Jeremy Bentham

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

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Editor’s Note772To Robert Hobartc. 9 May 1791 (Aet 43)

Sir

It is some time since I concluded that the Penitentiary project on your side of the water was at an end, or at least my share in it. You inform me that the Book is now printed and could be delivered, if the Postscript were complete.2 Hence I learn that it is not yet delivered, nor untill the Postscript be complete, is to be. Sir J. Parnell seemed not to want the Postscript: liking the book as it stands at present. My answer was that as to that matter it might be as he pleased: provided the plan as there expressed had many imperfections in it which the attention I had bestowed upon it in consequence of that with which it had been honoured in Ireland had enabled me to cure: but that rather than the season should be lost or any favourable occasion let slip I had no objection to the Letters being made public provided it were made equally public, that the defects which might come to be discovered in it would probably not be without a remedy. It is now a long time since I sent him an Introduction and Advertisement to be printed and annexed to it with that view.

My directions have been all along to send you the sheets as fast as printed off: and these directions /which directions I am assured/ have all along been observed;3 the speed with which they succeed one another will depend upon the operations of the press. If /it be material to you to know/ you wish to know to a day when it will/I could by the time an answer from you arrives inform you I believe pg 284within a few days, and perhaps my reply and the last sheet may come at the same time. But now the Sessions is at an end, I do not for my own part see how days or weeks or even months can make any difference.

You will have the goodness to excuse my confessing that I am not sure whether I apprehend right the object of your letter. If it be to get the sheets as fast as they are printed off, it is what has been all along done, or the assurances I have from time to time received in consequence of my directions have been false. If it be to convey to me an intimation that the despatch the business has met with on this side of the water has not corresponded to expectations that have been entertained on yours and a desire to have the delay accounted for it is a desire I could very easily comply with and should now comply with were I sure of /satisfied/ of its /existence/ being entertained.

I thought the body of the work had been long ago published— Past letters of mine shew how I came to think so.

I thought the project had been long ago at an end: at least my share in it.

I should not have /imagined/ that dispatch at this time could make any difference: Your Parlt. there does it meet again before next winter?

My Postscript has a good deal of matter in it which would not have been there had I conceived myself to be working for Ireland. A more extensive plan after having been so long pursued can not be suddenly contracted. The book will certainly be out of the press here within a fortnight from this day.

Sir J.P.4 /before he leaves Ireland/ will have the goodness before he leaves Ireland to turn to a list of memorandums given him at his desire.

I received some time ago £42 odd from Sir J. Parnell. On Friday I am assured the account will be in readiness to send you.

The difficulty of expressing the parts of a cylindrical building on a flat surface will I doubt leave the plates intelligible to few, notwithstanding the pains taken with the explanation of them. If it be designed to take the sense of the public, I do not see how it can be fairly taken without a model, which any man who has an exhibition of any kind at Dublin, would I suppose be glad to add to it and rather consent to pay for it, especially if given him by authority, than expect to be paid. Mr Dance5 the Architect, who pg 285gives the plan the most thorough approbation and with great candour prefers it to his own Newgate for a prison as well as to his own St. Lukes for an Hospital, tells me a model may be had for about £25.

My letters,6 if burnt paper could be recalled into existence, could afford a list and that not an inconsiderable one of questions and of requests some of them I hope not very unreasonable: the same list which might also serve for promises, for non-performances, for perplexities in consequence, not to mention expences that can not be charged.

Occupations /Business/ of superior importance will justify as well as account for the fate which /that /has hitherto attended the inconsiderable one/ the trifling one/ with which I have been concerned. But if the time of sufficient leisure on your side the water is really arrived my capacity of service depends upon the degree of assurance I am able to entertain of a measure of attention /sort of encouragement/ exactly the reverse of /diametrically opposed to/ of which that I have hitherto experienced will serve for a perfect model in the way of contrast.7

My pace is that of the Sloth or that of the greyhound according as I find spurs. It is not in my power to write quick under the persuasion that what /whatever/1 write will be to no purpose.

I write desiring the book may be printed in a certain form—I receive no answer, and the book is printed in a different one.

I write desiring that the number of copies printed may be 1250 that on paying for them I may have 750 for this country. I /depend on/ lay my account with receiving that number, and abstain from printing it here in consequence. No notice taken. I find out the Printer by accident, and I find that no more are printed than 500.

I send a sheet with a few /emendations/ corrections and additions: desiring that if any of them /if any/ as could not be engrafted onto the body of the book [they] might be printed at the end of it. No notice taken. The book comes over and none of them are in it.

I send an Introduction and an Advertisement to be inserted at the end—No notice taken—No Introduction no Advertisement.

I send an /explanatory sketch/ outline first in Ms then in print to be sent if approved of to the newspapers. No notice taken No such sketch published that I know of.

pg 286I send request after request that I may have a few copies of what is printed—at my own expence, and by the post for speed without regard to the expence—I send an order for that purpose for the Printer, requiring nothing but a signature—No copies no notice— But a fortnight or three weeks after the last request come six copies by the Messenger.

I beg to know what are the numbers actually printed, that I may know what to do about reprinting here. No notice: but having made discovery of the Printer for the first time page, I write to him, and learn it at last from him

I sent amongst other things an Introduction to be prefixed to the Letters on the supposition of their being printed. It is not annexed to any of the 6 copies that have been sent me. I stand much at a loss if I have it not in some shape. If it be not printed, I should be glad to have the Ms back again if it be in existence. I suspect that the use of it is in great part superseded by this time.

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Notes

Editor’s Note
772. 1 U.C. cxvii: 30–32. Autograph rough draft, with many corrections and some some gaps. No docket, date or address. Pencil headings on each page 'To Hob'. The reference to the sessions of parliament being at an end indicates a date soon after 5 May, when the Irish House of Commons adjourned until the end of the year.
Editor’s Note
2 The communication from Hobart is missing.
Editor’s Note
3 Marginal addition: 'As far as p. 80 making the 5th sheet of Part 2d will I believe wait on you by this post'.
Editor’s Note
4 Sir John Parnell, who would be coming to London.
Editor’s Note
5 George Dance, junior (1741–1825), architect, patronised by Lord Lansdowne,Sir Francis Baring and other friends of Bentham. Newgate Prison and St Luke's Hospital, London, were among his well-known works.
Editor’s Note
6Several more letters from Bentham, in addition to those of which drafts survive, are implied, but these are missing.
Editor’s Note
7Marginal addition: 'Excuse my frankness, I speak plainly: but I bear no malice.'
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