Francis Hall

Catherine Fuller (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 11: January 1822 to June 1824

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Editor’s Note3045From Francis Hall5 February 1824

Dedication

To Jeremy Bentham, Esq.

my dear sir,

Maracaybo, Feb. 5, 1824.

I take the liberty of dedicating the following pages to you, because I am convinced there is no one more aware of the evils of a crowded population, and defective social institutions, or who would more gladly anticipate in the New World such improved forms of political existence as we must almost despair of witnessing in the Old.

It is superfluous to insist on the paramount interest of Great Britain to plan in South America a nation of customers whose trade will one day, from the fertility of their soil and superior value of its productions, become of infinitely more importance than even that of the United States. There is yet another interesting consideration—the political wheel has very nearly 'come full circle'2 in the Antilles, Spain is not the only nation whose crimes will meet with retribution in the downfal[l] of colonial establishments founded on anti-social principles. It is in vain the Creole proprietor proudly exclaims against all interference with his property. The time is fast approaching when Man will cease to be the property of pg 346Man.3 Fortunately the natural bent of circumstances offers a species of euthanasia to the West-India colonies, if not too long and obstinately-rejected. The capital employed on them has long since made very inadequate returns: and these returns will be much smaller when the sugars, rum, and coffee of South America obtain that preference in the European Markets to which their superior cheapness will, of course, entitle them. South America must under-sell the West-India islands: let the capital employed on the latter be transferred to the former, and let the capitalist rather seek to share the prosperity of a new, than the ruin of an old country. I speak not of a more violent catastrophe, but they who dwell on the edge of a volcano should at least understand the signs of an approaching eruption.

I trust it is superfluous to speculate on the plans of allied despots; meek-hearted sovereigns—who enslave, plunder, and partition, and modestly desire the world will esteem them 'all honourable men;'4—aye, and righteous too, for they would cover both hemispheres with scaffolds and dungeons, and devoutly preach to their victims from the text of social order, religion and philanthropy. The firm and prompt measures of the British cabinet give us every reason to hope the New World may at least escape their ravages. The well-beloved Ferdinand has already despatched a proclamation to his colonies, containing the usual quantity of official cant and insolence, but his 'paternal yearnings' and 'energetic measures' will serve here only to excite ridicule and contempt.5

You will be pleased to know that your ideas on legislation are gaining ground in Colombia; a law of Congress of the 11th of June, 1823, orders, 'That all laws shall be accompanied by an exordium, containing the fundamental reasons for their enactment'.6 I have no doubt that this idea was suggested by the present of your Codification proposal to this government.7 For its sake, rather than for yours I could have wished the obligation had been acknowledged.

With respect to the pages now offered to your perusal, I have but one pg 347observation to make of a personal nature, and this is, to disclaim every thing like undue bias in the representation I have made of the advantages of emigration to this country. It not unfrequently happens that they who recommend a plan have some interest in its adoption; and their statements, in such cases, as commonly take a tinge from their interests. I have no connexion directly or indirectly, with any scheme of emigration, nor can the adoption or rejection of my ideas on the subject, influence, in any manner that I am at present aware of, my future welfare. Neither am I misled by any advantages which have occurred to myself from a change of country: my success as a military man has been too partial and. too dearly purchased to dazzle my imagination. Whenever I quit Colombia I shall scarcely leave behind me any other trophies than the sepulchres of my friends: I write that my countrymen may profit, if they think fit, by what I have seen and felt, and that England and Colombia may hereafter add the ties of blood and relationship to those of political friendship.

That you may long retain life and health for the benefit of humanity in ages yet unborn, is the sincere wish of

  •                               Dear Sir,
  •                                   Your faithful Friend and Servant,
  •                                       F. HALL

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Notes

Editor’s Note
3045. 1 Francis Hall, Colombia: Its Present State, in Respect of Climate, Soil Productions, Population, Government, Commerce, Revenue, Manufactures, Arts, Literature, Manners, Education, and Inducements to Emigration: with an Original Map: and Itineraries, partly from Spanish Surveys, partly from Actual Observation, London, 1824, pp. i–vi. According to Colls's Journal (BL XXVII. 132), Bentham received fifteen copies of this book on 10 November 1824.
Editor’s Note
2 Shakespeare, King Lear, v. iii. 174.
Editor’s Note
3 Thomas Paine, Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke's attack on the French Revolution, London, 2 parts, 1791–2, i. 9.
Editor’s Note
4 Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, III. ii 83.
Editor’s Note
5 Ferdinand VII's Proclamation to his rebellious South American subjects in March 1820 called on them to return to obedience to Spain, promising to attend to their grievances, but threatening that should they resist they would be subdued by force. A translation appears in British and Foreign State Papers (1819–20) vii. 281–4.
Editor’s Note
6 See Coleccion de las leyes dadas por el Congreso Constitucional de la República de Colombia en las sesiones de los años 1823 y 1824, Bogotá, 1826, p, 9: 'Cuando se promulguen y recopilen las leyes iràn acompañados de un ecsórdio, que contenga las razones fundamentales que ha tenido presentes el congreso para su resolucion, y que han debido espresare al poder ejecutivo para sui sancion.'
Editor’s Note
7 Bentham had given copies of 'Codification Proposal' and Propuesta de Código for Bolívar and the Constituted Authorities at Bogotá to Echeverría for onward transmission to Colombia on 1 and 6 June 1822: see Colls's Journal (BL XXVII. 102). Bentham had recommended that each law should be accompanied by a rationale in §2 of 'Codification Proposal': see 'Legislator of the World' (CW), pp. 248–50.
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