Jeremy Bentham

Stephen Conway (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 10: July 1820 to January 1821

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Editor’s Note2655To Sir Samuel Bentham4 July 1820 (Aet 72)

Q.S.P. 4 July 1820.

What the Devil is become of you all?—The best that can be is that there has been some miscarriage: I do not mean on the part of the Marquise.2 My letter with seeds in it, directed according to your directions to you poste restante à Montpelier and that within the time indicated, appears to have miscarried. Number of little packets about 33: post paid here 4/10.

Two of your letters are before me, and have been for several ages, one of them dated 3d June; the other 6th of June neither numbered.3 In this last, 'B' (says Lady B.) 'takes with him to Toulouse tomorrow the Leases4 in order to execute them there in the presence of some pg 6Englishman, and intends returning them to England from thence by means of the Banker. He has not yet drawn for the money; but will do so, as soon as he has a certainty that the Parchments will be forwarded immediately, so that they may have arrived before his draft.' Ever since my receipt of that letter which was the 16th or perhaps a day or two before, I have of course been upon the look-out for said parchments; none have come: had they come to the Bankers, I being in correspondence with them they could not have failed to inform me of it. I am much mistaken if I did not give you instructions about the manner of attesting the Leases, saying that one witness was better than any greater number, because in case of his death proof of his handwriting would be sufficient: whereas if there are two, and one dies, the other may be to be hunted for, and it may be a question whether the proof of the handwriting of the dead one will be received:5 and J. Mill6 being to return in a short time will be better than a thousand who may be rambling nobody knows how long or where. N.B. No witness at all is still better than one: for no witness is necessary: so say all the lawyers: the only use of witnesses is therefore to satisfy lay-gents. Just scrabbled over (eyes grumbling) a letter of John Mills dated the 16th.7 This seems to prove to a certainty what otherwise there might have been a doubt about, namely that down to that day you were not all dead. But if any one of you were alive, how came the miserable parchments not to have been sent as promised? for any one of you might have sufficed for sending them.

You may draw money now like any dray-horse: that is to say if it be not too much trouble to set pen to paper, which I suspect may be the case. Imprimis8 you may draw for the £750 purchase-money of Hall Oak.

2 In the next place you may draw for any sum not exceeding £4,000 (four thousand pound) if you want it for the purchase of Restinclieres.9 But here comes in a circumstance which will frighten you, unless I begin with an explanation of the cause of it. When I mentioned to you the money, I had before me an account from Lanark,10 pg 7on the face of which, over and above my capital in the concern was a balance in my favour of £5491. From some circumstances in the correspondence I had been led to suppose that I was entitled to draw for this sum at any time. But in answer to a letter of mine Rob. Owen informed me11 that by one of the Articles I was not entitled to draw it out till 31 Decr 1822, except £1,000 of it which I was entitled to draw for on the 31 Decr 1820. This £1,000 he will give me a Bill for of course, as evidence of its lying at the Bankers till the time of payment: the Banker will discount it: and thus (as I shall pay the discount money) you may draw for it entire.

£500 will be raised by Stock which I can and shall sell, unless I substitute current cash which I can do to a part of it. Remains to be got £2,500: and this I have a promise of from the Banker. My proposal had been to keep in his hands as a security the title deeds of Bell Yard12 which happen to be there, and to lodge in do. my Lease under the D. and Chapter and our joint Lease when it arrives: deprecating formal mortgage.

He proposes as a simpler course a joint bond from you and me instead of that other course: consenting not to call in the money before the time in question (31 Decr 1822) but requiring an assurance of having it there. This confidence on his part was probably in part at least the result of an account I gave him (regarding it as necessary) of the state of the Lanark concern. The interest during the 2½ years I shall have to pay, but this will be nothing more than what I had made up my mind to, since it will be running on at Lanark instead of coming: and will indeed be producing interest upon interest, besides adding to profit. When the time comes I shall pay it off by so much drawn out of Lanark. If I die before then you will pay my Ghost if he demands it: if I live I shall not want it: even should there be no more profit from Lanark: which is not to be apprehended. Now for the thing that would have frightened you: it is the joint bond. The sum which you confess to owe is always double the sum borrowed. This is the lawyers lie: the use of it is to cover interest, and costs of suit, if necessary.13

I have got for you a charming little book of Dr. MacCullock's on the art of Winemaking,14 theoretical and practical. You may get pg 8rich by making wine better and more than any body else can make of it.15

Furniture of Hall Oak I shall probably claw hold of, enough to furnish Mrs Farrs16 two beds included: one for Walter Coulson,17 the other for an extraordinary character (a Nephew of Hunt the Editor of the Examiner18) who at the age of 18 has for this twelvemonth been working on it most admirably and been the best of characters.19 When George20 comes here for a year to study Agriculture, they shall be ousted, and he take their place. The furniture being old fashioned will sell here for next to nothing: so say all the learned.

Restinclieres. Is the whole susceptible of irrigation, as you seemed at first to think or only a part, and what part. Susceptibility of irrigation must place this I should expect to find at an immense height above every estate not susceptible of it. But if you can not get that, and you can get the two little things both upon advantageous terms, rather than fail of either of them, take the money in God's name.

When you have ascertained or rendered probable what you shall want, the earlier I am informed of it the better. For fear of accidents repeat the information in a succeeding letter.

Notes Settings

Notes

Editor’s Note
2655. 1 BL IX. 423–4. Autograph. Endorsed: 'July 4 1820'. Addressed: 'To / Sir Samuel Bentham / etc etc etc / chez Messrs Courtois / Banquiers / à Toulouse / via Paris.' Postmark: 'F / 248 / 20'. Stamped: 'ANGLETERRE'. Bentham's brother Sir Samuel (1757–1831) had been living in France since 1814.
Editor’s Note
2 Sir Samuel and Lady Bentham's eldest daughter, Mary Sophia (1797–1865), had married in 1819 Louis-Pierre-François-Adolphe, marquis de Chesnel de la Charbonnelaye (1791–1862). The marquis deserted her shortly after the marriage, but in 1820 she gave birth to a daughter, Marie-Thérèse-Louise-Adelaide.
Editor’s Note
3 Both missing.
Editor’s Note
4 One of these leases seems to have been from the dean and chapter of Westminster. See letters 2585 and 2591 (Correspondence, ix). The other might have been connected with Hall Oak Farm, Hampstead, a residence of Sir Samuel's sold in 1820 to his neighbour Thomas William Carr, solicitor to the excise. See letter 2612 (ibid.).
Editor’s Note
5 See letter 2585 (Correspondence, ix).
Editor’s Note
6 John Stuart Mill (1806–73), the famous philosopher, eldest son of James Mill. He was in France with Sir Samuel and his family in 1820–1. See Journals and Debating Speeches by John Stuart Mill, ed. John M. Robson, Toronto, 1988 (Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, vol. xxvi), pp. 3–143.
Editor’s Note
7 This letter is probably the one to James Mill printed in Journals and Debating Speeches, pp. 18–19.
Editor’s Note
8 i.e. 'In the first place'.
Editor’s Note
9 The house and estate near Montpellier that Sir Samuel acquired later in the year.
Editor’s Note
10 Bentham had invested in the New Lanark Mills run by Robert Owen (1771–1858). For his earlier contact with Owen see Correspondence, viii and ix, as index.
Editor’s Note
11 Bentham's letter and Owen's reply are missing.
Editor’s Note
12 One of Bentham's London properties.
Editor’s Note
13 There follows in the MS a letter in French, dated 3 and 4 July, from Bentham's amanuensis, Richard Doane (1805–48), to Lady Bentham. Doane had stayed in France with Sir Samuel and Lady Bentham between August 1819 and March 1820.
Editor’s Note
14 John Macculloch (1773–1835) was the author of Remarks on the Art of Making Wine, London, 1816. For his earlier contact with Bentham see Correspondence, ix, as index.
Editor’s Note
15 There follows in the MS another letter of Doane's, this one to J. S. Mill.
Editor’s Note
16 Probably a relative of Bentham's late stepmother Sarah Abbot, née Farr. See Correspondence, vii. 400 and n.; viii. 286 and n.
Editor’s Note
17 Walter Coulson (1794?–1860), Bentham's former amanuensis, at this time a journalist.
Editor’s Note
18 James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784–1859), editor of The Examiner until 1821.
Editor’s Note
19 Henry Hunt, the son of John Hunt (1775–1848), Leigh Hunt's brother.
Editor’s Note
20 George Bentham (1800–84), Sir Samuel and Lady Bentham's second and only surviving son; later famous as a botanist.
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