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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 Note1582To Evan Nepean23 July 1800 (Aet 52)

Q.S.P. 23 July 1800—Wednesday

I cannot think myself justified, in keeping back any longer the enclosed letter from Mr. Wise's Agent,2 complaining of the treatment pg 335he has met with from the Treasury in relation to his Estates near Tothill Fields.—

If you do not approve of your sending it to Mr. Long, pray send it back to me that I may, or, if you think I ought to suppress it, tell me so.—

What a Debate yesterday (in the Times) about Prisons in the House! (Mainwaring seems given up by Pitt and his reputation ruined)3 and nobody to say, that among the properties of Panopticon one is—the rendering all such abuses physically impossible. I cannot avoid begging a glance for a passage (in a book) which you will find prophetic of this case.

I cannot help thinking that not only the surest but the shortest way would be, if you could persuade yourself to write something to Mr. Long to some such effect as that of the Brief4with or without additions omissions or alterations.—It would thus be capable of being handed on to any other persons, who might have doubts or objections to remove. Less time would be consumed in the writing, than in the meeting, including the exertions to obtain it.—

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Editor’s Note
1582. 1 BL VII. 396. Copy. Docketed (last four words in pencil): '1800 July 23 / Panopt / J.B. Q.S.P. / to / Nepean Admiralty / or Fulham / Returned by him / some days after / saying it might as / well be burnt. / Not / to be / inserted.' Addressed, in Bentham's hand: 'To / Evan Nepean Esqr / etc. etc. etc.' Autograph draft at BL VII. 397. The docket includes (last two words in pencil): 'With Wises Letter / of 14 June to J.B. / with Brief.' The last phrase of the docket suggests that the document printed above as letter 1581 may have been enclosed with this letter of 23 July.
Editor’s Note
3 On 21 and 22 July there was a debate in the Commons on conditions at Cold Bath Fields prison. Sir Francis Burdett argued that the magistrates had grossly neglected their duty, and Pitt agreed that they were at fault and had shown a want of feeling and circumspection (The Times, 23 July 1800). William Mainwaring was the chairman of the Middlesex quarter sessions and had defended the governor of the prison.
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