Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 3: January 1781 to October 1788

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Editor’s Note471To Jeremiah Bentham6 October 1783 (Aet 35)

Linstead near Sittingbourne Oct. 6th 1783.

Hond. Sir

On Wednesday the |       | I received your short letter in which you desired I wou'd not fail to give you a line by the return of post pg 213to tell you whether you shou'd send P. Carew the originals or the copies. On that same day I sent an answer in due time and by the ordinary conveyance, desiring for the reasons which I there gave that it might be the originals.2 I was pleasing myself with the thoughts of the proof you wou'd recieve of my punctuality and my attention to your commands when I learnt first by your note to my Uncle which Wilson inclosed to me in a packet,3 and afterwards by your letter of the 17th last4 to me, that that letter of mine had never come to hand. I must leave you to judge how much I /was/ mortified at this intelligence: how to account for the fact I know not. I now write for little other purpose than to enclose two packets of Sam's on which as before I shall make no comments: only begging you to read /the sheets/ in the order in which they lie /the order of the dates/ without which you might lose a good part of whatever pleasure they may afford. /The dates you will find by the endorsements I have made to them./5 I inclose also a letter of P. Carew's6 to me written at a time when being at Plymouth he had not received the originals of Sam's letters which Wilson sent to his house in town by my desire.

When you have done with these letters of Sam's pray send them to Mr. Mulford. You will do as you please about sending them or copies of them first to Mr. Carew.

Chit-chat for Bath.

Extract of a letter from Baron Raigersfeld Septr. 30.7

'I dare say you know by reputation M. de Kempelen,8 Conseiller au Gouvernment in Hungaria, or rather the famous Automaton Chess-player: he is arrived in London, where he will stay several months: He has also brought with him a figure that speaks, or to say better the figure is not made yet, but it speaks. The Chessplayer is not to be seen yet, he not having got yet a house where to pg 214unpack him: but I have heard the speaking automaton, of whose contrivance he makes no secret in so far that you can see that it is play'd like an organ, uttering articulations instead of simple sounds. I think nobody ever brought it so far, and I can assure you that M. de Kempelen is a gentleman of very great ingenuity and worth your knowing him.'

This packet will have been an outrageous long while a reaching you. It has been retarded /by the want/ first of Carew's letter which had hid itself among some other papers in the hurry of moving; next of a frank: for some how or other that which I thought I had is gone; and how or when these presents will reach you I can not very well tell. I am

  • Hond. Sir Ever your's dutifully and affectionately  
  • J.B.     

It will depend upon the weight whether I inclose a letter of Sam's by the post, completely superseded by those others, and the copy he refers to of one of his to Sir James.9 There never was such thick heavy paper as this of Sam's. It is as much as two franks will do to convey these few sheets: and the weight comes so near that I have been obliged to clip the paper and use other contrivances to avoid the overcharge.

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Editor’s Note
471. 1 B.M. III: 416–7. Autograph. No address or postmark. Docketed by Jeremiah Bentham: 'Fils Jeremy B—m / Letter datd. Linstead near Sittingbourne Kent / October 6 1783 / directed to me at Bath.'
Editor’s Note
2 The missing date is 10 September. See letter 466.
Editor’s Note
3 Both Wilson's covering letter and the note from Jeremiah Bentham are missing.
Editor’s Note
4 Missing.
Editor’s Note
5 The reference is probably to some or all of Samuel Bentham's letters dated 1/12 August (letter 459); 13/24 August (B.M. III: 394–7), which refers to a letter of his to Sir James Harris (see n. 9 below); and letters of 21 August/1 September and 22 August/2 September (B.M. III: 400–1, 405–6—see ibid.). The order in which these letters reached Bentham is not recorded.
Editor’s Note
7 Raigerfeld's letter is missing.
Editor’s Note
8 Baron Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804), Referendary to the Hungarian chancellory in Vienna, Director of saltmines in Hungary, and inventor, in 1769, of a mechanical chess player which he exhibited in Paris and London.
Editor’s Note
9 The copy of Samuel's letter to Harris apologising for his misbehaviour at Harris's farewell party, dated 13/24 August 1783, is at B.M. III: 390–1. It is docketed by Bentham as received at Brompton on 19 September. The first of Samuel's letters referred to is presumably one of that same date (B.M. III: 394–7), referring partly to his negotiations with the Russian court, partly to the renewal of his love affair. The reference to 'those others' is not clear, but may be to letters dated 21 August/ 1 September and 22 August/2 September (B.M. III: 400–1, 405–6). In the second of these Samuel related the gist of a conversation with Bezborodko about the rank which he hoped to be given in the Russian service. It seems unlikely that Samuel's letter of 13/24 September announcing the completion of his negotiations (letter 469) could have reached Bentham by 6 October.
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