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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 10: July 1820 to January 1821

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Editor’s Note pg 144Editor’s Note2710To José Joaquín de Mora10 November 1820 (Aet 72)

10 Novr. 1820

Dear Sir,

I had begun sketching out for publication a concluding letter on the liberticide laws—and what belongs to them.2 But time will not admitt of my finishing it: accept in lieu of it, for yourself and persons of confidence alone a few hints.

These laws are in my eyes a declaration of war against the people. By them those concerned in passing them have passed judgment on themselves: their acts and designs stand thus self confessed incapable of bearing the test of examination. Now as to remedies.

All legal ones should of course be preferred to antilegal ones.

1. Legal remedy. Let the liberal Minority, (call them the Protesters) join in a Circular and send it to as many Alcaldes3 as can be come at, exhorting them never to refuse licencing a meeting decreed by the people the requisition being signed by a certain number of names—uncertain, the number.

Exhortation to the people to be earnest in the soliciting of such licence urging individuals to give information of all refusals to a person mentioned by the Protesters: suppose the librarian to the Cortes.

Principal and immediate object proposed for such Meeting—petitioning for the repeal of these liberticide laws.

The Army of course will not be forgotten in these Circulars. The La Isla Army in particular I consider as having for its adversary the Septemvirate (the Seven Ministers) and the Majority of the Cortes, and thence as being a natural ally to the people, to whom these rulers have declared themselves adversaries.

While I am writing comes the information of an abominable article Article 3 in the proposed law against 'Infraction in the Constitution'. 'Every Spaniard … who should verbally and in writing (and is I suppose by mistake instead of or) endeavour to excite a persuasion that in Spain or any of the provinces the political Constitution of the Monarchy ought not to be observed either in the whole or in part, shall be pg 145confined for eight years etc'. The persons for whom the punishment is intended are I suppose those only whose object is to engage Citizens to be guilty of disobedience to any part of the body of law in question, not those whose object is to engage the Cortes to make amendments in it. Perhaps the fault is in the translation viz. 1 the French do. 2 in the English do. from the French. But I should not be surprized if it were in the original.

The day mentioned is Oct. 23d. or 24th.4 October 17 went the first of my four letters on the two former liberticide laws.5 This third I expect to hear was designed only against the Anti liberals the enemies of the good points in the Constitution. But on these occasions: in their anxiety to reach adversaries men are but too apt to include friends: I should rather have said, rulers who have for adversaries as well the friends of the people as the enemies of the people are too apt to strike at the former at a pretence of striking the latter.

The text of your law against the press has not yet reached me.6 Not only that and the 2d but this third law will have passed before the first of my four letters dated 17 Oct reaches you: it should reach you I believe on the 31st. If any thing of mine can create a sensation, these will I suppose, should you dare publish them. If you have not published them at all, perhaps you have put off the publication till the question about accepting my Codification offer has been determined.

Through the French papers, in Tuesday's Morning Herald (Tuesday Novr 7 this is the 10th) comes an obscure intimation of your having presented to the Cortes your translation of 'Consejos'.7 I suppose this is from the Constitutional. For the Constitutional is friendly to me and at my suggestion is taken in by the Traveller. (Of four French works mentioned by Constitutional as works de premier necessité imported into Naples is my three Volume work:8 my name without Dumont's is mentioned in it.) This offering from you seems to afford favourable symptoms. It could scarcely have been offered without pretty good assurance of a favourable reception: and if the Aristocratical part of the Assembly under the influence of the Septemvirate can digest that, pg 146their digestion for anti-aristocratical things is a tolerably strong one: they will not have been quite so fearful as I apprehended of what our Government here would call persons.

In a 'Constitutional' is information of the retirement of Justice Minister Arguelles unpopularized as he himself confesses by the support given by him to the liberticide laws.9 That likewise I accept as a favourable omen. If this and the other men who are forced out by his endeavours to disband the La Isla Army could thus be forced out by unpopularity, there are some hopes. I am therefore not altogether without hopes that my four letters may contribute more or less to another branch in the Septemvirate and even in the next sitting of the Cortes if it ever sits again, to a repeal of these liberticide laws.

Bowring is rather surprized and disappointed at his not having heard from Puigblanc nor I from you since he recd Puigblanc's information of his being in concert with you as also with Torreno about procuring acceptance of my offer from the Cortes. I am neither in the one case nor in the other. You are all of you waiting either for a time of sufficient leisure in the Cortes, or for the arrival of my books from Bilbao or for both: and so long as nothing is done there is nothing to report.

Last post day (Tuesday 7) I sent you by post the first part of the paper on Judge Hermosa: together with a little private gossip about the Queen.10 The post day before (Friday 3d) I sent you through Chevr. de Colomb two Newspapers (Traveller and Morn. Chronicle) and a Cobbet, with a private letter11 and a copy of a first letter of mine to the Portuguese recommending the adoption of the Spanish Constitution with certain amendments.12 This we just know has been done by them: and I have written for a copy of the Constitutional Code in Spanish and Portuguese.

Before my next I shall make another endeavour at exploration with Colomb to ascertain how far I may avail myself of his permission to send things to you through him. If the result is sufficiently favourable I shall send in my next a just published well written and instructive account of the Naples Revolution pp. 50. Author as yet unknown.13

Proposed succedaneum to the suppression of popular meetings—Military guard to the Cortes under the command of the President, pg 147I care not how large it is—especially if it be so much taken from the Kings guard as it ought to be.

The following was inserted in the Morning Herald—a paper with which I have no connection.14

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2710. 1 UC xiii. 48–52. Mainly autograph draft, with a few lines in Doane's hand. Headed: 'Letter 7 Private' and '1820 Nov. 10 To Mora Private. J.B. to Mora. On the late Spanish liberticide Laws—in particular Law against "infractions of the Constitution". Private—Suggesting Facienda: Viz. Circular from Cortes Ministry to Alcaldes. 2. Guard for Cortes'.
Editor’s Note
2 i.e. letter IV of what appeared as On the Liberty of the Press, and Public Discussion.
Editor’s Note
3 i.e. mayors.
Editor’s Note
4 The Cortes had passed a decree restricting liberty of the press and public discussion on 22 October.
Editor’s Note
5 See Colls's journal, 17 October 1820, UC cvi. 255.
Editor’s Note
7 Cornejos que dirige á las Córtes y al Pueblo Español J. Bentham, Mora's translation of Bentham's 'Letter to the Spanish Nation on a … proposed House of Lords'. See letter 2685 n. 18. In The Morning Herald of 7 November it was reported that 'A Spanish translator of Mr. Jeremy Bentham's tract "Advice to the Cortes" has presented his translation of it to the Cortes, by whom it was accepted, in a manner most honourable to this able, honest and eccentric publicist.'
Editor’s Note
8 Traités de législation civile et pénale.
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9 Argüelles was minister of the interior. It was the minister for the colonies, Altonio Porcel, who left office at this time.
Editor’s Note
13 Perhaps Cinq jours de l'histoire de Naples, Paris, 1820, by Pietro Colletta (1775–1831), translated from the original Italian by Leónard Gallois.
Editor’s Note
14 Presumably the letter actually sent contained the extract from the Morning Herald of 7 November quoted in n. 7.
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