Jeremy Bentham

Luke O'Sullivan and Catherine Fuller (eds), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 12: July 1824 to June 1828

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pg 86Editor’s Note3159To Baron Nugent30 December 1824 (Aet 76)

Queens Square Place Westmr 30 Decr 1824.

My dear Lord,

I lose not a moment in making amende honorable: honorable to you, how much so ever otherwise it may be to me. My head is all in a flame with the coals of fire you have heaped upon it. You who know me not, can scarcely have any conception of the delight I feel at the thoughts of the degree in which I have done you injustice, assured as I am of your forgiveness & acquainted as I now am with the character that assures it to me.

The case is—that according to the impression I had received as to the fact, the licence I gave myself was the only means to the end I had in view. The end not being in my view illaudable nor the means neither supposing them the only ones, what you received was the result. If this be neither a justification nor an excuse, no other can I find.

In respect of the fact, Bowring was amongst others in some measure a cause tho' an innocent one of my injustice. The fact is however & so I told him that without his approval my letter2 would never have been sent: but what the sly rogue (who knows us both) saw, was—that as sure as a gun, it wd bring you & me together, & make us hug one another in our hearts as close as if we had exchanged a brace of pistol bullets: for, never was egg fuller of meat than that fellow's heart & head are of malice & cunning in such shapes.

As to bad company, what I meant,—& I certainly did as good as tell you was—company opposite in character to every thing I had ever heard of yours. For a man, situated as you have been, how can he help himself? He cannot if he wd take himself out of the circle which gave him birth. As to your solitude, instead of it I had figured to myself a house brim full of company:—of company of that sort with which in former days I got surfeited.3

pg 87An apprehension of evil from the boys4 stay at your house is after all not dispelled but encreased. It is that of his feeling himself uncomfortable in such a hermitage as mine after the experience he has had of your palace. Better might it have been for him and me, if instead of his kind preceptor you had been his Jamaica overseer. Buckingham House,5 I was told had been to him what the Castle of Udolpho was to Miss, I forget who:6 he thought he was never to come out of it alive, & under that apprehension passed no small part of the time in tears: what the hobgoblins were that frightened him I know not. If you had set the current a running again it would have been all well, but now shall I have to beat the young rascal for honing after Lillies and crying to be sent back again to it. Now if this would not be a symptom of a spoilt child, I would beg of any mother or grandmother to say what stronger there is, & whether my apprehension is an altogether groundless one.

Should your kind feelings for the good boy be ever strong enough to throw you voluntarily in the way of the testy old man,7 gratification will not be wanting to them but so long as he continues under my bondage, there must be a great gulph fixt between him & all such seats of seduction as Lillies.

When our said pupil is a little more familiar with the language I may perhaps unless you forbid me, set him to read this correspondence of which he is the Subject, that he may see how in well civilized life, quarrels are begun, continued & ended: but what you wd in vain forbid me, is the laying up in lavender your part of it as a lesson which no adult eye could read without admiration nor young without improvement. You will now believe without much difficulty, with how sincere respect and affection,

  • I am Your's
  •                          Jeremy Bentham.

Lord Nugent

P.S. I began this as above at the instant of reading the last line of your's but my scrawl being illegible except to a practised hand I could not get a copy within the time left me by Bowrings visit.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
3159. 1 Victoria and Albert Museum, National Art Library, Forster MS 34. In the hand of Doane, with autograph date, salutation, direction, and a small number of minor corrections. Endorsed: 'Jeremy Bentham Eqr'. Printed in Bowring, x. 546–7, where it is incorrectly dated 31 December 1824. Bowring introduces this Letter as follows: 'The following is Bentham's reply:—', i.e. to Letter 3158. According to Colls's Journal (BL XXVII. 133) this Letter was addressed to Nugent at Lillies, and posted on 31 December 1824.
Editor’s Note
3 Bentham presumably had in mind the society he had kept on his visits in the 1780s and 1790s to Bowood House, Wiltshire and Lansdowne House, the country and London homes respectively of William Petty (1737–1805), second Earl of Shelburne and first Marquis of Lansdowne. For Bentham's earlier contact with Lansdowne see Correspondence, ii–x, as index.
Editor’s Note
4 i.e. Rallis.
Editor’s Note
6 Emily St Aubert is the heroine imprisoned in the Castle of Udolpho in Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho, A Romance; interspersed with some pieces of poetry, 4 vols., London, 1794.
Editor’s Note
7 Colls's Journal for 30 June 1825 (BL XXVII. 135) records: 'Ld Nugent called on J.B. J.B. gave him a copy of "Indications"', i.e. Indications respecting Lord Eldon.
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