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 Note1271To William Mitford25 March 1797 (Aet 49)

Queen's Square Place 25 Mar. 1797

Dear Sir

A friend of mine who had been indebted to me for the pleasure of reading the only History of Greece that deserves the name was so desirous that the benefit of it should be reaped by other nations, that he addressed himself to a person who at his recommendation is translating it for the purpose of publication into French. The name either was not mentioned or has escaped me: what dwelt with me was the description: viz: the person who translated Gibbon: pg 362but whether the Histy. or the posthumous Biographical Memoirs—that too is more than I am able to say at this instant.2 It occurred to me that possibly some ideas might present themselves to you which you might feel yourself disposed to communicate for the purpose of serving as instructions, to a person so occupied: for example the omitting or softening notes or other passages, which not being essential to the narrative might be in danger of keeping the book out of the hands of the Republican class of readers.

All this while the probability is that he is already known to you, and already in correspondence with you: but, should that happen not to be the case, I need scarcely say that I should be much flattered if you would lay your commands on me, and make use of me for the purpose—and in that way or any other enable me to contribute my mite towards the dissemination of the best antidote I know of to the raging pestilence of the times—

  • Believe me,                                
  • Dear Sir, with the truest respect,   
  • Ever Yours,                    
  • Jeremy Bentham           

W. Mitford Esq.

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Editor’s Note
1271. 1 New York Public Library, Manuscript Division, Miscellaneous Papers—Bentham, J. Autograph.
Editor’s Note
2 None of the known translators of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire undertook to translate Mitford into French, and this allusion cannot be traced (see Jane E. Norton, A Bibliography of the Works of Edward Gibbon, Oxford, 1940, pp. 140, 190 ff). The 'Memoirs of my life and writings' first appeared in March 1796 at the beginning of the Miscellaneous Works of Edward Gibbon, two folio volumes edited by his friend, John Holroyd, first Earl of Sheffield. They were quickly reprinted in Dublin and in Basle but not then translated (see Edward Gibbon, Memoirs of my Life, ed. Georges A. Bonnard, 1966, preface, p. vii).
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