Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 5: January 1794 to December 1797

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Editor’s Note1149To J. P.9 July 1796 (Aet 48)

Points to be ascertained from the Lease.

1. Years of commencement and expiration—especially the latter.

pg 2262. Extent of ground it includes: and whether any and what part of such ground is included under the name of wood.

3. Whether it conveys an unlimited power of following the vein of Sand, and thereby rooting out the trees—or whether the concurrence of the Landlord or his Agents is made necessary in any and what cases.

Say—That you had taken a friend of your's up to the spot by way of shewing him the prospect—that upon seeing it he had fallen in love with it, and conceived a sort of half-inclination of building a house upon some part or other of it if it were obtainable—that you had told him what you knew about it—and amongst other things that you imagined that even if he could persuade the Proprietor to sell a few acres or let a building here: it would not signify without his (H's)2 concurrence—But that it occurred to you and you accordingly mentioned to your friend that very likely his (H's) concurrence might be obtained, for you did not suppose he (H) could want the whole wood, and that the opportunity of disposing of his brick, his lime and his sand for the building might be productive of considerable advantage to him (H)—and that he might be likely therefore to find his account in joining with your friend, especially as you understood that the business of sending the Sand to London was not a very advantageous one. Your friend thereupon hinted to you, that the house in question would probably not be the only occasion he should have of dealing with you for such materials.

If he manifests anything of a communicative disposition ask him for a sight of the Lease that you may be able to give the more certain information to your friend, and save him the trouble of making any unnecessary or fruitless application to Sir Ths.3

H. will certainly be for asking who this friend is—but your answer will be that he said he had reasons for not caring his name should be mentioned on such an occasion, if the application came to nothing—and that you had thereupon promised not to mention it without his leave. This will be your constant answer and saving clause as often as he asks you any questions which it might puzzle you to answer.

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Editor’s Note
1149. 1 B.L. VI: 212–13. Autograph draft, much corrected. Docketed: '1796 July 9 / J.B. to J.P. / Instructions for Inquiries about Hanging Wood.'
The identity of 'J.P.' among Bentham's helpers has not been ascertained: possibly he was John Peake or John Poore, both of whom visited Woolwich from time to time.
On 1 July Bentham had drafted to Lord Spencer a long letter which is docketed 'not sent' (B.L. VI: 233–8). It begins: 'Since I had the honour of waiting on your Lordship I have taken a view of a situation at Woolwich which though in a very material point of vicinity to London it would [be] so much inferior to Battersea Marsh, yet in the great article of healthiness promises so well that if it were attainable, I think it not improbable but that I might find myself enabled to rid your Lordship of a negotiation in the unpleasantness of which I am most truly a sympathizer as well as a sharer …' The unsent letter goes on to detail the advantages and disadvantages of the site beside Hanging Wood, mentioning that the owner is Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson, whose 'state of mental derangement' makes it necessary for his wife to manage the affairs of the family, which includes a grown-up son and a daughter married to Lord Arden. Part of the ground in question, Bentham adds, is leased to a person named Harding, who takes away the sand to such an extent that many trees have been destroyed. He would ask Lord Spencer 'for every assistance' in acquiring this site, although he would prefer the Battersea one.
Editor’s Note
2 Harding's.
Editor’s Note
3 Sir Thomas Spencer Wilson (see letter 1156 n. 1).
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