Jeremy Bentham

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 Note3049To the Greek Legislature13-20 February 1824 (Aet 75–6)

Jeremy Bentham to the Legislative Council of Greece.

Legislators of regenerated Greece!

Whether for the sort of encouragement, with which you have been pleased to honor me,2 any such praise is due as that of discernment, it pg 350belongs to the world at large, not to him who is the object of it to pronounce.

Of the magnanimity manifested by an address of this complexion, to a man whose position is so completely destitute of every thing which to ordinary minds could render him an object of such notice.

To a man from whom no service can possibly have been looked for in any shape but that in which a small particle of it has already been so richly remunerated there can be but one opinion, such is the honour your body has conferred on itself and by nothing more that I could say could any addition be made to it—

To the illustration shed on me, has been added the more singular one of its being delivered by the hand of the very person by whose signature in his character of President of your body it was authenticated,3 a man whose warrant I have already for calling him by the endearing name of son. Orlando (said I to him—t'other clay in french) thus and thus only can I address you, Monsieur Orlando? my lips close against the words.

Monsieur Solon, Monsieur Pericles, Monsieur Epaminondas, Monsieur Philopoemen?4 Who ever heard any such barbarisms? Let me but call you father (was the answer) call me what you please.

Κύριος‎5 Bentham indeed?—Legislators! to others as may be most fitting: to me as you love me no more common as is the word there is a glare of legitimacy upon it, that hurts my eyes. Δοῦλος‎6 Oh yes, should you again speak to me, add but Ημέτερος‎ to it, or as you now say μας‎7 and if so it please you Εκλεκτὸς‎8 this I have already merited; this if from you, pg 351would be my most honourable title. Yes if to do so, be in the power of labour, no hired servant ever merited it better, unless by the pleasure so intimately combined with it, the merit as in the eyes of certain casuists, it would be annihilated.9

The pleasure is of the number of those which so far from fading are continually on the increase. How should it fail to be so? Seventy years ago I devoted myself to the service of mankind. And now at length (for by you am I enabled) now at length, nor yet altogether without prospect of success, do I behold myself occupied in the performance of this vow.

This will be delivered to you by the worthy comrade of our Luriottes— Edward Blaquiere, by whom his title of ϕιλελληνικώτατος‎10 as given to him in yours to me11 continues to be so well merited, but this superlative, superlative as it is, admits (I hope) of sharers, so at least you must acknowledge, or you will have been sowing the seeds of jealousy between two of the most faithful of your servants.

Farewell Legislators! may success ever attend your labours in the Council, as it has done those of your heroes in the field, should any modern Xerxes dare to obstruct them may his fate be that of the ancient one.12

Already in writing thus to you, I have perhaps written too much. I resume the pen that was writing for you what remains is to subscribe myself, and with somewhat more truth than is common in such subscriptions.

                              Your Δοῦλος Καθιερώτατος‎.13

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Notes

Editor’s Note
3049. 1 Telegrafo Greco, no. 13, 12 June 1824, pp. 1–2. Typographical errors have been corrected. An autograph draft beaded: 'J.B. to Greek legislature Letter I', is at UC xii, 187 (13 February 1824), xii. 188 (20 February 1824), and xii. 189 (19 February 1824). Printed in 'Codification Proposal', pp. 82–3; Bowring, iv. 582; 'Legislator of the World' (CW), pp. 341–3. All versions of this letter vary slightly. A postscript to this letter drafted by Bentham, but not sent, is at UC xii. 326. Bentham received this copy of the Telegrafo Greco from Blaquiere: see Letter 3118. Stanhope had been instrumental in establishing the Telegrafo Greco, a polyglot newspaper, which first appeared in Missolonghi in March 1824: see Stanhope, Greece, in 1823 and 1824, pp. 119, 157, 174, 301–3.
This letter, the first of two which Bentham wrote in response to letters from members of the Greek Legislative Senate and Executive Council, is Bentham's reply to Letter 2971 from Orlandos, then President of the Legislative Senate, and letter 3053 is his reply to Letter 2980 from Mavrokordatos, Secretary General of the Executive Council. Bentham sent a copy of this letter and of Letter 3053 to Orlandos and Louriottis at some point before 9 March 1824 (see Letter 3057 & n. 3), and, according to Colls's Journal (BL XXVII. 130), sent a copy of this letter and of Letters 3052 and 3053 to Stanhope with Letter 307]. Letters 3049, 3052, and 3053 were then sent to Greece by the deputies by means of the Florida which left England on 31 March 1824, and which also carried Blaquiere and the first instalment of the Greek Loan (Letters 3080, 3081). When the letters reached Zante they were forwarded by Stanhope, who was about to board the Florida to return to England with Byron's body, to Mavrokordatos who placed Letters 3049 and 3053 in the Telegrafo Greco (see Letter 3118). Blaquiere later presented this letter to the Legislative Senate and Executive Council sitting at Nafplion on 4/16 July 1824.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. Letter 2971.
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3 i.e. Orlandos, who signed Letter 2971, in his capacity at that time as President of the Legislative Senate.
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4 These figures were famous soldiers and statesmen of ancient Greece Solon (b. c.638 bc), Athenian statesman and poet, who provided his city with a code of laws; Pericles (c.495-429 bc), Athenian statesman at the time of the city's political and cultural supremacy; Epaminondas (d. 362 bc), Theban general who broke the ascendancy of Sparta by his victory at Leuctra in 371 BC; and Philopoemen of Megalopolis (c.253–182 bc), Achaean soldier and statesman who defeated and demilitarized Sparta,
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5 In classical Greek Κύριος‎ means 'one having power', or 'Lord'; in modern Greek, it simply means 'mister'.
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6 i.e. 'slave'.
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7 The words Ἡμέτερος‎ and μας‎ mean 'our' in ancient and modern Greek respectively.
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8 i.e. 'chosen',
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9 i.e. in the eyes of adherents of the Stoic school of philosophy, who held that the end of life was virtue alone, and that any action undertaken for pleasure could not be virtuous.
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10 Literally 'one most fond of the Hellenes'; a philhellene.
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11 i.e. Letter 2971.
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12 Xerxes, King of Persia 486–465 bc, mounted an invasion of Greece in 480–479 bc, but was decisively defeated at the Battles of Salamis and Plataea.
Editor’s Note
13 i.e. 'most devoted slave'.
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