Jeremy Bentham

Luke O'Sullivan and Catherine Fuller (eds), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 12: July 1824 to June 1828

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Editor’s Note3343To the Marquis De La Fayette11 and 21 May 1827 (Aet 79)

  • Queens Square Place
  • Westminster l1 May 1827

My dear and illustrious friend

I take for granted in due course, that my eyes will not permit me to hunt after the exact date I received with the so constantly renewed pride and delight, a fresh token of your kind remembrance. It came to me in the shape of a Letter with six lines in it,2 inclosing an ample packet of seeds under the name of Syrian Rose Seeds,3 some of which were consigned immediately to the hot bed, and the others will be distributed to the best advantage I can think of. Still however you remain my debtor for those others for which none besides can be admitted as an equivalent; for having been gathered by me at La Grange, they had become hallowed by your name.4

Beneficence had on this last occasion taken counsel of forecast and prudence, for so true was your prophecy, the first Cargo has not yet reached me, nor I suppose is destined ever so to do. May it not be that the Loup-garous you are at this moment so terrified with, way-laid them, and put them into the appropriate [alembic],5 to distil out of them whatsoever treason they might be found to contain. If so, the spirit has of course been consigned to the bottle which contains Le Diable Boiteux,6 after which the caput mortuum7 has been thrown into pg 362the kennel, thence to be picked up by one of those ingenious artists, professors of an art unknown to us stupid Londoners, by which papers, with whatsoever impurities defiled, are restored to virgin purity.

While my Amanuensis is writing, I am vibrating, employing motion as an instrument for picking up health: hence comes the quantity of nonsense with which this unhappy paper is deluged. But I have reminded you of a mode of making it useful: verbum sapienti sat.8

Now as to quisquilious matter of a somewhat different description. The bearer of this, (my young friend Alfred Say,) will have the honor of delivering to you, or cause to be delivered 592 pages which, with a preface not yet written, are destined to compose the first of the two Volumes of that leaden matter which, under the name of a Constitutional Code, I have been hammering at for so many years. It is not however for yourself. I will not attempt to impose upon you any such task as the reading of it. It is for Avocat Rey; to him it may not impossibly be more or less of use. I have been to such a degree instructed and delighted with his parallel view of the Laws of France and England,9 that I have been doing whatever lies in my very small power, (living as I do in a sort of Hermitage, almost hermetically sealed,) to give increase to the currency of it. At my instigation, endeavours are used to find a Translator, and for the Translator a publisher, for the purpose of giving the benefit of it to such of my countrymen as are destitute of the pleasure of reading it in it's native language. And having found a Translator, who I flatter myself will be a competent one, and who in case of need is ready to be a gratuitous one, my hopes as to this matter are sanguine.10 Another hope is, that by this time, the first Edition of that work of Reys is sold off, or nearly so, in which case the sheets in question11 may reach his hands time enough to afford whatever use they may be found capable of yielding. Meantime, no copy has yet reached, nor perhaps for these six weeks to come may reach, Dumont in his little Empire. And it would be an injury to him to put it into the power of any other person, without his consent, to publish a Translation, or anything like a Translation of it. However, as to this or that particular point, and in substance, with no other than short quotations, if any, there can be no objection; and in case of Dumont's quitting his Verre d'eau for Abraham's bosom12 on pg 363the wings of an apoplectic fit, (a mode of departure which I envy him the probability of,) or, as I should first have said declining the taking upon his aged shoulders any such load, it could not be in better hands than Rey's, always understood that should it be the destiny of France to be the cradle, castration with no small gashes is the fate which the bantling would have to submit to of course. The gracious withdrawal of that hapless, howsoever excellently well-intentioned preservative against licentiousness notwithstanding.13

As to the sheets in question, howsoever it may be with the sheets themselves, the sort of envelope they are packed up in will, I venture to say, be of real use. I can and do trumpet it without reserve, for I could not, without plagiarism, suffer the invention to be regarded by any body as mine. I had it of my late inmate,14 who has had the honor of numbering you among his correspondents, and who likewise had the honesty not to claim it as his own, but to whom he was indebted for it, he did not recollect. Had I been possessed of the invention when first I began to add sheet to sheet, I should have saved month upon month of what, as it is, has been miserably wasted time. I have been giving Alfred Say a lecture on the uses of it: I hope not without effect. For uses, small in appearance, are apt to escape observation even when they do not lie far beneath the surface.

While this has been waiting for my young friend's departure, I have had the satisfaction of receiving the herewith inclosed East Florida pamphlet.15 It has come from the young man who, on a former occasion, I found myself compelled to speak of in the manner you may recollect.16 He gives me hopes of his meeting with others on the same subject. The present, if well executed, is just the sort of work one would be glad to find it—a diary of the travels of a scientific Traveller, though at a time when science in general was low compared to what it is now.17 How fortunate should it have happened pg 364that his Travels carried him over any part of your Estate!18 As to the translation, one attempt that has been made has not succeeded; but the result is not discouraging, for though the Bookseller, (one of the most eminent), has his hands too full to engage in it in these hard times, his opinion is, that, if undertaken, it will pay well.

A short sketch of the present state of affairs in your Country from an intelligent hand, we should be very grateful for here. Pious men are indefatigable in their vows to Heaven for the deliverance of your good King19 from his present troubles. So far as emancipation and equality go, I am, as you may well imagine, a sincere and zealous Catholic. Our Ministry here wait for the time when the mass of the matter of corruption in their hands will have had the requisite effect in moulding the public mind to their purposes before they bring on, or willingly suffer to be brought on, the question in Parliament. Nothing can exceed the disgrace into which, on their exit, the ousted Tories find themselves plunged.20

I hope the picture of [Villainy]21 in high quarters, as drawn by Sir Rufin Donkin's pamphlet—Letter to Lord Bathurst22—has reached or will reach you. Eminently interesting and deplorably instructive.

Guatemala. The reasons which prescribed secresy on a former occasion no longer exist. Meantime, news of the pennyless state of the Treasury there is arrived; but if as reported—Del Valle has now the upper hand, things will revive. From facts in their nature incontestible, more flattering expectations are entertained of him than of any other man in late Spanish America. Some account of him is expected in the next Westminster Review.23

  •                     With the truest respect and affection
  •                        Ever Your's
  •                                                    Jeremy Bentham

General La Fayette

pg 365Comes this moment a letter from Secry of Legation Lawrence24 asking a copy of the above Code for New York.

Q.S.P. 21 May 1827

P.S. Alfred Says unexpected stay25 has had the good effect of enabling me to send two additional scraps relative to East Florida in additional to Bartrams work before sent.26

Item the first No of an excellent periodical work27 which you will have the goodness to hand over to M. Rey: who I am sure will be delighted with it.

I have succeeded in procuring a translation to be made of such parts of his work on French and English Jurisprudence as will be interesting here. The eliminations that will be made will reduce the translation to one Vol instead of two: the parts eliminated would have unfitted the work for the English market.

I am doing whatever is within my small power towards the diffusion of it.

An immense work of mine on Evidence28 in 5 large Vols 8vo is just coming out: it is the work at large from which Dumont made his 2- Volume work Traite des Preuves &c by eliminating out of it most of what regards England.

If my former works were of use to Mr Rey with reference to his parallel between French and English jurisprudence, these with a view to a second edition of that work of his will be still more so.

The order of the matters in a former sheet is somewhat confused. Being by illness deprived of the assistance of my amanuensis it is out of my power to remove the confusion. I have not time to look back to the papers which on a former occasion were delivered to my young friend in contemplation of his speedy departure.

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
3343. 1 Bibliothèque Municipale d'Étude et d'Information, Grenoble, T. 3958 (4–5). In the hand of Colls, with autograph salutation, address, valediction, direction, final sentence following the direction, and postscript of 21 May 1827. Éndorsed by Joseph Rey: '(Cette lettre de J. Bentham est addressé au général Lafayette, qui me l'a communiquée pour ce qui me concerne.)' This Letter was taken to Paris by Alfred Say.
Editor’s Note
2 Missing.
Editor’s Note
3 See Letter 3301.
Editor’s Note
4 An echo of Matthew 6: 9; and Luke 11: 2.
Editor’s Note
5 MS 'alembric'.
Editor’s Note
6 In Le diable boiteux (see Letter 3305 n. 61), the young scholar Dom Cleofas Leandro Perez Zambullo discovers the demon Asmodée trapped in a glass phial.
Editor’s Note
7 i.e. 'the dead head', namely the residuum remaining after distillation or sublimation.
Editor’s Note
8 i.e. 'a word is enough to the wise', proverbial phrase, probably derived from Terence, Phormio, 541: dictum sapienti sat est.
Editor’s Note
9 Joseph Rey, Des institutions judiciaires de l'Angleterre comparées avec celles de la France, et de quelques autres états anciens et modernes, 2 vols., Paris, 1826.
Editor’s Note
10 Bentham's prospective translator has not been identified and no English version of Rey's work has been traced.
Editor’s Note
11 i.e. the first volume of 'Constitutional Code'.
Editor’s Note
12 See Luke 16: 22.
Editor’s Note
13 Bentham may have had in mind Napoleon's attempts to prohibit the practice of castration, which in Europe was mainly confined to Italy, where it was used to produce singers for the opera and choristers for the Roman Catholic Church. Napoleon, for instance, instructed his brother Joseph Bonaparte (1768–1844), King of Naples 1806–8, to issue the decree of 27 November 1806 which forbade castrated boys to enter schools and conservatoires. Nevertheless, the Papal States continued to receive castrati in their choir schools until the practice was formally banned in 1870. See P. Barbier, The World of the Castrati: The History of an Extraordinary Operatic Phenomenon, trans. M. Crosland, London, 1996, pp. 227, 235.
Editor’s Note
14 Presumably John Neal.
Editor’s Note
15 Probably William Stork, An Account of East-Florida, with a Journal, Kept by John Bartram of Philadelphia, Botanist to His Majesty for the Floridas; Upon A Journey from St. Augustine up the River St. John's, London, 1767.
Editor’s Note
16 Possibly Próspero de Herrera: see Letter 3301.
Editor’s Note
17 John Bartram (1699–1777), first native-born American botanist, appointed Botanist to George III in 1765 with a stipend of £50 a year, made his journey into East Florida in 1765–6.
Editor’s Note
18 On 10 December 1824, during La Fayette's visit to the United States of America 1824–5, it was proposed in the House of Representatives to grant La Fayette, in gratitude and in compensation for his services in the War of Independence, the sum of $200,000, and one complete township of land, which was subsequently named La Grange Township in Florida. The gift was presented to him on 1 January 1825. See Register of Debates in Congress, Vol. 1, Washington, 1825, cols. 110–11.
Editor’s Note
19 Charles X.
Editor’s Note
20 Liverpool had resigned as leader of the administration on 17 February 1827, and had been succeeded by Canning on 10 April 1827.
Editor’s Note
21 MS 'Villiany'.
Editor’s Note
22 Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin (1773–1841), Lieutenant-General with service in India and Africa, Acting Governor of the Cape of Good Hope 1820–1, was author of A Letter on the Government of the Cape of Good Hope, and on Certain Events Which Have Occurred There of Late Years, under the Administration of Lord Charles Somerset; Addressed Most Respectfully to Earl Bathurst, London, 1827. Bentham's annotated copy is at British Library shelf-mark C.T. 77 (9). Henry Bathurst (1762–1834), third Earl Bathurst, Foreign Secretary 1809, Secretary for War and Colonies 1812–27.
Editor’s Note
23 No article on Valle appeared in the Westminster Review.
Editor’s Note
24 The letter from William Beach Lawrence (1800–81), politician and legal author, Secretary of the American Legation in London 1826, and Chargé d'Affaires 1827–8, is missing.
Editor’s Note
25 See Letter 3342.
Editor’s Note
26 One of these 'scraps' may have been James Grant Forbes, Sketches, Historical and Topographical, of the Floridas, more particularly of East Florida, New York, 1821.
Editor’s Note
27 i.e. The Jurist, vol. i, no. i (March 1827).
Editor’s Note
28 Rationale of Judicial Evidence.
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