Jeremy Bentham

Stephen Conway (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 10: July 1820 to January 1821

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pg 347Editor’s Note2775To José da Silva Carvalho11–13 June 1821 (Aet 73)


The state of my eyes prevents my dispatching by this Mail the communication hinted at in my former letter.2 I hope it will not be delayed longer than the next.

I will not however let the present occasion pass, without troubling you with a few suggestions, the motives to which, will I flatter myself be sufficiently apparent upon the face of them. For this purpose writing is not necessary: dictating to an amanuensis suffices.

The first relates to education, as applied to the mass of the people. On the subject of the new method, known mostly by the name of the Lancasterian method, but designated sometimes by other names, among the works presented to the Cortes will be found a paper, printed Table-wise, upon one side of a very large sheet.3 I can speak my approbation of it the more freely, in as much as, in the original invention I had no share, any more than in the maturation of it, two small annual pecuniary donations excepted. The scheme of instruction has been described, as well as carried on, by the inventors, in their own way:4 nor do I recollect having heard of any special use that has been made, here or elsewhere, of the abridged and systematic view which this Table of mine presents, with I believe some small pg 348improvements. But I give it with some confidence, as capable of saving no small part of the trouble, that would be necessary, to the study of it in the originals, considering the diffuse and desultory manner in which they are penned.

A circumstance that encourages me to submit it to your cognizance is this. At Buenos Ayres, where it has not been planted (I believe) more than two years, certainly not more than three, it has taken root, and is extending itself over the country in an extraordinary degree. I speak not only from such accounts as have found their way into our newspapers, but also from trustworthy private letters. A young man of the name of Thompson—an Éleve of our British and Foreign School Society—alias Lancasterian Society has the conduct of it.5 The confusion in which in that country Government and consequently every thing under it has so long laboured—a confusion scarcely to be matched in history, and of which I have seen details in deplorable abundance, renders this one punctum saliens6 of prosperity the more remarkable, and the more encouraging.

A very moderate expense—an expense which might be stated as next to nothing when compared to the benefit—might enable your country to reap it. In this view, I would beg leave to suggest two arrangements, either of which might be employed, or (what would be still better) both at once. One is, the applying to the abovementioned Society here, for an Englishman, to be sent to establish the Institution at Lisbon, as Mr. Thompson has done at Buenos Ayres. The other is, to send two young men from Portugal, to follow the course of instruction pursued here; and when they are sufficiently impregnated, to carry it with them and transplant it in Portugal. (The sending two, rather than one wd be productive of considerable advantages.)

1. There are two rival establishments here—the original one set on foot by sectaries, and not confining its views to Natives;7 and another, supported by the money and influence of Government, set up for the preservation of Church of Englandism, from the danger apprehended from sectaries.8 By sending of the two young men—the one to one of these Establishments, the other if possible, to the other, you would secure information of whatever was best in both: and thus, if the pg 349proposed emissary from here were added a tripartite emulation would establish itself. 2. The two young men, coming out thus together, would during the time of instruction be a support and comfort to each other. As to Religion, there need not be any apprehension on that account. The chaplain to your mission here, whoever he may be, would of course have the charge of them under this head. In the British and Foreign Establishment, all attempts at proselytism are religiously abstained from. The giving them for their lessons a few texts from the Gospels, clear of every thing that is the subject of controversy between sect and sect, for example the Miracles and the Parables will not I imagine be placed by you to this account. If that be poison, the counterpoison is in your Chaplain's hands: and it is for you to say whether he would be backward in the administration of it. Of the maintenance of the supposed two youths, the expense might (I should hope) be borne by their respective parents: since, with moderately good conduct on their part, it wd be a provision for them for life. With relation to the whole of the business whatever is in my power, you will believe without difficulty, would be employed to promote success

I am a contributor to both societies. It being a maxim of mine grounded both in theory and observation, that the less pay a functionary is content to receive, the better the function is performed, it should be my endeavour to obtain a fit person at as cheap a rate as possible: all but the barest subsistence should be in proportion to the number of his scholars. I have not myself any individuals in view: but I think I could obtain as trustworthy information as is to be had.

As to the National Establishment, in regard to the placing one of the youths in question there, I am sorry to say I cannot but apprehend some difficulty—If I am rightly informed, in addition to passages out of the New Testament, the poor children are made to read systems of doctrine peculiar to the Church of England, and for aught I know to declare their belief of them: but, as to this last point, I can not at this moment speak with certainty. Meantime, if what I have been told is true that at Lisbon there has always existed, in consequence of the connection between the two countries, a sort of little colony, in which youths are bred up in Church of Englandism: if so, (Lisbon having the Portuguese for his native language) would find no difficulty in following the lessons in the Church of England School here. But in that case, could he be made to answer the purpose of Schoolmaster for the instruction of Catholic Children? This is a question for you, Sir, to resolve. Be this as it may, the difficulty, such as it is, is got the better of in Buenos Ayres. At the worst the two youths, one or both of them, after having been bred in the British and Foreign School might be pg 350permitted for a short time to attend the lessons at the National School, without taking any part in them: this I think I could make sure of. I should not have thought this directory of Schools worth mentioning, were it not for my having heard from some intelligent men who are as averse to the exclusionary system as I am, that the National School has a remarkably able Manager, and that in consequence the scheme of instruction is, in that School, on some points rather better conducted than in the others.

2. A word or two I must venture to submitt, to you, Sir with a view to the securing and expediting the publication of my work on Evidence by M. Dumont.9

M. Dumont (you may know or not know) is a member and the leading member of the Committee of Legislation, a swarm which, in his little ant-hill, (number of ants 40,000) has for these two or three years been hard at work in the endeavour to frame a Code upon the principles of my works, as edited by him, concerning which undertaking some further particulars will be before you on the arrival of my next packet. If there be any thing of originality in any of those of my works with which my friends in Portugal are more or less acquainted, there is at least as much, in one with which they cannot as yet have formed any acquaintance. I mean a work on Evidence (—PreuvesProbationes—): a work in which the matter is taken up on the ground of first principles and pursued thro' the smallest details. I need scarce remind you, Sir, that, in every judicial enquiry, the evidences, on which the decision on the question of fact is grounded, are the very vitals of the cause. An unfinished fragment, which is among those works of mine which you have, and which was designed to serve as a sort of preliminary abridgement,10 will suffice at any time, to convey a conception of the complexion and character of the whole. The accompanying paper, marked (A.I.)11 will serve to show the state in which this work is, in respect of forwardness, in M. Dumont's hands: the state of forwardness and at the same time the state of vacillation. Now, suppose that in his quality of leading member of the Committee of Legislation of the small indeed, but in no small degree distinguished Republic of Geneva, M. Dumont were to receive, from the Regency of Portugal, a letter urging him on to give what dispatch may be in his power to this work; can there be any doubt of the success that would pg 351attend the application of such a stimulus? For such an address no such condescension, as that manifested towards your humble servant would be necessary. Your said humble servant is an unofficed individual, and as such will ever remain.

As to M. Dumont, though in miniature, he and his colleagues are not only constituted, but extraordinarily constituted, authorities.12

One more topic and I have done. Your arms being held out to me as they are, can you wonder at my running into them?

When this Court receives from you a diplomatist, I am sure he will not be an adversary to your cause as at present, and I hope that to you, in your individual character, he will be an instrument of good in whom you can have entire confidence. I so, notwithstanding my general, and determined, because necessary seclusion, it seems not impossible, but that in respect of the public cause, and for the sake of that cause, I might, in this or that way, be of use to him. After the bribe you have given me, and what you cannot but have heard of me, the state of my affections as towards that cause cannot be matter of doubt to you. It would be a pity, if amongst men that would in other respects suit your purpose, you could not find one that can not only read, but speak, English: if he cannot at least read English, and thence cannot read our newspapers, his knowledge of the state of things in this country cannot but be very imperfect and inadequate. If he cannot speak English, he will not be in a condition to communicate with facility, to any purpose, with the United States Minister here, who is an honest and intelligent man, and a sincere well-wisher to the cause of liberty. Upon occasion I could put him upon more confidential terms with Rush so long as he continues in that character, than perhaps any body else could. So likewise with Secretary of legation Colomb, who, from his long residence in this country, is the acting man of the Spanish Mission; and, since the Duc de St. Frias has been here, the only acting man: the Duke, as every body says, and I believe, a well disposed man, tho' being a Spanish Grandee, and accordingly a man of straw. Colomb speaks English fluently. The new Minister, whoever he is, coming with inferior appointments, and therefore being probably of inferior rank, may, not improbably be a man of business (which would be a pity): and not likely to be in connection with Colomb, as the Duke was: but unless he understands English, he must unavoidably be in a considerable degree dependent on Colomb for the carte du pays.

Among the Portuguese residents here, I hope there will be some pg 352one who will be able to give him (your future Envoy I mean) a tolerably clear conception of the characters of the people he will have to deal with. O yes, I make no doubt Rocha will answer this purpose extremely well: but it seems too much to expect, that any one but a native, who has made particular application of his mind to the subject, shall be able to give him any very clear conception of the mechanism of the Laws and Government here. For the mere purpose of ordinary conversation—in a word for any thing which it is thought may as well be done by any body else, I cannot afford (you will have the goodness to understand) to see any Minister of your's, any more than I can any body else. Out of curiosity, the Duc de St. Frias, thro' different channels, made several attempts to see me: I resisted them all but he got in by a trick. I pay no visits to any body. Except on particular business I receive no visits from any body, at any other time than my dinner time which is at 6, or after that till a quarter before eleven; at which time I go to bed; that interval is the time I have for confidential conversation. For any such purpose I never see more than one person at a time, except in so far as it may be necessary to the purpose of introducing one person to another. A man who lives in the world, and in a high style, and has his rooms crowded with company,—can, for any purpose of business, call men aside, one after another, in any number; but that is not the case with me. I have quitted the world these six or seven and twenty years; though upon occasion some of the best parts of it come to me. Being neither rich nor poor, I live in a sort of hermitage, in a hermit's style, and whoever comes to me must be content with a hermit's dinner, and leave me at the hour abovementioned, or my health, which is otherwise good, would be broken. I hope I have made myself sufficiently understood. I am very desirous of seeing the sort of person in question, if I can be of specific use: and very desirous of not seeing him, if, by so doing I can not be of any specific use. B1 and B.2.13 may serve to convey to you some sort of conception of the terms I am upon with Colomb and Rush. Rush is ardent towards me in a manner very extraordinary in a U.S. man: for they are a very cold people, as I made Quincy Adams confess to me, after I had thawed, as I told him I should, some of his ice.14

Oh! but the Spanish Envoy Extraordinary is just arrived. It is Onís they say.15 If so he is a man of business, and by him will the business be done. I hear a good character of him however: in U.S. he behaved so well (I hear) as to keep up in men's minds the distinction between the character of the individual, and the character of the wretched pg 353government under the order of which it was his hard lot to act. If this be correct, and if his conception in relation to me be derived either from Colomb or Rush, it seems not improbable that he and I may be upon confidential terms.

              With the truest respect and most cordial regard.

                  I remain, Sir, for the second time, Your's

                      Jeremy Bentham

                          13 June 1821.

Ao Senhor José da Siva Carvalho etc. etc. etc.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2775. 1 UC xiii. 190–6. Draft, mainly in Doane's hand, with additions and corrections by Bentham. Headed: '1821 June 11 / To Carvalho / Letter II / 1. Lancasterians / 2. Port. Envoy.' The actual letter was taken to the foreign post on 13 June. See Colls's diary (BL XXVII. 78). On 11 June, Bentham drafted another letter for Carvalho, but in the event decided not to send it. The draft, headed: '1821, June 11 / J.B. to Carvalho Letter 3 / Believed not to have been sent or finished', is at UC xiii. 197–8.
Editor’s Note
2 Letter 2772. Colls's diary suggests that the letter to Felgueiras (2773) was sent on 5 June (BL XXVII. 78), so Bentham must have been referring to something else: perhaps to a letter—or letters—to reinforce the 'communication of my grateful acknowledgements and remembrance' to the Portuguese politicians mentioned in the last paragraph of letter 2772.
Editor’s Note
3 Bentham seems to have been referring here to the 'whole sheet Table' designed to accompany his work Chrestomathia. See the circular letter to American governors on public instruction in Papers relative to Codification and Public Instruction, pp. 105–6 (Bowring, iv. 531–2).
Editor’s Note
4 Dr Andrew Bell (1753–1832) was claimed by Anglicans to be the founder of the monitorial system of education. Joseph Lancaster (1778–1838) gave his name to the system, and set up a model school in the Borough Road which was supported by dissenters, advocates of non-sectarian education, and some Anglicans. The Royal Lancasterian Society (later renamed the British and Foreign School Society) was founded in 1808 to popularize Lancaster's ideas and to maintain his school.
Editor’s Note
5 James Thomson (d. 1854) was the representative of the British and Foreign School Society in Chile and Argentina. He was based at Buenos Aires from 1818 to 1821. See W. E. Browning, 'Joseph Lancaster, James Thomson, and the Lancasterian System of Mutual Instruction, with Special Reference to Hispanic America', Hispanic American Historical Review, iv (1921), 49–98.
Editor’s Note
6 i.e. 'salient point'.
Editor’s Note
7 i.e. the British and Foreign School Society.
Editor’s Note
8 i.e. the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church, founded in 1811.
Editor’s Note
9 i.e. what was to appear as Traité des preuves judiciaires, 2 vols., Paris, 1823.
Editor’s Note
10 Bentham was referring to the work published in Bowring's edition as 'An Introductory View of the Rationale of Evidence' (Bowring, vi. 1–187), partly printed in 1812. Bentham called it 'Introduction to the rationale of Evidence' (Correspondence, ix. 462) or 'Rationale of Evidence or a sort of compressed view of it' (ibid. 308).
Editor’s Note
11 Sent with the final letter, now missing.
Editor’s Note
12 Bentham alludes to the commission established on 28 May 1817 by the Genevan Conseil d'état to prepare a penal code and 'Code d'instruction criminelle'.
Editor’s Note
13 Presumably further enclosed papers sent with the letter.
Editor’s Note
14 See Correspondence, ix. 137.
Editor’s Note
15 Luis de Onís (1762?–1827), Spanish minister to the United States 1809–19.
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