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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 6: January 1798 to December 1801

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note1513To John Donne10 March 1800 (Aet 52)

Q.S.P. 10 March 1800


Upon looking over the Estimate you delivered to me2 but now I observe, that no values are set upon the particular articles, nor even to the whole stock: the only sum set down being a lumping charge for the damage by the removal. What I expected to have found was —in a line with each article in one column the value of it as expressed by the sum you would be willing to take for it if left, and in another column the damage which according to your estimate would accrue to- you, if it were not paid for, so that you had to run the risk of its dying on removal and to bear the expence of removing it.

Another thing is that a plant of the same kind varies much in value according to the age. What I should therefore have expected is to see the plants of the same kind classed at different prices according to their Ages.

pg 258In some places plants are set down only by the number of Beds. As a Bed may be of any size, I do not see what information can be thus convey'd. There seems to be no great difficulty in setting down the number of plants in a bed in any case: and where the plants are planted at regular distances and the Bed is full the trouble is a mere nothing. Bed so many foot by so many—Rows so many Plants in a row, so many.

I told you before that the passing any judgment on your charges would not be any task of mine. It would be performed by a person who will be named for that purpose by the Surveyor General of the Crown Lands, and who will I take for granted be a person conversant with your trade.

In suggesting to you the above explanations, I only mention to you what I should expect if the business of reporting an opinion on the reasonableness of the charge rested upon me. If you should decline to give them, and the Surveyor General should report them not to be necessary, I should have no more to say.

In the list of the plants you consider yourself as entitled to remove I observe Timber trees and Hedges. To remove or cut down these would in the case of ordinary Land be what the Law calls Waste, and as such not only illegal, but severely punishable. By the Statute of Gloucester 6th Edward I Chapter 5 A Tenant committing waste, forfeits treble the amount of the damage besides forfeiting the thing wasted,3 by which (it has been adjudged) is meant the place in which the Waste has been committed. I hope therefore you will take care not to remove any thing that is thus liable to doubt till the point of right has been settled: and I must desire you to consider this as warning for that purpose. Willow Trees I observe are likewise claimed by you. The tops only are claimed by others in your case.

I do not pretend to have any acquaintance with the customs of your trade. But as to old Fruit Trees, such as can not be transplanted with any chance of their living, it seems to me extraordinary, I must confess, if a Tenant should have a right not only to carry off what he could profit by, but to destroy for destroying sake: as if a Tenant of an old Orchard, which your ground is in a considerable degree, could destroy or carry away the trees of it.

A natural supposition is that in the case of a Nursery Ground held under Lease, the Lease should afford a solution to some at least of these difficulties. If neither Lord Salisbury's Agent should be successful in his enquiries after the counterpart of the Lease under which pg 259you claim, nor you in your researches after the Lease itself, it will be rather an unfortunate circumstance, particularly for you. For the lease is what your title depends upon: and whether the Lords Commissioners will be advised by their Law-advisers to make any allowance without some better proof of the existence of such a title than the mere fact of possession, is what I can not help regarding as being matter of some doubt. Observations that may be made are—either there was no lease—or the lease is expired—or there are conditions in it which the Tenant wishes to conceal—and in case of disagreement the like observations would naturally be presented or rather would present themselves to a Jury. A Title Deed on which so much property depends is not a thing for a man to throw away, or lose without observing it. None of the other Tenants are at a loss to find their Leases.

One lumping sum I observe too is charged after the words Lease and quitting business. In this I suppose is included the loss of the Rent of the Houses comprized in the Lease. For these Rents of which you have already given an account the charge ought certainly to be separate. Deducting that charge the remainder would be the charge for quitting business: i:e: I suppose the loss of the Year's profit on the Nursery Ground; together with the loss attending the necessity of advancing so much money as the expence of removal comes to, a year earlier than you would otherwise.4

I take this occasion to repeat to you in this manner what I said to you from the first, viz: that if any damage should be in danger of being produced in any particular instance or instances by removing the articles by the time specified in the notice, you have only to state the matter to me, and I make little doubt of your having time allowed sufficient to prevent such damage.

In my verbal communications on Friday the 28th of February (reduced to form by the rough Sketches of a Contract and Counter Agreement transmitted to you on Friday the 7th instant), I stated to you the great probability there was, in my opinion, of your being permitted to continue a longer time, and even the whole of your time, if you should be desirous of it, or if such stay should be productive in any considerable degree of the effect of lessening the damage. On Wednesday the 5th instant you stated to me your having employ'd a person to look out for another place, and you did not know (you said) but he might have already taken one. On Friday the 7th it was that your friends (whose assistance you thought fit to call in to help you in your Estimate) coming in when pg 260I was at your house, I took the opportunity before them to repeat to you my persuasion that it would not be necessary for you to quit in any haste at all, unless you yourself chose it, and my anxiety that no unnecessary damage might be incurred by such precipitation. It was this day that you communicated to me what I understood to be your fixed determination not to stay any longer than till the quarter day comprized in the Notice: and if I understood you right, you said you had now actually agreed for a place to which you meant to remove. I should be glad to know (if you have no objection) what the place is, what the rent is that you are to pay for it, and on what day and by whom and with whom such agreement was made, and from what time it is to commence: for I foresee events in which it may be material that these points should be ascertained. This new incident appeared to call for, and accordingly produced, a removal on my part of the offer of whatever time beyond the quarter day specified in the notice might be requisite, you mentioning the time to prevent unnecessary damage by removal: and I take this occasion to add by way of explanation, that your acceptance of such time will not nor shall subject you to the obligation of paying rent for it.

  • I am, Sir
  •     Yours etc
  • Jeremy Bentham

To Mr John Donne

Nursery Man


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1513. 1 BL VII. 239–44. Autograph draft. Docketed: '1800 Mar 10 / Panopt. / J.B. Q.S.P. / to / Donne Milbank / Delivered by H Koe / the 11th about 10 o Clock A.M. / on return saw Mr Hodges on the / Bank with his Mastermen with / measuring Rods in their hands / making the estimate.' Copy at UC cxvii. 158, headed in pencil: 'J.B. to Donne Letter 2.'
Editor’s Note
2 Donne claimed damages for his removal of £890. 8s. 9d. The estimate was made by two nurserymen, John Allport of Hackney Road, and James Colvill of Chelsea, on 8 March (UC cxvii. 159, 160).
Editor’s Note
3 6 Ed. I, c. 5, s. 2: 'And he which shall be attained of Waste, shall lose the Thing that he hath wasted, and moreover shall recompense thrice so much as the Waste shall be taxed at.'
Editor’s Note
4 Marginal insertion in pencil: 'No damage for suddenness of removal when he may have any time for asking.'
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