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birds and superb crystals' of Braunspeth ; ' as it is highly improbable that any future traveller in Italy will ever take the trouble to examine them. If we could hope that our counsel would reach him, we would earnestly request him to travel likc the good Benedictines who preceded him,-like Mabillon and Montfaucon, who never wandered out of their proper paths. We wish he would devote his pages wholly to those inquiries and observations which are strictly within the cognisance of the man of letters and the antiquarian. Let him decipher the manuscript, explain the medal, and unfold the beauties of the statue,-and we shall always listen to him with respect. These are the tasks which we require at his hands ;-and he will never fail to execute them with credit to himself, and with advantage to his readers.
ART. X. Papers relative to Codification, and Public Instruc
tion, including Correspondences with the Russian Emperor, and divers Constituted Authorities in the American United States. Published by JEREMY BENTHAM. London. Printed by J. M'CREERY, 1817.
generously devoted to the service of his fellow creatures. More than fifty years he has employed in labours, which had no other object than to improve the condition of mankind. According to him, Utility is the foundation of all Morals, and should be the object of all Legislation : Not that attention to the interests of particular individuals at the expense of the general good, -that selfishness, which some moralists affect to understand as meant, by what is useful,—but general utility,--an augmentation of the happiness, and a diminution of the misery of the great mass of individuals of which every community is composed.
Never did any philosopher better conform his life to his doctrines, or more happily illustrate his principles by his conduct. He has consumed his days in endeavouring to be useful to others; but, according to the common notions of the world, he has spent them uselessly to himself. Having completed his education at Westminster school, and afterwards at the University of Oxford with much distinction, he was called early to the Bar. His connexions (for he was the son of a very eminent solicitor), must have given him an early introduction to business ; and his learning, his extraordinary talents, and his
indefatigable application, rendered his success in the profession, if he had continued to follow it, matter of certainty. The first eminence at the Bar, and the opulence which attends it, were at his command ; and, if he could bave persuaded himself to accommodate his political principles to the wishes of those in power, the most splendid station, and the highest honours, would have been infallibly within his reach. From those brilliant prospects he voluntarily turned away; and after a very few years of practice, he relinquished the profession, shut himself up in the retirement of his study, and devoted himself to the task of legislation. A citizen of the world in its purest sense, he has suffered no opportunity which has presented itself of benefiting his fellow men in any portion of the globe, to pass away without endeavouring to improve it.
To France, at the beginning of the Revolution, when every generous and enlightened mind looked forward with sanguinc hopes to the blessings that seemed dawning upon mankind, and when the National Assembly was in possession of means of improving the human condition, such as never before were commanded by any assembly of men—to France, at that moment of delusive hope, he made a generous tender of his services. Upon their judicial establishments, upon their colonies, and upon the conduct, or, as he termed it, the tactics of their Assembly, he composed and transmitted to them different tracts, containing new, but at the same time the soundest views of reason and of policy: If the rules for governing the proceedings of their Assembly alone had been adopted, those discrders and calamities which brighted all the fair prospects that were then opening to the view of the nation, and of the rest of Europe, would in all probability have been averted. For Poland, for Russia, for America, he has alike been desirous of exercising his philan. thropic labours. With respect to his own country, whenever an occasion has occurred for offering any improvement of its Jaws or its policy, he has eagerly availed himself of it. Upon the statutes of usury; upon the taxes imposed on law proceedings; upon the reform projected in the judicial establishments of Scotland; upon penal labour, and upon the evils and abuses of that system of penal cclonization which has been adopted in the place of it;- upon all these important topics, he has given to the public bis enlarged and enlightened views. And he has laboured for all nations, and for ages yet to come, in his greater works, his • Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation; his - Treatise on Civil and Penal Legislation ;' his · Theory of Punishments and Rewards;' and his Essay on the Tactics of Political Assemblies.'
The beneficial effects which might have been expected from these masterly compositions, have not, it is true, as yet been produced. We are not able to discover the traces of these works in the improved condition of any portion of the hu man race. The noblest reward which, in this our mortal slate, any human being can receive that of contemplating the happiness of which he is himself the author, the scattering plenty o'er a smiling land, and reading his history in a nation's eyes--this reward it has not been his good fortune to obtain: But, let it not be imagined that his merits have been wholly unrequited, and that he has spent his excellent life only in ungrateful toil and cheerless disappointment. From several passages dispersed in different parts of his writings, it is evident that he is not unconscious of his own extraordinary powers; that the truth, so manifest to others, is no secret to himself,but that he is fully convinced, that, sooner or later, the time must come, when his merits will be justly appreciated, and the high importance of his services acknowledged; that in after times, his principles will be generally adopted; and that, if not to his contemporaries, yet to remote ages, and to yet uncivilized nations, he will be a Teacher and a Legislator. This alone it is—this anticipation of future fame, and of an assured immortality—this certainty that the seeds now sown will infallibly bring forth, though a late, yet an ample harvest of human happiness, which can have induced him, under every discouragement, and with nothing but a sanguine confidence in the truth and importance of his principles to cheer him, for so long a series of years, to persevere in devoting his whole time to this one pursuit, and in sacrificing to it fortune, pleasure, and all the dazzling prizes that ambition could hold out;-in giving up every meaner enjoyment for the sublime gratification of be coming a great benefactor to mankind.
The work before us gives an account of the endeavours which Mr Bentham has made, to render his labours useful to two fo. reign nations, the Russians and the Americans. The forming a code of laws for the immense population of the Russian empire, has long been a favourite object of its Princes. As early as the year 1700, a commission was named for the purpose. It has been since from time to time renewed, and is, at the present moment, in existence-we know not whether we should say in activity. Permanent salaries, it seems, are allotted to the commissioners; but no other of the Emperor's subjects bave as yet profited by their appointment. Mr Bentham was willing to reverse this state of things; to render the services required; but to receive no remuneration whatever for those services. He accordingly, in May 1814, addressed a letter to the Emperor Alexander, making a tender of them to his Majesty. At the end of eleven months, and when nearly another year had been added to the sixty-six which Mr Bentham stated that he had completed when his disinterested offer was made, the Emperor condescended to answer it with his own hand. • It was with great • interest,' he says, that he read Mr Bentham's letter. The • formation of a Code of Laws was an object which he had too • much at heart, and of the importance of which he was too sen
sible, not to be anxious to profit by Mr Benthan's learning • and experience; and he should therefore,' he adus, direct • his commissioners to have recourse to Mr Bentham, and to • address their inquiries to him:'-and, in the mean time, his Majesty desires him to accept his sincere thanks, and the remembrance which accompanied his letter. This remembrance, it seems, was a valuable ring, which was delivered scaled up to Mr Bentham. Sealed up as he received it, that gentleman returned it. He seems to have thought, that to accept of any thing which might be immediately converted into money, however the usages of the world miglit have given a different character to such a token of approbation and honour proceeding from a Sovereign, would be a departure from his principles, and would falsify his professions.
The terms of his Majesty's letter threw also a fatal damp upon Mr Bentham's project. He was desirous of having the Emperor's sanction for framing a Code of Laws, not which should be immediately invested with authority and imposed on his subjects, but which should, as a mere project, be submitted to the examination of the public, and have its provisions and its reasons canvassed before it was adopted. His desire was, to draw up such a code under the Emperor's sanction, and not to answer the questions which it might be thought expedient to put to him by his Majesty's Commissioners, of whose capacity and intentions Mr Bentham seems not to have formed a very favour. able opinion. That no inquiries ever would be made of him by those Commissioners, he was fully confident. All this he explains in a long letter addressed to the Emperor, which very plainly shows that such a kind of correspondence is quite new to him, and that he is wholly unacquainted with the style in which Sovereign Princes are usually addressed. It contains, however, many excellent observations with respect to the best mode in which a Prince, desirous to confer upon his subjects the inestimable blessing of wise and salutary laws, can best and most judiciously set about the task. It is not by a close commission, but by uniting, ard, as it were, putting in requisition the ta
lents of all who are capable of contributing to its completion ; and, by such encouragement, forming, as he calls it, a school of legislation, and thus making the best provision possible for filling all the different departments which are to be employed in accomplishing that great work, with persons who shall have given proof of their capacity for such employment. When he wrote this letter, notwithstanding that he was still urgent with the Emperor to allow him to labour in his service, it is evident, chat he entertained little expectation, that, as far as regarded Russia, his offer would be accepted. With respect to Poland, however, he still cherished some hopes. It was at that time imagined, that the Emperor entertained the generous design of establishing the independence, and restoring the fallen fortunes of that wronged and unhappy country, under the benign government of Prince Adam Czartorinski ;- but that pleasing delusion soon vanished. The treaties,' as Mr Bentham expresses it,' which were made public, rendered it but too ma• nifest, that what remained of Poland, under its own name, • had been swallowed up in the gulph of Russian despotism; • that engagements are regarded as binding by those alone who * cannot violate them with impunity; and that, of that modern • Holy League, which, in its spirit, is so congenial to that of the • original one, it is a fundamental principle, that, in the hands • of the ruling and sub-ruling few, the nearer the condition of
the subject many can be brought to the condition of the beasts • of the field, the better it will be for the interests eternal, as • well as temporal, of all parties.' No further notice appears to have been taken by the Emperor of Mr Bentham or his projects ;-—and thus terminated this unavailing attempt to benefit the subjects of his Imperial Majesty.
Whether any thing will come of Mr Bentham's endeavour to improve the legislation of the United States of America, is yet undetermined : But if his offers here, too, should be neglected or refused, the people, both of America and of Great Britain, will still have great reason to rejoice that they were made,-inasmuch as they will have been the cause of the present publication, which contains some of the most important views on the subject of Legislation, and on the nature of common or unwritten law, that have ever yet been laid before the public.
The United States are still subject to the common law of England, except as far as that law has been altered or repealed by British or Ainerican statutes. In the opinion of Mr Bentham, an unwritten law must always be attended with great evils, and he earnestly exhorts the Americans, in the place of it, to substitute a written code. The greater part of what is