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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 11: January 1822 to June 1824

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note3001To Francis Place6 September 1823 (Aet 75)

J.B. to F.P.

  • 6 Sept. 1823
  • Just received yours2

This is a plain mistake. The author of an article in a Review never is nor ever can be responsible for it: the responsibility in every sense, moral as well as legal, rests upon those concerned in the publication of it. Of the author of an article supposing him to be known all that is known is—that he wrote the bulk of it: as to particular parts and expressions, that is never pg 292known of any body nor therefore could be known of you. What you insist on is—that he the Editor should place himself absolutely in the power of you the author. Now what I meant is—that, were he to betray any such weakness, I should not think him safe to deal with: not safe to receive such confidence as I place in him. There is no mystery in this: it would apply to any man as well as him. You risk nothing by leaving him to decide: he would risk every thing by leaving it to you to decide. The option of rejection would be no remedy: by retarding the Review at the outset it would deeply injure it: and you?—you who can not brook the idea of the rejection of a single word—what would you say to the actual rejection of the whole?

Mill never made any such stipulation for himself in writing for the Edinburgh. They cut and slashed him without mercy.3 He has not, in regard to this one. For my part, it would hurt me to be thought capable of making any such stipulation for myself, were I to write an article for that Review or any other.

Shew the correspondence to Mill: you are accustomed to take advice from him, and you are all the better for it: he knows still better than I do, your strong points and your weak ones.

This has already consumed more of my time than I can afford: it shall consume no more.

Whether your writing or not writing the article in question is a matter of indifference to me, I leave you to judge. But when I mentioned to Bowring my wish to see your assistance asked for the Review—I forget whether I mentioned this article in particular—assuredly I had no such suspicion of any such stipulation as that which now astonishes me, and were it only on your account, would afflict me.

But—did I not tell you so before? he is not the only person concerned even as Editor4—not to speak of the Booksellers Longman and Co who assuredly would never endure the thought of putting their fortune and liberty thus at the power of a man unknown to them—especially a man who would insist on such a stipulation—

This considered—I will leave it for you to consider, whether it has any chance of answering its intended purpose.

Truth versus Ashhurst—nothing yet heard of it. Tuesday last if I misrecollect not was that Day you said it was promised.5

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
3001. 1 BL Add MS 35,145, fos. 86–7. Autograph. The letter was attached to fo. 88, which is headed by Place: 'No. 6 Mr Bentham to Francis Place'.
Editor’s Note
3 See, for example, Letters 2061, 2062, 2064, 2066, 2067, 2068, Correspondence, viii, regarding the cuts Jeffrey made to James Mill's article on Scipion Bacon's Application de la théorie de la législation pénale, Paris, 1807.
Editor’s Note
4 Bowring was editor of the political section, and Henry Southern was editor of the literary section of the Westminster Review.
Editor’s Note
5 Bentham was asking for news of Truth versus Ashhurst, since Place had given instructions to Carlile regarding the publication of the work (see Letter 3039).
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