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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 7: January 1802 to December 1808

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note1788To Étienne Dumont9 February 1803 (Aet 54)

Q.S.P. 9th Feby 1803

My dear Dumont

On Thursday, when (as you know) Dr Parr dined with me, he began of his own accord a conversation about the Letters to Lord pg 199Pelham: item, egalement of his own accord, he proposed my sending a Copy to Charles Fox, saying that he was to see him as on Saturday last, and offering himself to be the Bearer of it. My answer was—that it had not been my intention to attempt troubling Mr Fox upon any such minor concerns—that I reserved in my own mind his interposition for points of greater moment, such as the wound given to the constitution by the system of illegal legislation, and the violations of the Habeas Corpus Act etc.: and that in this view, though I sent the Letters to Lord Pelham to every body else I could think of, I had purposely avoided sending a copy to Mr Fox. He seemed to understand my reasons, but still insisted on my permitting him to be the bearer of a Copy, as before: expressing a confident assurance that Mr Fox would take a lively interest in the concerns of Panopticon, Convicts, and soforth; at the same time desiring me to write in the Copy my own name and Mr Foxs in the usual mode. This last operation I peremptorily declined—saying that as he was kind enough to offer to be the bearer of a Copy to Mr Fox I felt myself much obliged to him for his good wishes and intentions, and could not refuse my compliance with them: but that whatever was done in the business through him must be done by him, and by him only. Accordingly I gave him a copy, but without any thing in it from myself to Mr Fox. I said nothing to him about the paper put into Mr Fox's hands by Lord Henry,2—partly because it would have consumed time, partly because there was no good to be done, and possibly some harm by a communication the effect of which might have been to damp the alacrity of his zeal. At parting, I asked how I was to know what if any thing, had passed?—his answer was—that he would write.

When Saturday came, having occasion to see him about other matters, I called upon him at Carey Street (No 38) and caught him before he set out on his appointed visit to Mr Fox. I staid with him till he took his departure, and escorted him to Mr Fox's hired house in Clarges Street (No 44) returning home by way of Constitution Hill.

On Monday morning, no letter coming as I had expected, I sent Herbert to him, whofound him a little indisposed, partly with the fatigue I had innocently given him on the Saturday by overwalking him, partly by late hours over night. His answer was short, and in general terms—that I should not have been sorry to have over- pg 200heard what passed,—that Mr Fox was a zealous 'Panoptician'— that he had read Defence of Usury—and that he was to see him again in a few days—but that he would write to me about that and the other business, which for shortness sake I say nothing of till we meet. Accordingly yesterday evening came a letter from him, beginning with 'My wise and worthy friend':—So much as relates to the interview with Fox is in these words—3

'You ran away from me rather abruptly when I went to the door with Mr Fox;' (I dont know what this means: I left him before he had quite reached Mr Fox's door,) 'I presented to him your books, and I am sure that you would not have been sorry to hear what passed between him and myself about your mighty talents, your profound researches, your important discoveries, yr irresistible arguments, yr honest intentions, and most meritorious services.'

So far, so good. Two points however I should not have been sorry to have seen rendered a little clearer—1. what part it was that Fox himself took in these fine eulogiums: 2. but above all what indications he gave, if any, of a disposition to come forward, and speak and act to any purpose. Ld H. and you will judge, whether in this state of things a question from him (Ld H.) as to his (Fox's) intentions in relation to the paper so long ago put into his hands, might not be of use: and this is the object of the trouble I have been giving to your Citizenship not to speak of my own.

Accidents at the printers have made a sad delay in regard to my pamphlet on the constitutional question,4 which ought to have been out by this time.

P.S. Pray give me a call, as soon as you can make it convenient. I want to talk with you about 'Dumont Principes'.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1788. 1 Dumont MSS 33/I, fos. 109–10. Autograph. Addressed: 'To Mr Dumont.' Copy at BL VIII. 30–1, docketed; '1803 Feb 9 / Panopt. / J.B. Q.S.P. / to / Dumont Lansdowne H. / Intercourse with Mr / Fox through Dr Parr.'
Editor’s Note
2 Cf. letter 1748.
Editor’s Note
3 The following quotation—apart from the words in brackets, which are an autograph insertion—is in the hand of a copyist.
Editor’s Note
4 A Plea for the Constitution.
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