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It may be here related that Bentham's visits to Bowood came to be coloured with the roseate hue of romance. It was an experience of one of those very few “deverticula amoena " that relieved the monotony of his long, arduous literary life. But in his case, alas! the pleasant bypath did not culminate in the desired goal. Miss Caroline Fox, the daughter of Lady Mary, and the niece of Lady Lansdowne, aroused in Bentham what was perhaps his nearest approach to passion. It appears that Lord Shelburne was desirous that Bentham should marry Lady Ashburton, widow of Lord Ashburton' (Dunning had been created a baron in 1782 and died in the following year); indeed, Bentham asserted that his worthy host had several projects for marrying him to ladies of his acquaintance. But to Miss Fox he ever remained constant, though he lost sight of her for some sixteen years. In 1805, at the age of fifty-seven, he met her again on the occasion of the death of Lord Lansdowne, and took the opportunity to make an offer of marriage.” She refused the proposal, in a letter full of friendliness and regret. Again in 1827 the old man of near eighty sent his last love-letter, which breathes mingled feelings of tenderness and pride. “I am alive,” wrote the octogenarian philosopher, “ . more lively than when you presented me, in ceremony, with the flowers in the green lane. Since that day not a single one has passed (not to speak of nights) in which you have not engrossed more of my thoughts than I could have wished. Yet take me for all in all, I am more lively now than then. . . . You will not, I hope, be ashamed of me. The last letter I received from Spanish America (it was in the present year) I was styled “Legislador del Mundo,” and petitioned for a code of laws. . . . Every minute of my life has been long counted; and now I am plagued with remorse at the minutes which I have suffered you to steal from me. In proportion as I am a friend to mankind (if such I am, as I endeavour to be) you, if within my reach, would be an enemy.” ” Much may be forgiven the disappointed man who preserved, through the drudgery and toil of forty years, such extraordinary constancy of a first love. Let us now turn back from this sentimental interlude in Bentham's life to his more serious occupation. During his stay at Bowood he devoted much time to the preparation of one of his greatest and most characteristic works, The Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, which was begun in 1776 as The Critical Elements of Jurisprudence, printed in 1780, and under its new title was given to the world in 1789. It is the one large work published by himself. The author intended it to embody the principles of all his future labours. He pointed out ten departments of legislation, for each of which a separate treatise would be necessary to carry out his entire plan. The treatise presents on the one hand a full exposition of the principle of utility, which is to be the essential criterion both for the legislator and the moralist, and on the other a trenchant criticism of other principles that had been advanced, especially those of asceticism, “sympathy,” “moral
* Works, vol. i., p. 253. * Vol. x, p. 419. * Ibid., p. 558.
happiness is the sole aim of man, shows the dependence of conduct_o
on the Sovereign factors of pleasure and pain, gives a classification
• Works, vol. x, p. 167.
work was published in 1787, and was soon translated in several languages. Bentham assailed the prohibitory laws, and discussed the remarks on the subject made by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations, which he considered to be a work that would rise the more in public esteem the more genius was held in honour. The critic, however, noticed among the “precious and irrefragable " truths expounded there a notable fallacy, namely Adam Smith's approval of the five per cent. restriction prescribed by a statute of the reign of Queen Anne—an approval which was obviously inconsistent with the general principles laid down by him. The distinguished author of The Wealth of Nations thought Bentham's tract to be the production of a superior mind, and that his contention was right. Others spoke of it as a “gem of the first water.” J. S. Mill observed that all enlightened persons have condemned the statutory limitations on interest “since the triumphant onslaught made upon it by Bentham in his letters on Usury, which may still be referred to as the best extant writing on the subject.” ". (It may be added here that the usury laws were abolished in 1854.) In addition to these writings on usury, Bentham sent from Russia a series of letters on his much cherished penitentiary project, which will be dealt with presently. Bentham returned to London in February 1788, settled at a small farmhouse at Hendon, purchased a “superb harpsichord,” and recommenced his work. The same year he met Romilly and Dumont at Lord Lansdowne's table.” The former's acquaintance he had already made in 1784; but now their relationship became more intimate. Romilly, like other discerning spirits, was struck by the Fragment on Government, and readily lent a sympathetic ear to the author's penological views. He became, informally, Bentham's legal adviser, especially in regard to the publication of such writings as exposed the author to the wrath of constituted authority and to the action of the courts; and, what was much more important, he acted during his distinguished career in Parliament as the principal expounder and advocate of his friend's penal theories.” The friendship established with Dumont was similarly destined to produce rich fruit. Etienne Dumont was born at Geneva in 1759, became a Protestant minister of the French Church at St. Petersburg in 1783, two years later accepted the tutorship to Lord Lansdowne's sons, in 1788 visited Paris with Romilly and made the acquaintance of Mirabeau. Romilly showed some of Bentham's papers, partly written in French, to Dumont, who offered to rewrite them and see to their publication. Afterwards Bentham himself sent more manuscripts to Dumont, who by his labours of arranging, supplying lacunae, condensing, abridging, translating, and editing a large portion of the English author's writings, became a noteworthy apostle of Benthamism. It may be here mentioned that Dumont is said to have supplied Mirabeau with materials for some of his “most splendid" speeches; and part of these materials undoubtedly came from Bentham.” Ultimately the two friends became so much alienated that Bentham, in 1827, refused to see Dumont, and observed that his disciple did “not understand a word of his meaning.” Bowring states that the cause of the breach was something Dumont said about the shabbiness of Bentham's dinners as compared with Lord Lansdowne's, and describes the comparison “as offensive, uncalled-for, and groundless.” " Before and during the Revolution, Bentham was keenly interested in French affairs, about which he was kept well informed by his friends in France. Lord Lansdowne expressed his pleasure, January 3, 1789, on hearing that Bentham intended “to take up the cause of the people in France.” ” Our author was already known to some of the leading French spirits. To the Abbé Morellet (who was ever ready to enter into communication with foreign sympathetic writers and thinkers, and whose connection with Beccaria we have already seen) he forwarded a portion of his treatise on Political Tactics, which he hoped to complete by the time of the meeting of the States General.” It contained a detailed account of the necessary organisation and procedure of a legislative body, and was based, in the main, on the practice of the House of Commons. It was not published, as usual, till long afterwards. Dumont issued it in 1816, along with the Anarchical Fallacies, a trenchant criticism of the “Declaration of Rights.” Following up his communication on legislative procedure, he published, March 1790, an elaborate project for the organisation of the French judiciary. The following year he offered to go to France, for the purpose of establishing a prison on the lines of his ill-fated Panopticon plan (which will shortly be dealt with), and was prepared moreover to become “gratuitously the gaoler thereof.” ". The Legislative Assembly signified their acknowledgment of his “ardent love of humanity,” and ordered an extract from his scheme to be printed for their instruction. “He was in fact proposing that the lava boiling up in a volcanic eruption should arrange itself entirely according to his architectural designs. But his proposal to become a gaoler during the revolution reaches the pathetic by its amiable innocence.” ” Throughout the whole revolutionary epoch he took no part in the violent polemical proceedings. As to the Jacobin doctrines he adopted an attitude of “hostile indifference.” ” His theory regarding property, inspired by Hume, insists on “security" as an indispensable principle, indeed as the predominating one; so that while recognising the principle of “equality,” he holds that when the two are antagonistic to each other, the latter must give way to the former. Security lies at the very basis of life, subsistence, abundance, happiness; but the notion of absolute equality is a chimera—all that is possible is to try to lessen inequality.” His Anarchical Fallacies was designed to act as a check on the republican propaganda, by exposing, among other matters, the fallacies inherent in the theory of natural rights. “Natural rights,” he says, “is simple nonsense; natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense—nonsense upon stilts. But this rhetorical nonsense ends in the old strain of mischievous nonsense; for immediately a list of these pretended natural rights is given, and those are so expressed as to present to view legal rights.” " At about this period, say in 1790, Bentham seems to have been considering the advisability of entering parliament, and with this view had actually prepared in advance addresses to electors. In 1788 the Marquess of Lansdowne had made certain overtures of patronage to him, which were declined. Some two years later Bentham got it into his head that his noble friend had offered him a seat in the House of Commons, and wrote him an enormous argumentative letter of sixty pages expounding his claims thereto." Lansdowne replied that he had not made the imagined promise, but had all along assumed that Bentham
* Principles of Political Economy, bk. iv, chap. x, $ 2. * Works, vol. x, p. 186. * The relation of Romilly's views to Bentham's will be seen in the third essay. * Cf. Works, vol. x, p. 185. * Ibid. * Ibid., p. 195. “Ibid., pp. 198, 199.