pg 82Editor’s Note2690To José Joaquín de Mora22 September 1820 (Aet 72)
These are not,2 were not ever, as the Spaniards would be, pupils of mine, directly and professedly instructed in the art of legislation: for it was necessary that all should live: and by skill in legislation, considered as having, for its object, the greatest happiness of the greatest number—by skill in legislation, though it were super human, if thus applied, no man here could live. To myself, as far as concerned pecuniary matters, to myself, as I was contented it should, the occupation has been no profit, all loss.
To fit themselves for bearing a part in a course of legislation having, for its object, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, this, and not mere barren amusement, is (I take for granted) the main object with my Spanish pupils: on which account the less expensive their habits of living have been, the better: indeed any one who has been bred up in what is called high life, had better not come. On this supposition, they would not, I flatter myself, be much in danger of experiencing disappointment. If they could bring themselves to forego, for the most part, the Society of the titled and opulent (for this I have long ago quitted, regarding the seat of opulence as the seat of insipidity and ennui) they would have the opportunity of mixing with the flower of this Country (I will venture to say) for moral and intellectual excellence combined. They I say: for, though I myself visit nobody, that rule would not extend to them. But their deriving any benefit from this will of course depend upon such dispositions as they bring with them. Unless social sympathy, on the largest scale, a real zeal—zeal for the service, not only of their own country but of mankind be an ingredient in it, they will find themselves misplaced. Scarcely in my little circle will they hear any conversation which has not the good of mankind, in some shape or other, for its object. If, however, the gravity which (I know not with what reason) we are wont to regard as a common ingredient in the Spanish character, should have place in them, in an inflexible state, they will be in danger pg 83of finding themselves uncomfortable. For, as in Philosophy, we are Epicureans,3 so in temper we are [Democriteans].4 I, at any rate—I, at 72—am, for one reason or other, gayer than I was at 17.
Venerable they call me—every now and then those who have never seen me. Those who do see me would as soon think of calling a kitten venerable. When Quincy Adams had been with me two or three times, I told him I would thaw some of his ice for him, before I had done with him: and so I did.5
As to a great part of all this, the person by whom it could, with least propriety, be said, supposing it all true, is—(you will say to yourself) the person by whom it has been said. But it seemed necessary to the purpose that, from somebody or other it should be known: and, under the circumstances of the case, it could not have been made known by any body else. A propos I forget what the Gentleman's name is, that has lately been made (I have been told) Librarian to the Cortes.6 He was on terms of intimacy (I understand) with a member of a most respectable commercial family here of the name of Taylor. I never was in that Taylor's company more than once. But he knows me perfectly by reputation: the abode of some near relations of his is of the number of the houses that open into my Garden: and, from him, correct answers would be had, relative to what is thought of me, and to the way in which my life is passed.
Our friend7 speaks of an eventual disposition, on your part, to translate, from Dumont's publication on Pains and Recompences, the Chapter on Colonies.8 Notwithstanding the number of competitors for the translation of the preceding work, in three volumes,9 I see no probability of a translator for this other work in two volumes. Should it never do so, in any language, during my life time, I should not at all wonder. By the first volume—which is that on Punishments—little annoyance, indeed, would be afforded to any body. But by that other volume on Rewards, annoyance would be afforded to almost every body that read: to every member of the corporation of the ruling and influential few. For, amongst its objects, is that of bringing to its minimum the quantum of emolument, and, at the same time, to its maximum, the quantity and good quality of official service. When that pg 84work came out, the Edinburgh Reviewers, Whigs as they were and are, found themselves under the necessity of taking some notice of it, and that notice favourable.10 Romilly,11 who, among professional, parliamentary, and otherwise efficient men, was at the head of the Whigs—their destined Chancellor if he had lived, and they came into office—Romilly used to speak of himself as my disciple, of me as a sort of father, and he and Dumont were as brothers. Brougham, in combating Sir Francis Burdett in the House of Commons, on the occasion of his bringing forward my scheme of popular representation, spoke of me (so says the published debates) as being, to Romilly, the object of 'utmost filial reverence'.12 If I misrecollect not, Romilly was present. (N.B. Brougham was forced to speak against my scheme to keep himself in favour with the Whigs.) It was Romilly who, without my knowledge, wrote the account given in the Edinburgh Review of my Papers on Codification.13 As to the work on Peines et Recompenses, whoever it was that the Edinburgh Review of it was written by, he stopt at the first volume.14 The second, however, is in itself beyond all comparison more instructive, were it only for the relation which it so compleatly brings to view—the relation between those two so intimately connected, though so strongly contrasted, subjects. Why, then, in the Review stop at the subject of Punishment? Because the diametrical opposition, which, throughout the whole of the field of office, has place between the interest of the subject many and that of the ruling few, is there placed in so clear and strong a light: and this, even after passing through the prudent pen of Dumont, whose life was passed in the houses of the opulent leaders of the Whigs—of a set of men, whose appetite, always keen enough for office with its sweets, has been sharpened by so long a fast.
In my 'Church of Englandism examined', these principles of official and financial economy are, in much greater detail, applied to the Ecclesiastical Establishment. Of that work (though for the sake of the political part) the first part is doctrinal; the other part is purely political. In so far as they give an exposure of the abominations of this our heretical Establishment, some parts of that work might be endured (I should suppose) even with you: on that consideration, a copy of it is pg 85proposed to form part of that assortment, Sir, which courts your acceptance: if I remember right, it was not inserted into either of the parcels received by Mr. Arguelles.
Unfortunately, the more is seen of my works, the more thoroughly it is understood, how favourable the whole tendency of them is to the interest of the subject many, which is as much as to say how adverse it is in every country to the particular and sinister interest of the ruling few.
A code of laws, drawn up in a consistent manner, upon my principles, would be a satire upon any code which, without injury to lawyers sinister interest, could be drawn by any other hand. If they willingly suffer any such work to be called for, they must be either deficient in discernment to such a degree, as in men of that class would, in any country, be miraculous, or abundant in generosity to a degree still more miraculous. If their resistance be subdued at all, it must be by the same arm that monarchical despotism has been subdued by: unfortunately the mischief produced by despotism in these aristocratical hands, mischief in this shape, though scarcely less intense and extensive, and much more difficultly remediable, is much less manifest than that produced by undisguised despotism in monarchical hands. When a man is ruined by law, to know that the cause of his ruin lies in the vices of the law, and they in the sinister interest and ingenuity of those who framed it, he must have a thorough insight into the texture of it: which to any who have not devoted years to the study of it, is, in the present state of it, impossible: thus the greater the demand for it, the more hopeless is the remedy.
'Here is a man who has passed fifty years of his life in the endeavour to qualify himself for framing such a body of law as shall be, in the highest degree, conducive to the confessedly proper ends of law. He thinks he can execute such a work, and is ready to execute one for you, if you will bespeak it from him. Why not accept the offer? If the work is good for nothing, the loss is all his, you are but "where you are".' Suppose this question put by a popular Society—what pretence could be found for not giving a favourable answer? In case of necessity, Suppose it put by the commander of an Army? would that be an act of insubordination? Is it thus that commanders of armies speak when their meaning is to substitute military tyranny to regular civil government?
'Oh, but we and we alone, are competent to such a task, our competence is not to be questioned: we want nothing from this or any other foreigner. Much better adapted, to the exigencies of our own country than any work which he or any other foreigner could possibly execute, would be ours'. Such, if it be found necessary by them to say pg 86any thing, will be the language of the men of law. Well then, if what you say be true, let his work come out, the worse his is the greater will be your glory. In every other art, is not competition the mother of excellence? how comes it to be otherwise in yours?
'Oh but he is a heretic, the whole texture of the work will be infected by his heresy'. Well, if it be, what then? If the heretical parts are separable from the rest, you pick them out: if not, you burn the whole. It will serve for fuel, at the worst.
'The prepossession of the public, or of any part of it, are they in any danger of being too favourable to this man? he is a foreigner, and a heretic? If, besides this he were even an enemy would it be any reason why we should not make our profit of him? as much profit as we can. It depends upon us to take as much from him, or as little, as we please'.
Paper Money. Some years ago, not long after Mr. Vansittart, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer,15 came into that office, I contrived, and proposed to him, a species of paper-money, differing as I believe, by some striking features, from any paper money then or since in use.16 I had no acquaintance with him, but he knew me well enough from his own intimates. My plan was contained in 5. or 6. printed sheets, of which I had no more than two or three copies struck off: the press being kept, for some time, standing, for the chance of my having occasion for more. I had seen him, once or twice before, on some official business, at his Office, and, on that occasion, we were on good terms. At the end of a few days, he made an appointment for me to call on him at his office to talk over this affair of the Paper-Money. Upon my arrival, I found him there with a subordinate of his—a gentleman at the head of the particular department, to which the business was understood to belong.17 The part Mr. Vansittart took seemed rather passive than active: the subordinate made some observations, and put, I believe, a question or two, as if upon the look out to find out, as it was very proper for him to do, any objections that the plan might seem exposed to. At that meeting, no opinion was pg 87given; but the aspect was so far favourable, that an offer was made to me of setting down, to the public account, the expence, whatever it might amount to, in printing, and so forth. It came, I think, to between 20£ and 30£. Another, and a near day was appointed for my calling again at the Office. Upon my calling at the appointed hour, the Attendant, to whom it belongs, instead of saying that Mr Vansittart was engaged, or that some other time would be more convenient to him, gave me to understand, in a manner somewhat repulsive, that Mr. Vansittart did not intend to see me. Not less surprized than displeased, I expressed my sense of this treatment in a Letter,18 in which the anterior address of Dear Sir, was changed to Sir. When the offer about the money was made to me, I rather put by, as not worth attention, than refused, acceptance: but with the acknowledgement and the good humour which the disposition expressed by it required. To that Letter of mine, not a word of apology was returned: nor did I hear any more, either of the offer about the expences or of any other part of the business. I had not, at that time, such compleat means of knowing, as I have had since, though, even then, I had good reason to suspect it, that I had the honor of being an object of personal enmity to George the Third:19 who, ever since the year 1794, (when he forced Minister Pitt20 to give up, for a time, my Panopticon project, which, with uncommon tokens of approbation, he had adopted and engaged me to give myself up to) has, I have reason to think, given the leading men, of all parties, to understand, that all pretensions to his favour depended upon a determination, on their part, never to have anything to do with me and perhaps exacted promises from them to that effect. Mr. Vansittart had then, and, I believe, possesses still, the reputation of a man of mild and gentle manners. It had, I imagine, been made matter of injunction to him that he should thus break with me, or, if it was his own doing, it was the embarrassment he felt himself under, that had ended in this course. My expectation had, from the first been very slight; my expectation, I mean, of seeing the scheme ultimately accepted: for, it could not be serviceable to the public without being, more or less, disserviceable to the Bank of England, whose paper, in proportion as it found acceptance, it would naturally supersede. My conception of the matter was, however, that the scheme had really his approbation; and that, but for the continually recurring need, which the Administration has regarded itself as having, of accommodation from the Bank (always supposing that the King's wrath could have been sufficiently appeased) the scheme would have pg 88been put to use. The grounds of that conception are these. With the subordinate abovementioned, I had never exchanged a word before. In the way of official business, people may have seen one another not unfrequently, and yet not take any notice of one another when they meet by accident in other places. Not long after, I met him, in a road in which it has since frequently happened to us to meet. I was for looking another way: he, however, though without any allusion to the business, made up to me with such demonstrations of attention and respect as I have scarcely been accustomed to receive from any one else. I think it was about a year or two ago, that, I being on foot as usual, he on horseback as usual, he stopt his horse, made a motion for an interview, and tendered to me his hand. That scheme of mine—could I oblige him with another Copy? I said, as was the truth, that I did not think that I had more than one other copy, if I had so much: that however, I rather believed I had one, that I did not immediately know where to lay my hand upon it, but that, in case of need, I would look for it. 'But', said I, 'you may remember Mr. Vansittart had one: if, at the moment, it appeared to him to be at all worth thinking of, he would, according to his regular habits, have put it by some where, where it would be to be found: if his copy is unfindable, let me know: I will immediately look for mine.' At this time, Mr. Vansittart had some difference with the Bank:21 the matter was, soon after, settled between them: and I have heard nothing from the Gentleman since.
From your papers, our's make mention of several expedients among you for raising money for present exigencies. One is, a ban: and the more you can get this way unquestionably the better: the other, a paper money. A few friends, eminently versed in matters of finance and political economy, have at different times taken cognizance of this scheme of mine, and to none of them has it appeared, exposed to any objection: I mean except that of its utter impracticability, by reason of the certain and insuperable opposition of the Bank. That it would be practicable, with advantage in Spain, is more than I could pretend so much as to guess without examination, or to take upon me to be assured of, after all the examination which, in this Country, I could give to it. But if, knowing no more about it than what I have been telling you, the persons to whom in your Country the matter belongs should feel any curiosity to see it, that curiosity may be satisfied. Let their Ambassador, at this place, send one of his pg 89clerks to my House; he shall, at my said House, be welcome to take a copy of it. This trouble, I would not have taken the chance for giving to any body, had any reason occurred to me, why the thing should not do in Spain as well as in England.
But, on this occasion, addressing myself to you in the character of a confidential friend, I say to you, that, though I see no objection to it, I have no great stomach to take any personal concern in the matter, and that, had it not been for the hope that, perhaps, it might be made an instrument of, for forwarding that other project, which I have so much at heart,—whether, by giving plainly to understand, that, if they give me the commission for the code, they shall have my best services in this matter, and not otherwise, or whether, in any more refined and smoother form, I question, I must confess, whether this matter would ever have occurred to me. What use, if any, to make of it, I must beg the favour of you to decide. Besides your own, there are, I understand, eight other Newspapers, whether daily, or less frequently, published at Madrid. Poor as your Government is, they have contrived (I am informed) to supply your Ambassador with them as regularly as they come out. I, for my part, can not afford to take them all in—no, nor any one of them: not even yours Sir: unless and until Newspapers, from your Country, should be supplied in this, upon the same terms, by our Post Office here, as Newspapers from other Countries: which, as yet, they are not. If what I can do can, occasionally, be of use in any way, it might be of use that, when your Ambassador can spare them, they should find their way to me. N.B. As to the Colonies He said, t'other day, to a man from whom I had it—a man but little known to him—that, in his opinion, it would be much better for Spain to rid herself of her Colonies than to retain them if she could.22
On the occasion of the paper money, it fell in my way to mention George the 3d's. enmity to me: not that he had ever seen me. Two causes concurred in the production of it. The first was the part I took in favour of the French Revolution: namely, by drawing up the code for a Judicial Establishment as above, and by the disposition expressed by me to comply with the invitation given me by the Municipality of Paris headed by the Duc de la Rochefoucault, to repair to Paris, to take his house for my house, and to direct the setting up of a Penitentiary House upon the principle of construction invented by my Brother, (the Panopticon principle) coupled with the plan of management devised by myself. The murder of the Duke, together with the trouble that occasioned it, put an end, of course, to that scheme.23
pg 90The other offence to the King was the part I took in relation to the war in which the King tried to engage the nation against the Empress of Russia:24 war without reason, consequently against reason, and on no better pretence than that of her having taken Oczakow from the Turks:25 her, whom, without opposition, he had already suffered to rob Poland of a sixth part of its territory.26 On account of the part she had taken in the endeavour to save the highway of all nations from English tyranny,27 he had set the King of Sweden28 to commence war against her without provocation, and by mere threats, without pretence of right, forced the King of Denmark29 to refuse, on that occasion, to Russia the succour he stood bound, by a defensive treaty, to afford to her against that unjust attack. This whole business had all along gone on, with little or no notice, in either House, or in any of the Newspapers. Taking the materials from the Gazette de Leyde long the Diplomatic Gazette of Europe, but, in those days, little if at all noticed by any of our Newspapers, in a long letter in the Gazetteer Newspaper signed AntiMachiavel,30 I gave a history of those proceedings employing that strong tone of reprobation which the famous and still unknown Junius31 had introduced into Newspapers. A tame and unreasoned answer appeared, (I forget under what signature) in the same paper, a day or two after.32 The Earl of Shelburne, who, to my knowledge, had correspondents in the King's family (that Earl of Shelburne whose son, afterwards Chancellor of the Exchequer, is now Marquis of Lansdown,33 and who, having been in the days of his youth, a personal favourite of George the third, and in the years 1782 and 1783 had been Prime Minister) assured me at the pg 91time that I had on that occasion the King for my Antagonist: (it has since appeared that his Majesty, now and then, used to try his hand at a letter in a periodical, of course under feigned signature) thereupon came from Anti Machiavel a reply, in which the tone of contempt and indignation, was still fiercer than before. I sent a copy of the two printed Letters to Mr. Pitt with a private letter to himself.34 Lord Shelburne, who was then in opposition, and who, though I was in habits with him, knew not, till the first of these Anti Machiavels was published, that I had written it, but had guessed at the author and received my confession, was in extacies with both of them,35 and made the most of them: the war was given up. Minister Pitt, who was coldness and haughtiness itself, whom I did not like, and in company with whom, a little before he came into office, I had passed some days at a Country Mansion of Lord Shelburne's,36 could of course, especially after the above letters, have no personal kindness for me. But he had a magnanimity, with which the little mindedness of his Royal Master made a striking contrast: and, on more occasions than one, he showed the desire he had of giving the Country the benefit of some of the services, which, in his estimation, he was capable of rendering to it. Not content with putting all the convict Prisoners—he was about to put all the poor, of England, into my hands. This disposition had, for its ground, the Panopticon book, which your Paper, Sir, has lately honoured with so favourable a mention, and a plan of Management for the Poor,37 which, in the year 1802, was translated into French by order of the Constituted Authorities of Paris,38 as Mr. … I forget his name (Quincy I believe—it began with a Q)39 told me, I, at the time, being then at Paris: he Maire of one of the 12 Arrondissemens, and the person under whose direction it had been done. By writing to Paris any body in Spain, who thought it worth while, might of course pg 92procure that French translation. I therefore forbear sending a copy in English, there being but one or two left. Mr. Pitt's disposition on this subject had been notified to me by his right hand man (the Secretary of the Treasury) Mr. Rose.40 We were to have had a dinner, on the subject at Mr. Rose's—Mr. Pitt, Mr. Rose and I in a few days. But the day never came. There could be no doubt who it was that prevented it. When a paper necessary to the progress of the Panopticon Penitentiary Scheme was presented to the King for signature, he refused, and never could be prevailed upon to give it. This was after he had passed an Act of Parliament which had no other object.41 But my name had been kept out of the Act.
You have been long—too long—in expectation, Sir, of my address to Spain on the subject of the Emancipation of her distant dependencies.42 Copies of my address to the Constituted Authorities of France, on this subject,43 are in the packet so often mentioned. Terrified with the thoughts of the violence of the prejudice I saw opposed to me, at the same time, receiving encouragement from the aspect of affairs in relation to it, I have been bestowing much more labour on it than I had intended. In a week or ten days, I hope it will be compleated, and in a course of copying for the Post. But I think of getting made and published, a Spanish translation here for the Colonies. For softening the wrath which it can scarce fail of exciting, a coincidence, curious enough, and which, for that reason, I should wish to be known, is this: namely, that, without any communication between the authors of the two schemes of popular representation, penned much about the same time, the one in Spain, by authority!! the other by me in London, without authority, they are, in all the principal and great leading features, the same: viz virtual universality of suffrage; secresy (the only security for genuineness) of suffrage, practicable equality of suffrage, and annuality of suffrage: the universality, narrowed by no other limit than what it would be in the power of each man, in his own instance, to remove: viz that applied by the required faculty of reading and writing: in Spain, to the annuality already in use in the London municipal Elections, and in all Elections in the Anglo-American United States, bienniality substituted: bienniality, substituted, and, by necessity, the distance of the Colonies considered: and without any very determinate disadvantage. By equality of suffrage, I mean that which depends upon the comparative pg 93number of votes, in the several Election Districts, as compared with each other: equality of the force and effect of one man's vote, as compared with another's: for if, while in District A, there are but one thousand votes, in District B. there are two thousand votes, the force and effect of a vote, in District A, is twice as great as in District B. As to Stages of Election, in my scheme, indeed, there is but one: in yours there are no fewer than four. Supposing the public mind ripe for it, as in England and English America, and the thing practicable, the advantages belonging to mine are—its simplicity, and its subjecting Representatives, in a more direct and certain way, to the influence of Constituents. But it has the disadvantage of necessitating a system of territorial division, to be effected, in the first instance, before any Election can have place. In the case of Spain, mine, (whether, in respect of the state of the public mind advantageous or no,) would have been plainly impracticable: no time was there for any such territorial demarcation: the already existing divisions were what the legislator, whether by choice or no, was by necessity forced to employ and operate upon. In this whole business of Election, may be seen an example of the sort of logical demarcation above alluded to; viz, that between arrangements alike applicable to all countries, and arrangements that require to be modified according to the different state of things in different Countries.44
The second of next month is fixed for a Commemoration dinner: Spain first, but the two Sicilies and Portugal are included. A list of the stewards is just copied from an advertisement and goes by this post to Mr Blaquiere.45
The topics, which a Letter of Mr Blaquiere's expresses your wish that I should touch upon, have not been forgotten. But whatever expectations you may have formed will, it seems but too probable, receive but little satisfaction from any thing I can find to say in relation to them. You will, probably, receive a few words in relation to each by next post.
The bad news about Riego etc. fills us all with the concern and anxiety that you may imagine.46
Mr. Bowring, who knows Count Torreno very well, and, if I mistake not, offered to write to him about me, says—he is, in his own mind, clear that Ultramarinea is but a burthen to Spain, and that pg 94that is the opinion of 5 or 6 others in the Cortes. But that not one of them would dare to come forward with a proposition for Emancipation. If so, a proposition, to that effect, from a foreigner, would, naturally speaking, not be unpleasing to them: for, in that way, the pulse of the country would be felt for them without risk on their part. The Duke de St Frias, I believe I have said already, makes no secret of his being of the same opinion. Townsend, you will see, who had perfect means of knowing, assures us this was the general opinion of the Government Ao. 1787. Ancillon, I see, though he speaks of some trumpery English works about Spain,47 says nothing of Townsend: he durst not have spoken of him with any approbation. Mr Bowring dines with me tomorrow, and we shall settle matters.
By all this, the Emancipation pamphlet is sadly retarded.
Farewell! receive Sir, the most cordial but anxious good wishes of your industrial friend and Collaborator,
P.S. Who is the young Englishman that Mr Blaquiere speaks of in his letters to me as a correspondent of his at Madrid?48 It may be a long time before an answer to this could reach me from Mr Blaquiere, to whom I can no otherwise write than through Mr Bell of Bordeaux. At the proposition of Mr Blaquiere, who is disinterestedness and generosity itself, a regular course of correspondence from him at Paris by the Traveller Evening Paper, conducted by a most able friend of mine, Walter Coulson, is, I hope, settled. I am writing under a Bust of Jovellanos presented to me at his desire by Lord Holland.49