wrong; it is not your setting yourself to blame his conduct, or branding it with the name of vice, that will make him culpable, or you blameless.’ ”—Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, p. 28 et seq.
[* ] “All laws,” he says, “which have for their end the happiness of those concerned, endeavour to make, and, in the degree in which they are wise and effective, actually do make, that for a man’s happiness which they proclaim to be his duty. That a man ought to sacrifice his happiness to his duty, is a common position; that such or such a man has sacrificed his happiness to his duty, is a common assertion, and made the groundwork of admiration. But when happiness and duty are considered in their broadest sense, it will be seen that, in the general tenor of life, the sacrifice of happiness to duty is neither possible nor desirable; that it cannot have place; and that if it could, the interests of mankind would not be promoted by it.
“ ‘Sacrifice, sacrifice!’ is the demand of the every-day moralist. Sacrifice, taken by itself, is mischievous; and mischievous is the influence that connects morality with suffering. Morality is, then, the most effective when it is the least painful. Its associations are cheerfulness and joy, not gloom and misery. The less of happiness is sacrificed, the greater must be the total sum of happiness. Let it be obtained gratis where it can; where it cannot be had without sacrifice, let the sacrifice be as small as possible; where the sacrifice will be great, let it be ascertained that the happiness will be greater. This is the true economy of pleasure; this is the prolific cultivation of virtue.
“In treating of morals, it has hitherto been the invariable practice to speak of man’s duty, and nothing more. Yet, unless it can be shown that a particular action, or course of conduct, is for a man’s happiness, the attempt to prove to him that it is his duty, is but a waste of words. Yet, with such waste of words has the field of ethics been filled. A man, a moralist, gets into an elbow-chair, and pours forth pompous dogmas about duty and duties. Why is he not listened to? Because every man is thinking about interests. It is a part of his very nature to think first about interests. It is not always that he takes a correct view of his interests. Did he always do that, he would obtain the greatest possible portion of felicity; and were every man, acting with a correct view to his own interest, to obtain the maximum of obtainable happiness, mankind would have reached the millennium of accessible bliss, and the end of morality, the general happiness, would be accomplished. To prove that an immoral action is a miscalculation of self-interest—to show how erroneous an estimate the vicious man makes of pains and pleasures—this is the purpose of the sound and intelligent moralist. Unless he does this, he does nothing; for that a man should not pursue what he deems conducive to his happiness, is in the very nature of things impossible.
“There is the like coincidence between selfishness and benevolence; between the self-regarding and the extra-regarding principle; between what may be termed self-regarding prudence, and efficient benevolence. The first law of nature is—Seek your own happiness. The united voices of self-regarding prudence and efficient benevolence add—Seek the happiness of others; seek your own happiness in the happiness of others.
“The self-regarding affection is not only not a vice, but a virtue; and not only a virtue, but a virtue on which the very existence of the race depends. If I thought more about you than I thought about myself, I should be the blind leading the blind, and we should fall into the ditch together. It is as impossible that your pleasures should be better to me than my own, as that your eyesight should be better to me than my own. My happiness, and my unhappiness, are as much a part of me as any of my organs or faculties. What is demanded by prudence is, then, required by necessity. I could not continue to exist, but for the continuance of the selfish principle. Had Adam cared more for the happiness of Eve than for his own, and Eve at the same time more for the happiness of Adam than for her own, Satan might have spared himself the trouble of temptation; mutual misery would have marred all prospect of bliss, and the death of both have brought to a speedy termination the history of man.
“And yet, to disregard the social affections—not to look to them as sources of happiness—not to seek happiness in them, is the capital error which it is the business of the moralist to correct. While engaged in the pursuit of immediate pleasure, and the avoidance of immediate pain, we may, for the sake of what is present, sacrifice a greater distant pleasure, or occasion a greater distant pain; for nature, artless and untutored nature, engages man in the pursuit of immediate pleasure, and in the avoidance of immediate pain. And while acting under the influence of the self-regarding affection, we may neglect or violate the social. It is the business of the moralist to prevent both of these errors; to place before the eyes of the actor a more correct and complete view of the probable future, than he is likely to obtain in the midst of present influences; to assist him in making reflections, and drawing conclusions; to point out ends which had not suggested themselves, and means by which those ends may be accomplished; to perform the duty of a scout, a man hunting for consequences—consequences resulting from a particular action or course of action, collecting them in the completest manner, and presenting them in the best form for use. In a word, as the whole of virtue consists in the sacrifice of a smaller present satisfaction, to a satisfaction of greater magnitude, but more remote, so the sum of moral science consists in establishing the true distinction between, and the ultimate and perfect coincidence of, prudence and benevolence. This is truly the spear of Ithuriel, by which evil and good are made to present themselves in their own shapes. The self-regarding principle, which takes not into account the interests of others, which takes not into account anything future, has as little in it of prudence as of benevolence; it is truly the killing the goose for the golden egg. ‘Myself, myself’—‘Now, now,’ are but the cries of insensibility to happiness; and insensibility to evil—evil certain, though not instant, is a dear advantage to its possessor.”—Deontology.
[* ] A general conception of Bentham’s projected plan, will be found in the following outline:—
“Outline of the Plan of Construction of a Panopticon Penitentiary House: as designed by Jeremy Bentham, of Lincoln’s Inn, Esq.
“The building circular—the cells occupying the circumference—the keepers, &c.—the centre—an intermediate annular well all the way up, crowned by a sky-light usually open, answering the purpose of a ditch in fortification, and of a chimney in ventilation—the cells, laid open to it by an iron grating.
“The yards without, laid out upon the same principle:—as also the communication between the building and the yards.
“By blinds and other contrivances, the keeper concealed from the observation of the prisoners, unless where he thinks fit to show himself: hence, on their part, the sentiment of an invisible omnipresence.—The whole circuit reviewable with little, or, if necessary, without any, change of place.
“One station in the inspection part affording the most perfect view of two stories of cells, and a considerable view of another:—the result of a difference of level.
“The same cell serving for all purposes: work, sleep, meals, punishment, devotion: The unexampled airiness of construction conciliating this economy with the most scrupulous regard to health. The minister, with a numerous, but mostly concealed auditory of visiters, in a regular chapel in the centre, visible to half the cells, which on this occasion may double their complement.
“The sexes, if both are admitted, invisible to each other.
“Solitude, or limited seclusion, ad libitum.—But, unless for punishment, limited seclusion in assorted companies of two, three, and four, is preferred: an arrangement, upon this plan alone exempt from danger. The degree of seclusion fixed upon may be preserved, in all places, and at all times, inviolate. Hitherto, where solitude has been aimed at, some of its chief purposes have been frustrated by occasional associations.
“The approach, one only—gates opening into a walled avenue cut through the area. Hence, no strangers near the building without leave, nor without being surveyed from it as they pass, nor without being known to come on purpose. The gates, of open work, to expose hostile mobs: on the other side of the road, a wall with a branch of the road behind, to shelter peaceable passengers from the fire of the building. A mode of fortification like this, if practicable in a city, would have saved the London prisons, and prevented the unpopular accidents in St George’s Fields.
“The surrounding wall, itself surrounded by an open palisade, which serves as a fence to the grounds on the other side.—Except on the side of the approach, no public path by that fence.—A sentinel’s walk between: on which no one else can set foot, without forcing the fence, and declaring himself a trespasser at least, if not an enemy. To the four walls, four such walks flanking and crossing each other at the ends. Thus each sentinel has two to check him.
“Thus simple are the leading principles.—The application and preservation of them in the detail, required, as may be supposed, some variety of contrivance.
“N.B.—The expense of this mode might, it is supposed, be brought within half that of the late ingenious Mr Blackburn’s, which was £120 a man.”
[* ] See outline of it in the Works, vol. viii.
[† ] See the dispute with George III. regarding the Letters of Anti-Machiavel, in chap. viii. of the Memoirs.
[* ] At the commencement of vol. iv. of the Works.
[* ] “Outline of a Plan for the Management of a Panopticon Penitentiary-House.
“I would undertake,—
“1st. To furnish the prisoners with a constant supply of wholesome food, to the extent of their desires; such privations excepted as may be inflicted in the way of punishment, or in case of necessity, as a spur to industry. A state of constant famine, and that under every modification of behaviour, as in some establishments, is what I cannot approve.
“2d. To keep them clad in a state of tightness and neatness superior to what is usual among the lower classes, or even in the improved prisons.
“3d. To keep them supplied with beds and bedding competent to their situation, and in a state of cleanliness, scarce anywhere conjoined with liberty.
“4th. To ensure to them a sufficient supply of artificial warmth and light, whenever the season renders it necessary, and thereby preserve them from being obliged, as in other places, to desist from or relax in their work, as well as from suffering by the inclemency of the weather.
“5th. To keep constantly from them, in conformity to the practice so happily received, every kind of strong or spirituous liquors, unless where ordered in the way of medicine.
“6th. To provide them with spiritual and medical assistance constantly on the spot.
“7th. To make and maintain such a distribution of their time, as, deduction made of what is necessary for meals and repose, and on Sundays for devotion, shall fill up the whole measure of it with either productive labour or profitable instruction. To allow them the sex horas somno, the time Lord Coke allows to his student, and no more: not to leave them stewing or shivering in bed for sixteen hours out of the four-and-twenty, as in other improved prisons, to save candles.
“8th. To give them an interest in their work, by allowing them a share in the produce.
“9th. To convert the prison into a school, and by an extended application of the principle of the Sunday schools, to return its inhabitants into the world instructed, at least as well as in an ordinary school, in the common and most useful branches of vulgar learning. Extraordinary culture of extraordinary talents is not in this point of view worth mentioning: it would be my private amusement: in the account of public benefit,—I should take no credit for it.
“10th. To ensure to them the means of livelihood at the expiration of their terms; by giving, to every one of them who wanted it, a trade not requiring confidence on the part of the employer, and for the produce of which I could engage to furnish them a demand.
“11th. To lay for them the foundation-stone of a provision for old age, upon the plan of the Annuity Societies.
“12th. To pay a penal sum for every escape, with or without any default of mine, irresistible violence from without excepted.
“13th. To take upon me the insurance of their lives for an under premium, at a rate grounded on an average of the number of deaths among imprisoned criminals.
“14th. To take up my ordinary residence in the midst of them, and, in point of health, to share whatever might be their fate.
“15th. To present to the Court of King’s Bench on a certain day of every Term, and afterwards print and publish at my own expense, a Report, exhibiting in detail, the state, not only moral and medical, but economical, of the Establishment; and then and there to make answer to all such questions as shall be put to me relative thereto, not only on the part of the Court or Officer of the Crown, but, by leave of the Court, on the part of any person whatsoever: questions, the answer to which might tend to subject me to conviction for any capital or other crime not excepted: treading under foot a maxim invented by the guilty for the benefit of the guilty, and from which none but the guilty ever derived any advantage.
“By neatness and cleanliness, by diversity of employment, by variety of contrivance, and above all, by that peculiarity of construction, which, without any unpleasant or hazardous vicinity, enables the whole establishment to be inspected almost at a view, it should be my study to render it a spectacle, such as persons of all classes would, in the way of amusement, be curious to partake of; and that not only on Sundays at the time of Divine service, but on ordinary days at meal times or times of work: providing thereby a system of inspection, universal, free, and gratuitous, the most effectual and permanent of all securities against abuse.
“To any one who should be apprehensive of seeing the condition of convicts made too desirable, I have only this answer—Art lies in meliorating man’s lot: any bungler may make it worse. At any rate, what you take from severity you might add to duration.
“You see the use of a rent, and that a high one, payable by me, for a building not yet erected, but under my direction, to be erected.
“The interest of the public is completely mine. Every penny spent beyond necessity lays a tax upon me.
“I should require no new confidence. Give the convicts to me as they have been given to the hulks. Capital I should want little or none: the subsistence-money is capital: that you would have security for. The hulks are and must be impenetrable to the public eye. They need more than human goodness to ensure them from abuse.
“My prison is transparent: my management, no less so. The hulk-masters have, from year to year, to do as they please. A summons from the King’s Bench might oust me the same day. I am no Nabob. I want no Jury. I would have none. The best friend to innocence I know of, is open and speedy justice.
“Of the dispositions I should bring with me to such an enterprise, or the motives that have urged me on to it, I shall say nothing.—You would inquire. What is public I will mention. The books I send will show, by their dates, that the subject had occupied a warm place in my thoughts, four years and thirteen years, before any personal views had mixed with it. Those views are but of yesterday. I began with planning, for A and B to execute—you will see I did.—Every page of the tract just printed (four years ago sent over in manuscript) will show it you: views rising upon views drew my affections after them: till at last I said to myself—Alas! where is the stranger who will enter as deeply as the contriver into the spirit of the contrivance?
“On my part, I should wish to stipulate—
“1. To have the office assured to the contractor during good behaviour: a phrase which, in the ordinary terms, means, for life; but which, on terms like the above, would mean simply what it says.
“2. The station of jailor is not, in common account, a very elevated one. The addition of contractor has not much tendency to raise it. Education, profession, connexions, occupations, and objects considered, I hope I should not be thought unreasonable in wishing to be preserved from being altogether confounded with those by whom those situations have been hitherto filled, and from finding myself a sufferer in estimation by having performed a public service. In this view, two expedients present themselves:—one is, the assurance of your assistance towards obtaining a Parliamentary sanction for the offer of standing examination in manner above-mentioned: the other is an eventual assurance, that, if after a fair trial the success of the undertaking, and the propriety of my conduct in it, should appear to have been fully ascertained, I shall be recommended to his Majesty for a mark of distinction not pecuniary, such as may testify that I have incurred no ultimate loss of honour by the service, and afford me some compensation for the intervening risk.”
[* ] See these, and likewise the author’s criticism on Pitt’s Bill, in the Works, vol. viii. p. 361 et seq.
[† ] An unpublished MS.
[* ] Viz., on Pauper Management.
[* ] See allusions to this, in the Correspondence in chap. x. of the Memoirs.
[† ] See an interesting account of Ranelaghs, in Dumont’s “Souvenirs sur Mirabeau.”
[* ] The 52 Geo. III. c. 144, is entitled, “An Act for the erection of a Penitentiary House for the Confinement of Offenders convicted within the City of London and County of Middlesex, and for making compensation to Jeremy Bentham, Esquire, for the non-performance of an agreement between the said Jeremy Bentham and the saids Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury, respecting the custody and maintenance of criminals.”