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MEMOIR OF JEREMY BENTHAM, Esq.
With a Protrait painted from Life expressly for this work,
and engraved by J. THOMPSON.
AMIDST the passions and preju- human felicity than almost any man dices and sinister interests, which who ever lived, is a singular exempliagitate and divide society, public opi- fication of injustice done by his own nion seldom gives to a contemporary age and nation to an individual, his portion of just desert; and he whose influence on coming time and has far less chance of honest appre-on general society may already be ciation if he have grappled with pronounced to be extensive in its existing abuses, and come in oppo operation, and permanent in its efsing contact with those who hold fect. Not but that on the honest and the power, and wealth, and influence strong-minded, upon those whose of society at their disposal. The principles will be rescued from the advocate for change has a thou- rubbish that surrounds them, the sand difficulties to contend with ; for stamp of his genius may be traced. thongh novelty may attract for a But Mr. Bentham, whose writings moment, it is with infinite difficulty compared with their all-importance that the habits of thought and feel- are known but to a few, is assuredly ing, which have obtained possession the name that will distinguish to of a community, can be permanently after time the epoch in which we changed or even at all shaken. The live, by a great majority of sufadvantages of the controversy, are frages gathered in from the four wholly on the side of the attaeked ; quarters of the globe. in addition to which the metaphors This may seem a bold assertion and decorations which dazzle and to those who dwell in the narrow delude a majority of mankiod, and circle of habitual prejudice, or whose which may be found in abundance sympathies are bounded, and their for every possible purpose, belong means of knowledge confined, by more especially to error; good is the small tract that surrounds them; one, evil is infinite. Truth and but it is from observation extending happiness as the result of truth are over a large part of the civilized built upon a few simple principles world, that we are enabled thus to of action. Error gives the imagi. prophecy of futurity. nation full play, adorns its assump; Mr. Bentham's wbole life has tions with a thousand sophistries, and been an exemplification of the apwears attractions which are disdain- plication of the noble principles of ed by the stern and sober majesty his creed. A life devoted to the of its rival. Mr. Bentham, who has production of the greatest possible brought a larger portion of intellec- sum of happiness on the greatest tual strength, combined with obser- possible scale. In other words, Mr. vation and appropriate knowledge, Bentham has grappled with extento bear upon the great questions of sive masses of evil'in order to svpplant them by all imaginable good. . attributed to the most illustrious Up to a certain period of his exist- men of that day, and might have hoence, which has been for a long time noured the most illustrious among one of retirement and seclusion, little them. Dr. Johnson gave it to Mr. effect appears to have been produced Dunning, and there was great sagaabroad, and still less at home; but of city in the suspicion. In the “Fraglate years Mr. Bentham has seen ment” may be found the germ of something like the growing up, if that great principle--the principle
, not the gathering in, of the harvest of utility, whose development has he has sown; and scarcely a country been applied by its great master to in which public opinion has obtained such varied and such important the controul, or any considerable por.. ends. In Spain a foolish controversy tion of the controul of public affairs,' has been carried on as to Mr. Benhas failed by some legislative act, or tham's right to be considered the some official communication, to re- founder of the Utilitarian School. cognize the immense value of his He has never claimed the invention. writings, and to express sentiments of the simple and almost obvious of gratitude and admiration. His axjom, that all exertions should be works, translated and re-translated devoted to the production of the into all those languages which have greatest sum of good, (which is the been for any time, however short, principle of utility, but in other the organs of freedom, have been words) but, who like Mr. Bentham oftener referred to than those of any has applied it to a system of morals other writer as lights to guide, and legislation, descending from a standards by which to measure, and constitutional code down to the maauthorities by which to controul the nagement of a prison or workhouse ? acts of those who profess to have Mr. Bentham found what is called made the happiness of the people " legislation" a huge and unshapen the object of their legislative mea- mass of good and evil; good and
evil so blended, that, while in search It is not our intention on the pre- of the former, it was impossible not sent occasion to go into the history, to stumble upon the latter ; nor could objects and effects of the numerous an unmixed result of good be by works of which Mr. Bentham is the any means obtained, however paauthor.* They involve considera- tiently or earnestly sought. Of'le tions so important, they refer to gislation, once a blind and fortuisuch a variety of subjects, all how- tous alchemy, he has made an inever closely bearing upon human telligible and practical science; he felicity, that it would be quite im- has reared it upon a solid and simpossible to satisfy ourselves or our ple foundation, and made the two readers by such a superficial sketch great instruments of pain and pleaas we could hore introduce. What sure subservient to the production ever may be thought of the style, vi of the greatest possible sam of good. gorous and guarded always, though This in truth is the highest object sometimes involved and rather ob- of human ambition, and to succeed scure, these works contain a greater in this must deserve the highest mass of original thought, of masterly portion of human praise. reasoning, of active benevolent sym- Of Mr. Bentham's history the falpathy, and of useful knowledge than lowing
faets are known to us, of is to be found in the writings of any which the greater part have been individual of the past or the present heard from his own lips. time. The first of Mr. Bentham's Mr. Jeremy Bentham + was born productions (published in 1776) viz. February 15, old stile, 1747-8, at his ihe“ Fragment of Government was father's town-house in Red Lion
A list of them will be found attached to the new edition of the Fragment on Government, just published.
+ The pame of Jeremy was derived from one of Mr. Bentham's ancestors, Sir Jeremy Snow, one of the Bankers whose name is recorded as having been robbed by Charles II. by his shutting the Exchequer, as the phrase was.
street, Hoondsditeh. The last-on Blographia Britannica, the pehmanthe left hand side (it is still stand-' ship ofitis ascribed to him; be that as ing) going from Hounsditch. The it may, it contributed in no small country-house was at Barking, in: degree to the turn taken by Mr. Essex. About twenty years ago, or Bentham's pursuits ; for as he has more, it was pulled down. His fa
often been heard to say by various ther was at that time in practice as friends, it is by the exemplifications, an attorney, as his grandfather had that form no inconsiderable part of been before him, and had occupied the that history, that he was led to that same two houses. The former was examination of the abuses of the law, clerk and solicitor to the Company of the result of which is so conspicuous Scriveners; and, in his quality of soli- in all his writings. tor to the trustees, laid the founda- In 1768, being then Master of tion of the institution called Sir Arts, Mr. Bentham went to Oxford John Cussy's Charity. At the re- to give bis vote at the general eleccommendation of a friend of his tion of that year. On account of father, Mr. Samuel Cox, then a bar- his not being of age a query was put rister of eminence in the Court of to his vote, but the majority being Chancery, Mr. Bentham was entered decisive, the question as to the legain the second, form at Westminster lity never came to be discussed. School: boarding at a Mrs. Mo- He visited Paris in the year 1785, rell's.
(for the third time) in the course of Between the ages of six and seven, a long excursion which did not terin the course of six months, he had minate till early in 1788. He had learnt French from a Frenchman, been twice at Paris before ; his ultiwhom his father kept in his house mate destination was to Crechoff in for that purpose, a M. La Combe, Russia, near which town, on an of Avignon. It was in the course estate of the Prime Minister, Prince of the instruction thus received that. Potemkin, his brother, now Sir he formed that acquaintance with Samuel Bentham, was quartered in Telemachus, of the fruits of which the capacity of Lieut. Colonel Commention is made in one of his mandant of an independent Batletters to the late Extraordinary tallion of 1000 men, which in the Cortes of Portugal, some or all military service of that empire was of which have made their appear. his first step.. Traversing France, apce, in the English newspapers. by way of Montpellier and MarNot many years before (1765 or 6,) seintes to Antibes, he went from his father entered upon the house in thence in a passage boat to Nice, which his son still lives ; it had then and afterwards in a vessel to Genoa for its occupant the celebrated cour- wbere he joined a ship bound to tezan, Theresa Constantia Phillips, Smyrna, with the master of which whose highly interesting Memoirs, he formed anegagement antecedently entitled an Apology for the con- to his leaving England: from Genoa, duct of Mrs. T. C. Phillips,” are after he had stayed there about a extant in 3 vols. with the date of fortnight or three weeks, the ship 1761, but without any intimation sailed for Leghorn, where it was of the existence of any former edi- datained for another fortnight or tion. It was, however, a year or three weeks ; in the expectation of two before this period that Mr. Ben- this latter demurrage, Mr. Bentham tham, being with his father upon had provided himself with letters a visit to a friend near Bary, in for Florence; and, the stay of Suffolk, met with a printed copy the vessel at Leghorn allowing of of this same work, purporting to sufficient time, partook for some have for its authoress the lady her days of the hospitality of the late self; and the house being then within Sir Horace Man, who for so long a the verge of the Court, and as such course of years had been Envoy an asylum against creditors, was there from this Court. From Legsold for her benefit through a wicket horn, through the Fane of Mesin the door: by herself the materials sina, the vessel took her course to of her history were of course furnish- Smyrna. "In her passage she was .ed; but in a Life of Paul Whitehead, driven by a storm into the narrow the quondam Poet Laureat, in the 8vo. port afforded by the capital of the
Isle of Miteline, where she passed day to another. The answer was, the night ; and at the beautiful and "he knows something of French laws unfortunate Isle of Scio, she made a and communicated information about voluntary stay of a few hours. After them to Mr. Bentham.” In the course a stay ofabout three weeks at Smyr- of this acquaintance the Lyceum na, Mr. Bentham embarked on board opened : in the plan of it was ine & Turkish vessel for Constantinople; cluded a 'conversazione and a printand in that Capital passed five ored correspondence. The conver: six weeks.
- M. de Warville's From Constantinople, Mr. Ben- apartment. Company present, Mons. tham made his way to Crechoff across and Mad. de Warville, and Mr. Bulgaria to Ruszig on the Danube; Bentham. The printed corresand from thence by way of Buckarest pondence was between Made Ware in Walachia, andÝassy in Moldavia, ville and himself ; if it had lasted through a part of Poland to Olvisa to the second number it did not pol on the Dneister, through Tehe
reach the third. The number of ringow, to Creehole, where he ar- books published by Brissot was not rived in the middle of February inconsiderable: one was a sort of 1786. At that place he stayed at Bibliotheque of Criminals: another, his brothers till November 1787, on Truth in general, composed of when his brother, who was on an the sort of materials which may be excursion to Cherson, being unex. guessed at from the title. Brissot pectedly detained for the defence of was a most honest, honorable, disthe country against the then appre- interested, enthusiastic friend of the hended invasion of the Capitan Pa- people. He died poor as he had eha, nothing more was left to Mr.
lived. When the election came Bentham than to make his way back
for the second of the French ag. to England as he could; which he did semblies, Brissot, without the knowaccordingly through Poland, Ger- ledge or privity of Mr. Bentham many, and the United Provinces, who had not heard 'any thing of arriving at Harwich from Helvoetá him for years, was active in his sluys in February 1788. It was endeavours to 'procure the elecduring Mr. Bentham's stay at Cres
tion of Mr. Bentham to a seat in choff that he wrote his letters on the that assembly. M. Dumont was at Usury Laws.
Paris at the time ; apprehensive for Not long before the commencement
the life of his friend, in the event of this excursion he had become ac- of his finding himself in such a quainted with the afterwards famous situation, he applied himself to stop Brissot, then styling himself some
the exertions of Brissot and suctimes Brissot de Wanville, some
ceeded. times simply M. de Wanville. Bris- ,- The last time of Mr. Bentham's sot was at that time an Avocat sans being in Paris was in 1802, when he cause ; the ostensible and perhaps joined company with his ever lathe real cause of his quitting the mented disciple, Sir Samuel Romilly. bar was an alledged weakness in His stay was about three weeks. his lungs. He came to London Just at that time came out at Paris with many more projects than con
MDumont's edition of the first nections. One of his projects, the three of the seven volumes of his accomplishment of which was at- works that have been published in tempted without success, was the French. In the choice for the memmaking the French public acquaint-bers of the French Institute for that ed with the state of the English time, for every seat in the Institute East India Company: another war three members were chosen by the what he called the setting up a Ly- existing members, or some other
was recommended to Mr. learned body; and among the three Bentham as a man well acquainted the choice was determined by some with French literatøre in general, mömber or members of the governand in particular with the literature ‘ment; it is believed, upon recollecof the law. “ What can possess Mr. 'tion, by the First Consul, that is, by Bentham to suffer such an insignifi- Buona parte: At a meeting of the cant Frenchman as this to come about Parisian Society for the Encouragehim ?" said one of his friends one ment of Arts it had been said, as a