Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 4: October 1788 to December 1793

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Editor’s Note654To The Duc De La Rochefoucauld[?]Early May 1789[?] (Aet 41)

Advice to Fayette

Part of a series of Essays on Political Tactics undertaken originally with no other view than in the hope that something may pg 52be picked out of them that may be of use to the Etats Generaux—. A man of distinction in the republick of letters has taken in charge to get the work translated into French,2 in which language a good /considerable/ part of it was at first written. Having had communication of a very good account which has been sent to Paris of the English Parliamentary practice the joint production of several particular friends of his, revised by an experienced and distinguished Member of the House of Commons3 and understanding for whose use it was designed, the Author of these sheets, takes the liberty of sending them as a sort of supplement to those papers. The remainder of the work of which these sheets it is supposed will hardly form so much as the l/8th part will be sent as fast as printed, and as opportunity occurs. Any communications designed to correct errors, supply materials or suggest improvements will be thankfully received.

Copies are likewise to be sent to the M. de Fayette and the Cte de Mirabeau.4

  1. 1. Qu'il n'appartient qu aux Etats Generaux de la France de nommer des Committés des dits Etats Arrete

  2. 2. Que tous les Committés sont comptables de leurs conduits aux dits Etats /a toute heure, et par eux/ et revocables a volonté

  3. 3. Que parmis tels Committés nulles assemblées composées d'individus membres des dits Etats

  4. 4. Que toutes les fois que les dits Etats se trouvent assemblées tous ses membres sont…

  5. 5. Qu'a l'heure que les Etats auront fixé pour leur seance tous ses membres sont tenus a y comparoir5 pour y rester jusqu'a ce que la seance soit levee, et cela, sous peine des arrêts

pg 53Que pour mieux containdre /plus surement/ la comparution de ceux qui s'absentent, le Roi soit supplié d'accorder a l'Assemblé e une garde de |..?. | laquelle restera sous le bon plaisir du dit seigneur Roi aux ordres du President ou autre personne commissione par l'Assemblée.

Que si aucuns membres des Etats refusoient ou negligeoient de comparoitre ils pourront aussitot y etre contraints par corps par l'Huissier de la Chambre /des dits Etats/ ou ses deputes nommés a cet effet.

Que lorsque pour executer les decrets des etats sur ses /des/ membres refractaires il arrivoit que l'Huissier ou ses deputés eprouvassent resistance ou autre empechement quelconque il est du devoir de tout citoyen François de leur preter main forte.

The King I suppose would be ready enough to lend you guards especially for such a purpose. But a habit on the part of the people to act in execution of the orders /support of the authority/ of the House would be good not to say necessary for all sorts of purposes, and there can be no occasion wherein less exception could be taken to the /calling in/ making use of such an instrument. The manifest danger and incongruity of employing the military against members of the House furnishes not only a pretext but a very good reason against /for not/ doing so. But the House can not go of [on?] its own errands, fight its own battles, execute personally its own decrees. There remains therefore no other alternative than the calling on the assistance of the body of the people at large.

When you have obliged the two privileged orders to brush up their particular assemblies in order to come and help make up the General Assembly and have declared that all other Assemblies than the General one and its committees are but assemblies of individuals destitute of all binding force, you have gone as far as you ought.

Do not attempt to forbid their assemblies though you should be sure of succeeding: it /would be/ is setting a bad precedent altogether repugnant to the principles of liberty. All sorts of people ought to be allowed to assemble and to continue to assemble, so long as they /neither do nor attempt to do any physical/ do no mischief.

Let them protest, and say what they please. Every man has a right to be heard: every man has a right to speak his mind. You have nothing to fear from any such assemblies or their protestations: and /but/you have every thing to fear from the ill example you would set in attempting to suppress them by force: it would be /abjuring/ flying in the face of your own principles.

pg 54The authority of the States must lie /reside/ in the majority of the States.

No attempts to stifle the voice of any part of the community—no suppressions of hopes—/burning of publications—/ no tearing or defacing of registers. Leave all such violences to the Parliaments.

It is a bad and imprudent practice to mix with Acts of the House reasonings calculated to induce more to join in the /passing/ making of such acts: for people might join with you in your acts who would not join with you in your reasons: the same thing being approved of oftentimes by different people for different reasons. But there can be no objection to giving the acts such expression and such order as that they may serve as reasons for themselves to the penning of acts in such manner that by the expression given to them and the order in which they are made to follow one another they carry their own reason upon the face of them.

Let success and not triumph be the /end/ object in view: triumph ought not to subsist among fellow countrymen, can not subsist among friends, it supposes /enemies/ enmity and sharpens it and creates them.

Qu'il est loisible que tous des Membres quelconques des dits Etats (de même que tous citoyens quelconques) de s'assembler en tel nombre tems et lieu qu'il leur plait, pourvu que ce soit paisiblement, et que cela n'apporte pas prejudice /pas obstacle/ [a?] leur service aupres des dits Etats: ensemble de signer et fair publier toutes protestations, remonstrances, memoires et autres tels ecrits que bons leur semble sans pouvoir sortir aucun effet legal autre que ceux qui sortiroient des actes pareils émanés d'individus.

Que cependant toutes telles protestations, remonstrances, memoires et autres ecrits pareils émanés d'une assemblée quelconque de membres pareils, autres que /celles formant/ les Committés des dits Etats ne sont et ne doivent etre que des actes d'individus:6

This you see is in strictness a sort of hors d'oeuvre. But it /that/ is in itself a desirable /useful/ proposition to establish; and as it favours the pretensions of your adversaries at the same time that it does not frustrate /stand in the way of/ your purpose it seems more likely to lessen than to augment the opposition made to the whole string of arretes taken together.7

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
654.1 U.C. clxix: 172. Autograph draft in English and French, with corrections. A pencil heading, 'Advice to Fayette', was probably added later and clearly does not designate the addressee in view of the reference to Lafayette at the end of the first paragraph. Perhaps a version of this letter was sent to the duc de la Rochefoucauld, who received a copy of the 'Tactics' in France at this time (see J. H. Burns, loc. cit., p. 100). Between the draft of letter 653 in the U.C. manuscripts and this one are two sheets in Bentham's handwriting headed 'Marquis of Lansdown to D. de Rochefoucault', including a statement about Bentham that 'The object of his ambition is I understand to see his offering translated by order of the Assembly and printed for the use of the Members' (U.C. CLXIX: 170—1). The letter from Lansdowne to La Rochefoucauld a year later (April 1790, see below, p. 125 n. 1) does not, however, suggest that he had written to the duke on Bentham's behalf before.
Editor’s Note
2 That is, Morellet, who had undertaken to do this on 25 March, see letter 646.
Editor’s Note
3 Règlemens observés dans la Chambre des Communes pour débattre les matières et pour voter, an account by Samuel Romilly, prepared with the assistance of George Wilson and James Trail, translated into French by the Comte de Sarsfield and Etienne Dumont; published in Paris with an introduction by Mirabeau, in June 1789.
Editor’s Note
4 This and the preceding two sentences are written in between the first three lines of the passages in French, which are here printed below them. The paragraphs numbered 1–5 in the draft are crossed through but the two following ones beginning 'Que si aucunes membres' and ending 'main forte', are not deleted, so that to make sense the whole or much of this section in French may have been included in the final version, if a letter was sent.
Editor’s Note
5 An old form of comparaître, meaning 'to appear' (in court).
Editor’s Note
6 This sentence is a marginal addition, which would seem to be intended for insertion at this point.
Editor’s Note
7 Another marginal addition, which may relate to a particular 'proposition', or be intended to sum up the whole communication.
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