Jeremy Bentham

Catherine Fuller (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 11: January 1822 to June 1824

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Editor’s Note3085Codicil to Will of Jeremy Bentham29 March 1824 (Aet 76)


29 March 1824
9 October

Having from my earliest youth devoted my mental faculties to the service of mankind what remains for me is to devote my body to that pg 428same purpose; & having with frequently renewed concern observed the mischievous effects of that wandering of the mind by which the progress of the art of healing is obstructed, & life & health are sacrificed for an absurd feeling for unfeeling matter now therefore in hope that in setting the first example I may commence clearing the human mind from so pernicious a prejudice I do hereby bequeath my body when dead to my friend Doctor Armstrong of Russel Square lecturer on Physic, to be by him caused to be anatomised in the most public manner, as bodies procured for the instruction of students in anatomy are anatomized; & it is my express desire that preparations may in like manner be made & preserved of the several perishable parts of it & disposed of according to his discretion, & that no part of it be deposited anywhere in the ground in ceremony.

As to the head & the rest of the skeleton, it is my desire that the head may by preparation after the New Zealand manner be preserved, & the entire skeleton with the head above it & connected with it, be placed in a sitting posture, & made up into the form of a living body, covered with the most decent suit of clothes, not being black or gray, which I may happen to leave at my decease.

And whereas it has occurred to me that some of my friends, in whose opinion my labours in the service of mankind have not been altogether without success, may, in the view of giving increase to that success, & of cherishing their mutual harmony, be eventually disposed to meet at a club in commemoration of my birth & death, my desire is, that in that case order may be taken by my executor, for such my skeleton seated in an appropriate chair, to be placed, on the occasion of any such meeting, at one end of the table, after the manner in which, at a public meeting, a chairman is commonly seated; & I hereby entreat & require my executor to make such ultimate disposition of such my effigy, as in his judgment shall be most subservient to the beneficial purpose above mentioned & in no case to suffer it to be deposited in the ground with any customary or other ceremonies, but rather to cause it to be burnt or otherwise destroyed.

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Editor’s Note
3085. 1 UC ix. 123, which consists of two sheets glued together. On the first sheet, Bowring has noted: 'On the 29th March 1824 (confirmed by a note of 9 October of the same) Bentham added this Codicil to his will directing how his body should be disposed of after death—His wishes have been complied with: the decease of Dr Armstrong made it necessary that […] Copy the whole Codicil', and the reverse of this sheet is addressed to 'Doctor Bowring / Queen Square / Westminster' and redirected to 'Exeter'. Postmarks; 'PD / AU 12 /1840' and 'Paid 13 AU 13 / 1840'. Stamped: 'Cornhill / ld PAID'. The second sheet contains the text of the will, in the hand of a copyist, which has been crossed through in red ink. The reverse of the sheet is addressed to 'Dr John Bowring / &c &c &c /1. Queen Square / Westminster'. Postmark: '10 F"10 / Oc 8 /1840'. Stamped; 'Gt Russell St' For earlier wills by Bentham see Letter 84a, Correspondence, i, and Letter 849, Correspondence, iv.
John Armstrong (1784 1829), was physician to the London Fever Institution 1819–24, and in 1821 became a lecturer on medicine at the newly formed Webb Street School of Anatomy. Armstrong's name first appears in Bentham's Memorandum Book (UC clxxiii. 98) as a topic of conversation between Bentham and Piace on 6 August 1823. According to Bentham's Memorandum Book (ibid.) and Colls's Journal (BL XXVII. 130), the first recorded meeting between Bentham and Armstrong was on 16 August 1823.
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