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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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1636To William Cobbett30 June 1801 (Aet 53)


Your Trial of Republicanism,2 which I read with pleasure, brought to my recollection some long neglected / forgotten / papers, which pg 409it seemed to me, if there be patience enough in the public for the reading of them—a point on which I do not pretend to hold myself at all competent to pronounce / by any means a competent judge / —might perhaps be of some little service to the same cause.

I think it was some time in 1796, but I forget altogether upon what occasion or with what view, that lighting upon / glancing an eye over / the French Declaration of Rights for the first time—and provoked to see by what nonsense so much mischief had been done, I took up my pen to take a few notes—and suffering it to go on as fast as it could move, till growing warm as I advanced, I suffered it to go on running / run / to the end, and having set my pick-ax to work on / being once set to work upon / the fabric of nonsense, never laid it down / let it stop a moment / till I saw there was not one stone remaining upon another.3

It is for you to judge whether it would answer your purpose at any time to fill up a vacant column, when news is scanty, and debates and trials over: if it would it is altogether at your service to take as much or as little as you please of it. As far as I can judge men in this age turn aside from every thing that can be called close reasoning, unless it be in mathematics natural philosophy or | |. I need say nothing of the staleness of the subject, or the driness of the matter. Not thinking it worth sending it to the press on my account, or so much as having ever given it a second reading, my surprize can not be great at finding the like judgment / opinion / any where else. I send you, by way of sample a few pages by way of Introduction, together with article 1. which, being the leading article is longer a good deal than any of the others except the next to it.4 The whole together would be to what you see as about | | to | |. The Introduction might be inserted or omitted, as you thought fit.

Should it appear inapplicable to your purpose, you are welcome to hand it over to the Editors of the Anti-Jacobin Review,5 who, it is probable enough, may pass the like judgment on it.

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Editor’s Note
2 The Trial of Republicanism: or, A series of political papers, proving the injurious and debasing consequences of republican government and written constitutions, Philadelphia, 1799; republished in London, April 1801.
Editor’s Note
3 The work referred to was written in 1795–6 and appears under the title 'Anarchical Fallacies' in Bowring, ii. 489–534.
Editor’s Note
4 The material which Bentham sent, or contemplated sending, presumably corresponded to that printed in Bowring, ii. 496–500.
Editor’s Note
5 The Anti-Jacobin Review and Magazine, founded in 1798, was edited by John Gifford (assumed name of John Richards Green, 1758–1818). The work offered by Bentham appeared neither in The Porcupine nor in the Anti-Jacobin Review.
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