Jeremy Bentham

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

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pg 3Editor’s Note1684To Étienne Dumont12 January 1802 (Aet 53)

My dear Dumont

On Saturday evening, and not before, I received, by the penny post, your double letter, dated Decr the 23d. This is the next postday. What is on the other leaf, being a transcript of a paper I dictated to my young man, who took it this morning to Payne the Bookseller,2 will serve to demonstrate the promptitude of my obedience, in regard to the wishes of your respectable friend:3—as to yourself, your conscience will inform you, you deserve no such promptitude. That in regard to points of real importance, you have done all along for the best—better than almost any body—and altogether as well as any body, is what I do not entertain the smallest doubt of: but as to those little nothings, which are every thing as between mandant and commissionaire, and which are not absolutely nothing as between friend and friend—as to those points I can do no otherwise in regard to the future, than propose to you two lines of direction to take your choice of—the parallel to my conduct: or the opposite to your own:—not that, when you come to compare them you will find any very material difference.4

I have to thank you alsofor a letter of the 27 Nov5 no others. I mention it though out of order, for time is pretious and pressing. Why can not you send me word whether Dr Swediar (or Schwe- pg 4diauer)6 is alive—and how to direct to him—This requires no trouble at all—all other things I excuse you from, as they require some.

I have not time this post to read over what I write.

The only course, in and by which letters of detail can come to be written, not having been taken (—viz: setting down the details at the time when they are fresh) what you say to me about what you could, would or should have done etc., can have no other effect than to tantalize me. When an opportunity of conveyance occurrs, you have no time for it: and till such an opportunity occurrs, you either never think of it, or never to any purpose.

Go—don't call me 'Master'—thinking to coax me. You are a naughty boy, and as such I give you up.

Don't tell me of pensées detachées7—do you think I am to give up connected works, for the sake of setting up a manufactory of pensées detachées? There are pensées enough, if you think it worth while to detach them—if not, let them rest where they are. Take notice, that I answer:—and a maxim of mine is (detach it or leave it undetached as you please) that the roughest answer is more civil and kind than silen⟨ce.⟩8

Such books as are not to be had but bound, such as Stewarts Polit. Econ.9 to be sent in the best bindings that can be got—but none of the books to wait for binding but to be sent in Boards or Sewed as it may happen—no objection to the sending a few that happen to be already in good bindings but Mr B. had rather they should go in general unbound on account of the price of binding which he thinks will startle people in comparison of the price there. Mr B desires to have a copy of the Bill before the books are sent to Mr Otto's10—recommends it to Mr Payne before he sends any thing to ascertain whether any correspondent commission has been sent to Mr Otto—If not Mr Otto at sight of this letter of Mr Dumont's might perhaps give the requisite assurance notwithstanding. Mr B. will take upon himself the choice of the Pamphlets as cancelled in pg 5red ink and will send a supplemental list of books with the prices for Mr Dumont's previous approbation.—

When I have Payne's catalogue as above of supplemental books, my plan is to mark such of them as I myself thought fit to buy for my own use, and keep for my own use, looking upon that as the most speaking recommendation: including no small quantity of trash, which I keep, were it only to shew, with what sort of trash the world is filled. If trash were to have been expunged, I should not have left Price:11 excepting what there is of his that has Mathematics in it.

I hope sincerely, that matters will be so arranged, that a man who has a mind for one or two of your thousand Volumes will not be obliged to go without them, or load himself with the whole. Think how small Beccaria12 was and Rousseaus Contrat Social; nay even Montesquieu, setting aside what was nothing to the purpose.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
1684. 1 Dumont MSS, Bibliothèque Publique et Universitaire, Geneva, 33/I, fos. 85–6. Autograph, except for the paragraph of instructions to Payne, which is in the hand of a copyist. Addressed: 'A Monsieur / Monsieur Dumont / Butte St Roch / Rue des Moulins / No 545 / a Paris,' Postmarks: '27 ⟨…⟩'. 'FOREIGN OF⟨FICE⟩', and 'P 10d Wood'. A reply to letter 1683.
The Genevan Pierre Étienne Louis Dumont (1759–1829), Bentham's friend, editor, and translator, was in Paris at this time, arranging for the publication of the Traités de législation civile et pénale which he had put together on the basis of mainly unpublished writings by Bentham. The work was to appear in three volumes in Paris later in 1802.
Editor’s Note
2 Thomas Payne (1752–1831) had taken over in 1790 his father's bookselling business at Mews Gate, Castle Street, Leicester Fields.
Editor’s Note
3 Charles Maurice Talleyrand de Périgord (1754–1838), at this time French foreign minister. Dumont had forwarded to Bentham on 23 December a list of books which Talleyrand wanted from London (Correspondence, vi. 486–7).
Editor’s Note
4 The next two paragraphs are in red ink.
Editor’s Note
6 François Xavier Schwediauer (1748–1824), Austrian physician and philosophical writer, whom Bentham had met in 1778 (Correspondence. ii. 179 n.). He was now living in France.
Editor’s Note
7 This appears to refer to a passage in Dumont's letter of 23 December which Bo wring omitted from the translation he printed.
Editor’s Note
8 The next paragraph is a copy of a letter addressed to Payne.
Editor’s Note
9 Sir James Steuart (1712–80), Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy, 2 vols., 1767.
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10 Louis Guillaume Otto (1754–1817), later comte de Mosloy, was French minister in London February 1800–November 1802.
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11 Richard Price (1723–91), dissenting minister, writer on morals, politics and economics, and pioneer of actuarial science.
Editor’s Note
12 Cesare Beccaria's Dei delitti e delle pene (1764), of which an English translation, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments, was published in 1767.
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