Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 7: January 1802 to December 1808

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note1943To John Mulford18 November 1807 (Aet 59)

Q.S.P., 18th November, 1807.

My brother had written to me asking me to take him into my house, and, as I understood, with his half-a-dozen children, etc., for two or three days, while his own was airing, and he doing business in town. I told him2 he was crazy to think of squeezing such a posse into a part of a house, the whole of which was not sufficient: part he should not have, but the whole, and welcome, if that would content him; and that I would stay at Barrow Green till he had been in town pg 456and decamped. Barrow Green House, however, though a very pleasant abode in warm weather, or even till the close of October, was grown so much too cold for me, that I could endure it no longer. The cold incapacitated me from thinking and going on with my business.

Barrow Green I found so pleasant an abode, and to agree with me so well in point of health, that I propose to make it a sort of country house, so as to spend nearly half the year there, which I can do at little or no addition to the expense. As they produce almost everything within themselves, what it costs me here, will leave them rather the richer than the poorer for what we consume. The only dispute is, that they are not willing to take so much as I am willing to give. The two brothers looked glum at parting; and as they had very little society but what they had in us, the good lady of the house3 wept bitterly at parting, notwithstanding the assurance of our returning by the beginning of June, or latter end of May, to stay till November. I made a rare gossip for her, talking over old stories. She was well acquainted with Browning Hill,4 and knew you too, speaking of you in terms of great respect. I don't know what you may have known of her history. Having a relation by marriage, (a Mr Featherstone, who married a sister of her mother's,) who lived at Oxstead, not half-a-mile from Mr Hoskins's, the lord of Barrow Green, and other manors, he there made acquaintance with her, and married her,—she but just turned of seventeen,—he pretty much advanced in life. In two or three years after the marriage, he died, leaving her with but one child, a daughter, a rich heiress: she5 married a Mr Gorges,—a man of good family in Worcestershire; but of little, or no property: he made her a bad husband, and they both died three or four years ago without issue. The mother, in less than a year after Hoskins's death, married a Captain Fawkener, a captain in the army, without property, who, eight or ten years ago, drank himself to death, after having stripped her of everything he could strip her of, to enable him to get drink at a distance from her. She had for her jointure no more than a rent charge of £200 a-year; but the property being at the disposal of her daughter, she, in her lifetime, gave her mother, by a deed of settlement, the Barrow Green manor farm, about 400 acres,6 with the manor house upon it, for life, of which she has been in possession again now for I don't know how many years. The daughter had everything but signed a will, leaving pg 457the whole of the Hoskins property, which was very considerable, to her mother; but as they were putting the pen into her hand to sign the will, she expired. The house is a roomy house, seemingly about a hundred years old,—a very good gentleman's house. It stands in a place that was once a park, and has still a park-like appearance: one of the halls (for there are two) is hung round with the horns of the deer, the former inhabitants. The situation is rather low, but not unhealthy, there being other places lower that draw off the water from it: close to the house is a lawn, with a shrubbery, and a straight walk through two rows of horse-chestnuts as old as the house. I call it the cloisters: regularly after dinner, for about an hour, my young man and I walk backwards and forwards,—in warm weather sauntering, in cold weather almost running, till we bring it to a proper temperature. Close by one end of these cloisters is a lake of about seven acres, well stocked with fish, and with an island in it. It is skirted with trees and shrubs, and stuffed here and there with reeds and bulrushes in such a manner as to be very pleasant and picturesque. About half-a-mile beyond the lake, rises a range of hills, very bold, with here and there chalk pits,—here and there woods, with pleasant walks in them, and very extensive prospects, exhibiting gentlemen's seats in abundance. The kitchen-garden is, unfortunately, thrown at a distance from the house, almost a quarter of a mile off, with a road between. It contains an acre, walled round; but the fruit trees are in very bad order, having, of late, been much neglected: I hope to be able to contribute to put them in a little better order. She is very fond of flowers, though she knows but little how to manage them: a great hall is, however, decorated with greenhouse plants, on two sides of it, all the year round. She is a good cook, and takes great pride and delight in it, having learnt it from her mother,—at least from the receipts of her mother, whom she speaks of as a nonsuch; but who is better known, perhaps, to you, than to her. She is not only her own housekeeper, but her own cook,—doing everything in that way constantly herself, and making bread, like the Browning Hill bread, I used to be sofond of. A Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, grandmother to the present duke, was of the Hoskins family7—first cousin, I think, to Mrs K.'s husband; and being fond of the place, rented it, and lived in it for a number of years after his death. Mrs K. used to be a good deal with her then, at the time that the present duke, being a youth, was every now and then there. She used sometimes to be in town pg 458with the duchess, holding intercourse with the Duke of Portland, and abundance of other great families. Her sister Ann is married to an attorney of the name of Bunce, who, till within these few weeks, lived at Westerham, about five miles distant; they are going to Canterbury, but whether tofix there I don't know. Bunce is partly too honest, and partly too indolent, besides having something of a poetical turn, to make anything of his business; but they have a son, who, though yet scarcely of age, is in a situation in the East Indies, that enables him to make remittances sufficient for his father's and mother's support: Richard Plowden, the Director, you must know more or less of: either from him or from Wheeler, the only surviving son of your friend, Mrs Hyde, has a very handsome situation in the India House.8

Two or three years ago, Mrs Chapeau, (formerly Harris,) being on a visit to Mrs Bunce, called, on her way to town, on Mrs K., (then Fawkener,) and was received. She has had ten children by her reverend husband, but only one left. What with property and preferment, they live in a handsome style: having town house (in Piccadilly) and country house, and, I believe, a carriage. He is one of the king's chaplains, and has livings.9 When the affair with Craven broke out, all the family and their connexions (Harris included) were for hushing it up,—but your old acquaintance, James:10 he was inexorable; and Mrs E. says, Harris would never have signed the papers necessary for the divorce, had not James Plowden kept him in a state of intoxication, and so prevailed with him. Wheeler and the rest of them were so exasperated with James, that they broke off all communication with him, An officer, who was on board the ship when he was killed, told Mrs K., that if he had not died in that way, he would soon have died a natural death: for he seemed quite heart-broken, and had fallen away to a skeleton. The Wheelers having lodgings for Mrs Wheeler's health at some sea-port, from whence James was to embark, saw him walking before their door every day for a fortnight, in hopes of being called in; but in vain. Between Mrs K. and her brother Richard the Director, there is no intercourse; but there is between her and another (Henry?) who has made a large fortune in India, and is just returned from thence. Two or three years ago, being at that time also in England, he was in pg 459treaty with Mackreth for the repurchase of Yewhurst; but the sum asked by Mackreth was deemed so extravagant, that he gave the matter up, and bought an estate, with a good house upon it, somewhere in the New Forest. He is a married man; Mrs K., who has seen his wife, reports her to be very sensible, and very amiable. The history of this family would fill a volume.

You expressed a wish, my dear Doctor, for a little chat with me: here is more than perhaps you will have patience to decipher, Writing so much of other things, and my hand being a weak one, I write letters as little as possible. My brother has not had so much from me in the last twelvemonth. A man who has such a comforter within him as you have, can receive little additional comfort from other sources; but I have been pleasing myself with the thought, that, while anything that belongs to this world, is looked upon by you as worth a thought, a scrawl from this hand would not be much in danger of finding itself unwelcome.11

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1943. 1 Bowring, x. 425–7.
Editor’s Note
2 A missing letter from Jeremy to Samuel is indicated.
Editor’s Note
3 Susannah Koe (see letter 1912 n. 22).
Editor’s Note
5 Susannah Chicheley Hoskins (see letter 1912 n. 24).
Editor’s Note
6 The deed of settlement survives in the Surrey Record Office (87/5/96–7); the amount of land conveyed by it is stated to be 90 acres (Wendy Stuart Koe, The Jackdaws, p. 35).
Editor’s Note
7 Catherine Hoskins (d. 1777), daughter of John Hoskins of Oxted, Surrey, steward to the Duke of Bedford, married William Cavendish, 3rd Duke of Devonshire, in 1718.
Editor’s Note
8 Perhaps J. C. Hyde, who was at this time a clerk in the accountant's office of the India House.
Editor’s Note
9 In his obituary in the Gentleman's Magazine, lxxxvi (1818), pt. II, p. 379, John Chapeau is described as a chaplain in ordinary to the Prince Regent and as rector of Shipton-Sollers and Cliff, Gloucestershire, and of Swyre, Dorset.
Editor’s Note
10 James Chicheley Plowden (see letter 1912 n. 10).
Editor’s Note
11 Bowring adds at the foot of this letter: 'Mulford, in his answer, takes up the subjects of personal and genealogical history discussed in the above, and corrects one or two slight mistakes.'
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