Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 4: October 1788 to December 1793

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pg 259Editor’s Note753To Caroline Fox and Caroline and Elizabeth Vernon5 March 1791 (Aet 43)

The enclosed is sent to show how much I prefer the possibility of affording your tea-table half an hour's amusement to that bubble reputation, which I prefer to everything else. You will see how a rebellious disciple of mine libels me, in writing to another Scotch rebel like himself.2 Unfortunately I am obliged to return the letter, or I should either have cut out the passage, or altered it into a panegyric. The danger is, its falling into the hands of a certain person, who has had an account open for these two or three months, in which everything that tells on that side is viewed through a magnifying glass, and entered in large letters.3 You saw, I suppose, the two preceding letters from the same hand. Since I saw you all together, and not before, I have read a note written three months ago, in I am not sure whose hand, but I believe Miss V.'s.4 The affectation of being piqued at my setting myself down at the distance to which I had been thrown, is more flattering to me than a thousand kind speeches, and would go nigh to cure, if it were in the power of words to cure, a mortification which has recurred at least fifty times a-day for above these three months, and every time accompanied with a degree of pain, which, some how or other, has not undergone that abatement by time that I expected it would. Don't let Miss V. think there is no such thing as prudence anywhere but in Albemarle Street. All the ideas I could muster were not enough to answer the demands that were made upon me for building prisons and castles in the air: had I read the letter at the time in which it was put in my hand, instead of thinking fifty times a-day of what I had better never have thought at all, I should never have been able to find thoughts for anything else.

March 5, 1791.

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Editor’s Note
753.1 Bowring, x, 248. Introduced by the statement: 'Bentham writes to the ladies of Bowood, then removed to Albemarle Street, March 5, 1791:'. No 35, Albemarle Street was the London residence of Richard Vernon, Caroline's father.
Editor’s Note
2 No clue to the sender and recipient of this missing enclosure is found in the Correspondence: George Wilson and James Trail were the Scottish friends most likely to be writing about Bentham to one another.
Editor’s Note
3 Possibly he means Lord Lansdowne.
Editor’s Note
4 That is, Caroline Vernon's.754
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