Jeremy Bentham

Emancipate your colonies!

Published by Good Press, 2020
EAN 4064066067960

Table of Contents

POSTSCRIPT, 24 June , 1829



Table of Contents



YOUR predecessors made me a French citizen: hear me speak like one: War thickens round you: I will shew you a vast resource:—Emancipate your Colonies. You start: Hear and you will be reconciled. I say again, emancipate your Colonies. Justice, consistency, policy, economy, honour, generosity, all demand it of you: all this you shall see. Conquer, you are still but running the race of vulgar ambition: Emancipate: you strike out a new path to glory. Conquer, it is by your armies: Emancipate, the conquest is your own, and made over yourselves. To give freedom at the expence of others, is but conquest in disguise: to rise superior to conquerors, the sacrifice must be your own.—Reasons you will not find wanting, if you will hear them: some more pressing than you might wish. What is least pleasant among them, may pay you best for hearing it. Were it ever so unpleasant, better hear it while it is yet time, than when it is too late, and from one friend, than from a host of enemies. If you are kings, you will hear nothing but flattery; if you are republicans, you will bear rugged truths.

I begin with justice: it stands foremost in your thoughts—And are you yet to learn, that on this ground the question is already judged? That you at least have judged it, and given judgment against yourselves?—You abhor tyranny: You abhor it in the lump not less than in detail: You abhor the subjection of one nation to another: You call it slavery. You gave sentence in the case of Britain against her colonies: Have you so soon forgot that sentence? Have you so soon forgot the school in which you served your apprenticeship to freedom?

You choose your own government, why are not other people to choose theirs? Do you seriously mean to govern the world, and do you call that liberty? What is become of the rights of men? Are you the only men who have rights? Alas! my fellow citizens, have you two measures?

Oh! but they are but a part of the empire, and a part must be governed by the whole.—Part of the empire, say you? Yes, in point of fact, they certainly are, or at least were. Yes: so was New-York a part of the British empire, while the British army garrisoned it: so were Longwy and Verdun parts of the Prussian or the Austrian empire t'other day: that you have, or at least had possession of them is out of dispute: the question is, whether you now ought to have it?

Yes, you have, or had it: but whence came it to you? Whence, but from the hand of despotism. Think how you have dealt by them. One common Bastile inclosed them and you. You knock down the jailor, you let youselves out, you keep them in, and put yourselves into his place. You destroy the criminal, and you reap the profit, I mean always what seems to you profit, of the crime.

Oh, but they will find deputies: and those deputies will govern us, as much as we govern them. Illusion!—What is that but doubling the mischief instead of lessening it? To give yourselves a pretence for governing a million or two of strangers, you admit half a dozen. To govern a million or two of people you don't care about, you admit half a dozen people who don't care about you. To govern a set of people whose business you know nothing about, you encumber yourselves with half a dozen starers who know nothing about your's. Is this fraternity? Is this liberty and equality? Open domination would be a less grievance. Were I an American, I had rather not be represented at all, than represented thus. If tyranny must come, let it come without a mask. Oh, but information—True, it must be had; but to give information, must a man possess a vote?

Frenchmen, how would you like a Parliament of ours to govern you, you sending six members to it? London is not a third part so far from Paris, as London from the Orkneys, or Paris from Perpignan. You start—think then, what may be the feelings of the colonists. Are they Frenchmen? they will feel like Frenchmen? Are they not Frenchmen? then where is our right to govern them?

Is equality what you want? I will tell you how to make it. As often as France sends commissaries with fleets and armies to govern the colonies, let the colonies send commissaries with equal fleets and armies to govern France.

What are a thousand such pleas to the purpose? Let us leave imagination, and consult feelings. Is it for their advantage to be governed by you rather than by themselves? Is it for your advantage to govern them, rather than leave them to themselves?

Is it then for their advantage to be governed by a people who never know, nor ever can know either their inclinations or their wants? What is it you ever can know about them? The wishes they entertain? The wants they labour under? No such yon