Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX. SELECTIONS FROM BENTHAM'S NARRATIVE REGARDING THE PANOPTICON PENITENTIARY PROJECT, AND FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE ON THE SUBJECT. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
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APPENDIX. SELECTIONS FROM BENTHAM’S NARRATIVE REGARDING THE PANOPTICON PENITENTIARY PROJECT, AND FROM THE CORRESPONDENCE ON THE SUBJECT. - 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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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.
Bentham to Earl Spencer.
“August 16, 1793.
“No doubt but that the effect of such an alienation upon the value of the rest of your lordship’s property in that neighbourhood, is an object that has as strong a claim to consideration, as the amount of the price obtainable for that particular part; nor should I be at all surprised, if that effect should at first blush be apprehended to be prejudicial. For my own part, I have no such apprehensions: nor will your lordship, I hope, when the particulars of the plan, as far as this question is concerned, have been more fully laid before you. The persons of the prisoners will be altogether out of sight, not only of any house at present existing, but of any house that can ever be built upon any other part of your lordship’s estate. The whole thousand will be enclosed in a single building of 140 feet diameter: that building, so far from being an eyesore, will, I hope, I may venture to say, be an ornament to the neighbourhood; not less than the rotunda at Ranelagh is, to which it will have a considerable degree of resemblance.
“It will be completely enclosed by walls, with guard-houses on the outside, occupied by guards, who by the height of their situation will be enabled to observe, not only what is doing within, but what is doing without, to a considerable distance; who of course can be sent to, or even called to, at a much greater distance than the situation of the ground and other objects may, in every instance, admit of their commanding with their eye: and who of course will have orders to lend their aid at all times, and during the night time more especially, to put a stop to any misdemeanour that may be attempted within the circle of their cognizance, and to apprehend the authors: I say, during the night time; for the plan of management requires the walling to be well lighted all round, without as well as within. The neighbourhood, therefore, being watched and guarded, and even in some degree lighted, at the expense of the establishment, will, instead of suffering in point of security, be greatly benefited. On the other side of each of the two roads which bound the premises on the east and on the west, the land, I observe, is occupied by gardeners, whose ground, as such, being unenclosed by walls, must at present be in a considerable degree exposed to depredations. These grounds would receive an immediate benefit by the protection afforded them by the watch-houses.
“Though I am not at present in the Commission of the Peace, yet having been bred to the bar, and having succeeded about a year and a half ago to the estate of my late father, who was in the Commission for two counties, I may, without much presumption, suppose it not unlikely that, if I thought fit (and in such a situation I should think fit) to have my name inserted for Surrey, it would not be rejected; and in that case, and in that situation, I may leave it to your lordship to judge whether the neighbourhood would be likely to find me negligent of their service.
“Before I quit the subject of security, give me leave to assure your lordship, that any further measures, which might suggest themselves to your lordship in this view, would not find me backward in adopting them; nor is it a small expense that would prevent me.
“So much with regard to security.—Is the establishment likely to present anything disgustful or unpleasant to the neighbourhood?—Your lordship may soon judge.—Adopting, in their fullest energy, the ideas of Howard with regard to the importance of publicity, it is part of my plan, as your lordship may have observed, and indeed the main pillar of it, to give the establishment such a face as may attract to it persons of all classes, but particularly of the superior ranks of life, whose inspection, as such, would afford the most powerful check to mismanagement: on Sunday, in particular, it would be my endeavour to render it, by means of the chapel which is enclosed in the centre of the building, a sort of place of public entertainment suitable to the day, like that afforded by the Magdalen, and the Asylum. Your lordship will judge how far it would be possible to carry on any such plan, if the establishment, or anything belonging to it, were ever suffered to be in the smallest particular an object of disgust.
“It is in that view, as well as in the view of making the residence to which I have doomed myself the more comfortable, that I should make a point of giving to the place, considered at large, what embellishment it may be susceptible of: nor does it appear to me that it would be a departure from the true spirit of the institution, if, while with reference to the class of persons for whose correction it is designed, it is seen to have the properties of a prison, and an establishment for forced labour—to the neighbourhood, and to the passengers it should wear the aspect of a Ferme ornée.
“Allow me here to represent to your lordship how much reason the neighbourhood will have to rejoice at the change of plan which, in the room of three men of rank, subject to no control but what has reference to the prosperity of the establishment itself, and they not resident, substitutes a single individual like myself. By an article which I took care to insert, I am subjected, as your lordship may have observed, to be removed or censured by the Court of King’s Bench in a most summary way, at a minute’s warning: and by the terms of that article, should I ever recede from any of my engagements, whether as to those points in which the neighbourhood, as such, would be interested, or any other, there is not that individual so obscure, who might not make his appearance in court, in person, and without any expense, and, face to face, call me to account for the failure.
“But along with the good company (it may be supposed) may come bad: and will come, were it only to visit their friends in durance.—No such thing, my lord. See them they may, indeed, but not hold the smallest converse with them, unless I please: such is the construction of the building. No man who does not come decently clad, will be admitted: every man will be liable to be searched, were it only that he may not conceal any instruments of hostility or escape: every man will be liable to be questioned as well as searched, if I or mine see cause: nor can any man get in at all, without presenting himself to his examiners. To the officers of the police the establishment will be open of course, and thither they will come at times not foreknown, if there be any prospect of prey, while to a malefactor who is once within my gates, escape will be impossible. Under these circumstances will a man, whose conscience accuses him of a crime, come and plunge into the net?—Impossible. He has everything to fear, he has nothing to gain by it.—In Newgate and other prisons, upon the common footing, containing criminals as yet untried, men of similar characters cannot be excluded, because, before trial, no man may be precluded from concerting his defence with whomsoever may present themselves in the character of his friends: neither can they be subjected to examination in the way of questioning, because such examination would be inconsistent with the freedom of admission which is deemed essential to that purpose. No, my lord—the last place in which a felon at large will think of trusting himself, of his own accord, will be my Penitentiary House.
“Allow me here to mention a circumstance which, in this point of view, may perhaps appear to your lordship tolerably conclusive. If, setting aside the contriver of the plan, one man more than another should be supposed to have a just view of its probable effects in this as well as other particulars, it should be Mr Nepean, who has had so much occasion to consider it. T’other day in conversation—‘I want a little bit of ground,’ says he, ‘in the country, within reach of London, to build a house upon:—do you happen to know of any such thing?’—‘Yes,’ says I, ‘I do: there is a board up, advertising ground to be let on a building lease, close to the premises, just on the other side of one of the roads that bounds them.’—‘Oh—is there?’ says he, ‘then I will go and look at it: it’s just the spot for me: its vicinity to the Panopticon would be a recommendation to me.’
“No wonder, indeed, if people enough should be found, who, hearing that felons were to come among them, as report might say, hearing that it is no great distance, and knowing nothing as yet of those circumstances of the plan which would render that vicinity an advantage instead of a prejudice, no wonder they should be more or less alarmed at it: nor, considering the differences of men’s tempers and casts of character, is it possible to say that there should be nobody who, even after hearing everything that could be urged to dispel such apprehensions, might remain dissatisfied. But in estimating the effects of the measure upon the value of your lordship’s estate, the true question is, as your lordship’s discernment will, I make no doubt, acknowledge, not what may be the notions of a few individuals for a moment, and before the true nature and effects of it can have been known; but what will be the sentiments and feelings of the public in general, after those effects have been indicated by experience. In proportion, therefore, as I may have succeeded in dispelling any apprehensions that may have presented themselves to your lordship at a first glance, previous to a knowledge of the circumstances, in that proportion I shall have succeeded in rendering your lordship indifferent to what may be the apprehensions of the neighbourhood, or anybody else, under the same disadvantage. Will any such apprehensions, supposing them formed, have any duration?—No, my lord—so far from flying from the spot, builders will flock to it, were it only for the benefit of the protection afforded by the guard.
“But let me admit, for argument’s sake, (and it is only for argument’s sake,) that the neighbourhood, and even, in particular, the value of your lordship’s estate would ultimately be rather prejudiced than served by the establishment—will your lordship’s candour allow me to inquire whether, under the particular circumstances of the case, that would be a just motive for opposition, or present, to a person in your lordship’s situation, a prospect of opposing with success?
“The materials for judging have, in some particulars, not presented themselves yet to your lordship’s view: allow me to perform that office.
“Publicity, as I have already observed, is of the very essence of the institution: it is with a special care to that advantage, that the spot in question was made choice of. And by whom made choice of? Not by the supervisors only, but by the most respectable and competent body that could be devised: a body composed of the twelve Judges, with the addition of the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker, and the first Magistrate of the metropolis: of these fifteen, fourteen, (as Mr Bowdler, one of the appointed supervisors, informed me,) or at least thirteen, actually signed the instrument of approbation: and if it went without the signature of the other, or the two others, it was—not because he or they disapproved of it, but because, after so great a majority, the person or persons in question not being on the spot, it was thought not worth while to delay the measure for the sake of adding their signature to the rest.
“Another circumstance may, in this view, be very material for your lordship’s consideration. Before this place occurred, another (not to mention two that are not to the present purpose) had been made choice of: viz. a spot much nearer Wandsworth, and so near, that its vicinity, and the disgust that the inhabitants conceived on that account, (your lordship will remember the plan then in contemplation was one which presented none of the antidotes above stated,) was made a ground of objection. This ground of objection was accepted as conclusive by the very tribunal I am speaking of: such was its becoming tenderness for the feelings of individuals: and by that very same high and considerate tribunal was the choice of the very spot now in question confirmed, without a dissenting voice, as being free from the objection which had put a negative upon the other. The rejection itself appears by the report which I enclose: the reason of it as above stated, (a matter which must be known in the neighbourhood, I mean in Wandsworth,) I had from the supervisors, and the difference is indeed apparent on the face of the present spot. For, my lord, what are the buildings that (except in the way of distant prospect as London may be) are in sight of it? Two or three cottages of no value, and a public house that would make a fortune by the choice. Did your lordship’s agents (I should have said those of the late earl) make any objection then? I never heard they did: but if they did, they were overruled. The choice, your lordship will have the goodness to observe, is not now to be made: it is a res acta: in succeeding to the estate, your lordship found it with this obligation lying upon it. The only questions there can be, (I rely upon your lordship’s goodness for forgiveness, if zeal has betrayed me into error,) the only questions, at least, I can see, are that which regards the time, and that which regards the price: and even this latter was no question, until, out of respect for justice, it was made so by me.
“Your lordship, then, will have the goodness to consider how the case stands, with regard to the place in question. The Penitentiary establishment is determined on by Parliament. The spot for the reception of it, it is determined, shall be a spot in which vicinity to the metropolis, and to the river, should be accompanied with that degree of elevation which is deemed essential to the health of so numerous an assemblage of persons, so subjected to confinement: this decision is given, with respect to the sort of place, by a subsequent committee of the House of Commons, with respect to the individual place. By that same committee, (see the Report of 1784,) in confirmation to that given by the twelve Judges, added to the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker, and the first Magistrate of the metropolis, the measure had already been sanctioned, and the price of the place assessed, under the act of Parliament by the verdict of a jury. An improvement is afterwards devised in this system,—an improvement deemed such in spite of predilection and every personal motive,—by the very persons (for such is their generosity and public spirit) whom it throws out of office. It is deemed such, and as such adopted and patronized by an administration, with whom the author had not the honour of the most distant previous connexion, or any prospect of connexion, whatsoever. This improvement cannot, any more than the original plan, do without a spot to rest upon. The building to be erected, in conformity to this improvement, must then be set down in some neighbourhood, possessed of the above-mentioned advantages. What then is to be done? Shall the establishment be turned off, on account of this improvement, from a more eligible to a less eligible neighbourhood? or, for want of a neighbourhood that might like to receive it, is it to be supposed that an establishment of such public importance will be set aside altogether?
“A prison cannot exist, but it must exist in some neighbourhood: it cannot exist in a town, but it must exist in a crowded neighbourhood,—a neighbourhood beyond comparison more exposed to the objection supposed, than the place in question can be:—is there, then, no such thing as a prison to be built anywhere?
“How was it with regard to the immense House of Correction at Clerkenwell? Is there anything like a reason for apprehending that such a prison as the one proposed, can be more incommodious to the distant inhabitants of Battersea and its neighbourhood, than the actually existing one must be to the inhabitants of the contiguous House of Correction in the crowded neighbourhood of Clerkenwell?
“No man, give me leave to say, my lord, can be more sensible than I am, to the abuses to which the maxim, that private interest should give way to public, is liable, and is but too frequently made subservient—as if the public were made up of anything but individuals: no man who would be more resolutely bent against making himself an instrument of such abuse in any case, and, above all things, in a case where an interest of his own was so visibly concerned: it is a subject I have made a study of, and considered under all its faces. But in the present instance would it be any real injury to any individual?—would there be so much as any real damage? Is the damage, if any, such as can be set in comparison with the public benefit? Does it exist in any assignable shape? Is it of such a nature as to have any claim to indemnification?—Indemnification then it will have.
“With regard to your lordship’s suspicion, that a part of the land in question may prove to be upon lease, I rather think your lordship will find the fact to be otherwise: (not that it is at all material, as your lordship will see presently.) In the course of a visit to the spot, I happened, a short time ago, by accident, and without my seeking, to fall into conversation upon the subject of the Penitentiary plan, with one of your lordship’s tenants; a gardener of the name of Glenie, who did not know the relation I bore to it. Beginning the conversation, (for he avowed a suspicion of me on that score,) he mentioned it as a remarkable circumstance, that no part of the land, either is now upon lease, or has been for these two hundred years. His own part he spoke of as being forty acres: (being the upper part on which the building would be placed,) and he applied the same observation to the remainder in equal quantity, (which agreed exactly with the quantity detailed in the inquest of the jury.) With respect to his own part, I think he can scarcely have been otherwise than correct, in regard to a circumstance in which he was so highly interested; and that is the only part for which I should have occasion, before Parliament had time to do its office.
“I set out with observing, that lease or no lease is immaterial to the present purpose: and so your lordship will find it to be. Why? Because the actual immediate possession is equally out of your lordship’s power as landlord to grant, whether there be or be not a lease, as I well knew: that must depend at any rate upon the occupying tenants. Without their consent, to whom I well knew I must have to apply for it after all, that of the landlord, would, in point of law, be unavailing: since a tenant, styled a tenant at will, is not so far at will, as that he can be removed, or his exclusive possession infringed upon, without a certain interval of notice: and with the consent of the tenant on the other hand, a man might have the use he wanted, were the landlord ever so averse. So far, then, as immediate possession is concerned, it was the respect due to your lordship, and to what appeared to me to be the rules of propriety and decorum, and not any necessity in point of law, that was the motive of my humble application to your lordship, to whose decision in that particular, the same considerations will command my submission: and your lordship will be pleased accordingly to recollect, that in the very sentence in which the request was made, I added, that it was not any formal act that I stood in need of troubling your lordship with, for that the purpose would be equally answered by a simple acquiescence.
“To satisfy your lordship of the concurrence spoken of on the part of the gentlemen who had been appointed supervisors, I take the liberty of enclosing a letter or two just returned by the Archbishop of York, together with one I happened to have by me, expressive of the spontaneous support of a respectable and learned friend, an old connexion of the archbishop’s, and who may not improbably fall within the sphere of your lordship’s acquaintance. I hope the good archbishop will pardon the liberty I may perhaps take of adding his own kind letter to the rest.
“To show your lordship the state of the business in respect of the land in question, I also send a Report of a Committee of the House of Commons of the year 1784. The estimates it contains of the expense, your lordship will be pleased to observe, are for 900 prisoners only, and my house is to contain 1000. Actual expense I believe was scarce ever known not to exceed the estimated, especially in public works; and neither that of furnishing, nor that of stocking, is included. Your lordship will have the goodness to return the Report, as it is not mine but Sir Charles Bunbury’s; (upon second thoughts I fear it must be a copy for the present, the printed original being in Mr Nepean’s office, from which things are not to be got in a hurry.) Give me leave to add, that though this is the last public testimony of the Penitentiary system’s having been kept in mind, (and, consequently, the land that had been appropriated to it,) yet it never actually has been out of the mind of Administration. It was not more than a twelvemonth before my plan in its original shape had been sent to Mr Pitt that the late Mr Blackburn, the architect, had an audience of him on that subject, as well as of the then Lord Chancellor, as Blackburn himself told me.”
Bentham to Henry Dundas.
“Q. S. P.,June 7, 1794.
A measure of Administration having been deserted by Administration, was carried by me through the House of Commons. The fact is not more ridiculous than true. Mr Long brought Mr Long: chance brought me two private friends. An opposition of two was thus subdued after a hard struggle. In the Lords, after lying by till the third reading, Lord Spencer obtains an order for the printing of the Bill: in other words, opposes it: opposes it, after having held such language, (to yourself, Sir, I presume, for one,) as, according to Mr Long, to whose frankness I am beholden for the communication, rendered it impossible for him to oppose it. When thus opposed, since opposed it is to be, in the Lords, how, then, is it to be defended?—as it was in the Commons? Time at least has not been wanting for getting it through, or for exposing it to disasters, since I had the honour of an audience. The week spoken of, Sir, on that occasion, has been already doubled. What other helps it was destined to receive, remain as yet to be discovered. A secretary of the Treasury neither knew what had been done, nor what was to be done: an Under-secretary of State asked me. Indeed, Sir, I do not know. One thing I do know: that I am no match for Lord Spencer anywhere; especially in his own house: and unless some such person as a Secretary of State, or a First Lord of the Treasury, should happen to know of some means whereby a Treasury Bill, after having passed the Commons, may be supported against a groundless opposition in the Lords, there is an end of my hopes, as well as of other things better glanced at than expressed. I have the honour to be,” &c.
Bentham to William Wilberforce.
“My dear Sir,—
Enclosed is the paper which you gave me leave to trouble you with. Observe the dates. It was after receiving a copy of it, together with a Memorial addressed to the Treasury Board, which he desired to have pro forma, that Mr Dundas, upon my meeting him at the outside-door of his office at the Horse Guards, said to me these words,—‘Mr Bentham, I have just been saying to Mr Long, what I had before said to Mr Long and to Mr Pitt, that it is impossible to change the land.’ Mr Dundas was addressed at that time in consequence of Mr Pitt’s having signified his intention of resting his decision (as Mr Long told me) on the judgment of Mr Dundas, who, he observed, had the circumstances more on his mind than he (Mr P.) could have. Afterwards, Mr Long sent for me, and notified to me in form, that Mr Pitt had fixed upon the land in question as the proper spot,—and an instrument for the purpose was accordingly, by Mr Long’s direction, drawn by me, approved and signed by Mr Long,—settled by the Attorney-general, and engrossed by Mr White, and when I heard last of it, about six weeks ago, was lying (so Mr Long told me) (together with the draught of the contract perused and settled by the Attorney and Solicitor General, and ready for engrossment) upon Mr Pitt’s table. Lord Spencer has given up his opposition more than once: once, as I was informed by Mr Long, who called upon me at my house to congratulate me on it, and afterwards in conversation repeated to me that, after what Lord Spencer had said to him,—as I understood,—he certainly could not go back with honour,—honour was the word: another time, (after having been at my house, and seen what was to be seen,) as was notified on his part by Lord Hugh Seymour to my brother, who came to me full of it at the time, but I doubt has since forgotten it.
“Lord Spencer has since offered to me, through my brother, to give up his opposition if I would accept of a marsh, admirably convenient for me in a pecuniary view, but as certainly pregnant with the destruction by hundreds in a year of those whom I would wish to reform, and not to poison, (I speak not from surmises, but records.) I wished to rid myself, once for all, of the temptation to commit safe murder for great gain; and, accordingly, after a hard struggle, prevailed to have retained in the contract the clause binding me (in consideration of what was deemed an adequate premium) to pay £100 for every death.
“Lord Spencer, on the report of his steward, who I believe has been the private mover of all these vexations, estimates at between £2000 and £3000 a-year the detriment that may accrue to his son, (to whom he pointed on the occasion,) by an adhesion to the old choice, quoting two instances in which persons who had been treating for taking land of him, on I know not what advantageous terms, had broke off on hearing of the Penitentiary House. Hopeless of justice, I would most gladly bind myself to take the land upon those terms, whatever they were, and, in short, indemnify this poor family from the apprehended injury, according to their own estimate of the extent of it.
“It was in September last that the draught of the contract, after having been settled in terminis with Mr Pitt, through the medium of Mr Long, went to Mr White, with a letter signed by Mr Long, ordering it to be ‘prepared for their Lordships’ signature:’ since which I have been obliged to pay (inter alia) (in addition to £8000 or £9000 out of pocket before) £1140 for cast-iron, (materials for the building,) not to reckon some hundreds more, which by this time I am bound for. I am now lending my mind to the irksome task of drawing up my case with the vouchers for publication, that when those who take an interest in my fate become witnesses of my ruin, they may see it has not had imprudence for its cause, unless it be imprudence to have attributed common honesty to Mr Pitt. In this crisis you are my sheet-anchor,—more orientali!
“P. S. What can I say more? I could read you a memorial to the Treasury, with Mr Dundas’s answer, refusing to forward it, as being injurious to Lord Spencer, attributing to him what he has since avowed.—N. B. It attributed nothing, it was merely hypothetical,—that people would say how it would look, if, &c.
“It was about the month of September above-mentioned, that Lord Spencer (according to his own account of the matter to my brother) signified his last, and still subsisting opposition to Mr Pitt, who all the while, either not meaning to sign the draught he had ordered to be prepared, or at least doubting whether he should sign it or no, has been suffering me (without vouchsafing the least hint of any such doubts) to amuse myself with putting it through all its stages, and laying out my money upon the faith of it.”
I have introduced the following paper because it exhibits Bentham’s manner of looking at every subject in all its bearings; and, secondly, because it affords an answer to an accusation frequently brought against Bentham, that he selected the unhealthy site of the Penitentiary, Millbank, for his Panopticon; but the correspondence shows that the site was no choice of his:—
“18th August, 1796.
Reasonsin favour of the spot nearWoolwich,as a site for thePenitentiary House.
Reasonsalleged contra withAnswers.
Among the parties whom Bentham had occasion to consult was the Bishop of Rochester. From him Bentham sought an audience. I find his answer: “The Bishop of Rochester declines the honour of Mr Bentham’s visits.”—not a word more.
Wilberforce to Bentham.
“21st April, 1796.
“I am very much vexed, indeed, at the conduct, tho’ less surprised at the demeanour, of the bishop. I really thought it possible that he might have been susceptible of some feeling for the public good, when not preoccupied by private interest. We will try what can be made of Rose or of the bishop through the influence of Government; but I own I fear that you would be hardly able to carry a bill through both Houses in the face of the Dean and Chapter’s opposition. I say you; I ought not to have it to say; but I doubt if it will be practicable to prevail on the Ministry to bring forward the proposition themselves as they ought, and to support it with all their force. However, we will talk of this when we meet. I may probably pass through town on Thursday at three o’clock, which I throw out that you may know where I am likely to be, if you wish to see me. I would cheerfully come up on Wednesday if I thought it of moment, to be present at your interview with Rose; but I don’t think that of the least consequence. I will, however, give him a line ‘to quicken.’ I must say, few things have more impressed my mind with a sense of various bad passions and mischievous weaknesses which infest the human mind, than several circumstances which have happened in relation to your undertaking: a little, ever so little, religion would have prevented it all. I long ago have put the public in the possession of the practical benefits of yourplan. This is one amongst the many instances I have had occasion to observe how much a little of this only solid principle tends to the wellbeing of communities. I need not repeat that it will ever give me pleasure to coöperate with you, or desire you always to call on me for aid without ceremony. I heartily and strongly wish I could lend you more effectual assistance.—In great haste, yours sincerely,
Romilly to Bentham.
“26th April, 1797.
“I have spoken to the Solicitor-general, and, at his recommendation, to the Attorney-general, respecting your bill; and though the Attorney has not neglected it,—he has done what will probably be as injurious to you. He has so fully considered it, that he has a thousand difficulties which it will take a long time to get over. He says it is the most unlike an Act of Parliament he ever saw. I told him that Lowndes drew it. Was I right, or have I confounded it with a former bill? I begin to suspect that I have; for though Lownders’ compositions have many defects,—that of being unlike Acts of Parliament is not one of them.—Yours ever,
“2d May, 1797.
I have done my best for you; but I am afraid you will think I have done but little. I had a consultation this morning with the Attorney and Solicitor General. As soon as the business of it was over, I introduced your bill, and found that it had not been looked at since I saw them last. However, they promised to settle it before they parted, and I left them with the bill before them, and pens in their hands. I pressed them to let me have the draught, or to permit you to see it before it was returned to the Treasury, but was not able to surmount their objections to such a proceeding. I told them, I understood from you that they had promised, or at least given you to understand, that they would communicate their objections, if they had any, to you; but they had no recollection of it, and I found I could make nothing of them. I told them, on going away, that I should inform you that White would have the bill to-day.—Yours ever,
Bentham to George Rose.
“23d February, 1798.
I understand from the Solicitor-general, that my bill (the Tothill Fields Penitentiary Bill) is unexceptionable—that consent of parties may be dispensed with,—but that the bill is an Enclosure Bill, and as such cannot be brought into Parliament till next session, for want of certain notices. Here then commences a certain suspension of the business for another twelvemonth, (making from the time of my being ordered to take my arrangements four-and-a-half years,) and at the end of it a prospect already thus darkened by experience. Meantime, while others are proving their loyalty by their affluence, I, who have nothing left but loyalty, am reduced to shut up my house, (the residence of the family for three-and-thirty years,) fortunate in finding a brother’s to take refuge in. Between £10,000 and £11,000 was, I think, the amount of advances as stated (it is years since) in the last of my memorials on the subject to the Treasury, Since then it has been increased to an amount which it frightens me to look into, by interest and fresh expenses,—for every fresh effort brings its expense. I cannot think that the utter ruin of the individual, whose pecuniary advances are not the greatest even of his pecuniary sacrifices, would be regarded by Mr Pitt as a fit termination for this business. Under these circumstances, I will venture to submit an expedient, the adoption of which would at least not be detrimental to the public, and might afford me some relief, without expense to government, or cause of complaint to anybody. Had my plan taken place at the time originally intended, the existing plan, so far as the hulks are concerned, would have ceased several years ago. The adoption of the new plan has never been a secret to the conductors of the old one: whatever may have been the benefits of it, they have therefore already been in possession of those benefits longer,—much longer, than they could naturally have expected. There seems no reason why they should reap a profit from this fresh misfortune (I mean this fresh delay) coming on the back of so many other misfortunes. The death of a Duncan Campbell, Esq., and the sale of his effects, appeared some months ago in the papers. I suppose Mr Campbell the superintendent:—but under the circumstances just stated, whether he be, or be not in existence, will not be thought (I presume) to make much difference. The existing contract ceases at any time on three months’ notice. Several years ago, Mr Campbell declared to Sir Charles Bunbury, that ‘the retaining his situation was no longer a personal object to him—his delegates remained the sole object of his care.’ In this there was nothing but what was natural enough; after receiving for so many years £38 a-head, the profit to be made upon less than £21, with additional charges, and provisions so much dearer, would comparatively be of small importance. Were the convicts to be intrusted to my care upon the existing plan, it would, besides the present relief, afford me the opportunity of initiating myself into the business; and the transition from the Hulk plan to the Penitentiary-house plan, would be smoother, and attended with less hazard, than if, at one and the same time, persons, as well as places, were comprehended in the change. Mr Campbell himself never resided in the Hulks: the persons who supply his place on board, would of course be the persons to supply mine. The system is too effectually vicious to admit of much improvement: yet here and there something might perhaps be done, were it only in the way of preparation for a better. Giving the notices necessary for the bill, at the same time with the notice for the termination of the contract, would publish the sincerity of the Government, (which, however real, must be confessed to stand in some need of publication,) and show that something more is intended on both sides, than the bartering a system for a job. As to the change of hands, I have never heard that any very uncommon qualities have hitherto been looked for as requisite for the situation. In my own instance, the foundation of everything has been done on the supposition of my being capable of giving birth to a new and better plan. I hope I am still capable of preventing the old bad plan from getting worse. I have the honour to be, with all respect, Sir, your most obedient humble servant.”
George Rose to Bentham.
“24th February, 1798.
I observe by some orders from the Committee on Finance, that, among other subjects, they are about to enter on the consideration of the expense of the convicts, which I am extremely glad of for various reasons. I think you may with perfect propriety lay before them the whole of your plan; they may perhaps think themselves confined to the expense only of the system, but the difficulty might be got over by a special instruction: in any event, it is competent to them to consider of your proposal for taking care of the convicts in the hulks. I have always wished well to the measure proposed by you of solitary confinement, and am sorry so many difficulties have occurred about it: the one you last mentioned I could not foresee. If the committee can be prevailed with to take up the business, the public would be satisfied that it should either proceed, or at once be given up, as they should report,—because I am sure their opinion would have very great weight, as it ought to have.
“I am quite ignorant of the expense you state yourself to have been at.—I am, dear Sir, your faithful humble servant.”
Bentham to William Wilberforce.
“Q. S. P., Friday, 5 o’clock, July 18, 1800.
“My dear Sir,—
Between 12th and 21st April, 1800—Memorial, containing the very first communication in any shape, on the subject of rise of prices. Audience refused: ‘Memorial’ ordered: with refusal to hear, or to say upon what points.
“Was not this an audience? (say you)—Yes: an audience in a passage, Mr Long’s long legs straining themselves to escape.
“This is what Mr Long gave you by way of answer to a question about causes of delay—your question embracing (I suppose, but you alone know) the delay from July 1799 to July 1800. I told you it was a hasty answer, given under the pressure of your question for want of a more satisfactory one. Was my construction uncandid?—find me one that is less so, and I will adopt it.
“P.S.—Why mention this? Only that you may not turn aside from me, like the—, who was it?—and the Levite, under the notion of my having cut my own throat, by starting rise of prices.
“You think I ought not to do it so cheap. Moreton Pitt is sure I cannot, and shall be ruined. Mr Rose pro contra, the last time I had the honour of seeing him, viz. about this time twelvemonth. Ipsissima verba,—
“ ‘So, Mr Bentham, I find you have taken very good care of yourself—special care indeed! I thought you had dealt more liberally with the public.’ So far Mr Rose. Think you I flew at him as I did at you? I know better things.
“Supposition whimsical enough; but not unprecedented. Panopticon lost by four votes: two, because the terms not high enough; the project, therefore, either knavish or foolish, and impracticable:—two, because the terms so high; the project rapacious and extortionate.
“The article binding me to pay forfeit for every person recommitted after discharge, has lost me many a vote. It had hurt me even with Abbot: it had hurt me with Nepean—not to mention persons too high to be named. I satisfied him in three words, that the loss could not befall me, but in company with a much greater gain. Better the man is hanged, and then his superannuated annuity is saved to me: or he comes back to me again, and then I squeeze it out of him with interest. Nepean was satisfied; but the dining-room gentlemen are above the reach of satisfaction.”
Bentham to Lord St Helens.
“Q. S. P., 19th July, 1801.
“My dear Lord,—
The mansion of St Helens (I learn this moment) has been transplanted from the little cidevant kingdom of Ireland, to the great and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland put together. Long may it live and flourish! The house of Loretto travelled further, but not to better purpose. Angels themselves do not manage these things better than our people do, moyennant finance.
“The New-year’s-ode manufactory, forming one united kingdom with the police-office, overlooks a part of my dominions. Manufacturer, ‘Poeta Pye,’ not ‘Parvus Pybus.’ Having some claims, I might have taxed it for an ode, by way of epistle congratulatory on this auspicious occasion; but that, howsoever poetry may be more harmonious, prose, by its sincerity, sounded most in unison with my feelings.
“Murmurations about situations may now, I hope, subside: in the scale of substantial value, the possible angel does not, under the existing circumstances, appear by any means a match for the actually-existing mouse. A mission to a Christian country, where glory cries, Come reap me, is surely preferable to the best mission in partibus—not to say in imbibus.
“Nepean (I hear) has a long letter, in which his Majesty’s representative at the Court of Russia complains of ill health. Whoever has been in Russia knows how ambiguous a sort of a thing ill health is in Russian language. Boljesn may, I think, be not unaptly rendered indisposed. I hope, in the present instance, it is nothing worse than a sort of a Swiss maladie du pays; for which, in God’s and his Majesty’s own good time, loco-motion would be a cure.
“Exactly at this time, I learn, from the semi-official fountain of French truth, that Lord St Helens, ‘so well calculated by his personal character to succeed in all diplomatic missions intrusted to him, is far from finding at Petersburg those dispositions with which the English administration flattered themselves.’ Far from finding them? Why, then, he has made them. ‘Better and better still,’ quoth he. Accordingly, in the estimation of The Times’s Hamburg Correspondent, this is his lordship’s chef-d’œuvre of diplomacy.
“In our small way, here at Q. S. P., we are jogging on tolerably well in naval work matters: things are done, persons appointed, pretty much according to our advice. In matters of menum and tuum, they cheat us sadly: and by whose counsel? ‘of all the birds in the air:’ but of that arch-Achitophel N—? Being remediless in the premises, we make French shrugs; while a tolerably successful, and not dishonest, though obscure, ambition affords a sort of salve for the wound in the purse. (Don’t say anything to the Traytor: in Panopticon matters he is a Daniel.) According to Vansittart’s report, the Dart and Arrow attracted much notice in the Baltic: your lordship may have heard more. They are among the vessels which certain Dock-yard officers, by inspiration from above, discovered—not by intuition, but without intuition, and without so much as inquiry about construction, discovered and reported, officially reported, to be ‘unfit for his Majesty’s service at sea.’ But now Lazarus is comforted, and they are tormented.
“I am in a sort of relation with Vansittart about Annuity Notes: and (generous creature as I am to acknowledge it) this babe and suckling—this abortion rather, of diplomacy, pointed out the same amendment that was made by a patriarch in the trade. I am to publish: and they furnish me with documents. Being a good-natured man, he complies with some whims of mine; and we seem not unlikely to be on pleasant terms. Panopticon is still in darkness. He has sent me an appointment for Tuesday (the 21st); but which is to be the order of the day I know not. The Treasury, in their distress, in two of their ‘Further Proceedings’ papers, have referred the proposed defalcation to an alleged enhancement of terms on my part. The glaring falsehood and mala fides of this charge (the Act of the ex-Administration) gives me what appears to me, and what I think I have found already in experience, a considerable advantage. Certain omitted documents would fix the ex-people not only with error, but with mala fides. I rave and clamour upon the plea of injured character for the publication of these documents; hoping they will find it less trouble to do me justice upon the principal point, than to make a bad defence upon the interlocutory question, in endeavouring to whitewash their predecessors. My screams have already so far prevailed, that ‘cockatoo,’ in an accidental chance medley conversation, assumed—not compensation in lieu of everything, but the reduced number with compensation—full and ample compensation, for the number defalcated, pretending with Long, to read as much in the Treasury Minutes, &c., which contain no such thing. Upon the whole, I am not quite so near hanging myself as when you saw me.
“The public zeal and uprightness of that office, (I am got back to the Admiralty now,) as far as your brother Lord of a Saint, Achitophel, Daniel, and another person, (a very little one,) are concerned, would afford some really pleasing sketches. What Lord Spencer and Lord St Vincent join in looking upon as our due, (and what we are dying for want of in a parenthesis,) that fellow will not suffer us to have. He would sooner give it us out of his own pocket: he has lent it us, rather than that the king should give it us:—and so we lose it. We would give Lordship, now and then, a few gleanings in this way, if Lordship did not disdain such trash, and would favour us with a few pickings from the Table-talk of Petersburg. No: these are meat for our master.—His Majesty’s representative has no such pearls to throw away to any such swine.
“P.S.—I am not a woman. I scorn, for my part, to put the punctum saliens and final cause of a letter into the postscript. I say nothing of the fatherless: still less of the prisoners.”
Bentham to Sir Charles Bunbury.
Crimes, distinguished by the name of unnatural, are endemial, not to say universal, on board the Hulks in both places, Woolwich as well as Portsmouth. As the Hulks are emptied of the contents, these crimes flow out with them, and propagate themselves in patriam populumque. At Woolwich, an initiation of this sort stands in the place of garnish, and is exacted with equal rigour. This fact is put out of doubt by indubitable evidence. Not only such things are, but, as the Mayor of Portsmouth, Sir John Carter, in a letter now before me, very sensibly observes, from the very nature of the receptacle, such things ever must be. Such are the abominations of which Lord Grosvenor has obtained, and Lord Pelham and Mr Addington decreed, the perpetuation and diffusion. The official lord has had notice of them over and over again: to the pious lord, it does not seem very likely to have been a secret. Query, in a court, able and willing to do substantial justice, who is most guilty of them: he who practises them upon an individual scale, or he who protects and establishes them upon a public scale? This is a query I propose submitting to the public. Know you any just cause or impediment that should prevent me? or will you take the task off my hands?
“The long letter you favoured me with is still in my mind’s eye. Will you make the experiment upon your noble and pious friend? Give him legal notice of what he knows already, and ask him whether he still chooses it shall be so? Alas, no! Your heart fails you: I see you shrinking from it.
“You misconceived me: the piety of the noble lord was never with me the matter in dispute: the question was, and is, respecting the connexion between piety and morality,—if public morality be morality in his noble breast. This, in my heretical view of the matter, is the end: piety, useful only as a means, leading to that end. For, except through the medium of morality, who is to be the better for a man’s piety? Man, I suppose, if anybody: not the Almighty, I presume.
“As to your potent friend, Mr Addington, on this as on other occasions, he waits to be determined, as he has hitherto been determined, by the greater uneasiness: by the greater force of parliamentary and closet pressure. To all considerations of good faith, and public morality, and public decorum on those grounds, he has been reported ‘callous’: such was the expressive word, and from a surgeon who probed him to the quick. Candid, honey-minded man! How pure his public spirit! How passionate his desire to do whatever were for the best! What professions! What effusions! The judgment of Sir Evan Nepean could not stand against the torrent. Does yours dare encounter it? Mistake me not: Nepean was not the surgeon spoken of. As for the man of might, his perpetual smiles are entailed upon every man whom it is possible he should ever have to count with: he makes himself amends upon a defenceless and deserted man like me.
“Good faith, public morality, constitution,—all alike sacred to your potent friends. ‘Plea for the Constitution,’—a pamphlet of which you will not bear—dare—(which shall I say?) to read so much as the title-page. The Attorney-general was ‘shocked’ at it. To a man who was not yet ‘callous,’ what can be more shocking than truths at once disgraceful and incontestible! The mention made of himself in the Preface he was not displeased with: the truth of the fact he admitted, expressly or tacitly, to Romilly. Thank me—yes, even me,—for the Transportation-facilitating Act! Thanks to what they have not yet destroyed of the Constitution, it is in the power of a worm, while writhing under the foot of the oppressor, to give motion to the sceptre. I have not done with them yet by a great deal. The Attorney-general, if he is to be believed, would be favourable if he durst.
“Sir C. Bunbury has, or at least had, a project for forming a posse to storm the minister in the closet. Wilberforce, will he join or head the posse? Wilberforce and H. Thornton, are they good Samaritans, or are they Priest and Levite?”
Bentham to William Wilberforce.
“9th Dec. 1801.
“As a spot in the Carte du Pays, it may not be amiss that your protectorship should be apprised that, in the Duke of Portland’s reign, his prime minister, Mr B., took a very active, though a very civil and covert part, against Panopticon. He had projects of his own, of which he made no secret to me: and took more occasions than one to endeavour to make me regard my own as desperate. I learned from different persons, that being in as bad odour at the Treasury as I could be, without having the like pretensions on the score of justice, his applications experienced, if possible, less attention than mine.
“He once brought to my house his Grace cum totâ sequelâ suâ to see what was to be seen. At that time the works had long ago been taken to pieces and locked up: Panopticon model little better than a ruin; so that had I even been in a humour for officiating as showman, no tolerable raree-show could have been made. I endured the honour, not being able to escape it; but, without any of those advertisements which I received afterwards, I saw enough to see that prepossessions and purposes were far enough from being favourable. A point his Grace was clear about was, that a lantern so large as mine could not be so light as a long parallelogram room upon the London plan with glass in a small part of one of the short sides; and as the model of the lantern was enclosed in a room which is none of the lightest, experiment was unfortunately on his side. On another point, the existence of a spot within the building from whence every part of it might be viewed at once, I was equally unfortunate: a staff which had been set up with a sight-hole in it for the marking of that spot, was among the fractured limbs of it; and the assurances that I gave him that the fabric had been put together by measurements made by an architect for the express purpose of producing that effect, and that as many as had looked through the sight-hole had been witnesses of the production of it, were not fortunate enough to obtain signs of credence.
“I have despatched to the Taylor’s for a handsome suit of clothes, for what is acknowledged to be the best part of a book-maker, his book: when it comes home, I propose sending it, in quality of representative of the remaining part, on a visit of homage to his Grace’s successor, of whom I have better hopes.
“Parve (nec invideo) sine me liber ibis,—a book in Russia, may, I hope, be accepted as an equivalent for a piece of card.”
Bentham to Sir William Pulteney.
A man that obtains approbation such as yours, does not write in vain.
“The little work you speak of was a published one. Since my being favoured with your letter, I have looked out two still smaller ones, (one of them but a fragment,) and which being unpublished, can scarcely have met your eye.
“The fragment has for its subject, a situation I had once some prospects of, which are now sunk by perfidy and oppression, together with so many other prospects, and about half the property that should have served for their support.
“The other I send for the sake of a principle of political economy, which to me has long been a fundamental one, but which, if received in practice, would make a very extensive change in our appetite for untaxable colonies—our projects for encouragement—our apprehensions of discouragement in regard to particular branches of productive industry: consequently in our anxieties about treaties of commerce, our wars to punish people for not entering into treaties of commerce with us, our fears about taxing exports, (i. e. taxing foreigners,) and a thousand other things.
“You have already my unpublished work intituled ‘Panopticon.’ I have a letter of yours rewarding me with your approbation of it. These small scraps are an experiment upon your patience: say you have read them, you have paid me for the next I send, and I have plenty for you upon the same terms. The ‘Defence of Usury,’ and the anonymous ‘Fragment on Government,’ I suppose you may have read in your day since others did. Of my 4to ‘Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation,’ scarce the existence is known here. I have pursued the investigation in detail, through almost every branch of legislation; but scarce any part is finished, much less published, as it never happened to me to receive any the smallest reason for expecting that anything from me, would, in my own lifetime at least, be of any use. I should have excepted one instance, and in that you see the sort of payment I have received. Once, indeed, (it just occurs to me,) Mr Rose, in the presence of Mr Pitt, did say to me, that he had read my pamphlet about Law Taxes, and that there should be no more Law Taxes.
“My labours are not so perfectly unknown on the other side of the water as on this. A friend of mine, whose native language is French, and to whom, at his desire, I turned them over as so much lumber, has given them there a sort of currency. Some tokens of it are in the ‘Bibliothèque Britannique,’ a journal by Professor Pictet of Geneva, lately elected to the Tribunate. Three volumes of ‘Ideas,’ long ago forgotten by their author, are (I understand) to make their appearance in Paris before the month is out. Meantime they have put me up at the Institute as one of the three candidates for the sort of distinction lately conferred on Major Rennel and Sir Joseph Banks. So much the worse, perhaps, for me here. The word candidate seems to imply solicitation. Directly or indirectly, I had no more hand in the matter than you had. All I have ever known about it is from the newspapers.
“I have run on into the usual loquaciousness of complaining egotism. It is time I should beg your pardon, and subscribe myself, Sir, yours, &c.
“P.S.—If you have read the Treasury Reports, you will have supposed my business to have gone off upon a disagreement about terms. A studied falsehood: no disagreement on my part about anything. The real grounds of relinquishment have been a succession of concealed promises, which they have never dared either to deny or to avow, but which I have evidence of. In the 28th Finance Report, is a guarded history (by me) of a course of four years’ perfidy. It has since been doubled.”
* * * * *
“In the course of the eight years’ provocation I have endured, I think you must have given me credit for something in the way of sang froid and prudence at least, in never having stooped to go to Acheson with my story: oh, how would his chops water, did he but know of the bonne bouche I could treat him with!
“Should Lord Pelham wish to see the substance of the paper in print, (for example to serve him as an ostensible warrant for doing his duty, and to afford him the plea of necessity for breaking so many illegal and corrupt promises as there will be to break,) he could be accommodated without difficulty. The hostilities in it would cost me much less trouble to put out, than it did to put them in. They were put in, why?—because the conduct of this present Administration has all along been such to me, as never to hold out to me any hopes but from their fears.
“Losing the post of yesterday, has since given me time for running over Collins’s continuation of his N. S. Wales history, from September 1796 to August 1801. The predictions I had hazarded as above, are verified to a degree astonishing even to myself. The most promising settlements (Hawkesbury and Norfolk Island) either abandoning, or recommended to be abandoned. Famine, at the times of the greatest possible future plenty, at all times probable from any one of five sources:—1. Drought; 2. Inundation; 3. Fire—natural; 4. Incendiarism; and 5. Savage hostility, against which defence is unavailing. As to returns to England, the idea of preventing them on the part of expirees (an imprisonment always illegal) is now disclaimed, though illegal exceptions continue to be made. Returns by non-expirees less and less preventible. The profligacy always universal, and at its maximum: the D. of P. with Mr K., with full notice of it, spreading lies to the contrary, for no better purpose than that of pimping to the whims of Lord B. about his Millbank estate, to the prejudice of his real interests, as declared by all his professional advisers. Impeachable matter crowds in, in such quantities, the only perplexity is about the choice. A single drop in this ocean of guilt, and that demonstrable by record, has been declared assets for impeachment by professional men of the first eminence—no party men, and in the coolest blood. I have exhausted my own paper, and (I fear) your patience.—Yours with the truest respect,
“Talk of bastilles?—N. S. Wales the true bastille; the other, if true, a molehill to a mountain.”
On the 20th, Sir Charles Bunbury received a letter from Lord Pelham, as follows:—
“Wimbledon, 19th August, 1802.
“My dear Sir Charles,—
I have received Mr Bentham’s papers, and I will find out what steps have been taken by the Treasury before I send for him, as it appears to me, that to give him any false hopes, would, in the present state of his mind, produce the very worst effects. At all events, I will apply my mind to the subject, and endeavour to get something settled before the meeting of Parliament.—With very sincere regard, ever yours most faithfully.”
Bentham to Sir Charles Bunbury.
“Q. S. P., 21st August, 1802—sent 23d.
“My dear Sir,—
I have this moment to thank you for your kind letter, enclosing that of Lord Pelham. And has this passed upon Sir Charles Bunbury for ‘satisfaction’? My dear Sir, you have not been at the fair lately. This is the old lay, over and over, for the hundredth time. This is Sanchoniathon and the Cosmogony, again and again, with Ephraim Jenkins, Pitt, Rose, Long, King, Portland, Addington, Robertson, Lathrop Murray at the bottom of it.
“To be serious. In your situation, stranger as you happily are to the incidents with which my memory is stocked, in such minute detail and such unhappy abundance, his letter appears to have produced (as it was but natural it should produce) the effect it was intended to produce—viz., that of appearing to ‘imply approbation.’ But what approbation? that very approbation which was somewhat more than implied almost a twelvemonth ago, but without producing the smallest particle of that ‘satisfaction,’ the hope of which (such is your good opinion of your friend) continues notwithstanding to be produced by it. For my own part, I wish it were possible to me to see anything better in it than a qualis ab incepto—a perseverance in the same system of complicity and evasion, that he and his colleagues adopted at their entrance into the Ministry, with the materials for decision passing through their hands, and staring them in the face. Till the meeting of Parliament he has obtained a respite from you, (so he thinks at least,) by his talk about ‘endeavours:’ when Parliament meets, he shirks you (as before) as long as he can; and when you have caught him at last, and forced him to speak out, then it is that you will learn, that he is sorry for it, but his ‘endeavours’ have been fruitless.
“The amusement it affords me, to see what turn evasion takes in such a mind, in such a situation, and in such circumstances, is the only satisfaction I have derived from his epistle. The two characters in which he affects to view me, are—that of a patient labouring under a sort of mental derangement, (though, the hope is, but a temporary one,) and that of a suitor—an unfledged suitor—prone to embrace phantoms for realities, and panting for the felicity of falling at his feet. As to ‘the present state of’ my ‘mind,’ you may venture to assure his lordship, that it is precisely the same as it was above a twelvemonth ago, as he has seen in my papers (if he has been pleased to look at them)—in my papers of that date—as it has been ever since, and as it will continue to be, so long as the like impressions continue to be made upon it by the action of the like causes. He may see the same mind, in the same state, in my printed evidence, as laid, in June, 1798, before the Committee of Finance: and, if such things were worth preserving, you yourself, my good Sir, could furnish him with some copies of it, written four years earlier, at a time when perfidy and corruption were in the bud, and when Lord Spencer, after seating himself for the first time at the same table with Mr Pitt, stood up and said, I am now above the law—Mr Pitt answering and saying, So you are. For his lordship’s determination not to ‘give’ me any of those ‘false hopes’ which, in a state of mind less compassionable, another man in my place might have been treated with, and which I have been saved from being plied with, in consideration of the tremendous effects (these indescribable ‘worst effects’) of which an application of that sort might, in my place, have been productive, he is certainly not to be blamed: not indeed in respect of any such bad effects, or any effects, that any machinery in use for the raising of such phantoms could have produced, (for all the powers of mechanism could not add anything to the exhibitions of that sort that have been so familiar to me for these eight years,) but because no attempt in that way can be of any use to him and his associates, whereas the abstaining from it leaves a load the less on their character and their conscience.
“Throughout the whole of the business, from the time when the finger of corrupt and clandestine opposition was held up by the first in the train of successive lords, the general rule has been to give nothing but ‘hopes,’ and those hopes ‘false’ ones. Witness one sample instead of a thousand:—orders—official orders—(24th March, 1800,) to make preparations for 2000 convicts—these orders, in a letter, concerted, between the two floors of the Treasury, for the express (and afterwards even avowed!) purpose of making a pretence for giving none. All this (you say) is old and stale. The new incident then is, that for once—pro hâc vice—this rule is now (it seems) to be departed from: departed from, not dejure, but ex gratiâ, in consideration of the particular circumstances of this very particular case. Understand always, provided his lordship continues to the end in the sentiments now professed: an expectation, in which this very letter forbids me to indulge myself.
“I will tell you, my good Sir, what their plan is, and what my chance is under it:—judge whether it can content me.
“In the first place, they fall at the feet of the sack of oats: that gained, (which is impossible,) then, with that in their hand, they fall at the feet (such feet as adders have) of the deaf adder:—I mean the pious lord, who is so well known to take that hero of Scripture history for his model: but lest they should fail in either—(and they will fail in both)—thence come the expeditions of discovery—the expeditions for ‘finding out what steps have been taken at the Treasury,’ and the fears about the ‘giving’ of ‘false hopes.’ Shut against everything that could be said about his land, and about the effect of the Penitentiary establishment upon the value of it, by his land-surveyor and his land-steward, you will judge whether the ears of that personage are likely to open themselves with more facility upon those topics to the representations of a first Lord of his Majesty’s Treasury, or his Majesty’s Secretary of State.
“So long ago as the 10th of September, 1801, Mr Vansittart (as declared by him in a letter, copy of which had been already for a month or two in the hands of Lord Pelham at his lordship’s desire, as signified to you,)—Mr Vansittart, acting Secretary to the Treasury, was labouring in the fruitless endeavour of finding ‘an opportunity of consulting with Lord Pelham.’* Now, on the 19th of August, 1802, Lord Pelham, on his part, is setting out on this his expedition of discovery, bent upon ‘finding out’ (maugre all concealments) ‘what steps have been taken by the Treasury,’—i. e. by Mr Vansittart:—the packet put by you as above into his lordship’s hands, certifying that no steps at all had been taken by the Treasury, other than those exhibited by it, and the motionless state of the business being the declared cause why he was then troubled with it.
“All this while, within a stone’s throw of both these ministers, whose efforts to find one another out, at the distance of the two contiguous floors of the same house, had for a twelvemonth been so unavailing—in sight of them both, sat Mr (now Sir Evan) Nepean, from whom both personages, and above both Mr Addington, were determined with equal resolution never to ‘find out what steps’ to his (Sir Evan’s) knowledge ‘had been taken by the Treasury’ (the former Treasury) in the business—determined by this most coercive of all reasons, that he was the only man in office from whom they could be apprehensive of receiving any true account of it.
“In a copy I sent, of this letter of Mr Vansittart’s, among other papers, in December last, to Mr Wilberforce, I find a comment which accompanied it in pencil, in these words:—‘When Mr Wilberforce spoke on the subject to Lord Pelham, neither Mr Vansittart, nor either of the Mr Addington’s, had had any such opportunity.’ They knew better things. They did not intend to have it: they durst not have it, to any purpose.
“To return to his lordship’s letter. The point I looked to in it, was—whether, amidst so much guilt—by the former people, amidst accusations upon accusations, never yet denied—frequently, though always in the view of adding to it, even confessed—any symptoms were to be found of those regrets, which, in his situation, a man who meant honestly and really intended to turn over a new leaf, would, in my view of the matter, not dissemble. Finding no such indications, my exertions, (I mean in the line spoken of in my former letters,) far from being relaxed, will be quickened by the intended opiate.
“One thing I understand pretty distinctly: dates are to me a sufficient proof of it. It is after taking a week to hear,† and hearing accordingly, and from the Treasury, not only what steps have been taken, but what steps (under Providence) will be taken, that he is setting out upon his expedition, to that unknown and distant clime, for the discovery of the facts that have been in his pocket for these six weeks. In this circumstance my little mind, ‘even in the present state of it,’ reads the present state of two great ones. I see terror enough in both places: not yet enough, indeed, to open either of them like the little one to fearless honesty, but, however, to drive gentlemen upon this fresh and speaking attempt at evasion, instead of their former silence. I see enough to put them upon employing the time they think they have thus gained: upon employing it, and even in good earnest, in holding councils of war about the job, with those from whom they received it; and in those councils considering which of the two repugnant engagements it were best to break definitively, (the original legal engagement, or the last in the succession of illegal ones:) and in the former event, (being the most probable one,) by what kind of botchery the breach may be best cobbled. It is to this that his lordship’s mind is ‘at all events’ to ‘apply’ itself: for if it had any more straightforward, any less crooked object—what should have hindered its applying itself to it near a twelvemonth ago,* upon the spur of those impressions which even then it found its convenience in pretending to have received? What has it been applying itself to all this while?—what is it now applying itself to? What was it put for where it is? What did it take the sceptre for from King Log? Was it to give him a King Stump for successor?
“In November last, at the latest, (how much earlier I know not,) Lord Pelham thought New South Wales a bad thing; he thought the Penitentiary plan a good thing. At that same time he knew (for all his industry could not prevent him from knowing) that it was his duty to see to the carrying of that good thing into effect, without a moment’s further delay; and that every day lost to it was not only a day of fraud, corruption, and injustice, but a day of contempt and disobedience to Parliament. And now it is, that at the end of nine months from that time, after promise upon promise, and neglect upon neglect, and after receiving papers upon papers, the object of which was to render it no longer practicable for him not to know what he could not but know already,—now when the post of neglect and ignorance is no longer tenable,—now it is at last, that he is to ‘apply his mind’ to the subject, under the declared apprehension, that any hopes that might be entertained of seeing his Majesty’s Secretary of State, and the First Lord of his Majesty’s Treasury do their duty, might prove ‘false’ ones!
“One thing I should be glad to know, as to the ‘present state’ of that same noble mind. Is it out of doubt with him, or is it not yet out of doubt, that there is no such virtue in New South Wales, as to quash an imperative law of Parliament, and to rescind the engagements taken in regard to Panopticon in consequence? In the former case, why does be not come forward with his declared support immediately? In the other case, why did he not call upon me for the proffered papers, the object of which was to put an end to all such doubts? I mean always to all pretences of such doubts? My calculation was—that, for appearance sake, at least, his lordship might wish to have it supposed, that it was by considerations relative to the merits that his suffrage, if favourable to Panopticon, had been gained: that accordingly he would either read or make as if he had read, those papers: but in this you see already one article in my apprehended budget of ‘false hopes.’
“If, instead of wavering between corruption and incorruption, and to hide his indecision, pretending to be going upon sham errands, while he was sounding the ground, and looking out for loopholes—if, instead of this, he had decided manfully, and taken at once the post of duty, a letter still shorter than even this short one might have sufficed. There lies the engagement of his predecessor for the 2000 prisoners: there lies the memorial, (I mean the suppressed one you put into his hands,) expressive of the terms grounded on that engagement: those very terms, to which the approbation of Mr Long had been whispered over and over again to Mr Nepean, under the determination of not granting either those terms or any other. To send this memorial to the Treasury, with a letter urging compliance with the prayer of it, was, and is, the one thing needful on his lordship’s part. I mean officially, and in black and white: verbal explanations might have been sufficient for the rest. This was exactly the course taken in 1794 by Mr Dundas, to wash his hands of the corruption he saw even then going on, between Mr Pitt and the first of the titled subscribers to his statue. Think not, however, that I mean this as a judgment, altogether peremptory, upon his lordship’s honesty: but you see, that if the badness of these ‘very worst effects’ depends upon the sanguineness of my ‘hopes,’ nothing very serious is to be apprehended. I shall be upon the look-out for you, at the time you have the goodness to mention. By that time, sincerity will have been manifested or disproved. More could not be done by man than you have done: you see I have scarce left myself room to thank you for it, or to stamp upon my gratitude the mark of
“Jeremy + Bentham.”
Bentham to Romilly.
“Q. S. P., 27th August, 1802.
“My dear Romilly,—
The enemy begins to squeak. Judge from the following letter.*
“To understand it rightly, you must understand, that the ‘papers,’ there spoken of, are papers breathing fire and flame, full of scorn and menace. No small part of the spirit which animated them was extracted from a former opinion of yours, defœcated from the caput mortuum of croaking and despondency that diluted it. Should their cowardice prove true to me, (heaven knows whether it will or no,) it will raise the British Constitution in your estimation a few pegs.
“Have at ’em again—I follow up my blow: not a moment’s respite. Your fresh opinion completes their petrification: it is the head of Medusa staring upon them from Minerva’s breast. Do not hurry yourself: no immediate demand for the litera scripta: the esprit of it, like the wind of a cannon ball, lays them prostrate for the present.”
Sir Charles Bunbury to Bentham.
“Chester, August 29.
Perhaps I have too little suspicion, and you, from the treatment you have met with, too much; but what I know, and what I have heard of Lord Pelham, is much in his favour; and I cannot, therefore, without proof, conceive him guilty of practising evasions and artifices, which would disgrace not only a Minister’s secretary, but even his porter.
“Lord Pelham may be, and I believe is, inclined to support the Panopticon system; but he may not have the power to control the adverse opinions of his colleagues in office: and Mr Addington, perchance, may have imbibed the prejudices of Mr Pitt, to whom I have always attributed the delays and vexations you have suffered.”
Bentham to Dumont.
“August 29, 1802.
“Now for a bit of an intrigue, worthy of the talents of the omnium intrigantium intrigantissimus, the Genevo-Anglo-Gallico, the Reverend Squire Citizen Montaineer.
“Oh but, my dear Dumont, I had forgot myself. I have need of you: it is, therefore, both a bounden and an incumbent duty of mine, to be very civil to you. Therefore, never you mind the abuse in the first paragraph—regard it as non-avenu.
“The letter in the other column will inform you of the present state of my expectations in regard to Panopticon: taking with it this explanation, that the papers therein spoken of are letters and other papers of mine, which, though addressed partly to Sir C. Bunbury, were written for the edification of his Majesty’s Secretary of State and his colleague, and are as full of fire and flame, and scorn and menace, to Pitt and Portland, &c. &c., Addington himself not excluded, and Lord Pelham half-included, as I could cram them: and then a comment from me on this very letter went immediately after to Sir Charles, with whom it lies as a deposit, ready to be produced and published inter alia, in the character of a prophecy of perfidy, should such be the event.
“You are looked for at Paris, (Romilly tells me,) in September. I am glad of it for divers reasons: this goes by him, and stays with him, till you meet. As everybody is, or will be at Paris, some of the leaders of Opposition will therefore be there: as, for example, your friend, Lord Holland; and, according to the newspapers, even the Coryphæus of the Foxes.
“I have, of late, made a discovery of a piece of villany on the part of Pitt, Portland, and others of the late gang, which, for the sake not only of justice and humanity, (both very pretty things, children of the utility family,) but for the sake of this old constitution of ours, (forgive my weakness, I cannot but confess, that I have a whoreson kind of tenderness that hangs on me,) I should like to see punished.
“Of their multiplied enormities, there are some which are not so completely involved in English grim-gribber, but that you can understand them perfectly.
As to New South Wales.
“Since the foundation of this penal colony in 1787, convicts have been sent thither under sentences of transportation for various terms—mostly seven years; a few for life; still fewer for fourteen years. This, under a variety of Acts of Parliament—say from twenty to thirty, made for the punishment of so many modifications of delinquency, almost all coming under the head of depredation; nine out of ten perhaps sentenced only for seven years, and more or less of those seven years expired before they were shipped off. In direct breach of all these Acts of Parliament, they have given orders upon orders to their Governor of New South Wales; in virtue of which orders, the convicts, upon the expiration of their respective terms, have been confined there, i. e., destined to be confined there for life: adding thereby to a temporary legal punishment a perpetual illegal one.
“2. To the above illegal confinement and banishment, they have, moreover, added various lengths and modifications of equally illegal bondage.
“3. The unexampled distance from the principal seat of government, added to the particular character of the people to be governed, required powers to be vested in a single hand—powers very little short of pure despotism,—of itself a pretty sufficient reason why no such colony should have been established. Understanding this, and fearing to apply to Parliament for such powers, Pitt & Co. have been all along setting their government to legislate in all manner of cases, without legal power for legislating in any one. Powers for some purpose, and in respect of some classes of persons, he has: but, upon the whole of the mass of power, of all sorts, exercised by him, about half has been illegal: and thereby there is not a creature, that has ever been in any sort of office in the colony, that is not, at this moment, liable to be ruined over and over again by actions at law for what he has done: some, perhaps, liable to suffer as for murder.
“4. Among the destined, as above, to perpetual confinement, are numbers who, instead of the seven years, had smaller lengths of time remaining unexpired when sent thither: some no more than two years: my brother, by application to Lord Pelham, stopped one or two that were on the point of being sent thither as above for life, though perhaps, before their arrival thither, their respective legal terms—the legal part of their punishment—would be at an end. The exact length of time, and the number thus circumstanced, cannot be distinctly mentioned, but would be ascertained in case of a Parliamentary inquiry from the official booker.
“5. In several instances whole shiploads of convicts have been sent out without sending out with them any accounts exhibiting their respective terms: and by this most scandalous, and perhaps wilful neglect, their bondage, as well as their confinement, has been rendered indefinite in duration, not to say perpetual. Their terms expired, when they have claimed their liberty, or have tried to exercise it by getting away, they have been flogged.
“6. So much for criminality on the part of the arch-tyrants here at home: now for punishment. What they have been doing there for these fourteen or fifteen years is an offence, not only against Magna Charta, (as per Lord Coke,) but against the Bill of Rights and the Habeas Corpus act. They are liable at the suit of any individual thus confined, (besides damages £500 to the party injured,) to the punishment called a Præmunire: a part of which consists of general confiscation, together with imprisonment for life, and the king’s power of pardon is in this instance taken away by the same statute.
“The ground of the above statements, as to matter of fact, is constituted partly by private intelligence, but principally by the printed accounts given of the colony by the late Judge Advocate of it, Captain (now Lieutenant-colonel) Collins of the Marines. His first volume published in 1790: a second just come out now, in 1802. He is a professed panegyrist, dedicating his first volume to the ostensible founder, the late Lord Sydney: his second, to the present manager, Lord Hobart: the abominations came out through his candour, partly, perhaps, through holes in his discernment.
“The matter of law has been discovered by me (together with the facts) within these few weeks; and the accuracy of the views I have taken of the matter of law, has received the most unreserved confirmation from Romilly.
“I have ready for the press, inter alia, a pamphlet with this title, ‘The True Bastille, showing the outrages offered to law, justice, and humanity, by Mr Pitt and his associates, in the foundation and management of the penal colony of New South Wales. By J. Bentham of Lincoln’s Inn, Esq., Barrister at Law.’* It is the same (except a trifling part having nothing to do with law) that Romilly has revised for me.
“Were I to publish now, before Parliament is in readiness to do anything, the great probability is that the colony would be in a flame: for ships are going thither, nor from hence only, but from America and other countries, frequently: and as they are ready for revolution, most of them, at all times, without any pretence, a fortiori would they be when general independence, on the part of all whose terms were expired, could be seen to have the sanction of the law. If, therefore, I publish at all, it will not be till the meeting of Parliament; because then, and not till then, there would be a power in the country capable of preventing the flame from breaking out, by sending out legal powers.
“Parliament would certainly pass a Bill of Indemnity: so far at least as to save the Secretaries of State and perhaps members of the Council Board, with their respective subordinates, for so many years, from such tremendous punishment. God forbid they should not! But it is something for an Homuncio like myself to put all these potentates into jeopardy, and force Parliament to act: and though Opposition would not be able, if they wished it, to prevent the Bill of Indemnity from passing, yet they might, I should think, make sure of getting the whole official history of the colony laid before Parliament, (it would be the usual course,) and thereby expose their enormities, at any rate, to public shame, and possibly even make them glad to compound for some inferior censure.
“Another pamphlet of mine, ready for the press, will have some such title as the following:—‘Panopticon versus New South Wales. Showing the complete and incurable repugnancy of the system of penal colonization to the several ends of penal justice, as contrasted with the degree of perfection in which the same objects are provided for under the Penitentiary system, kept in suspense for these eight years by corrupt influence, in contempt of an imperative law of Parliament, and a long train of engagements grounded on it.’ This, having nothing to do with law, Romilly has not seen. Though I should agree with Ministry, the substance of it might be published, though with a tamer title, to warrant their proceeding in consequence.
“A third, likewise ready for the press, is, ‘Observations on a late exercise of Legislative Power by the Duke of Portland, his associates and subordinates, in contempt of Parliament.’
“For the purpose of obstructing Panopticon, on the 14th of October, 1799, by a letter which he had the unnecessary folly to sign with his own hand, having the two ex-lawyers, his under-secretary King, and his mentor Baldwin, for advisers, (which letter being ashamed and afraid of, they have endeavoured to suppress, though to no purpose, I having a copy of it,) he has fallen into the following impeachable heresies: his doctrines and his acts serving for the explanation and crimination of one another:—
“1. Professing a determination, of his own authority, to prevent the execution of an imperative Act of Parliament (the one made for me, 34 Geo. III. c. 84) without any reason assigned.
“2. Professing for the same purpose an intention of crowding the existing jails with such convicts as ought to have been consigned to Panopticon, in contempt of another Act of Parliament, 19 Geo. III. c. 74.
“3. Assuming by his own authority the power of taxation, by throwing the expense of such convicts upon the contributors to the Poor-rates, instead of the general fund assigned by Parliament.
“To me this letter seems to constitute an impeachable offence. It is in direct repugnance to the Bill of Rights. It appears in the same light to Romilly: though he takes my account of the letter, not having time to examine my argument on the subject of it. Agreeing so perfectly with my other argument, containing a most extensive mass of law, the probability is that he would not find in my statement in the present case any very material incorrectness.
“In case of the present ministry’s agreeing so far with me as to fulfil those engagements in which I am concerned, their pride and their incapacity together would prevent them (I make little doubt) from endeavouring to make any such bargain as would put it out of my power to lend a hand towards bringing them or their predecessors to shame at least, if not to justice. Looking upon their exposure as a very important benefit to the constitution, I would resist any such bargain as strenuously as possible. But lest at the worst I should find myself forced to submit to it, one object of the present letter is to put it out of my own power to deprive the country altogether of so useful an example. If, therefore, any favourable opportunity should present itself, and if you see the matter in the same light as I do, (or do not decidedly see it in an opposite one,) you will embrace such opportunity, my dear Dumont, and with your skill in paving, pave the way for me for a junction with some of your Opposition potentates for this purpose. Even without me, Collins’s book, if they have but industry to sift it, would afford them a very good ostensible ground: though having paid so much attention to the subject, and made so many constitutional discoveries in it, which nobody ever made before, their indolence would, I think, find its account in one way or other, in taking the benefit of my industry. Sure enough, through the whole period of Pitt’s administration, they never in any instance took ground comparable in strength to this: and unless they have made a vow to the goddess of Folly, to prefer matter of vague declamation to the most perfect legal solidity, they will jump mast high at the first mention of such an opening.
“Romilly, though agreeing with me so completely in all the points of law, yet has no hope of success from any of them. But this despondency arises from a sort of general tone of croaking he has given into, and is founded, as he himself declares, on his contempt for the judgment of Opposition, and his persuasion of the imperturbable servility of Parliament. It is not that this particular ground is not strong enough, but that in his view of the public mind on all sides of it—no ground whatever, not even the strongest, would be strong enough.
“You may imagine how clear and decided Romilly is since he has given me his opinion in black and white, for the express purpose (at my request) of my making any, even the most public use of it. If you find any difficulty about undertaking any of this, he could give you explanation of it: but he not being such an intriguant as you are, I do not wish you to give him any unnecessary trouble about it.
“I have lived too long in this wicked world, and set too little value upon everything contained in it, to think it worth my while to go, cap in hand, to them, or any of them, for this or any other purpose. Neither on this nor on any other occasion should I think, on any consideration, to become one of their gang for general purposes. Neither on this, nor on any other Parliament, or anywhere else, in speaking or writing, would I maintain a single proposition, of the truth of which I were not myself persuaded, to save them all (myself included) from the gallows. Joining, then, in this attack upon the enemy, I should defend him against the very next, if it appeared to me unmerited. As to serving me, if they offer to put it on that footing, bid them go to the devil. What I want is to serve the constitution.
“There are some of them so profligate that, for the sake of making the better attack upon the Ministry, they would be glad to set New South Wales in a flame, and some hundreds of throats cut on both sides, and would spread the intelligence prematurely with that view. This is a danger, for such intriguers as you and me to guard against. I should hope Charles Fox might be trusted for taking the requisite precautions for preventing any such mischief: but you know best, and that others I would not trust. I should think it would chime in particularly well with the rout Charles Fox has always been making about the according to him unnecessary suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act: as likewise the pother that Sir F. Burdett would be disposed to keep up for the purpose of the Election question about his Bastille: had all he said about it been true, it would have been but a mouse-trap to mine.
“Romilly will have it, that neither Opposition, nor the Ministry, nor the public at large, care a straw about convicts—or would manifest any sort of resentment for any injustice that ever has been, or could be done to them. Admitting this, and considering them all as so many logs of wood, that could be made use of as so many clubs to beat the ministry past and present about the head with,—for such a purpose I should think it worth their while to regard these logs as sentient ones, and for the good of the cause to speak of them with the most edifying tenderness. Horne Tooke, I am clear, would sell his soul to ten thousand devils for the satisfaction of contributing to such a means as that of a general massacre in New South Wales. In my hearing he has defended Septembrization, and wished (in a large and mixed company) to see it imitated here.
“If, by any puffing of yours,—and, my dear Dumont, you have a tolerable good hand at puffing, (witness Prefaces to ‘Dumont Principes,’)—you can puff any of those potentates into a persuasion that by any means they might be able to get a good attack upon Pitt and Co., with the Roses, Longs, and Portlands of the age, you would do this country, I think, and the general interests of justice and humanity some service; and opportunities might present themselves, if not at Paris, in this country, before the meeting of Parliament.
“It would be lost labour for me to attempt to direct your eye to this, or that, or t’other man, as a likely person: all this will be as much in your eye, and much more in your knowledge, than in mine. If Lord Henry had stuff and spunk enough in him for such business, would it not be a good commonplace declamation topic enough to bring him into notice. N.B. It is that sort of thing that might be taken up in either House.
“If by accident you should light on anybody, and excite his concupiscence, do not let him come to me abruptly to satisfy it; but let me hear from you first to prepare me.
“I see a somebody has begun puffing in the Moniteur at last, who I hope and suppose is Gallois, according to your word. But the wretch has not put his name. Why not? Is he afraid of being sent to the Temple for it—your new Bastille?
“I wish to God I could steal over the herring pond to you for a week or two; but just at present it is not to be thought of.
“Sir Charles Bunbury has offered himself to make mention in Parliament as to anything that concerns me personally. I may possibly beg of him to make a motion for the publication (by the House) of some documents suppressed to my prejudice,—to wipe away the imputation that was endeavoured to be cast upon me by Rose and Long, as if it had been my fault that Panopticon was not set up, inasmuch as I had insisted upon an increase of terms. The point seems trivial: but as it was a most gross lie, and the refutation of it would bring to light a most dirty fraud on their part, the idea of such a thing struck terror into them before, and would distress them beyond measure upon the revival of it.
“What am I writing all this to you for? You are a dead man: and the proof of it is my never having received a syllable from you in answer to the letter I had the credulity to address to you to Geneva poste restante, upon the faith of your perfidious assurances.
“Adieu, my dear Dumont; be a good boy and write to me.”
Bentham to Charles Abbot.
“Friday, 3d September, 1802.
“If, on grounds purely public, or at any rate completely exclusive of all private regard for me, you cannot find sufficient motives for taking upon you the mediation I venture to propose, I neither ask, nor so much as wish you, to think of it on any other. You will see presently what it is I look to you for, and why.
“I. In the course of my researches, for the purpose of the narrative I have of late been employed in drawing up, containing the history of my transactions with Government on the Penitentiary business,* it is but very lately that I have been led to the subject of New South Wales; and, to my unspeakable astonishment, as well as that of my eminently learned friend, to whom ex majori cautelâ I have applied as counsel, I have made the following discoveries:—
“1. That by orders from hence, Expirees (convicts whose terms are expired) have been forcibly ‘detained’ there—not individually only, and for special cause, but collectively, and for an indefinite time—and with the evident intent of adding to the expired legal punishment, a perpetual illegal one: and that, by so doing, all persons concerned in such illegal orders are liable to the penalties of the Habeas Corpus Act, (31 Car. II., c. 2, § 12,) including a Præmunire, ousted of pardon by an express clause.
“2. That, to this false imprisonment have been added in many, perhaps in most instances, various lengths and modifications of illegal bondage.
“3. That, in many instances, this complicated and perpetual illegal punishment has been made to attach upon convicts who, out of a term of seven years, had served five years or upwards in a jail or hulk before they were sent out. [My brother, by representation to Lord Pelham, saved one or two orderly and useful men, whose punishment in New South Wales would scarcely have commenced before it had become illegal.] Beyond the five years I cannot speak with certainty as to times: but the office-books will show, or ought at least to show.
“4. That in repeated instances, whether by negligence, or (as the repetition would indicate) by design, the accounts establishing the dates of expiration of the respective terms have been omitted to be sent to New South Wales: whereupon the presumption, instead of being ‘in favorem libertatis,’ has been in favorem servitutis—in favour of the perpetual servitude thus created.
“5. That, whereas the powers legalized by the several New South Wales acts are extremely limited, an absolute and illegal power of legislation has all along been exercised by the sole authority of the Governor there: always under the eye, and, in many if not all instances, according to ‘Instructions’ of persons here at home.
“6. That, of the several acts of authority that have been exercised in that colony, from the foundation of it to the present moment, a great part have been contrary to law: and that in respect thereof, many, perhaps all persons, that are or ever have been in authority there, remain exposed to ruin by actions and other persecutions.
“All this is set forth in detail, in a paper which, though in substance a law argument, wears at present the form of a letter addressed to Lord Pelham, to whom, in his quality of Secretary of State, I had begun addressing my Narrative:* designing to have sent the whole in manuscript, and not suspecting the bulk to which I found it swell, as I went on with it. The sort of spirit it is written in, is that which would naturally be called forth by the enormities displayed in it; and is purposely preserved, in the view of exciting, in the public mind, that attention which would be necessary to the applying to the grievance whatever may be the proper remedy. It occupies fifty-six pages. Of the substance of it a tolerable conception may be formed by the marginal contents, as given in the table herewith sent. Neither Lord Pelham, nor anybody else but Romilly, has as yet seen it.
“II. So much for law:—policy forms another topic. By deductions drawn from analogous experience, and (so far as economy is concerned) by the facts and calculations given by the Committee of Finance, I had been led to the persuasion, that the institution of the penal colony was from the first, and will be to the last, in a state of radical and incurable repugnancy to every one of the points that were or ought to have been the objects of such an establishment:—to every one of the ends of penal justice:—example—reformation—incapacitation for fresh offences—compensation for injury by past offences—and economy.
“From the first volume of Captain Collins’s Journal,† added to other unprinted but not less authoritative accounts, these preconceptions had received already very ample confirmation. A continuation of that history, to the time of the latest accounts, has just made its appearance: and the confirmation, received from this latest testimony, is ample and conclusive, to a degree beyond what I myself could have imagined.
“From the time that the illegality of the government of New South Wales was known in New South Wales, what strikes me as not very improbable, is—that all subordination—all government there—would be at an end, unless Parliament were to give it that legality which is at present wanting: but, that Parliament would not give it any such sanction, on any other terms, than the putting an end, as soon as may be, to a system thus replete with misery and wickedness: diseases both incurable—both raging in a degree without example. Were I as insensible to human misery and wickedness as the founders and maintainers of that scene of abominations have shown themselves for so many years, I should publish immediately: and, as the bulk of the inhabitants, indifferent to life and death, are ripe for insurrection at all times, and without any pretence,—a fortiori would they be so, when general independence, on the part of all whose terms were expired, would be seen to have the sanction of law: and, though the intelligence might be prevented from being carried out from home directly in Government vessels, yet, from various other countries receiving intelligence from this, vessels are going at all times.‡ So much for what might be: being as I am, you may perhaps think it superfluous for me to say—that it will be my care not to let any information transpire of the disorder, till Parliament is in a condition to apply a remedy.
“In some eyes, a degree of ridicule might attach, to the idea of keeping secret what has been in print these four years. But (besides that, to the ignorant, the preoccupied and the incurious, publication of needles in bottles of hay is no notice) to you it can be no secret, that in law as in chemistry, results altogether new may be produced, by new combinations of old elements.
“Of the pamphlet on the question of law, the short title is—The True Bastille: &c.: of the other, on the question of policy,PanopticonversusNew South Wales: &c. Of this last the Table of Marginal Contents has been in the hands of Lord Pelham since the 12th.
“III. In the course, and for the purpose of the intrigues, of which by and by, the Duke of Portland, by an unusually self-signed letter,* with Mr Baldwin for his counsel, and Mr King for his scribe, was ill-advised enough to avow, in an address to the Treasury, the following designs and practices:—
“1. Putting, of his own authority, a professed negative, upon the sole object of the imperative provisions of the Penitentiary Contract Act.†
“2. Filling the country jails with Penitentiary prisoners, in direct contempt of the original Penitentiary Act.‡1
“3. Assuming, as well as exercising, of his own sole authority, the power of taxation, by throwing the expense of convicts upon a fund of his own choosing (the County Rates, i. e. the Poor-Rates) instead of the general fund, on which, by the Penitentiary acts, those expenses were charged by Parliament.
“Other similar heresies I pass over, as requiring too many words to state them. And he not only quotes distinctly by their titles the two acts, the provisions of which he thus abrogates on the declared ground of their being ‘very inexpedient,’ but says of them in so many words, ‘I have examined and understand the object of’ them.
“Of this letter a copy was refused me by the prudence of Mr Long, but I obtained a sufficient extract by imprudence elsewhere. Another publication in readiness for the press, is a pamphlet written upon the strength of this letter, for the purpose of inquiring who is the Sovereign of this country,—the King in Parliament, or the Duke of Portland. It is a point to be ascertained, what the House of Commons will say to a power thus exercised by a servant of the crown,—a single lord of Parliament,—over the public purse. Title,—‘Observations on a late exercise of legislative power by the Duke of Portland, in declared contempt of Parliament.’ With the details of this less serious and more debateable business, I will not attempt to trouble you (unless you call for them) no more than I have Romilly. Taking it upon the face of my statement of it, (a statement drawn up in writing, and with great care,) he makes no difficulty in speaking of it (in writing) as containing impeachable matter, whatever may be the uncertainty, in which decisions on questions of this sort have been commonly involved by what is called politics.
“IV. In the agony of their distress, the late Treasury, when called upon to show in their ‘Proceedings,’ why nothing was done about Panopticon, were desperate enough to speak of a pretended ‘increase of terms’‡2 as the cause. It was not a misconception: it was a studied, long-premeditated, elaborately-prepared falsehood: a grosser, a more transparent one, was never uttered. It was so gross, that the man, whoever it was, that first broached it, was afraid to put his name to it. It stands in the printed ‘Proceedings,’ in the form of an anonymous communication! I have looked over these ‘Proceedings’ carefully: (your kindness gave me the means.) In the whole pile of them, there is not another such example: for it is not given as a ‘Minute,’ of the Board. The more direct utterances of the same falsehood, contained in the ‘Proceedings,’ forced into day by the change of Ministry,§ were destined for eternal night, and by express order most studiously concealed from the man whose conduct they were libelling, and whose fate they took upon them to dispose of. Anything they had ever received from me on the subject would have disproved the falsehood: and, therefore, everything they have ever received from me was suppressed. I wrote immediately to Mr Hiley Addington, stating the injury, and praying publication of the suppressed documents for redress; saying, I must publish, if they would not. Mr H. Addington was frightened: Mr Long was frightened: to divert me from that claim, they drew me by a trick into an unexpected conference,* the object of which was, to make me hear a sham offer they had to make to me. The very nature of the offer showed me at once it was not intended to be realized: the event has proved as much. The cover given to it, was an affectation of extreme surprise at my perversity, in pretending not to understand the same offer to have been already made in the last official letter to me.† That letter bound them to nothing as to one half of the offer, (the reduced number of 500 convicts, instead of the original number of 1000, and the augmented number of 2000,) and put a clear negative on the other half,—viz., compensation for the difference. What passed at the conference is as curious as the contrivance for producing it, and, in the sketches of Treasury morality, would make a picture of itself. Some allusions to it are in a paper already in the hands of Lord Pelham. They got nothing by their stratagem for parrying the demand: I got nothing by the demand itself; unless it be the opportunity of observing, how sore they were in the place it touched them in. In saying I got nothing, I mean at the time: for, in the long run, together with an additional motive, I have obtained an additional ground, for applying by Petition to the new Parliament, for relief, against insinuations having the effect of defamation, (for the injury done to me by it was a serious one,) and suppressions having the effect of forgery. If, on my petition, the House does not publish, (I mean, call for the suppressed documents, and order them to be published,) I do: to publish a correspondence between the Treasury and myself, is no offence against the House. But what (saving your better judgment) is an offence against the House, is, reporting to it anonymous falsehoods, instead of authenticated facts.
“V. You have no more forgotten than I have, your opinion of Mr Pitt’s treatment of me, as declared for his edification before Mr Rider at the Committee.‡ The ‘barbarity’ was then not more than a barbarity of four years. It has since been doubled: in duration I mean: but in multiplicity of acts and variety of engines it has been swollen and improved to a degree that would astonish you. The underhand practices,—the system of long-spun and elaborate, yet always transparent treachery, concerted,—sometimes between the two floors of the Treasury, sometimes between the Treasury and subordinate offices,—form such a history, as I cannot think would be altogether without interest to the public, or even to Parliament. It cannot, if there be any the smallest spark of regard in either, for probity and good faith, in the head-quarters of the state.
“1. The assurance, without which I refused to meddle with the then proffered, and since purchased land,—the assurance that no opposition on the part of Lord Belgrave should prevent the application of it to the public use, (Lord Belgrave, a mere neighbour, having no interest in the land,) the assurance given me, in the most energetic and apparently confidential manner, by Mr Long: thereupon a promise (of which I have proof) given to Lord Belgrave, that the land never should be applied to that same use. The existence of this perfidious promise assumed over and over again, by myself and others, in black and white, as well as in conversations with Mr Long: and Mr Long never attempting to excuse it, nor daring to deny it.
“2. Care taken that the £12,000 purchase-money should be received by Lord Salisbury: care taken at the same time that the £1000 known from the first to be necessary to the application of the land to its pretended public use, (viz., by buying out remains of leasehold terms,) should not, nor any part of it, be ever received by me. The £12,000 not suffered to pass through the hands of me, (the feofee,) who was to acknowledge the receipt of it, lest the deficiency of the necessary and promised £1000 should be perceived by me: my signature obtained to a false receipt—a paper acknowledging the receipt of it—obtained by a contrivance. The very possession of the leases, as well as the title-deeds, endeavoured to be withholden from me: the possession of the land (such part as could be withholden) withholden from me to this hour, in spite of all remonstrances, viz., by the withholding of the money for the purchase.
“Assurances that orders had been issued for a warrant for that money, as in fact they had been issued, and a Minute made accordingly: those assurances given to me, and in the same breath measures taken for preventing the money from being ever issued.
“3. The very species of misconduct that furnished the sole pretence for breaking the public faith with Mr Palmer,—(the having conceived, under the agony of provocation, the momentary idea of throwing confusion into the public service in that subordinate department)—that very species of misconduct, adopted and practised in the department paramount, in cold blood, for the purpose of the breach to be made in the public faith as plighted to me. Confusion and insubordination purposely organized: subordinates encouraged in declared contempt of the orders of the Board: encouraged in repeated instances, and in different offices, and after full notice of the contempt by written complaints from me. Facts and arguments, forming the ground for the orders of the Board, kept back from subordinates; lest they should be deterred from the opposition they had been instructed to make. Engagements sanctioned by Minutes of the Board: these engagements broken to my prejudice—broken without apology or explanation, under the observation of the clerks, and other witnesses of the transactions of the Board.
“4. Attempts to render me an instrument of oppression (and much vexation, in spite of my indefatigable labour to prevent it, actually caused) to twenty unoffending families, (inhabitants of houses in the purchased land,) for the purpose of the ruin in which it is hoped they would involve me by suits at law. Instead of the promised £1000 for buying out these and other interests, (a price at which, after Lord Salisbury had offered, I had offered to bear the expense,) an order obtained from the Board, directing me to inquire into the compensation requisite, with an advice from their solicitor to insist that the evacuation of the premises should be ‘absolute and immediate’:—that order obtained, under a determination, never to give me possession of the premises—never to give any money for the compensation; the damage thus swelled, from the above-mentioned single thousand to several thousands, in spite of the most indefatigable exertions on my part to keep it as low as possible: recorded exertions, testimony of which I have been careful to preserve. All this in spite of, or rather by reason of, the most strenuous remonstrances on my part, remonstrances in writing, exhibiting the mischief in all its features. Of the insidious refusal of the promised £1000, one evident motive was—the hope of driving me (for I was not to be led) into this snare.
“5. To blind me the more effectually, and at the same time involve in the more certain ruin, my character by the appearance of their own ill faith, my fortune by litigation, and my health and peace of mind by vexation and disappointment—a sham treaty carried on all this while—carried on for a matter of a twelve-month—for other necessary contiguous land: the proprietor a gentleman of fortune but under temporary difficulties, (Mr Wire,) disturbed by the fraud in his economical arrangements, and to my knowledge materially injured in his fortune.
“6. Letters upon letters from me unanswered and unnoticed: personal access, eluded for months, at last openly refused. From the time that, for the accommodation of Lord Salisbury, (himself innocent and irreproachable,) I was deluded, as above, into the acceptance of his estate,* scarce in a single instance a fair audience of Mr Long. Three weeks, without the intermission of a single day—three whole weeks, on one single occasion—I remember passing in the passages: and when at last Mr Long was pleased to send out a refusal to see me, it presented itself to me as a favour, because discharging me from my attendance. Wanton and unprovoked insults were what I got from Mr Rose, when attending him for the fulfilment of the prospects he had held out to me: they were put an end to, prospects and insults together, by a refusal to see me any more. Not to speak of clerks, whose civility to me had real merit in it, I owe it to the kindness of the porters, that I received no insults from them, after the treatment they saw given to me. All, without so much as the fancied shadow of a complaint against me: as Mr Long, before witnesses, and particularly at our very last interview, has been forced repeatedly to confess. In the midst of all these transparent frauds—under all these barbarous oppressions—not a single harsh word on the part of the patient—in conversation or writing, towards a single individual among his oppressors of all ranks.
“More of this—I know not how much—might be added. I spare it you:—I spare myself the hunting for it. If this be not enough, what else can be?
“Panopticon (it is obvious enough) is not the more beneficial a system for any scrape into which its adversaries may have floundered. True: but neither is it the worse. Against it, scarce an expression of vague dislike, much less anything in the shape of a specific objection, has been ever urged, that I could ever hear of, by its most determined adversaries. No man has ever yet been hardy enough to deny, though the calls for denial have been perpetual, that the sole causes, of the sacrifices so often made of it, have been the successive compliments paid to the train of successive lords, ending with Lord Belgrave.
“For my petition, I mean to avail myself of the offer of Sir C. Bunbury: he having been the first to mention Panopticon to Parliament,† before Mr Dundas came forward with his panegyric. Wilberforce must either help to pour shame upon the heads of his friends in both ministries, or desert his own opinions and belie his feelings, not only as declared to myself in black and white, and that very recently, but declared for years to all sorts of persons without reserve. Be the prayer of the petition granted or refused—all the perfidies—all the treacheries—all the oppressions—all the corruption—all the disorder—come out of course. For the constitutional points (without yet knowing the particulars) a person out of all party, but above all party, and of no small account—particularly in points of that nature, has promised in a letter I have by me, a ‘strict attention’ to the business. Having tried nobody else yet, I have met with no refusals. Of the Opposition, of whom I know nothing, I leave you to judge. Who can say? The same spirit, which has so lately brought upon the head of Mr Mainwaring a punishment which (judging from the Report of the Commissioners of the Crown, and the confession of one of those who voted for him along with you) I cannot look upon as altogether unmerited: may it not give some trouble in its call for punishment—not of Mr Pitt, or the Duke of Portland only, but even of Mr Addington, for connivances so much more culpable?
“The opinion of Romilly was not lightly given. After a consideration of some weeks, it was first given vivâ voce. I resuggested the points that seemed most novel or least clear. An inconsiderate opinion might have hurt both of us. I told him there might be occasion for me to make it public. He kept the papers: and, in a letter written for the purpose, on the point of his departure, found he could do neither more nor less than say—‘What you state respecting Botany Bay has very much astonished me. It has the more astonished me, because I take the law upon the subject to beexactlyas you have stated it.’ The marginal contents are not sufficient to enable you to form an opinion of your own: but they show upon what points it would have to turn. I would not load you with the paper at large, (56 pages.) It is at your command, of course, at any time. Romilly is for the Crown on the question of the Prince of Wales. White was beforehand with the Prince’s people in retaining him: and the Prince himself has expressed his disappointment at it. The spirit of self-delusion might have suggested this, and that, and t’other, in relation to a man who, though no party man, was no greater an admirer than myself of the late Ministry: but this works by estoppel. You probably know better than I whether, for some time past, he has not been by far the first man in the Court of Chancery, though originally more conversant in the common law.
“Upon the whole, in regard to Mr Addington, my calculation is—that (even setting aside all danger to his friends) he would find it less trouble to break at once the corrupt illegal promise, than to persist in breaking the legal one:—to establish a system of certain reformation, than to maintain, by waste of public money, a system of unexampled and altogether remediless abominations.* Should his calculation agree with this of mine, he will act accordingly: should yours agree with it, your regard for his honour, still more for the honour of Government as bound up with it, will, according to another calculation of mine, afford you a sufficient inducement to apprize him of your sentiments to that effect.
“The ground upon which these prospects, such as they are, are built, is not the most flattering of all others to Mr Addington: but it is he that has driven me upon it. Before trial, I looked up to him with the firmest confidence. The margin† refers to a most faithful picture of it. Nothing short of experience, nor even that for a long time, could wrench it from me.
“On that occasion, Mr Addington’s probity failed him, and with it, as is but natural, his courage. Though Mr Nepean was my evidence, or rather because Mr Nepean was my evidence, he durst not hear my evidence. As little durst he refuse to hear it. He set his brother to shuffle with me, as you may see. My ‘representations’ he had no objection to receive; because a paper the more upon his shelves would not give him much trouble. From Mr Nepean, though (I mean always because) the only person from whom he could have got any correct and honest account of the secret part of the business, that is, the dregs at the bottom of the dirty and dishonourable part of it, he could not bear to hear anything about it: because, having every now and then occasion to face Mr Nepean, and being known to Mr Nepean to have had notice of the business, with more or less of the perfidies, and treacheries, and oppressions, and corruptions sticking to it, in Mr Nepean he would as often have to face a man who would behold in him a privy, and by adoption a party, to so many scandalous enormities.
“The maxim Mr Addington has hitherto found it convenient (as he thinks) to take, upon this as upon other occasions, for his guide, is—that Mr Pitt can do no wrong: and it is that he may not be obliged to part with it, that he has taken for his model, the judge I have just been reading of in a newspaper, who would ‘never suffer more than one side of a cause to be heard, because both sides (he said) confused him.’ The side that gave him the support of so useful, not to say necessary, a friend, presented itself to his prudence as the side of safety. The example of such a predecessor—of such a possible successor—presented itself to his probity, as an advantageous substitute, to the dictates of law, public policy, and justice. My case being among those, which by the law itself are put out of the protection of the law—and Mr Addington’s station in it being that of a judge, but with a power much more boundless than that of any judge so called, the injustice of his conduct, is by so much the more efficient, than that of the very considerate magistrate just mentioned.
“Mr Addington’s hope is—what Mr Pitt’s hope was—to see me die broken-hearted, like a rat in a hole. I may die any day: but so long as perfidy, and treachery, and oppression, and corruption, and arbitrary power, and contempt of Parliament, and the persevering propagation of immorality and misery are the order of the day with him, so long as I live he will find me living to his annoyance. Living did I say? Yes: and even when I am dead, he will not be rid of me.
“Being no longer hare but hunter, the spirit that animates hunters is come upon me. By leaving me nothing to do, of that which I ought to have had to do so many years ago, he leaves me no other mode of serving the public so efficient or impressive, as the reading of that moral lesson which will be read to it by the uncovering of his shame.
“My demand is an extremely simple one:—that an engagement of one-and-a-half year’s standing, entered into after seven months taken to consider of it, may be trampled upon no longer:—that, according to that engagement, prison-room be given me for the 2000:—terms to be grounded on it, as per Memorial settled by Mr Nepean—principles assented to, over and over, in conversation with him, by Mr Long. The number to be secured to me, no more than the original number, 1000:* for anything beyond that number I neither asked any engagement, nor would have accepted it, had it been offered.
“For taking the least bad course that can now be taken in relation to New South Wales, he might perhaps in this case find his account in consulting a man, who is not an utter stranger (as so many have been) to the subject, either on the chapter of law or policy—who is not above taking trouble on any subject, nor above looking upon these outcasts as fit objects of his care.
“Lord Pelham’s letter does not satisfy me. You may see why it does not. It may be sincere, but though I were sure of its being so, I could not trust to it. It binds not Mr Addington. It is much less than I got from Mr Dundas, in his lordship’s place, on the occasion of Battersea Rise. Time begins already to show the value of it.
“In any declaration he might make to you, though it were but a verbal one, so it were a specific one, he knowing you to be in possession of the case, I might venture to have confidence. Why? because it will never be in his power to ‘fly from your presence,’ as he might have done for the most part from Mr Nepean’s. As often as he looked up to you in your chair, with those professions of probity upon his lips which will be so often called for from his place, your eyes would bear witness against him, if he were false.
“This is my last private attempt, to drive into the head of Mr Addington the sense of justice. Should this pass unnoticed, or prove fruitless, the die is cast. If I hear nothing from you before the 13th of this instant September, 1802, this being the 3d, I shall no longer look for it. On that day it may be necessary for me to take steps that may be irrevocable. Time passes, and presses. I must not lose the commencement of the approaching Session, as Messrs Addingtons made me lose the remainder of the Session of 1801.”
Bentham to Charles Abbot.
“7th September, 1802.
“I had been used from time to time to send Panopticon progress to Wilberforce. August 27th, I sent him the correspondence with Sir C. Bunbury, and Lord Pelham’s letter, and the marginal contents of Panopticon v. New South Wales: Sir C.’s last letter excepted, which did not come till afterwards. Yesterday he returned my packet with a long letter of four sheets.* The remarkable feature in it, and the cause for which I mention it, is this: the most material and striking article of the packet lying before him, was this letter of Lord Pelham’s, in which his lordship says:—‘At all events . . . I will endeavour to get something settled before the meeting of Parliament.’ Yet with this before his eyes—all his good advice—all his projects, assume that nothing at all will have been settled before the meeting of Parliament. To get it settled, such and such things are to be attempted (though with a chance of success which he scarce ventures to give as more than a faint one) in Parliament. This assumption of his, to what cause can it be imputed? Was it that he thought Lord Pelham would not so much as make any attempt? Was it that he thought it would be unsuccessful? Was it that he knew it would be unsuccessful? viz. by having communicated on the subject with Mr Addington? The latter is a matter of fact which might have been a material object of inquiry, if my time admitted of the making of it. Meantime, of these three interpretations, between which Mr Wilberforce did not look upon it as worth his while to distinguish, one at least supposes that sort of conduct, which, in Sir C. Bunbury’s more frank and open estimate, ‘would disgrace not only a Minister’s secretary but his porter.’
“The uniformly honourable character which, as far as my obscurity would admit of my hearing anything, I had always heard attributed to Lord Pelham—this, added to the marks of candour on his part that seemed to transpire through the debates, would have led me to place as much confidence as my experience of those offices would admit of my placing, in so positive an undertaking on his part as the above, had it not been for his expedition of discovery for ‘finding out what steps had been taken by the Treasury.’ What, if anything, had been done there legally and above board, the Minute-book would have shown him at any time in half an hour, out of the week he took to give his answer. The only possible matter of discovery the case afforded, was, any such clandestine and dishonourable, and unavowable and unavowed assurance or assurances as that which had been given to Lord Belgrave. Far from being matter of triumph, it is matter of most serious concern to me, to find those suspicions of mine receive already so much apparent confirmation.
“There are two things I could not get either Mr Long or Mr Hiley Addington (at the conference they entrapped me into, 9th July, 1801) to speak of, as possessed of any the smallest binding force: Acts of Parliament, and the engagements taken by men in office, in consequence: nothing could equal the scorn with which the idea was received. Wilberforce, notwithstanding the probity of his own conduct, seems to have entertained all along a sort of implied notion to the same effect, derived, doubtless, from that practice, which, on the part of Messrs Rose and Long, (and perhaps Pitt,) he must have had so many occasions to observe. I cannot, antecedently to experience, bring myself to think that these notions will find approbation with the public at large. I am sure they do not among all placemen. Sir Evan Nepean, at any rate, is an example.
“Next to the setting up of Panopticon, which, if I were to live, might enlarge my opportunities of being of use in one way or other, I cannot think of anything by which I could do more substantial service, than by exposing a line of conduct which seems at present to be endemical and habitual, in such manner as to render it if possible no longer tenable.
“Wilberforce, however, amongst other good advice, preaches passive obedience, and non-resistance for this one session, giving me a dispensation for hostility should this prove fruitless: and in the meantime, recommends that Botany Bay should be exposed in a quiet way, and on the ground of immorality only, I mean without blame to anybody: for which he offers aid, which, if I understand him right, is by communication of facts. He, however, knows nothing of the præmunire, and the illegalities and tyrannies connected with it. Not that I shall take his advice: my own experience runs uniformly counter to his theories. I have found the principle of terror operate in several instances, and no other principle in any. He is all in a flutter about his friends: he does not himself think they will do as he is convinced they ought to do, and he dreads the seeing them exposed for it. He shuts his eyes against the facts: and then imagines excuses for them incompatible with the facts, which, from the first, so far as they tend to imputation, he has never been able to bear to look at—or at least to own the looking at them. It is natural enough that he should be for laying law and engagement out of the case, because those topics cannot be handled without imputation to his friends: it is equally natural that I should not part with strong ground, and confine myself to weak ground, for the accommodation of those who have made a point all along of keeping me to that weak ground, that they might crush me at their ease. Not that he is indifferent to Panopticon, for he talks of it all the while like an enthusiast.”
Bentham to Dumont.
“Q. S. P., 19th October, 1802.
“My dear Dumont,—
I got back here (at night) last Saturday fortnight, the 2d instant. On the next day, (Sunday,) understanding from my brother that Sir Evan Nepean had mentioned his having had two interviews on the subject with Mr Addington, I called to hear particulars. What was said, (or at least what was reported to me as said,) was chiefly on Nepean’s part; and consisted principally of testimonies in my favour; added to what he had said, and was ready to say, to Pitt, Long, &c., as to what he thought of their conduct in the business. Addington appears to have said little. He touched upon that article in my ‘Proposal,’ in which I engage to pay a limited sum in the event of a subsequent offence committed by a convict that had been under my care: he was pleased to term it ‘one of my flights.’ In fact, it amounts to no more than a partial, not a total, deduction of a profit that would result to me from the same incident: but this is what few are either able or willing to perceive. In default of all solid objections, it serves people for the shadow of an objection on the score of quackery. In the pamphlet I have sent to the press, (Panopticon versus New South Wales, of which afterwards,) I offer full explanation to the above purport, to any one who will vouchsafe to look at it. He concluded with saying that he had not made up his mind on the business, and that it was his intention to turn it over to Mr Vansittart. I wrote accordingly on that same day to Mr V., telling him of what I had heard as above, and apprizing him of my return, which he might not otherwise have heard of: but I have heard nothing from him as yet.
“In addition to the letters mentioned above, I found one from Sir Charles Bunbury, dated 30th September, in which are these words: ‘I saw Lord Pelham, and desired he would send to you, and inform you what steps he intended to take in the business of the Panopticon prison: he said he would, as soon as he had read through your books, and conversed with the Chancellor and the Judges on the subject.’ Looking upon this as an evasion, I considered it as calling upon me, upon the principle of self-preservation, to tell my story to those same personages. I have accordingly sent to the press ‘Panopticon versus New South Wales,’ &c., in the form of a letter to Lord Pelham, stating the above intimation of his as the occasion of my taking that method of multiplying copies for the edification of the said personages.
“To return to Nepean—as far as he was concerned, nothing could be more satisfactory than the short conference, which was all he could, or at least thought proper to allow me. He gave me to understand, that, for a long time past, he had set down in his own mind as a contingency not very unlikely to happen, the bringing the business before Parliament: that he had kept himself accordingly in preparation, and was ready at any time to give his evidence. In my above-referred-toletter to Mr Addington, written to him very soon after his accession, and commencing with the averment of its being written with the privity of Mr Nepean, I gave him sufficient intimation that Nepean’s evidence, wherever and whenever given, would cover with shame Mr Pitt and his subordinates.
“What made these assurances of Nepean’s the more satisfactory, was—that for one and a half year, I had never set eyes on Sir Evan Nepean. He began with explanations in the form of reproaches for my invisibility, &c.—which produced counter explanations on my part, and were followed with the strongest assurances, that, in respect of affections, as well as of opinion, he remained unchanged. What an opportunity for Opposition if they have but the understanding to improve it! Had they ever anything like it before? A man of Nepean’s impregnable and popular character, having not the least personal quarrel with either the present people or the past, ready to stand up against both for the pure love of justice!
“One thing I had like to have forgotten—a caution on the part of N. to avoid acting through the very channel through which what was done had been done. His hurry, real or affected, prevented me from getting an explanation of the grounds of this caution, on which he appeared to lay a considerable stress. Public situation, or character, and disposition as towards myself—which of these circumstances had he in view?
“On your part, my dear Dumont, you will not fail to feel the extreme delicacy that attends the communication of a correspondence of such a nature with such a personage. No security can be too great that can contribute to ensure the preventing it from coming round. In fact, you will indeed perceive that nothing could be more guarded, on his part as well as mine: armed on both sides cap-a-pied. But, in case of a disclosure of this sort of confidential correspondence, how convenient a pretence to the great man for shaking off, and even openly turning against, the troublesome little one!
“Not the least curious incident in the business, is a correspondence on the subject with Wilberforce. I had been used from time to time to send him reports, under the title of Panopticon Progress: a little before my trip to Paris, I sent him one on the occasion of the intercourse with Lord Pelham, through the medium of Sir Charles Bunbury. Thereupon, on my return, I found a letter of his of four 4to sheets, half of it taken up with apologies about haste and so forth. Agonies of terror about my threatened narrative: counter threats of utter silence, having the effect of abandonment, on the part of all my friends, (Abbot, for example, by name, and himself not excepted,) in the event of my bringing on the matter in any tone of inculpation: recommendation to try this one session, in a quiet way, with nothing but a statement of the bad points of New South Wales, for which he expressly offers materials: consent to my acting hostilely in another session, if nothing comes of quiet proceedings in the next. Short answer—very short—on my part, expressing an intention of profiting by his advice, so far as consists in the making an attack upon New South Wales, and asking him for his documents. Reply from him in a tone of unusual coldness: saying that the communications he meant were verbal ones; and referring me to ‘conversations in the course of the winter’ for the time: we not being, of late years more especially, in the habit of any such conversations. My notion is, that in the meantime some intimation had reached him, (by conversations, for example, either with my other correspondent or with Addington, &c.,) that I did not mean so far to take his advice as to give up my attack upon his dear friends, for whom he had been expressing his regard to me,—even the Rose of Roses not excepted. In the long letter, piety in abundance on the occasion of Lord Belgrave: and, upon the whole, a not unamusing or altogether unedifying contrast might be exhibited, between the ardour of his piety and the icy coldness of his love of public justice. He confesses Pitt’s procrastination to save him on the score of perfidy: for my part, I shall admit the procrastination, but instead of admitting it as a disproof of the perfidy, I state it as the cause.
“This same pious gentleman had broken, on a former occasion, as solemn, and deliberate, and spontaneous a promise, as it was possible for one man to give to another: a promise that ‘he would not desert me,’ and that he would bring on the Panopticon business in Parliament at any time, and in any shape I would point out. I pointed out in due season a shape so quiet and unexceptionable, as that of a mere motion for the continuation of those accounts from New South Wales, the continuation of which had been so strongly recommended in the twenty-eighth Report of the Committee of Finance: he would neither bring it on in that shape, nor in any other; nor his friend Thornton neither, who was present, and by whom it was my plan that the motion should be made: he having been an efficient member of that Committee. I forbore irritating him by any the least allusion to his promise: at the time of his making it he had not yet quite reconciled himself with Pitt; on whose want of good faith he spoke with great freedom, imputing it to his want of faith in the religious sense.
“A capital object of his alarm, was (I return to his long letter) my including in my narrative a letter I had written to him, (about ten months ago, on the occasion of a conversation of his with Lord Pelham,) written to him, (W.,) giving him an account of a visit I had undergone, a year or two before, from the Duke of Portland, with Billy Baldwin to take care of him. It would cover his Grace,—and for life,—with ridicule ineffaceable. Would it so? quoth I,—tant mieux: he shall not catch cold for want of it: though a covering, composed of the four walls in some room in the Tower, would be a further covering not ill suited to his deserts.
λάῖνον ἔσσ ϰιτῶνα, ϰαϰῶν ἑνεχ’, ἕσσ ἔοϱγας.
“You have read Homer since I did, and can conclude or correct the metre and the sense. The pleasant part of the story is,—that in the midst of all this concern for the reputation of his Grace, he himself makes no secret of his considering himself under an obligation of bringing before Parliament something on the part of his said Grace, big with enormity, though unspecified: so that my attack upon his Grace,—an attack he does not dispute the justice of,—is to be given up for his beautiful eyes: while his is to be made, comme de raison: from which I infer that he has contrived, or thinks at least that he has contrived, in this attack to keep the now again dear Pitts, and Roses, and Longs, out of the scrape. In all this sacrifice of public justice to private connexion, there is nothing very miraculous, upon ordinary mundane principles: but on the pure spiritual ones that breathe through every pore of this epistle, what shall we say to it? What a contrast between this man and Nepean, from whom I have never in the course of the whole business heard a syllable about holiness! Poor, dear, religious sanction! what a bump it gives to the beam, when thus weighed against the moral.
“Meantime this crack, ‘in a house divided against itself,’—a sort of a tenement which we are assured from the highest authority cannot stand,—might be not altogether unworthy the ear of Opposition. It is their business to have, or rather to have had, intimation of the cause and particulars of it: and thereupon not to sit still with their arms across, and see it close again.”
The Rev. Brownlow Ford (Ordinary of Newgate) to Bentham.
“8th Jan., 1803.
“Your own investigation of the subject will furnish you with many documents, as well as arguments on the subject of executions; better calculated than anything I have said to do away the disgrace which they are to our country; and from you they will have weight. Pursue them, I beseech you, to the abolishing of executions, and you will deserve ten thousand times more from that country, than ever Howard did. My situation in life is too insignificant to have any attention paid to my opinions. Besides, as one of the Aldermen said, when I expressed some such thoughts as I have now given to you,—‘Pray, be quiet, Doctor, and keep your mind to yourself! If there were no executions, there would be no occasion for an Ordinary.’ Verbum sapienti.—If the enclosed remarks be worth preserving, please to indulge me either with them, or a copy of them, as soon as you can make it convenient.”
The title which Bentham had proposed to give the volume afterwards called “Plea for the Constitution,” was “Constitution Conquered.” Dr Parr liked the title and the preface, and wrote to Bentham urging him not to cast it aside; but Romilly, more cautious, thought differently, and wrote thus:—
Romilly to Bentham.
“15th Feb., 1803.
If my criticism has no other merit, it will have that of frankness. I don’t like your preface. If I were to decide between that and none, should vote for omitting it altogether. There is too much levity in it, especially as it forms a striking contrast with the proposed title. A man who is about to read of the Constitution, not violated only, but conquered,—of enormities committed, and all our most sacred laws broken,—would not expect to be so much amused at the outset as he will find himself when he has read only a few paragraphs of the preface. In truth, it appears to me that the title is too vague, and the preface much too comic. I don’t like your passing from the attempted conquest of America to the attempted conquest of the Constitution in 1767, which, by the by, was long anterior in time to the conquest of America, though not to Lord Chatham’s speech which you allude to, and which related to a different kind of conquest,—a conquest from the French. I don’t like it, in the first place, because, though the forty days’ tyranny was a transaction very properly brought to the recollection of those to whom you are about to show that the Constitution has been since violated in more important points without any attention being paid to it, yet that forty days’ tyranny is not to be compared in any point of view with the American war: and in the next place, I don’t like it, because the word conquest is applied in its literal sense to America, but is a metaphor when used, either of the transactions of 1767 or the proceedings at Botany Bay. The truth is, that notwithstanding what has been done at Botany Bay, the British Constitution is not conquered, but still remains as it did. It has been disregarded—violated, if you please,—but because ministers have done what is alleged, and nobody but yourself yet knows anything of the matter, I think you would hardly maintain seriously, with the Parliament sitting with its accustomed forms, and your favourite juries deciding causes every day, that the Constitution is conquered.”
“March 5, 1803.
I had a short conversation to-day with the Attorney-general. Nothing in the preface has given him offence; and on the contrary, he seems to think that you have spoken very civilly of him. But he has been shocked very much by the title—the title and the preface are all he has read. I wish I could recollect his words—they were, as nearly as I can remember them, to this effect: ‘If I were disposed to interest myself to have the Panopticon established, and to have him placed at the head of it—and I should really be glad to do it, if I saw a proper opportunity—how could I recommend to a secretary of state, to place in such a situation, a person who had written such things of him or his predecessors?’—Ever and most sincerely yours,” &c.
Joseph Jekyll to Bentham.
“Spring Gardens, March 1, 1803.
You know I am such an old jail-bird, that I am really vexed we have not met, especially as Sir C. Bunbury says you wished to meet me.
“Your letters to Lord Pelham I have read with care and total approbation.
“But as to any step in parliament—what can we do?—Jupiter Hostis!—at least as far as finance goes, and their own habitual support of a most abominable system,—abominable chiefly because most foolish.”
Bentham to Jekyll.
“Q. S. P., 6th April, 1803.
Many thanks for your kind letter of the first of last month. The best return it has been in my power to make for it, I have made; which is to forbear taking advantage of it to plague you to no purpose. The devil tempted me to shoot you flying, during circuit time, with a third pamphlet,* which I shall now deposit quietly at your house, in company with these presents. The devil tempted me; but your good genius, or genuises, in the shape of two evil geniuses of mine—Irresolution and Indolence—cried out, ‘Avaunt, Satan!’ and so you escaped.
“What is it that has turned my brain, and thrown me among the Supernaturals? Your ‘Jupiter Hostis,’ I believe. Oh, yes; hostile enough, I warrant him. But have you not heard—when you come to town I suppose you will hear—of a conspiracy among certain Titans, to force him in his [Celestial?] Chamber? First Titan, Sir Charles Bunbury. If he has not forgot it, or given it up, it waits, I suppose, for you. Botany Bay, which he has an invincible penchant for, and does not like I should say anything against it, was to be connived at; the attack was to be pointed at the Hulks. Wherefore he issued an injunction against the letting off the aforesaid and herewith enclosed squib. He said, ‘Be it so;’ and so it was: whereby you escaped, as above, and your circuit likewise: for my project was, that you should have tied it to the tails of your two Judges, (I don’t know who they are,) and bounced it off at one of your circuit dinners. I submitted, and with the best grace imaginable: ask him, eh! Prudence is his province. Fortitude and patience mine. But, not to trespass any further upon yours, I conclude with assuring you, that as faithfully as you are mine, I am yours gratefully, &c.
“I am always in the same dog-hole, where I have been kenneling for above these twelve years. I am never out of it: so that if it should ever happen to you to prefer walking to ‘vexation,’ you may be sure to find me.”
Bentham to Sir Charles Bunbury.
“Q. S. P., 2d May, 1803.
The storming party? What news of it? Any signs of life? Orders—stop the Plea for the Constitution, for fear of giving offence; which, as against the storming party, will serve the Dr for defence. Orders from on high: passive obedience below: allegiance,—but what is to become of the protection that was to pay for it? Visit from Jekyll, who talked of making up a jail-gang at his house. Sir H. Mildmay, whom I have never seen, is notorious as an enemy to the hulks: but his still more notorious friendship for Pitt may perhaps have indisposed him against the ‘Comparative View,’ and the cause in general. Letters and Plea—it is high time they were published, if no good is to be got by forbearance.—Your most obsequious, &c.”
Bentham to William Wilberforce.
“Q. S. P., 31st May, 1803.
On the 8th instant, I received from Sir Charles Bunbury a letter, the conclusion of which is in these words:—
“ ‘I spoke to Mr Wilberforce, to know whether he would apply with me and other friends to Mr Addington; but he declined; saying he thought you had been used very ill, and could not keep his temper when he talked on the business.’
“The practical determination thus represented as announced, presented itself to me as being in such diametrical opposition to the observation on which it is represented as grounding itself, that I should have stood convicted of rashness in my own mind, had I suffered myself to regard the intelligence as correct, without applying to yourself for the confirmation or correction of it.
“It is my misfortune to be a principal in the business: so much so as to have everything at stake upon it. It never yet occurred to me to have the smallest apprehension of not being able to keep my temper in talking about it, much less if I were to go prepared. Silence, at the very worst, would be a sure resource.
“That a comparative stranger, in the ocean of whose public concerns this business is but a drop—a man remarkable (as I have ever understood) for the mildness of his temper too, as well as for so many other virtues—should be so much more affected than the party himself, who has had nothing else to think of for these ten years, seems to me so irreconcileable to the known principles of human nature, that I feel myself quite unable to admit it. At this rate, were a minister on any other occasion to find his convenience in sacrificing the interests of public security and morality—in trampling upon acts of Parliament—in breaking the public faith, to the oppression of an unoffending individual—he would need to but screw up the enormity of his guilt to a pitch sufficiently provoking, and on those terms he might make sure of the acquiescence of Mr Wilberforce. What a lesson! what an encouragement—for the advocates of the Slave trade, for example, were they to hear of this—which, perhaps, they have done by this time—though certainly not from me! Had the proposition been to move for the impeachment of these friends of yours—to move for an inquiry—to move for papers—so much as to stand up and say anything upon the subject in the House, it would be a different case. But, if I understand the matter right, your refusal went not merely to the speaking on the occasion, but the so much as going up to the Minister in his closet, and entering a silent appearance among the approvers of the measure.
“Sir Charles was then on the point of setting out for the country: whether he has returned or no, I know not: for I have not seen or heard from him since. By the date of his letter you will see how far I have been from being forward to trouble you on the subject. But the case is, every now and then, somebody is dropping in upon me, and asking—Well, and Mr Wilberforce, what says he to the business?—a question to which I know not what answer to make, pressed as I am between the apprehension of doing you an injustice, and the difficulty I find in conceiving any incorrectness in the evidence, in a case upon the face of it so simple. Labouring under this perplexity, you will, I flatter myself, forgive the trouble I am putting you to, in thus applying to the only person in whose power it is to relieve me from it.
“Two former letters had in some measure prepared me—as it seemed they were designed to do—for abandonment: but that recollection, far from removing, scarcely so much as lessens, the difficulty I experience in conceiving such a reason to be assigned for it.
“I once considered myself, nor shall anything short of absolute necessity make me cease to consider myself, dear Sir,
your much obliged, humble servant.”
William Wilberforce to Bentham.
“House of Commons, June 1, 1803.
“My dear Sir,—
I am very sorry that our friend Sir Charles Bunbury, by reporting to you, (I am sure through mistake,) not very correctly, a few words which I uttered to him very hastily, when my mind was full of other business, on our accidentally meeting in a shop, has occasioned in you any uneasiness, or any misconception of my sentiments and feelings towards you. These are the same which they have long been: such as proceed from a perfect conviction of the great advantages which would result from the carrying into execution of your valuable plan; from a persuasion that you have been most hardly used, from various circumstances, which I need not particularize; and lastly, from an earnest desire that you may at length overcome all obstructions, and see your ingenious theory realized, and your long labours crowned with success. I shall ever be ready to lend my best efforts, so far as they can properly be exerted, for the accomplishment of this end: you may reckon upon me as steadily possessing these dispositions, and as being always desirous of acting upon them.
“I will also, at any time, see you and confer with you on the business, and with any friends of yours. My being occupied beyond my constitution, and my having been ill, has alone prevented my anticipating your application, and attending to your affairs in the early part of the present Session.
“I scribble at a crowded Committee, amid interruption and bustle: you must allow, therefore, for this hasty scrawl; and believe me, always with esteem and regard, dear Sir, your faithful, &c.”
There is an hiatus in the documentary history of the Panopticon controversy, from the date of the above till the year 1809, when I find Wilberforce writing as follows:—
William Wilberforce to Bentham.
“Kensington Gore, or New Pal. Yard.June 1, 1809.
“My dear Sir,—
Though the incessant bustle in which I live during my residence in the neighbourhood of London is such as to render it impossible for me to bestow much thought on any but urgently-pressing business, yet I can truly declare that you, and the treatment you experienced, have been often in my mind; and that the sense of it, which I have formerly so often expressed to you, remains utterly unaltered. But, in truth, I always felt that it was more than could be expected (I might almost say out of nature) for you to think that I had not neglected opportunities of pushing forward your business; and therefore I was impressed with the persuasion, that however your good nature might prevent your opening your mind to me, you must number me among those who had used you ill, and, consequently, not much relish my society. I therefore satisfied myself with speaking of you, of your merits and cruel sufferings, in the way which justice appeared to me to require, as often as opportunities occurred. At length an occasion arose the other day in the House of Commons for publicly noticing your plan; and some private conversation (though but a few words) with one of the Treasury people, confirmed the opinion which various circumstances had led me to form,—that the present was a favourable moment for carrying into execution your great project, and obtaining for the public all the benefits it is calculated to produce. I have been therefore, ever since, intending to write to you, that I might learn whether you had still the heart to go forward after all your former disappointments. Indeed, I hoped that what I said in the House would have attracted the public attention. But according to the usual treatment which, on principle, I experience from the reporters of our debates, (and which I expect will at length have the effect intended—of ruining me with those of the public to whom I am not personally known,) not one word of what I said on this subject was mentioned in any newspaper I saw; and in one, The Times, I was not even mentioned as having spoken at all, though my speech was (I will not say anything of its quality) more in quantity than that of any other speaker. I should be glad to confer with you on the business at any time, and would either call on you, or be happy to see you at the hôtel or Kensington Gore. At the former I often am from about three to four o’clock; and at the latter till twelve o’clock in the day from half-past ten, unless the House has sat beyond twelve o’clock the night before, in which case I sleep in Westminster. Excuse the effects of extreme haste; and believe me, with esteem and regard, my dear Sir, yours most truly.”
The Report of the Select Committee on Penitentiary Houses, in 1811, is mentioned above (p. 103) as having been designed for finally crushing the Panopticon project. It is thus alluded to by Romilly:—
Romilly to Bentham.
The Committee made their Report yesterday. I have not been able to see it. It is very long, and, I understand, very unfavourable to your contract. I attended the last day but one, of their meeting, but found it quite impossible to do anything. Except Abercromby, and myself, and Wilberforce, no person friendly to you was present.—Evermost sincerely yours, &c.
“June 1, 1811.”
The part of the Report which bears on the subject is as follows:—
“The 34th Geo. III. cap. 84, reciting that certain lands at Battersea Rise (which are described in the recital, and stated to contain 79 acres and one rood) had been fixed upon by the supervisors appointed in pursuance of the former act, and after being duly approved of under the provisions of that act, had been valued by the verdict of a jury at £6,600, but that penitentiary houses had not been erected, directs the lords commissioners of the treasury to fix upon that spot of ground, or any other equally convenient, and to contract for the erection of a penitentiary house or penitentiary houses thereupon. They were to appoint a feoffee or feoffees to treat for the ground, and accept a conveyance of it; and the usual powers were given to compel a sale by the owners of the spot selected.
“The provisions of the former act, respecting the appointment of a Committee for the superintendence of the establishment, as well as those enactments which related to the treatment of the offenders to be confined therein, were virtually superseded, by the third clause of this statute enabling his Majesty to nominate a governor or governors of such penitentiary house or houses when erected, and giving to such governor or governors the care, management, superintendence, and control of the same, under such powers, directions, limitations, and restrictions, as are contained in the 24th Geo. III. cap. 56, or as should be appointed by his Majesty under the powers of that act; which is an act empowering his Majesty to commit to the care of persons to be named overseers, offenders either under sentence of death and reprieved, or under sentence of transportation, to be fed, clothed, and kept to hard labour, in such places and under such directions as his Majesty shall appoint.
“The 34th Geo. III. appears to have been brought into parliament with a view to an arrangement which had been for some time in contemplation, founded on an offer made by Jeremy Bentham, Esq., a gentleman of great respectability, to contract with the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury for the erection of a penitentiary house, and the care and custody of the persons to be confined therein, upon a plan described in a paper entitled, “A Proposal for a new and less expensive mode of employing and reforming Convicts,” a copy of which is contained in the Appendix to this Report; and about a month before the act received the royal assent, a sum of £2000 was actually advanced to Mr Bentham, from the treasury, by way of imprest, to enable him to make such preparation as might be necessary for the custody and care of the convicts proposed to be confined in the penitentiary houses intended to be erected. It appears that Articles of Agreement were accordingly drawn up between the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury and Mr Bentham; and the various sums of money to be received or paid by the contractor, in the several cases that might occur under the contract, were settled and inserted in the draft, a blank being only left for the description of the ground; in the selection or purchase of which, the difficulties which have prevented the completion of the arrangement appear to have arisen.
“It does not appear for what reason the site of the intended erection was changed from Battersea Rise, but the ground which had been chosen there, and valued under the former act, was abandoned, before any contract for the conveyance of it had been completed, for a spot in Tothill Fields, where 53 acres of land were purchased for £12,000, and a conveyance of them taken on the 12th day of October, 1799, from the vender to Mr Bentham, as feoffee under the provisions of the 34th Geo. III.
Mr Bentham, who is still in possession of this land, considers himself as entitled to have attached to the Penitentiary House under his contract, such additional quantity of ground as shall make the whole of what is allotted to him, amount to 79 acres, that being the number which he found appropriated to the intended establishment, by the recital in the act of parliament; and he states upon that head, that the portion of such ground, which may exceed the quantity absolutely necessary for the erection of a Penitentiary House, formed a part of the consideration for which he consented to the terms of the original agreement, and that he intended to use the whole for the purposes of the establishment, by employing such of the convicts as were fit for it in agriculture and gardening.
“Mr Bentham having appeared to your Committee to be still desirous that the contract, to which, though not actually signed, he conceives the public faith to be fully pledged, should be carried into effect, with such variation in the sum of money to be paid by government for the maintenance of each convict as should be deemed equitable, in consideration of the advance of price which has taken place in all articles of consumption since the agreement was framed, and with the exception of such part of the agreement as relates to the erection of the buildings for the Penitentiary House, which he does not now find himself able to undertake; your Committee found it necessary to enter into the consideration of the principles of the contract alluded to, in order to form a judgment on the expediency of its adoption for the management of the Penitentiary establishment recommended in this Report.
“Mr Bentham’s offer, the terms of which appear, in a pecuniary point of view, to be advantageous to the public, was founded, according to the statement contained in his original proposal, upon his having ‘contrived a building in which any number of persons might be kept within the reach of being inspected, during every moment of their lives.’
“The Plan upon which it was his intention to erect this building, may be seen in a paper annexed to the proposal, and entitled ‘Outline of the plan of construction alluded to in the above proposal;’ and models of a Penitentiary House, as therein described, were exhibited to many persons in Mr Bentham’s own house, before his proposals were accepted; but no plan or form of building is referred to in the articles of agreement, and Mr Bentham states himself to be at liberty under it, to place what number of convicts or prisoners he may think fit, in the same cell, and to make them sleep and work in the same apartments; which statement appears to your Committee to be correct, there being no restriction or direction relative to those points to be found in the articles.
“By the agreement, Mr Bentham is to build, within one year after he shall get possession of the ground mentioned therein, fit accommodation for 1000 male convicts or prisoners, certain sums of money being to be paid to him for that purpose by instalments; and he is afterwards to make provision for the reception of supernumeraries, if required, upon certain terms.
“The contract being to continue during the lives of Mr Bentham and his brother, General Samuel Bentham, the building, and the stock and effects used therewith, are to be valued on the decease of the survivor of them, and a deduction being made of the sum of money originally advanced by government, the remainder of the estimated value is to be paid to the representatives of such survivor.
“The management of the prisoners is to be vested in Mr Bentham, (or in any fit person or persons to be named by him from time to time, during his life, to exercise the authority and receive the benefits derivable under the contract,) with the appointment of governor, and with such powers as his Majesty is enabled to grant under the 24th Geo. III., the Act to which the 34th of the king refers upon that head, as has been already stated; and in the event of Mr Bentham dying in the lifetime of his brother, General Samuel Bentham, ‘the same office and powers are to be exercised, and the benefit thereof enjoyed by the said Samuel Bentham, or some person or persons to be named by him, during his natural life.’
“The contractor is to receive a certain allowance for the care and maintenance of each prisoner, and is to be annually paid for 1000 at least, though the persons committed to his charge should not amount to that number. He is also to retain for himself three-fourths of the profit upon their labour; the remainder being appropriated to their own use, payable in part to them immediately, and in part convertible, on the expiration of their respective terms of imprisonment, into annuities for their future benefit.
“The contractor undertakes, on his side, to feed and clothe the prisoners, supplying them daily with wholesome sustenance, composed of bread and meat, and other articles commonly used for human food, and with one suit of clothes yearly, as well as with a clean shirt twice a-week.
“He is also to furnish each a separate bed and bedding, of sufficient warmth, with clean sheets or blankets once a-month; and he engages, that ‘all possible attention shall be paid to the cleanliness of the prisoners in every respect, as far as circumstances will permit; that the Penitentiary House and buildings belonging thereto shall be sufficiently warmed and lighted; and that every proper precaution shall be taken to prevent the same from becoming infectious or unwholesome, to preserve the prisoners in good health.’
“He further engages to provide, at his own expense, a clergyman of the Church of England to live on the spot; a surgeon; and a sufficient number of competent schoolmasters, by whom instruction shall be administered on every Sunday at least, in reading, writing, and arithmetic, to such of the prisoners as shall stand in need of it.
“Subject to these stipulations, every arrangement, in regard to the treatment of the prisoners, as well as the determination of the manner in which they should be employed, of the hours of the day or night in which they should labour, and of the classes or numbers which should either work together, or associate at their meals or times of exercise or recreation, is entirely left at the discretion or will of the contractor; while every officer and servant, connected with the establishment, is to be placed there by his appointment, and removable at his pleasure.
“The system of management here described, appears to your Committee to have been framed with reference rather to the personal character of the party, in whose custody the prisoners were on the first instance to be placed, and to the favourable opinion entertained of the construction of the building proposed by him, than to the principles upon which prisons have hitherto been conducted in this country. Your Committee are satisfied, that Mr Bentham would enter upon the undertaking, to which his contract relates, with the best intentions; but the prosecution of that measure, together with the benefits derivable under the contract, might, by the terms of the agreement, pass at any time into other hands; and even if that were not the case, the arrangement above stated is too exceptionable on general grounds, in the judgment of your Committee, to be adopted from confidence in an individual.
“Under the 22d Geo. III. c. 64, sect. 8, which prohibits the governor or keeper of a house of correction from having any advantage from the sale of any article used in the house, there is a security for the goodness of the provisions and necessaries sent in on account of the public for the use of the prisoners, arising from the circumstance of their passing under the eye of the governor and his servants, who have no interest in concealing their defects; while the governor is not exposed to any temptation to sanction the introduction of any improper degree of luxury into the prison, with a view to his own profit, or of demanding an undue price for such articles as may properly be admitted there.
“Mr Bentham’s contract contains no provision upon these points. If, however, this objection could be removed by additional articles in the agreement, by the establishment of a fixed table of diet, and by the appointment of resident inspectors, the public could have no reasonable assurance that sufficient attention would be paid to the religious instruction and moral improvement of the prisoners, under a system of management, every part of which is to be formed and directed by a person, whose interest it must be that the prisoners committed to his charge should do as much work as they were competent to execute, and that their labour should be exercised in the manner by which most profit would be produced. If the chaplain should suggest, that individuals, very profitably employed in the same workshop, were unfit, from their characters or other circumstances, to associate with each other, or that any practice in the prison, which might be convenient in a manufactory, operated to retard rather than to accelerate the progress of moral improvement, it cannot be supposed that such intimations would be heard with as ready an acquiescence, and would meet with the same encouragement, when addressed to a governor, whose profits they were calculated to diminish, as if they were communicated to persons having no interest in the produce of the prisoner’s labour.
“Your Committee see much reason to apprehend, that under a system, in which pecuniary advantage is thus made the most prominent object of attention, the experiment of reformation would not be fairly tried.
“An answer has been supposed to be furnished to this objection, by an article in the agreement, binding the contractor to make compensation for losses occasioned by the future felonies of every person who may have been confined in the Penitentiary House, to an amount varying from £5 to £25, (for the felonies of the same individual,) according to the length of the period during which the offender shall have been under his care; which provision is argued upon as giving a sufficient interest to the governor in the reformation of every prisoner. Your Committee, however, attach very little importance to this article; and it is the more nugatory, as, although its operation must continue during the lives of all those who shall come under the care of the contractor, no funds whatever are provided in the contract, or are now proposed, to answer the contingent payments to become due after the contractor’s death.
“Reliance has also been placed on a provision of the same kind, operating in the nature of a pecuniary penalty, for the preservation of the health of the prisoners; it being agreed in the 17th article of the contract, that the contractor should insure the lives of the persons confined, on such terms, that if more than a certain number shall die within the year, he would be a loser instead of a gainer by the insurance: your Committee observe, that in their opinion the health of the prisoners will be more effectually guarded by the exercise of the judgment of a professional man, not dependent upon the governor, and acting under the direction of other disinterested persons, than by the payment of any sum of money to fall on the governor in the case of the prisoner’s actually dying within the walls of the prison during his confinement.
“It appears to the Committee, that the proposed system affords no sufficient protection to the prisoner, upon any point.
“In a place of confinement, in which the prisoners are compelled to work, and expected to be reformed, something of a more strict discipline may be looked for than in ordinary prisons. It is therefore more particularly requisite, that in a Penitentiary House opportunities of complaint should be frequent, and redress near at hand.
“The most obvious channel of complaint, if the governor be concerned in the supposed injury, is the chaplain, within whose province it lies, as on the one hand to endeavour to reconcile the mind of the offender to the lot which he has brought upon himself by his misconduct: so on the other, to prevent its severity from being aggravated by any hardships or privations which the law did not intend to impose.
“The surgeon is another person, through whom the prisoner may properly complain. But to make these officers of real use in this particular, they must occasionally confer with the prisoner without the presence of the governor or his servants; they must neither be under strong obligations to the governor, or subject to his power; and they must be in habits of communicating with persons armed with sufficient authority to punish or redress the grievances laid before them.
“The Committee to be appointed under the 19th Geo. III., had full powers at all times for this purpose, and they or any two of them were to examine into the state of the Penitentiary House, at least once in every fortnight, and to ‘see every offender confined there and not disabled by sickness.’
“In the contract, no provision whatever is made for personal inspection: but the governor is to present a comprehensive report in writing, of the whole state of the establishment, to the court of King’s Bench on the first day of every term. And he is to answer, upon oath if required, all questions put to him by the judges of that court, or by any one judge thereof in vacation time, or by any officer of the crown, or by any other person with the leave of the said court, or of any one judge thereof. And he is further to surrender his office of governor, if ordered by the said court, ‘on proof duly obtained as above, or otherwise, of misbehaviour in the execution of the said office.’
“The insufficiency of this article (the only one in the agreement that concerns the superintendence of the establishment) to provide for the redress of grievances, or the correction of any improper practice which may prevail there, is so evident, that it cannot be necessary for your Committee to enlarge upon this point.
“It is obvious that circumstances must frequently occur in a prison, which call for the interposition of higher authorities to censure or control the keeper, without constituting such instances of misbehaviour, as would justify the avoidance of a beneficial contract. To occasions in which an erroneous or indiscreet mode of treating the prisoners should be pursued, from want of judgment in the contractor, or from any cause not falling under the description of ‘misbehaviour,’ the proposed remedy by the authority of the King’s Bench appears to be totally inapplicable; and in the cases in which it does apply, it could only be attained in term time, while the court, which is to make the order, is sitting.
“Mr Bentham supposes, as may be seen in his evidence, that sufficient inspection, and opportunities enough of making complaints on the part of the prisoners, might be afforded, by the admission of the public at all reasonable times into the inspection room in the middle of the building, from whence all the cells would be visible, and which would be accessible to the voice of every prisoner by means of tubes, to be constructed for that purpose; and he seems to lay some stress on the vigilance which the newspapers are to exert in watching his conduct. But your Committee, agreeing with Mr Bentham in the belief that curiosity would bring many persons to view a Penitentiary House of so novel a construction, do not concur in the supposition, that any intercourse of the description alluded to between such visiters and the prisoners, can supersede the necessity of having persons nominated expressly for the inspection and superintendence of every part of an establishment of that nature, in whom the powers of obtaining information, in regard to any mismanagement, shall be accompanied by sufficient authority for its correction.
“While your Committee state their opinion, of the inexpediency of carrying into execution a contract of the description above stated, they feel themselves called upon to bring under the notice of the House, the strong equitable claims which Mr Bentham possesses to compensation, in consequence of the contract not having taken effect. Your Committee have not gone into a detailed examination of the various circumstances connected with that subject, as an inquiry of that nature might have occasioned an inconvenient delay in their reporting upon the more important matters referred to them; but Mr. Bentham has stated, that he was encouraged by his Majesty’s government to take measures preparatory to the erection of the intended establishment; that he has employed much time, and has expended a large sum of money in addition to the £2000 advanced to him in 1794, as mentioned above, in preparations for the execution of his part of the agreement; and that its non-performance was not owing to any default or backwardness on his side. He has, therefore, under these circumstances, a just right to expect, not only that the money so laid out should be repaid, but that a liberal remuneration should be made to him for his trouble and ultimate disappointment (he on his part accounting for any advantage that shall have accrued to him from the lands, of which he has been stated to be in possession as feoffee.) And your Committee recommend, that measures should be taken for the settlement of these claims without delay.
The Second Report of the Committee, as it chiefly consists of a communication from Bentham, follows at full length:—
Second Report from the Committee on the Laws relating to Penitentiary Houses.—Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be printed, 10th June, 1811.
The Committee appointed to consider of the expediency of erecting a Penitentiary House, or Penitentiary Houses, under the acts of the 34th and 19th of his present Majesty; and, in case the adoption of the measure now referred to their consideration should appear to them to be for the advantage of the public, to report whether any additional legislative provisions will be wanted for that purpose; and what number of persons such Penitentiary House, or Penitentiary Houses, should, in their judgment, be calculated to receive, together with any observations, which they may deem material upon the subject of their inquiry;—and who were instructed to inquire into the effects, which have been produced by the punishment of transportation to New South Wales, and of imprisonment on board the Hulks; and were empowered to report their observations and opinion thereupon from time to time to the House;—Have further considered the matters to them referred and agreed upon the following Report:—
Your Committee having received the following letter from Jeremy Bentham, Esq., since their former Report was made to the House, have thought it their duty to submit the same to the consideration of the House; although the observations therein contained, have not made any difference in their opinion upon the matters referred to them.
10th June, 1811.
[Corrected Copy, received 10th June, 1811.] Dated
Queen’s Square Place, Westminster, 6th May, 1811.
Understanding at different times, from different gentlemen, members of the Committee, that in calling me before them, the object of the Committee has been—not merely to scrutinize into the contract to which I am a party, but also, for the purpose of forming their judgment concerning the most eligible mode of disposing of such part of the convict population of the country as it may not be thought fit to confine in Hulks, or employ in colonizing, to collect any such information as, in any shape, I might be found capable of affording—I take the liberty of submitting in this mode, to your consideration and that of the Committee, a few suggestions on the subject of the country convicts.
For such of the convicts, whose conviction shall have taken place in London or Middlesex, with or without the addition of a few other counties nearly contiguous to the metropolis, such as those for instance which are comprised in the home-circuit, the provision made by the existing contract may, it seems to be supposed, suffice.
On this supposition, what, in some mode or other of the Penitentiary plan, remains to be provided for, is—that as yet indefinite part of the convict population, which may be expected to be furnished by the more or less distant counties:—say, for example, the five remaining circuits.
For this large remnant of that population the question then is—What is the best mode?
To this question the answer presents three options—
1. Panopticons in the metropolis, over and above the one supposed to be determined upon: viz. in number, one at least, and as many more, if any, as the number of convicts to be provided for shall be deemed to require.
2. Panopticons, upon an equal scale, and consequently in equal number, in the country. These two plans belong alike to what, for distinction’s sake, I would beg leave to call the open mode upon a large scale.
3. Penitentiary houses, in the existing mode, one in and for each county; or, in such cases in which the convict population afforded by a single county would be manifestly too small, one in each aggregate of contiguous counties, to be associated together for the purpose.
This last mode I would beg leave to distinguish by the appellation of the close mode upon a small scale.
As to the question between the open mode upon a large scale—viz. the Panopticon mode upon the Panopticon scale, and the close mode upon a small scale—my opinion has been already submitted, and not my opinion only, but the considerations, or the ground on which it was formed.
Management, in every imaginable point, better; expense less: in these few words all those considerations will be found comprised.
On the question between panopticons all in the metropolis, and panopticons one in the metropolis and others in the country, (in each case in the open mode upon the large scale,) neither are the points of distinction so manifest, nor the importance of them so great.
On the whole, however, the result of my inquiry is—that panopticons all in the metropolis present a decided title to preference.
What presents itself to me as the principal reason is, that the metropolis affords beyond comparison the best public. Here whatsoever matter proper for consideration comes into existence, is, with the minimum of trouble, brought instantaneously to the ear, laid open even to the inspection of the eye, of the whole body of constituted authorities: of the members of the administration, of the immediately superintending judicial authority: of every member of the legislature.
Not that objections are altogether wanting; but neither from report nor from imagination, have I been able to collect any, the united force of which seems sufficient to constitute a preponderant one.
1. Danger to the metropolis, from forcible and general eruption, increased.
2. Inordinate accumulation of convicts for whom provision may be to be made after discharge.
3. Remoteness of the convicts from their respective desired abodes, at the time of their discharge.
4. Inordinate expense of conveying the convicts from the place of conviction to the place of punishment.
5. Supposed unsuitableness of the fund, upon which, on this plan, the expense of maintenance, with or without the expense of conveyance, would be to be charged.
These are all the objections which I have been able to discover: and to these I proceed to submit such answers as the nature of the case has suggested.
I. Objection 1. Danger of general and forcible eruption. Answer. In my own particular opinion it will readily enough be conceived, considering the peculiar guards which the peculiarities of the Panopticon plan provide, this danger cannot appear very considerable in either case.
But, if it be considerable, the metropolis is the spot in which it should naturally appear much less considerable than in any other place: in any other town or towns at least, to which, otherwise, this part of the convict population would be to be consigned.
Millbank and Tothill Fields being, by the supposition, the spot fixed upon already for one panopticon, I see not what should hinder its being made to receive as many others as can be required.
Within a few hundred yards of Tothill Fields is constantly stationed a body of regular troops, to the amount of some thousands: the distance, so small, that, in case of commotion, communication might be made by signals of both sorts: signals not only to the ear, but even to the eye, if an apparatus to that effect were thought fit to be provided.
In Tothill Fields, at one end of Rochester Row, stands, and has stood for (I think it is) about eight or ten years, a military infirmary, in which is constantly stationed a military guard, consisting, as I have just been informed on the spot, of nine soldiers. On one side, the waste called Tothill Fields has for its boundary this Rochester Row, on the opposite side the parcel of ground already purchased for the Panopticon Penitentiary House. On no part of this ground is there any building but what may at present be actually seen from the infirmary just mentioned, and by the guard there stationed.
“On a subject so plain I should never have thought of troubling the Committee with so many words, but for the recollection, that some eighteen or nineteen years ago, at the commencement of my negotiations, to an observation of mine pointing to the military force in the Park as an obvious source of security, the answer returned, by a gentleman then in office, was an inexorable negative. What the objections were, I inquired in vain: with the gentleman himself they did not originate. Be they what they may, they would now be found, I should hope, no longer in existence. If the Panopticon contained within its lodge an acting magistrate, this military guard, being actually in his view, would, on any such occasion as that in question, be actually under his command. I mean by common-law, to which no order from any war-office, would, I presume, be opposed.
“By the constant sight of a similar guard, stationed, if thought necessary, close to the spot; for example, three or four at the entrance into the Panopticon ground through the walled avenue that leads to the house,—two or three at each of the two elevated watch-houses, which command, each of them, by night as well as by day, the inside as well as the outside of two of the four surrounding walls,—by the constant sight of this small guard, coupled with the knowledge of the arrangements that might so easily be made for instantaneous communication with the great body stationed in the neighbouring park, it would be extraordinary indeed, if, in the imagination of the most refractory prisoner, all chance of success in any such attempt, would not be rendered hopeless,—manifestly as well as constantly hopeless. Further observations on this head, may be seen in Panopticon Postscript, part 2, sect. 15, pp. from 201 to 208. [Works, vol. iv., p. 164-5.]
“Against every danger of this sort, such are the means of security afforded by the metropolis in general, but in a more particular degree by the particular spot in question. In any of the provincial situations, what security comparable to this could be afforded? and that, too, as in this case, without any special allotment of military force for this particular purpose?
“True it is, that spite of military guards, French and other prisoners of war have, from time to time, and but too often, and in too great numbers, contrived to make their escape.
“But against the escape of convict prisoners, the Panopticon plan presents securities in abundance, few of which, if any, would (I believe) be found employed on any existing plan, in the case of foreign prisoners.
“1. Uniform conspicuously distinctive.
“2. Close dress, in which the concealment of any weapon suited to the purpose of offence or defence, would be impracticable.
“3. Mark, by which, on the mere baring the habitually covered arm, (the other being habitually uncovered,) the condition of the person in question, viz. the fact of his being a person belonging, in the character of a prisoner, to the prison in question, would, for weeks at least after escape, be manifested.
“4. Constant division of the prisoners into small, and those assorted companies.
“5. The prisoners rendered distinguishable at a distance, each of them by a number marked upon his clothing at the back and at the breast.
“6. No outlet for the prisoners into the enclosed area, but through a passage commanded by a guard; and so narrow that no more than one can make his exit at a time, nor then but under a horizontal bar, so stationed, as, by obliging each person to stoop, to render impossible any acquisition of conjunct force by running.
“7. Light kept constantly thrown, by night as well as by day, not only upon every spot to which the prisoners have access within the prison, but upon the whole surface of the four surrounding walls.
“8. For the purpose of inspection, eyes in considerable numbers constantly availing themselves of that light: viz., some in the centre as well as other parts of the circularly polygonal building within the walls, others stationed in the commanding watch-houses above mentioned, on the outside of, and in part above, those walls.
“9. On the top of the walls all round, a range of spikes, iron or wooden, of such slightness, that, in the attempt to set a ladder against them, or throw a rope over them to get up by, they would give way and break, and in either case strike against a range of wires, by which a number of bells would be set a-ringing.
“10. A conversation-tube from the central lodge to each of the exterior guard-houses.
“11. On the outside of each of the surrounding walls, a ditch, the water of which would, on any attempt to undermine the contiguous wall, inundate the miners, and while it betrayed their operations, render an exit, if not absolutely impracticable, at least impracticable without such noise as would give abundant warning to the guard-house.
“12. To each such guard-house a dog or dogs, of the sort of those which in the night are set a-barking by any the least noise.
“In the eyes of the Committee, the enumeration of these several resources may be perhaps the more pardonable, if they should appear, any of them, capable of being applied with advantage to the giving additional security to those modes of confinement of which in the present state of things the inefficiency has so frequently been seen to betray itself.
“To such of the convicts as it might be thought fit to give employment to in the Panopticon ground at large, and thence without the limits of the enclosed area, true it is, that no more than a part of the above securities, nor that the most considerable part, would be found applicable.
“But considering, that the time of day-light would be the only time at which the demand or use for any such employment would present itself; considering that in fact, on the many public works on which convicts have now for so many years been employed, they have been employed in large numbers, and (as supposed) without any particular means of selection or anxiety on that head, and that too under slight guard, and yet, at those times at least, without any instances, I believe, of escape; considering, that the passion by which a prisoner is prompted to seek, by violent means and at the hazard of his life, a relief from durance, is not likely to be found in equal strength in the breast of every individual member, of a society so numerous and so miscellaneous, the members of which may, with less danger of injustice than anywhere else, be rendered responsible for each other; considering, that in the mode of treatment which is essential to a system of commercial operation conducted upon the plan in question, there is nothing that seems to present a probability of its being productive of any exertion more violent and desperate than in the case of a prison upon any of the ordinary plans: all these things considered, the conclusion may, it is hoped, be, that in a case where by any failure of human prudence the party failing would, as in the present case, be in so many shapes and in so high a degree a sufferer, that same human prudence, on which, in spite of all possible securities of every other kind, reliance must in every case be placed, is not, in the present case, to be considered as destitute of all claim to that sort and degree of confidence, which is so unavoidably bestowed upon it in all other cases.
“To make use of every one of these securities, at all events, and under all circumstances, without any exception in any case, is more than I see any necessity of pledging myself for; nor yet do they constitute a complete list of all the securities, to which it might eventually happen to me to have recourse. Many of them will be attended with an expense which, if incurred without necessity, would be so much waste; but for which the justification, as well on the score of necessity as of good economy, will be the more complete, the larger the scale is on which the establishment is conducted.
“The faculty by which these securities were devised, will not, I presume, be considered as putting an exclusion upon the kindred faculty, by which the decision on the question, how many and which of them to employ, will from time to time be to be pronounced.
“I proceed with the objections.
“II. Objection 2d. Inordinate accumulation of convicts for whom provision may be to be made after discharge.
“Answer. Upon the Panopticon plan, there will be the subsidiary establishment, open to as many as may choose to take the benefit of it. Some will, some will not; but, whatever may be the proportion of the one number to the other, and whatever may be the sum of the two numbers, the exclusive choice of the metropolis does not, to my apprehension, present itself in the shape of an inconvenience.
“In the character of a reservoir for the influx in question, the option lies between the metropolis and some country town: some other town within the circuits of South Britain. The metropolis will, it is true, already have to provide for the influx from its own Panopticon. But, taking into the account the magnitude of the influx in both cases, compare the magnitude of the mass of population into which the influx will have to discharge itself in this case, (say in round numbers a million;) with the magnitude of the largest mass into which it can be set to discharge itself in the case of any other such town; say 80,000: by this comparison, all apprehension on this score will, it should seem, be dissipated.
III. Objection 3d. Remoteness of the convicts from their respective desired abodes, at the time of their discharge.
“Answer 1. Merely for the purpose of facilitating, on the part of the prisoners after their discharge, the return to their places of birth or subsequent settlement, in the open mode on the large scale, it would hardly, I presume, be deemed worth while so much as to build one additional Panopticon as above, much less, as in the close mode upon the small scale, to establish, in each county, or set of associated counties, a Penitentiary House or improved prison, on any other plan or plans. On this occasion, the object ultimately and intrinsically aimed at, would be, I suppose, not the birthplace of each person, nor yet his place of last settlement as such, but the place, wherever it were, of his choice. But, take either of those places of presumed preference, the stain upon his character considered, it might not less probably be the spot, that, of all others, he would be the most averse, than that which he would be most desirous, to fix upon for his residence.
2. The subsidiary establishment, which, under the Panopticon plan, the governor would stand bound to provide for the purpose of making provision for all such as chose to accept of it, has for its basis the supposed non-existence of any such place of former abode, or the unwillingness to fix in it: and the least that this provision does is, to remove from the ground of necessity to that of mere inclination, the demand for means of conveyance to any other spot.
3. Whatsoever be, in preference to employment in the above-mentioned subsidiary establishment, the object of each man’s desire, that portion of the earnings of his whole term, which by the contract is secured to him, must be small indeed, if it does not afford him ample means of gratifying such desire.
4. If after all, it were deemed necessary, that to each such discharged convict means of conveyance to the place of his choice, whatever it be, should be afforded at the public charge, a mode beyond comparison less expensive, than providing, though it were no more than a single prison, in this sole view, would be the putting into his pocket a sum of money, under the expectation of its being applied to this purpose. But, as the ascertaining, upon any satisfactory evidence, the spot really desired, would be plainly impossible, the spot assumed could be no other than the spot most distant from the Penitentiary House in question; for, as that most distant spot is the spot that would command most money, that would of course be the declared spot of each man’s choice.
But even this maximum—meaning the annual sum of all these maximums—would be a trifle, in comparison of the expense of an additional prison, to be built and kept up on purpose. As to conveyance, the means of loco-motion derived by each man from the bounty of nature, would for this purpose be, I presume, regarded as sufficient: of the maximum in question, the expense would therefore be neither more nor less, than the supposed necessary expense of subsistence, during a journey begun, continued, and ended, in the pedestrian mode.
IV. Objection 4th. Inordinate expense of conveying the convicts from the place of conviction to the place of punishment.
Answer. Supposing the convicts to be conveyed from the several Assize and Quarter Session towns to the metropolis, the expense (it must be acknowledged) could not but be greater than it would be, upon the supposition of a plurality of Panopticons, of which, the number being determined by the largeness of the scale, the situations should be exclusively adapted to this one purpose: say one allotted to each of the three points of the compass—east, north, and west. But—
1. Suppose, that in addition to the one London Panopticon, only two such country receptacles were required,—place these two in any two of the three above-mentioned points of the compass, to the exclusion of the third,—in the east and north only—or in the east and west only—or in the west and north only,—it seems questionable whether any such saving as supposed, even to any the minutest amount, would really take place.
2. Even supposing each of those three points of the compass to have its Panopticon, and thence, in respect of length of journeys and magnitude of travelling expenses, a corresponding saving produced, the advantage produced on this score, would, on calculation, be found (I am inclined to think) so small, as to go but a very little way towards counteracting the disadvantage already indicated as having place, on the more important score, above mentioned.
“Being, as to a more or less considerable portion of it, unavoidable, we have here an expense which as to so much cannot be saved. But that which may be done, and in point of justice (it should seem) ought to be done, is, to equalize it:—to equalize it, I mean, in such sort, that upon a county, the Assize or Quarter-Session town of which is more distant than that of another county from the place of permanent confinement, man for man, the burthen of conveyance may not, on that account, be rendered, or left to be, the heavier, in its pressure on the first-mentioned county, viz. in the proportion of the distance.
“Now as to the mode of equalization. On the contract plan, whosoever carries on the management of that Panopticon receptacle which is the common reservoir for the convicts of all the several counties in question, in his contract it might be made a condition, that, for a sum certain, he should take upon him the conveyance of the convicts from all the several Assize towns and Quarter-Session towns in the district:—for which purpose, an average would of course be taken, viz. by taking the sum of the distances, and dividing it by the number of the towns:—charge of conveyance, so much per mile.
“V. Objection 5th. Supposed unsuitableness of the fund, upon which, on this plan, the expense of maintenance, with or without the expense of conveyance, would be to be charged.
“To this objection two answers present themselves:
“I. That, for the expense in question, the fund in question is not an unsuitable one: but, on the contrary, a more suitable one, than the fund upon which it would, in the other case, be charged.
“II. That, supposing the rival fund a more suitable one, there would be no difficulty in transferring the expense to that rival fund.
“I. First then, the proposed fund is not an unsuitable one.
“1. The proposed is the common national fund. It is the same fund, on which the expense is charged, in the instance of all that portion of the convict population which is sent to colonize. It is the same fund, on which the expense is charged, in the instance of all that portion of the same population which is consigned to the hulks.
“If, as yet, of that portion which has hitherto been consigned to prisons,—to improved or not improved prisons,—the expense has hitherto been charged on the counties, that is on the contributors to the poor rates, the disposition thus made, had, I should suppose, for its cause,—not any such opinion, as that the poor rates constituted a fund more suitable than the national fund, but merely this circumstance, viz. that the poor rates of each county constituted the only fund, out of which it was possible to obtain money for defraying the expense of the sort of prison in question;—viz. a prison situate within the county, and appropriated to the use of that county, to the exclusion of every other part of the kingdom.
“To save the trouble and responsibility of making provision, at the charge of the national fund, for an expenditure to a certain amount, a public man would hardly, I should suppose, be desirous of imposing upon this or that class of his fellow-subjects, such as the contributors to the poor rates, an expense, for example, of double that amount.
“But my calculation, as well as my expectations, will have greatly indeed deceived me, should the difference in point of expense between the open mode upon a large scale, and the close mode upon a small scale, turn out to be as little as to the amount of two to one to the disadvantage of the small scale.
“In the case of poor-houses, in the tract entitled ‘Pauper Management improved, &c.,’ published in Young’s Annals of Agriculture, in p. 43, [Works, vol. viii., p. 378,] may be seen a calculation, made by a professional and official hand, in which, under the head of construction, for a system of poor-houses on that small scale which then was and actually is in practice in the Suffolk poor-houses, the expense for all England being £10,275,250 money of that time, the expense of the central-inspection plan, on the scale of 2,000 inhabitants to a house, is stated at no more than £2,357,000; considerably less than a fourth part;—amount of saving, 7,918,250:—and upon the official establishment, (an annually recurring expense,) the amount of the annual saving is therein stated at £408,131 5s.—ditto multiplied by 20, (to bring it, like the other expense, to principal money,) 8,162,625.—Number of persons maintained in each such supposed Panopticon poor-house, 2,000: being the exact number of the persons for whom, in the character of prisoners, above eleven years ago, viz., on the 25th of March, 1800, as stated in a former letter of mine now lying before the Committee, I was ordered to prepare.
“This is the case of poor-houses: and, both being on the Panopticon plan, so far as concerns the influence of magnitude of scale upon expense, no difference will be found between the case of poor-houses and the case of prisons.
“II. But, secondly, supposing the determination should be taken, to charge on the poor-rate fund this third part of that general head of expense, the convict expense, of which the two other thirds are charged on the national fund, on this supposition the transference might without difficulty be made. The average numbers of the convicts, which, for a certain number of years back, the several counties have respectively been in the habit of furnishing, being taken, those numbers would serve for expressing the relative sums with which each such county might annually be charged, towards the expense of the common Panopticon or Panopticons, the station of which is supposed to be in the metropolis: I mean the Panopticons serving in common for the maintenance of the aggregate body of the convicts receivable from those several counties.
“But, any such number as 2,000, would it not (I hear it asked) be an unwieldy number? too unwieldy for good management? Oh yes: on every ordinary plan, too unwieldy by a great deal. Nine hundred was the number of the prisoners, that, on the original and supposed highly-finished Penitentiary plan, as per 19 G. 3, c. 74, were to have been confined in the town that was to have been built for that purpose at Battersea Rise: and, as to houses, nine hundred, (being the number of separate houses, which, over and above such as were to be occupied in common, were to have been included in that town,) was assuredly too great a number for good management: two thousand, consequently, in a much greater degree too great.
“On every as yet exemplified plan of construction and management, the natural and naturally prevalent apprehension of unwieldiness has, therefore, very just grounds to stand upon.
“But upon the Panopticon principle, whether it be for paupers or for convicts, for free and innocent men or for prisoners, though the number of the inhabitants be 2,000, the house is but one: and that one house is capable of being pervaded in all directions, pervaded by a single glance, and without so much as a change of posture.
“Of the difficulties which, upon any ordinary plan of construction, for want of that source of simplification, attends the business of management, even in the case of a poor-house, and of a moderate size, an exemplification may be seen in Pauper Management improved, p. 43, [Works, vol. viii., p. 378;] in Panopticon, Letter VI., and in various parts of the postscript; and, in the case of a prison, in the instance of several American prisons, in the tract intituled Panopticon versus New South Wales, Letter II. pages from 54 to 61 [Works, vol. iv., p. 238-240.]—I have the honour to be, &c.,
“George Holford, Esq., Chairman of the Committee on Penitentiary Houses.”
In a communication addressed to a noble Lord—probably Lord Sidmouth—Bentham combated the arguments of the Committee. From an impression of the letter made by a copying machine, I extract the following passages, omitting a portion of the argument addressed to the private ear and understanding of the recipient of the letter, and bearing on a view of the arrangements which is supposed to have influenced the Committee in their decision, but is not referred to in the substance of their report:—
“Objections to the making experiment of Mr Bentham’s Panopticon Plan obviated—viz., partly by Answers, partly by fresh Offers.
“Objection I.—You will overwork them, (it has been said;)—you will underfeed them, (those by the underfeeding of whom there is anything to be gained;)—you will overfeed them, (those by the overfeeding of whom there is anything to be gained;)—you will pamper them with luxuries;—you will work them, so that you will not leave time for their receiving any sufficient religious and moral instruction.
“Answer 1.—No tolerably intelligent man, howsoever selfishly disposed, would do so in my place. This is what I had pleased myself with the thoughts of having made tolerably clear, and used to be considered as having done so—viz., in and by the Panopticon Book, here with submitted to your Lordship, Part II., sect. 2, entituled, ‘Management, why by Contract:’ from which place honourable gentlemen have taken all their objections, forgetting to say anything about the answers.
“Answer 2.—As to underfeeding them, by terms of the contract I stand bound to give to each man as much as he can eat.
“As to luxuries, I really do not understand what it is that can, so it be paid for, be stated as a pernicious luxury, unless it be fermented liquors, which by the contract, at my own solicitation, I stand precluded from giving admittance to, and with such securities against contravention as had never before been so much as imagined.
“Offer.—But if any honourable gentleman in whose view of the matter an Index expurgatorius of meats and drinks would, in the situation in question, be an article seriously subservient either to religion or morality, will be pleased to frame one, and obtain the requisite orders, I am ready to pledge myself for its being inviolably observed.
“Answer 3.—As to the neglecting their religious and moral instruction, I should forfeit all my pledges, I should incur reproach, by such neglect, and I could never get anything by it: for I could not work them on a Sunday without a positive breach of the law of the land, such as to persons in abundance besides the prisoners themselves could not but be of the utmost notoriety.
“Answer 4.—I would humbly entreat your Lordship’s perusal for at least that section, together with the antecedent one, entituled, Leading Positions: the rather as being applicable to Poor-house as well as Prisoner management.
“Answer 5.—May brother and I had a favourite Sunday plan for the combining religions edification with public inspection, and the most perfect and universal facility of complaint: and the architectural design was in a most striking manner adapted to it, as shown in the models, which were seen by members of the Upper House by dozens, and by those of the Lower House by scores.
“Ere I could have suffered that feature of the management to fall into neglect, my character must have been completely forfeited.
“Offer 2.—Answer 6.—Taking an unknown—taking an average man, were I to give it as my opinion that he would conduct the business as much for the advantage either of the public or the prisoner, for a salary, or without any pecuniary remuneration, as upon the terms of the contract proposed by me, I should utter a gross untruth. But after the perusal of these two sections, should this matter present itself to your Lordship’s mind in a different light, to cut up all such objections by the roots, there shall be an end of the contract; I would conduct the management on account of the public purse without a farthing’s-worth of pecuniary profit in any shape, direct or indirect;—keeping and regularly delivering in accounts upon the plan indicated in my work, intituled, Pauper Management, (herewith submitted,) with any additions or other amendments that may be prescribed to me.
“Objection II.—Under your contract you were to have had no fewer than 1000 prisoners: all worked under your direction and for your advantage. This is too great a power to be trusted in any individual hand.
“Answer 1.—It is no greater nor other power than what by the law of the land every master has over his apprentice.
“As to the number, so far from being increased, the power, as to all purposes of abuse, is lessened by it. Except his own particular relatives or other friends, when he is fortunate enough to have any, an apprentice has no person engaged by any special tie or interest to look to him with a protecting eye. My prisoners would, by the common and most obvious tie of interest, as well as bond of sympathy, stand engaged to afford to one another this as well as whatsoever other assistance could be afforded against oppression in every shape, at the hands of the common master; and as to persons without doors, each would accordingly have so many friends in the friends of every other.
“Answer 2.—In so far as concerns sinister profit, this objection would, together with the preceding ones, be cut up by the roots by the giving up of the contracts as above.
“Answer 3.—Independently of all consideration of sinister profit, and danger of abuse on that score, can it be that the magnitude of the power, merely in respect of the number of persons subjected to it, is considered as being so great as to constitute of itself an objection, and that a peremptory one? A colonel of a regiment has as much or more.
“Answer 4.—If, numbers being the same, this objection, taken from a supposed excess of power, were conclusive against the Panopticon plan, how much more ought it to be against the new proposed Non-Panopticon plan!
“Under the Panopticon plan, behold the management in the hand of an unseated, unofficed, unconnected, insulated individual, whose blameless life, known to have been for little less than half-a-century devoted to a course of unpaid, yet unremitted, howsoever fruitless, toil, in the service of mankind, has not been able to preserve his rights from being an object of neglect, and himself an object of silent oppression to every Administration for these last eighteen years.
“Under the non-Panopticon plan, the management in the hands of a detachment of the Ministry, rendering no account but to their assured protectors—the body from which they have been detached. Who is there who does not know, or will think it worth while to affect not to know, that in all these cases the whole power is in the hands of some one individual, in whom the confidence is reposed, and those of an assortment of colleagues, who to each other are a tower of defence: the use in this respect is, by dividing, and by dividing, and dissipating the responsibility, to increase that power which in demonstration they are employed to reduce?
“What is very true, is, that if the prison were a den of devils, so that no mischief that were done in it for the benefit of the tyrant, could be known, the security afforded by his being liable to be dismissed for it if known, could not be very effective.
“But that this should be urged as an objection against the only plan which ever had for its declared object the maximum of publicity, and in proof of the superior wisdom of a plan in which neither in that nor indeed in any degree publicity is so much as professed, seems not very consistent.
“In the one case, one tyrant devil working in impenetrable darkness; in the other a company of guardian angels,—such is the supposition on which, though not declared, everything in the non-Panopticon plan is all along grounded.
“Objection III.—You may profess to desire inspection, and to court gratuitous inspectors; but in these professions of yours, either you are not sincere, or if you are, you will not long be so; and though you should be ever so much so, you might as well be otherwise, for nobody will come.
“Answer 1.—On this head at least, as to my sincerity, present, and future probable, after what I have said in my Panopticon book, (to compare minute with great, obscure with illustrious,) with submission, it would be less unreasonable to impute to your Lordship a desire to see Protestantism extirpated and Catholicism towering in its place, than to impute to me the possibility of harbouring any such idea as that of shrinking from inspection. Your Lordship has not professed any such invention as that of an engine for the universalising of Protestantism in the Christian world. My brother and I have, for these twenty years and more, professed to have invented an engine for the universalising of inspection in a Penitentiary house.
“Answer 2: Offer 3.—True it is, that if, in numbers sufficient for the purpose, after all that were done to invite them, people would not come,—let this be supposed, all my sincerity and all the exertions of which it can be productive, would be to no purpose. Well, then, my lord, if my schemes for making people come should all fail, insomuch that, after all, people do not come,—in short, if, in the opinion of the appropriate judges (say the king in council) although no abuse actually appears, yet, for anything that appears to the contrary, there may have been abuse,—then under this case let the experiment, howsoever free from blame on any part, be pronounced to have failed; and on that ground let me be dismissed, and if such be the pleasure of the said judges, let my said supposed inspection plan be put aside; and for remedy, let the plan in which general inspection is not aimed at or so much as professed, be set up in its stead.
“Objection IV.—Well, Sir, if you please, you yourself shall be a well-meaning man; and not only for a moment, but as long as you live: and for the purpose of the argument, even under so corruptive a plan as yours is, an honest manager: all this will not make your plan a good one. You live to commence, and, for a time, carry on the management: be it so. Sooner or later however, there is an end of you: and then, whatsoever be the security afforded by your personal character, there is an end of it.
“Answer 1.—If, before the building is finished, I die, there is my brother, on whose plan, if for me and in my lifetime, it will be built: if before that time he dies also, there are others in this town under whose direction a building on this same plan was lately completed, viz. at Petersburg, and the management of a correspondent establishment conducted, and to whom the advantages of it are accordingly well known by experience: nor for the management would there be any want of persons, to whom the principles of management detailed in the Panopticon book, and in the book entitled Pauper Management, (herewith submitted,) are already familiar, and who are perfectly competent to the purpose of applying them to practice.
Answer 2.—If for a moment any such supposition be endurable, as that in my management there can be anything worth copying and preserving, the nature of the case affords as good a security as can be reasonably desired, for its being accordingly copied and preserved.
“Yes, my lord, if I am what I ought to be, such as I am, such will my successors be. My rules, my practice according to these rules, will be public: public as I, and the press and open doors can make them. Being public, what there is good in them will be as so many laws to my successors: or, if they are not so, the fault will lie not in me and my successors, but in your lordship and your successors; whenever to any successor of mine, it happens to swerve from these (by the supposition) good laws, out with him.
“True it is, that, by wearing out so many years as have been worn out of a life of which four and sixty are already past, honourable gentlemen have given to this argument of theirs a degree of force, as well as to some other of their arguments and expedients, beyond what I could have wished; and seconded by such treatment as it has been my lot to experience at their hands, and to which, unless stayed by the intrepidity of your lordship’s justice, this last measure will have given the crowning stroke, the chances of life and death were certainly in favour of the plan so perseveringly pursued for ridding the powers of high-seated darkness of the incumbrance, for already (as may be seen by the calculation printed in Report 28th of the Finance Committee of 1797-8) it has been my lot to live several years more than according to the Tables I ought to have lived. Yet still, considering the counter-consideration above submitted, this argument will not, I hope, be found to have so far accomplished its purpose, as to be in your lordship’s account a conclusive one.
“Offer 4.—On the non-Panopticon plan, what the space is that is deemed requisite for the 600 prisoners, I do not know. On the Panopticon plan, in case of necessity, I could make less than half what there is serve for the experiment. On that supposition, should there be also a sufficiency for the non-Panopticon system, the two could be carried on together.
“Here, then, if the honour of honourable gentlemen could be reconciled to the idea, the benefit of competition and emulation, a benefit to which, in some cases, (for example, that of the highest courts of ordinary justice,) no small value has been ascribed, might be given to the service.
“For my own part, in so far as all consideration of the public and the prisoners being put out of the question, I myself am alone concerned, were I to choose my competitors, I know not of any whom I would more gladly choose than the honourable gentlemen with whose company in that quality I should in that case be likely to be honoured. Their desire to be rid of me can scarce be stronger than mine would be to possess in that shape the benefit of their assistance; and though my general character were as noted for insincerity as it may perhaps be for the opposite failing in the present instance, my sincerity would be put sufficiently out of dispute by the observations which, in case of necessity, I should have to make on their Report, and the plan of management which it has served to introduce.”
By the Act founded on the Report of the Committee, (see above, p. 106,) the compensation to Bentham was to be fixed by two arbiters, the one chosen by the Treasury, the other by Bentham. On this subject, I find the following from
Bentham to Romilly.
“Q. S. P., 27th November, 1812.
Nobody can be more fully or feelingly sensible to anything, than I am to the regard for justice manifested by Mr Vansittart throughout the whole course of this business. Justice I call it—favour I will not call it; for that would not be to do justice either to his probity or his discernment. What he I perceive is as fully sensible of as myself is,—that if by a Chancellor of the Exchequer, without concert with the individual, the arbitrator to act in a case such as that in question for the public, were to be chosen, arbitration and compensation might in that case be converted into a mere form, since by an arbitrator of his choice, nothing could be easier than for a minister in his situation, so to order matters, that of the enacted compensation not a halfpenny would ever find its way into the individual’s pocket.
“As to any person to whom the nature and history of the Panopticon plan, from the time when it first found acceptance, and so on through the revolutions it was destined to experience, were not more or less known,—you seemed as fully sensible as myself how ill qualified in comparison of one to whom those things were thus known, a person so circumstanced would be to form any tolerably well-grounded award.
“As to Mr Rose, in addition to a great part of the knowledge I had had of the business, he could not have but had knowledge of a great deal of secret history (of some part of it I received from him some obscure intimations at the time) which it was not permitted to me to know. It was this, added to the confidence which, from his political situation, I could not but presume would be reposed in him by the Treasury, and the hope, that, in his dealings by me, he would be so far mindful of former actings and declarations, as well as of the opinion entertained of the plan and its authors by Mr Pitt and Lord Melville, to whose department the business belonged, as to procure for me some small aliquot part, (which was the utmost I could expect or indeed accept of, and which by the breach of the engagement I have been deprived of,)—it was this that gave birth to the idea of casting myself upon his mercy. From what it has happened to me now and then to hear from A and B, I had reason to presume, that, in respect of general character, his opinion was not unfavourable to me. As to partiality, whether I had anything of that sort to expect from a man, who, when I have met him in the street, as I have every now and then done, has never appeared to know me, may be left to be imagined.
“After disappointment about Mr Rose, the same principle, viz., the wish of having for my judge a person who, to a presumable absence of hostility or ill opinion, as towards myself, and some acquaintance with the history of the transaction, might, from his situation, be to any such purpose as that in question expected to add the qualification of being regarded as a proper person by the Treasury,—led me to Lord Glenbervie. But once in my life was I ever in any residence of his, and that was at Lincoln’s Inn some thirty or thirty-five years ago, when he had chambers there. Not within these twenty years has he been in any residence of mine, except one morning about eighteen years ago, when he brought some company to see the Panopticon raree-show. Since that time, I have never met him in the street but it has been matter of doubt with me, whether I was to know him or no.
“Upon your informing me of the disappointment in regard to him, I forget whether I had sufficiently thought of the matter to mention to you any person in particular to mention to Mr Vansittart. What I do remember (if I did not misconceive you) is,—an intimation from you, that you felt a difficulty about suggesting any person to Mr Vansittart without a previous assurance that a proposal from him would find such person already prepared for signifying his willingness to accept it.
“Casting my eyes around, with this instruction before them, I have thought of two persons, viz., Sir Charles Bunbury, and Mr Moreton Pitt. Both of them were in its day well acquainted with Panopticon; and it was that circumstance that pointed them out to me. The names of both of them were (by, or with the approbation of, Mr Holford, &c., I presume,) put upon the late Penitentiary Committee. From that time to the present, I have not had, with either of them directly or indirectly, any the smallest intercourse. Neither of them on that occasion gave me any signs of life. If there could be any need of it, this circumstance would, I suppose, be regarded as sufficient evidence of the absence of any connexion from which partiality might be to be apprehended, even if in other respects their characters had been such as to admit of any such surmise.
“Should Mr Vansittart approve of either of them, which, it may be, is to me a matter of entire indifference. Should he indulge me with the option, I would have two strings to my bow; and my first application would be made to the first of them I could get the speech of. With his consent, and with the assurance it would enable me to convey that application I could make without difficulty. But, without the power of affording any such assurance, the errand (I make no doubt of your agreeing with me) would be rather an unpromising one; for in that case neither of them could yield to my request without exposing himself to the hazard of knowing himself to be rejected.
“Mr Moreton Pitt (I think you informed me) is returned again for Dorsetshire. That being the case, though I suppose he has no house in town, (for I happen to know of his having some time ago parted with the house he had,) some time or other I suppose he will be in town to take his seat. Whether he will or no, is, I suppose, perfectly known to Mr Vansittart. For my part I have not set eyes on him, for I know not how many years,—about ten years ago, I think it is,—that for the last time, I saw him in the street by accident for two or three minutes.
“As to Sir Charles Bunbury, on sending, about ten days ago, to his house in town, I learned that he was expected in town, but that at that time no day had been fixed. It is, I think, about two and a half years since I saw him for a few minutes.
“Oh, how grating—how odious to me is this wretched business of compensation! Forced, after twenty years of oppression,—forced to join myself to the Baal-peor of blood-suckers, and contribute to the impoverishment of that public, to which, in the way of economy, as well as so many other ways, I had such well-grounded assurance of being permitted to render some signal service. Half-a-year’s payment of my permanent compensation-annuity was due last Michaelmas; and reduced as I am, I have not yet been able to bring myself to apply for it. Last Sunday fortnight it was that you called on me, and till now I have not been able to drag myself, or to attempt to drag you to this abominable task. If you mention to Mr Vansittart this about the arbitrator, will you have the goodness to ask him about the annuity, whether a payment on it will now be made; and if not, at once, at what other time, and how I should apply for it? Whether by memorial, or how.
“After all, besides the breach of public faith—than which surely there never was a grosser one—can such a man as Lord Sidmouth, can such a man as Mr Vansittart, bring himself to put the public to an extra expense of £200,000 plus my miserable compensation, only to make a job for Mr H.? To any such supposition my conception finds itself utterly unable to square itself. Yet, if Lord Castlereagh & Co. insist, how can they refuse. What is it that will be done? Nothing. This is what presents itself to my view as the most natural and least improbable result. Panopticon not gone on with, nor the job neither.
“Howsoever canine, is it impossible to the appetite of the enemy to be satisfied by any less expensive means? A compensation, would it not be more suitable to his case than to mine?—Dear Romilly, yours ever,” &c.
The arbiters finally chosen were Mr John Hullock, on the part of the Treasury; and Mr John Whishaw, on the part of Bentham. They pronounced their award on the 9th July, 1813.
In further illustration of this subject, I conclude with two extracts from the Twenty-eighth Report of the Finance Committee, (1798.) The one is the Report of the Committee in favour of proceeding with the Panopticon contract: the other is Bentham’s evidence before the Committee.
“Proposal for a new and less expensive Mode for Employing and Reforming Convicts.
“It did not escape your Committee, that Mr Colquhoun, in pointing out the errors of the present mode, speaks of an improved system for the employment of convicts, as one of the chief means by which the expenses of the police are to be diminished.
“Your Committee were therefore induced to inquire whether that gentleman had any particular system in view in making that observation; and they learnt, with considerable satisfaction, that Mr Colquhoun (who appears himself to have submitted a plan to the Secretary of State for this purpose) did allude to a particular system, from which, according to his decided opinion, if adopted and carried into execution, infinite advantages would arise to the public, not only in the diminution of the expense at present incurred, but in the improvement of the morals of the convicts who may be placed under such an establishment; your Committee have therefore annexed to this report a sketch of that plan, contained in a printed paper, intituled, ‘A Proposal for a new and less expensive Mode for employing and reforming Convicts.’
“Impressed with the advantages, of which the perusal of the heads of the plan appears to justify the expectation, your Committee were gratified in finding that it had already attracted the attention, and obtained the encouragement of his Majesty’s Government.
“That so long ago as the 11th of June 1794, the sum of £2000 had been actually granted to the proposer, Jeremy Bentham, Esquire, under warrant from the Treasury, ‘to enable him to make the necessary preparations for the custody of the convicts to be confined in the oroposed Penitentiary Houses.’
“That an act of Parliament received the royal assent on the 7th July 1794, 34 Geo. III., c. 84, not only authorizing but requiring the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury, as soon after passing the act as conveniently might be, to fix upon ground therein described, or upon any other convenient and proper spot, within certain limits, for the erection of one or more Penitentiary-Houses, and giving the usual compulsive powers for purchasing the ground that should be so chosen.
“That articles of agreement were thereupon drawn up by the Solicitor to the Treasury, and approved by the Attorney and Solicitor General, for the purpose of carrying the proposal into effect, reciprocally binding upon the proposer, and upon the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury.
“That, encouraged by these proofs of confidence and approbation, and by these assurances of support, Mr Bentham had proceeded to the performance of his part of the contract, and had incurred an expense of many thousand pounds of his own money, in addition to that advanced by the Treasury, in consequence of the preparations which he had made; but that his further progress has been impeded, and the contract has remained without execution, from difficulties in regard to obtaining a spot of ground proper for the purpose.
“Your Committee, however, are informed by the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury, that they have always felt a disposition to carry into effect the contract intended to be executed, whenever a proper spot of ground could be obtained; and that the contract intended to have been entered into has been delayed, because an essential part of such contract was to be the giving possession of the land upon which the Penitentiary House was to be erected; but that they are ready to enter into the contract whenever the preliminary difficulties relative to the ground are removed.
“Upon further inquiry, your Committee find that a spot has been pointed out, which appears well adapted to the object, and against the appropriation of which to a purpose so interesting to the public no solid objection occurs; and that the preliminary difficulties above alluded to have arisen from the rules and orders of the House relative to bills of enclosure, which are supposed to be applicable to the ground in question. The difficulty is, therefore, one which may be easily removed before the next Session of Parliament; and your Committee were glad to receive from Mr Bentham himself the assurance of his perfect readiness to proceed with his part of the business.
“It is, in the judgment of your Committee, no small recommendation of the plan alluded to, that the contractor proposes to employ the prisoners on his own account, receiving a proportionably smaller sum from the public for their maintenance.
“But it must be noticed and remembered, that the great and important advantages which distinguish that plan from any other which has been hitherto suggested, consist in the certain employment and industrious livelihood which it ensures to those whose terms of confinement are expired; in the responsibility which the contractor proposes to take upon himself for the future good behaviour of the criminals intrusted to his care, even when they shall no longer be under his control; in the publicity which is meant to be given to the whole conduct and effect of the establishment, moral, medical, and economical, as well by an Annual Report of its state and proceedings, as by that constant facility of inspection which will in an unusual manner be afforded by the very form and construction of the building, upon which the prompt and easy exercise of the superintending powers of the governor himself principally depends.
“Your Committee are led to dwell the more on the importance of these advantages, when they contemplate the accounts which have been furnished to them of the periods of enlargement of the several convicts now confined in the hulks, to which they desire to direct the most serious attention of the House, bearing in mind, as they do, the evidence given by an experienced magistrate of the pernicious effects produced upon the unfortunate persons who are confined in those seminaries of vice; recollecting, too, not only that New South Wales is at the present moment fully supplied, but that it affords no security for the future good behaviour of those who, having outlived the periods of their sentences, may return again to afflict the society from which they have been separated.
“It appears, that of 1534 convicts on board the hulks, on the 5th of June 1798, 93 will be enlarged in this year, 346 in the next, and 1411 within the period of seven years.*
“If a similar progress be made in the enlargement of those who are still confined in the different gaols, the whole number of felons that will be turned loose on the public, will amount to 1791, a discharge at the rate of 254 per annum, continuing for a period of seven years.
“Of the 2934 unemancipated and unsettled convicts existing in New South Wales and Norfolk Island, on the 22d of October 1796, it is probable from a consideration of the years in which they have been severally sent thither, that the periods of discharge of a still greater number will have expired in the same seven years; and if it could be supposed that the whole or the greater part would endeavour to avail themselves of that circumstance to return to the scene of their former delinquency, the prospect would indeed be dreadful, when viewed through the medium of the experience which the magistracy of this metropolis has already had of the effect of such returns.
“Mr Colquhoun’s testimony on this point is, That all of the delinquents that have returned from these settlements, who have come within his knowledge, are either at this moment thieves on the town, or have been executed for new offences.
“Your Committee therefore trust, that no further delay will interfere with the execution of the contract above mentioned, not only because any such delay would add to the loss already sustained by the contractor, and thereby enlarge his claim to compensation, but because it would deprive the public for a longer time of the benefits of a plan which they cannot but look to as likely to be productive of the most essential advantage, both in point of Economy and police. A mode of compensation has indeed been proposed by the contractor, which, so far as it goes, has the advantage of not being attended with any expense to the public, and to which it does not appear to your Committee that any substantial objection can be made.”
“June 23, 1798.
“Examination of Jeremy Bentham, Esquire.
“Question.—The draught of an intended contract between the Commissioners of the Treasury and yourself, for the confining, maintaining, and employing convicts in Penitentiary Houses to be erected by you, being before the Committee; and it appearing from documents that have been laid before the Committee, that in the year 1794, a sum of £2000 was advanced to you to enable you to make preparations relative to this business, you are desired to state whether you have made any such preparations, and whether you are now in readiness to sign and carry into execution such intended contract.
“Answer.—I am in perfect readiness to do my part in the business, and have been so little less than five years. In consequence of a proposal submitted by me in March 1792, and approved of, matters were so far advanced, that in July 1793 I was twice called upon, and both times in the same terms, to ‘take my arrangements.’ I had at that time, in conjunction with my brother, Brigadier-general Bentham, expended some thousand pounds in bringing to maturity a system of inventions of his for executing by machinery, and consequently as to the greater part of the business without the aid either of dexterity or good-will, the most considerable branches of wood-work, besides many branches of stone-work and metal-work. Upon the repetition of the above orders, in concert with my brother, I took my arrangements without delay. The system was in such forwardness that we were upon the look-out for a steam-engine. Human labour, to be extracted from a class of persons, on whose part neither dexterity nor good-will were to be reckoned upon, was now substituted to the steam-engine, and the system of contrivance underwent a correspondent change. Being in daily expectation of receiving the sums stipulated for in the intended contract, (the heads of which were settled in what was then the proper office early in August 1793,) and the demand I had made of the spot I had found appropriated to the Penitentiary Establishment, (an appropriation since confirmed by the Statute of the 7th July, 1794,) having been acceded to by a memorandum in my possession in the hand of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and being under the necessity of keeping the works going on, under pain of suffering the dispersion of a collection of workmen, who in that event would not for a length of time, if ever, be to be replaced, I made shift to keep up my advances under circumstances of great difficulty and inconvenience; and it was in consequence of representations to the above effect that the imprest in question was made to me. In the meantime, cast-iron work had been ordered by me for the frame of the intended building to the amount of several thousand pounds, of which order as much was executed as came to within a hundred pounds of the neat produce of the nominal £2000 advanced to me as above. My expenditure, over and above the £2000 received, does not now, if I include interest, amount to so little as £9000. Of the fruit of this expenditure, some part would now be lost, although the Penitentiary establishment were at length to be set on foot; and if it were not, almost the whole. It is too late now to revert back to the steam-engine; the capital which was to have set it a-going is gone; my brother’s whole time is engrossed by his official situation; and at my time of life, and after my experiences, it is now too late for me to return to a manufacturing speculation, into which no prospect of ordinary advantage would even then have tempted me.
“Question 2d.—Do the advances you speak of make any and what difference in the terms you expect?—In the event of the contract’s being carried into execution, or in the opposite event, do you expect anything, and what, by way of indemnification on that score?
“Answer.—In circumstances such as mine, it is natural enough, I believe, for the idea of indemnification to present itself: but as often as I have set myself to consider in what shape, by what persons, and in what manner it was to be brought about, the appearance of feasibility has seemed to desert it altogether. There was a time, if my memory does not deceive me, when the idea of eventual indemnification used now and then to be alluded to on the other side as a matter of course: but this was long ago; and the damage, which might at that time present itself as lying within compass, has since received such an increase, that its very magnitude may, by this time, be considered as having formed a bar to indemnification. An issue which I have for some time been training myself to the expectation of is, that dispositions will remain; that difficulties will accumulate; that this will go on till all recollections are at an end; and that thus execution and indemnification for non-execution will glide away together. After the difficulties I have found in obtaining attention for measures which I could speak of boldly as beneficial to the public, it may be imagined whether I can have confidence enough left for coming forward with claims of a tendency such as I could not myself represent as otherwise than purely burthensome: And after having, for such a length of time, been permitted to entertain prospects such as those delineated in the plan which the Committee have before them, it is easier to conceive than express the reluctance with which, were it even in my power, I should see myself fastened as a dead-weight upon the public I had hoped to serve. As to terms, mine is not a situation to make terms. Were I to say, ‘I cannot do so and so upon such terms,’ the answer might be, ‘Then it cannot be done at all.’
“Turning aside from what some in my situation might call ‘Justice;’ considering what, if anything, in the way of compensation, retained a chance of being found practicable, an idea that occurred to me not long ago was, that, in the event of the Penitentiary system’s being proceeded with, there might perhaps be no great objection to the turning over the convicts to me a little earlier than would otherwise be done, to be provided for under the present plan, until the Penitentiary House should be in readiness for their reception. As, since the passing of the act of 7th July, 1794, it was impossible that the persons now occupying the situation in question should not have long ago made up their minds to the parting with it—as they have already retained it so much longer than they could have expected, while I have been kept out of my expected situation so much longer than I had reason to apprehend—as under such circumstances the reputation of the persons in question could not suffer the smallest prejudice, from a transfer made and declared to be made for no other than such a cause—the idea seemed to me to be free from objection on that score. A step would thus be taken, and might be taken immediately, (for no more than three months’ warning is requisite,) which would evidently and declaredly be a step, and that a decisive one, towards the establishment of the Penitentiary system: the opportunity I should have of becoming acquainted with the characters I should have to deal with would be accelerated, and the transition would thus be smoother in many respects, than if persons as well as local situation were at the same time to be comprehended in the change. This idea I have accordingly ventured to suggest, and though it has not yet been complied with, the reception given to it was not altogether a discouraging one.
“As to the annual allowance per head, since the approbation given to my demand of £12, (which was in July 1793,) the allowance to the present contractors on the Hulk plan has throughout been raised a penny a-day per head, amounting by the year to £1, 10s. 5d.; the rise in the price of provisions having been the evident ground of this allowance, the same indemnification would not, I suppose, be thought unreasonable in my case.
“Question 3.—Do you think you should now be able to exhibit vouchers for, or distinct statements of, the expenditure of the £9000 you speak of?
“Answer.—I have taken care to preserve vouchers for the money expended in materials for the building itself, to an amount more than equal to what I have received as above; and for the rest, I should think that satisfactory vouchers might be collected, although, the money being my own, and no conception entertained of any occasion for accounting to or with any body on the subject, I had no reason for keeping vouchers as such. In March 1793, on my applying for the £2000, which I did through Mr Nepean, (then Under Secretary in the Home Department,) my brother delivered or produced to that gentleman a hasty sketch of an account, drawn up in obedience to a suggestion made at the moment for that purpose. At that early stage of the concern it contained (I remember) articles to the amount of above £4600, after which it was needless to look out for more. Upwards of £500 of it was for patents, which are become of so old a date, that before I could now make any advantage of the inventions in the proposed Penitentiary house, more than half the terms would be expired.
“After a variety of unsuccessful attempts, in which no inconsiderable part of the money was expended, we had already succeeded in executing by machinery, planing-work; sawing-work, from large timber down to veneers of an unexampled fineness; wheel-work, in the small and in the great; window-sashes (the greater part of the workmanship, and the remainder nearly finished;) sawing and polishing of stone; besides a variety of branches of inferior account; and the number was increasing every day.
“Question 4.—What ground is it now proposed should be purchased for the purpose of the establishment?
“Answer.—A part of Tothill Fields, together with such addition from the grounds adjacent (and which may be purchased under the existing Act) as shall be necessary to make up the quantity allotted to the establishment by that act.
“Question 5.—The Committee have understood that certain difficulties have attended the choice of the spot;—should these difficulties prove unsurmountable in the instance of Tothill Fields, is there any other spot in contemplation that you think would answer the purpose?
“Answer.—I know of no other spot whatever that would answer the purpose in any tolerable degree, and at the same time afford anything near an equal prospect of seeing the choice finally approved. This is the last of four places, each of which at the outset afforded me prospects, which in the three preceding instances proved delusive.
“Nothing could be more decided than the approbation bestowed upon this spot upon the very first mention of it. Legal obstacles, with the existence of which nobody is chargeable, have been unavoidably productive of a part of the delays. As far as I may be permitted to judge, the great aversion entertained to the employing in the present case, or applying for, the compulsive powers regularly granted, as often as land is to be purchased for a public purpose, is, and has been throughout, the only source of difficulty, at least at the fountain-head. I am satisfied in my own mind, that the business would have been despatched near five years ago, if land could have been found that belonged to nobody, and was in no neighbourhood. My own aversion to such powers is not inferior, and would be productive of the same effects, if I saw by what possible means the business could be done upon less unpleasant terms.
“My great comfort as well as my great encouragement at the outset of this business was, the observation of a spot, in the instance of which, as it seemed to me, these difficulties had already been overcome. It was upon the ground of an Act of Parliament, and of a decision that had been given upon it by a tribunal, of which the twelve judges formed a part—it was upon this ground, coupled with other assurances, that I proceeded at the outset of the business; it was upon the faith of another Act of Parliament, which the Committee have before them, (I mean that of the 7th July, 1794,) that I persevered in it. Had it been said to me in those days, these powers are employed in other cases, but they will not be in yours, my property would have remained undissipated, and the Committee would not have had this trouble.
“Tothill Fields possesses two properties essentially necessary to the execution of my plan; vicinity to the metropolis, and vicinity to water-carriage: In my manufactory, raw materials and finished work are both of the bulkiest kind; and a prompt communication with the market is indispensable. Vicinity to the metropolis is a condition much insisted upon by the original planners of the penitentiary system, (and most of all by Howard,) for the purposes of example and inspection. If a place could exist, of which it could be said that it was in no neighbourhood, it would be Tothill Fields. Two prisons, and four or five poor-houses of different sorts already in existence, will surely be sufficient to shut the door against objections on the score of neighbourhood. I can say from measurement, that no house of an account superior to a tradesman’s or a public-house stands within a quarter of a mile of the intended building.
“The persons principally interested in the character of proprietors have been applied to with that respect and reverence which is their due: a formal or decided consent is more than I have to boast of; but symptoms of acquiescence were manifested, and none of opposition: the opinion of professional advisers was declaredly in favour of the measure.
“To speak with confidence of the disposition of several thousand inhabitants, possessing rather a nominal than a real interest in the character of commoners, will not be expected of an individual by whom they have not been canvassed; but, as far as assurances can be depended upon, from a quarter the best qualified of any for affording such assurances, assistance much more likely than opposition would be to be expected from that source. They had authentic notice long ago, (though from another quarter,) and not the smallest symptom of opposition was then manifested, nor has been since.
[* ] 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.”
[* ] See Correspondence with Vansittart in chap. xiii. of the Memoirs.
[† ] “My letter was sent to him to his house in town, 12th August, 1802. His letter to Sir C. Bunbury is dated 19th August.”
[* ] “December or November 1801, Mr Wilberforce, as he told me in December, had been speaking to Lord Pelham, by whom the sentiments expressed were favourable.”
[* ] The letter from Lord Pelham to Sir C. Bunbury, above.
[* ] This was published under the name of “A Plea for the Constitution.” See the Works, vol. iv. p. 249 et seq.
[* ] Title, Picture of the Treasury, &c. &c.
[* ] See Panopticon versus New South Wales, in the Works, vol. iv. p. 173 et seq.
[† ] 4to, 1798.
[‡ ] II. Collins, 316, Table of Arrivals.
[* ] 4th October, 1799.
[† ] 34 Geo. III. c. 84.
[‡1 ] 19 Geo. III. c. 74.
[‡2 ] Further Proceedings, 15th July, 1800, p. 50, No. 9, dated “Treasury Chambers, 14th July, 1800.”
[§ ] 12th June, 1801, No. 9, pp. 79, 80, 81.
[* ] 9th July, 1801.
[† ] 24th March, 1801.
[‡ ] June, 1798.
[* ] December 1798.
[† ] See Debate, 31st May, 1793. Parl. Hist. xxx. 956.
[* ] “Not that there is, or ever has been, any incompatibility: with equal complacency, if he finds it most convenient, he may support the bad and the good together.”
[† ] Some note appears to be wanting here.—Ed.
[* ] Draught of Contract, 23th Finance Report, appendix.
[* ] See Wilberforce’s letter in Ch. xiv. of the Memoirs.
[* ] Plea for the Constitution.
[* ] There is here an evident misprint or miscalculation in the Report.—Ed.