Jeremy Bentham

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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Editor’s Note2027To William Huskisson28 January 1809 (Aet 60)

Queen Square Place Westmr 28 Jany 1809.


In obedience to the commands, signified to me on the part of the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury, by your letter, dated the 26th but not till this day delivered,2 in which I am required 'to transmit to you forthwith my account and Vouchers for the Expenditure of the sum of £12,000, issued to me for the purchase of ground for erecting a Penitentiary House for Convicts', what I have to say is as follows, viz.

pg 12In strictness of speech, no such sum or any sum was issued to me at any time for that purpose, and therefore it is that I have neither 'account' nor 'vouchers' to produce for the expenditure of it.

True it is, that, according to my recollection, a form of receipt was signed by me, acknowledging the receipt of that sum: which document (I make no doubt) is forthcoming, and may be obtained by application made from the proper quarter to the proper hands: equally true it is, that the sum so received can not but have been applied to the purpose abovementioned, being the purpose to which at the issuing it was destined.

Signing a document by which acknowledgment was made of my having received a sum of money which in fact had not come into my hands, was unquestionably an irregularity; nor did its being so escape my observation at the time. But, at the time in question, I had experienced too many difficulties in my endeavours to bring the transaction to a conclusion, to be disposed to make of myself any unnecessary addition to the number, on a point of mere form, from which no mischief or inconvenience in any shape could result.

It was at the instance, and at the Chambers, of Mr White,3 at that time Solicitor to the Treasury, that I wrote that signature: Of that document; which at this time can not but be in the possession of that gentleman, or in some other proper hands, my charge in respect of the sum in question is (I presume) composed.

My discharge would (I suppose) consist—in the first place, of a separate instrument of receipt, for that sum, signed by the Marquis of Salisbury,4 the noble Lord of whom the purchase in question was made: in the first instance, (I say) of that document, and subsidiarily (I mean supposing the other not forthcoming) (I presume) of the instrument of conveyance, on the back of which the receipt of that sum, in the character of purchase money, is indorsed. If any separate receipt was taken, as in respect of the stamp duty (besides the demand for it in the character of a Voucher, and to be kept as such, in custody different from that of the conveyance) I should rather expect to find it was, it must have been taken from his Lordship by the said Mr White; in whose possession, or that of some other proper person, I can not but presume it would now be found to be. The instrument of conveyance, dated on the 12 of October 1799, is in my custody, and ready to be produced if deemed necessary, which I should not expect it to be. But, as to the transmitting it to you, which is what an obedience to the letter of your commands, ifpg 13 applied to that document, would require, I flatter myself it is what would not be regarded by you as either necessary or proper: at least, if the fate of this document would in that case have to follow that of some other documents which I had lately occasion to send in to the Audit Office to serve as Vouchers, on the occasion of an Account connected with the one now in question: on which occasion, having applied for the temporary return of certain of those documents, (being Books of Account that had been kept for a different purpose) I received for answer (14 July 1803) that it was 'contrary to the rules of that Office to part with any Vouchers that had been delivered in support of an Account.'5

                        I am, with all respect,


                                Your most obedient Servant

                                    Jeremy Bentham.

W. Huskisson Esqr:

Secretary to the Treasury.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
2027. 1 PRO CEES 2/675. In the hand of a copyist, with the exception of the valediction, signature, and Huskisson's name and address. Autograph draft at UC cxxii. 103–4.
Editor’s Note
3 Joseph White (d. 1815), treasury solicitor 1794–1806.
Editor’s Note
4 James Cecil, 7th Earl and 1st Marquis of Salisbury (1748–1823), who sold his Millbank estate in October 1799.
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