Aaron Burr

Stephen Conway (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 8: January 1809 to December 1816

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pg 4Editor’s Note2023From Aaron Burr13 January 1809

Edinburgh, January 13, 1809.

Have patience, and I will pay thee all. Not all, but all that I can. The defects of the head will be redeemed by the warmth of the heart.

I have a good deal of stuff for your amusement, but most of it in a form not transmissible by mail, for want of frank. My friend Arbuthnot2 receives letters free, but cannot frank, which disappoints me, and has saved you some time and expense of eyesight. I lead a life of the utmost dissipation. Driving out every day, and at some party almost every night. Wasting time, and doing many silly things, as you will see. But, in the midst of folly and dissipation, some little, little thing has been effected in the way of business. The Mend and correspondent of your tenant3 enters into my views, and takes an interest in my progress. Has actually written on the subject to a great man now near you.4

I am seeking (courting; it is a lady) the influence of another personage. Shall wait here K.'s5 reply to the above, and then wherever the gods may direct. You will, in the mean time, receive some 'sketches,' etc.

pg 5Theodosia6 has written you a note,7 which I hold, as not being worth postage. That, with her letter to me, will be transmitted in some way. Her health is the same. My American letters contain little more than is found in the newspapers. A chiffré has not yet been translated. Do not despair of me.

                                                    A. Burr

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Editor’s Note
2023. 1 Davis, i. 135. Aaron Burr (1756–1836), attorney-general for New York 1789–91, senator 1791–7, and vice-president of the United States 1801–5. Involved in a scheme to establish a new independent state, including both Spanish territory and southern and western states that would secede from the Union, he was tried for treason but acquitted in 1807. In the following year he sailed for England and until his return to the United States in 1812, travelled extensively in Europe. For his earlier contact with Bentham see Correspondence, vii, as index.
Editor’s Note
1 William Arbuthnot (1766–1829), secretary to the Board of Trustees of Edinburgh University, later lord provost of Edinburgh, created baronet 1822. See Davis, i. 134.
Editor’s Note
2 Bentham's tenant and next-door-neighbour at Queen's Square Place was the Hon. Andrew James Cochrane Johnstone (1767–1834), soldier, politician, and adventurer. On 21 December 1808 Cochrane Johnstone wrote to the lord justice clerk, Charles Hope, Lord Granton (1763–1851) introducing Burr. See Davis, i. 121.
Editor’s Note
3 i.e. Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville (1742–1811). Burr started his letter on the night of 13 January, but completed it on the next day, after he had heard that Granton had written to Melville. The relevant entries in Burr's journal are not included in Davis, but see The Private Journal of Aaron Burr, ed. William K. Bixby, 2 vols., Rochester, New York, 1903, i. 55–6.
Editor’s Note
4 John Herbert Koe (1783–1860), Bentham's secretary and protégé.
Editor’s Note
6 Theodosia Burr Alston (1783–1813), only child of Aaron Burr, and wife of Joseph Alston (c.1779–1816), the governor of South Carolina 1812–14. She was hoping to translate Dumont's Traités de législation into English
Editor’s Note
7 Missing. Burr's journal mentions a letter of 3 January which might be this one. Davis, i. 151.
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