Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 6: January 1798 to December 1801

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Editor’s Note1501To Charles Long22 February 1800 (Aet 52)

Queens Square Place Westmr 22d Feb. 1800

Sir

Having by your letter dated the 20th instant2 delivered yesterday the 21 received an intimation of the pleasure of the Lords Commissioners that I should make enquiry into the respective Interests of pg 242the Lessees therein mentioned 'and treat with them on the best terms in my power, and acquaint' you 'for the information of the Board what sums may be requisite to be offered to' me 'in conformity to the suggestions of the Sollicitor' as therein referred to, in which the case of 'a demand of an exorbitant price' is mentioned as a case eventually to be provided for, 'by causing the value to be ascertained by a Jury as the Act directs'—I humbly beg leave to submitt the plan of proceeding which presents itself to me as most conducive to the end in view as above declared, viz: the prevention of any such exorbitancy of demand. What I propose to do is, in the first instance to call upon each person to set a price upon such his interest, and such a price being so set, then in the next place, to call upon him to declare whether in the event of such interest being continued to him he will be willing to give back the whole or any and what part of such estimated price, and so in proportion for any part of such interest. This strikes me as the surest and fairest course to be taken in the first instance for coming at the true amount of the damage to be compensated: it appearing to me, that a man can not reasonably demand to receive in the one event, more than in the other event he will be content to give. This accordingly is the plan I mean to pursue, unless I should receive any intimation from you, Sir, to the contrary within a week from the present date.3 I write this therefore, humbly praying to receive from you, Sir, as the interpreter of their Lordships pleasure, such instructions in relation to the three several points above-mentioned; as may be sufficient for rendering my proceedings in that behalf safe on my own part, as well as effectual to the purpose in hand. I have the honour to be etc.

J.B.

C. Long Esqr

etc etc etc

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1501. 1 BL VII. 215–17. Autograph rough draft. Docketed: '1800 Feb 22 / Panopt / J.B. Q.S.P. / to / Long Treasury. / Sent by John / about 4. Long gone / For directions about / plan of treating, and / days for warning.' On 21 February Bentham drafted a letter to Long on the same subject, but did not send it. (BL VII. 211–14, docketed: '1800 Feb 21 / Panopt / J.B. Q.S.P. / to / Long / Not sent / On the same subject / as the sent letter / of the 22d.')
Editor’s Note
3 The next four paragraphs are crossed through in pencil and are omitted. The reference in the final paragraph of the text to 'the three several points above-mentioned' suggests that Bentham intended to substitute for the crossedout paragraphs the same three points which he had made in the postscript of his letter to White of 21 February (letter 1500). At BL VII. 212 there is a copy of these three points, and a marginal insertion in pencil: 'Here follow the three questions in the same terms as in the Letter to Mr White.' The points are introduced by the following paragraph: 'Other questions there are, on /in respect to/ [which] I wish it were a matter of equal facility for me to come to a determination in my own mind, and which at the same time are such in relation to which it is absolutely necessary that a determination should be come to, before any such treaty as I have it in charge to enter into can be so much as commenced. These are'
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