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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 Notepg 424Editor’s Note1923To Samuel Bentham9–10 April 1807 (Aet 59)

Q.S.P. 9 Apr. 1807

We hear from Smymove that a Messenger goes from hence to you tomorrow evening. H.K. is writing; hut as matters are circumstanced here, your back will be up, I suppose, if you have not a line or twofrom me likewise.

Great must have been your surprize, before this reaches you, to hear of the change—not in but of the Ministry.2 All our comfort is, of course, that it will not be lasting; and if our Ministry—for so, for shortness, I must call it—come in again, it will be with more power than before; the King will be at their feet. Romilly, who is in general not at all sanguine, rather the contrary seems to regard victory as next to certain. H.K. and I dined there on Sunday: Dumont and nobody else.

The cause of the change being sofully declared in Parliamt, and thence in the Newspapers, there is nothing to tell in the way of secret history. The King, as every body knows, hated our people from the first. Calling for the written assurance—a demand as unprecedented as it is absurd—if the[y] signed it, they degraded themselves and thus would be turned out without hopes of coming in again: if they refused it, at any rate there was the pretence for turning them out.3

Is it not providential, that I did not bite at the pension?4

Being out of England at the time, you have little or no recollection of the contest between the Kg and the H. of Commons at the time that Ld North and Fox were turned out and Pitt brought in in their room.5 By dissolving the Parliamt the King got the better at that time.6 But the ground on which the King then stood was much pg 425better and more popular than that on which he stands at present: the majority against him in the H. of Commons was not then so great as it has already been on the present occasion (the only Day of trial that has as yet elapsed7) and the experiment of a dissolution of Parlt: was not then so dangerous to him, as it would be likely to be now; so soon after the last dissolution, the vexation and expence would exasperate great numbers.8 Unless the H. of Lords were with the King (as before) he would not have the smallest chance: and very little, we trust, if they are: how this will be can not be known or guessed at before Monday, when Ld Staffords motion (against the King) comes on there.9

There is a ridiculous story here of the Russian Minister (Alopeus10) which I think can scarcely be true: viz. that since the dismission of the Ministry, he marched off some where into the country, expecting commotions upon the occasion in London, as if a change of Administration were a Revolution in Government. A man in such a station could scarcely have been so ignorant.

I could have sent you by this conveyance the 1st part of my Scotch Reform (scotch reform relative to the Administration of civil Justice with Illustrations from English Non-Reform) pp 100 one hundred,11 close print like Letters to Ld Pelham and Plea for the Constitution, But two capital Tables not being yet printed (indeed they are but just written) I thought better to wait till the next conveyance. Romilly and Dumont have both seen it: both much pleased with it: Romilly more especially: though lawyers are treated throughout as the scum of the earth and the arch enemies of mankind.

pg 426Heide Koe seems to go on very well at his estate (at Barrow Green near Godstone) He is fully occupied with his farming: never comes to town: has been to town but once since his marriage in Deer: I / We / think of going there in a month or 5 weeks for a week or so: viz: when the money from the lawsuit with Johnson12 is received—numerous debts paid therewith, purchases of divers necessaries made; and while the room I am writing in is changing from black to white.

You have, or you have not, heard from other quarters of my having laid violent hands on £100 of your money, out of the £2,000 credit Goodrich (is it not?) has from you upon your Banker. It was to pay the deposit money on H.K.'s beginning to keep Commons13 at Line. Inn to enable him to be called to the Bar: Banker (mine) over drawn furiously, and the law's delay still keeping me out of the money from Johnson, By the latter end of this month I hope to receive it: I could have received it a month ago, if I would have given up interest: about £40 or £50.

Unless you happen to have a particular want for it, I shan't be in any haste about letting you have this £100 again. The expence of the York Street repairs is so enormous:—I believe I mentioned in a former letter about £5 or 600: they turn out to be much nearer a thousand: how near I do not know: nor is there any use in it till the money comes in for making all things square. I thought to have had to have bought in to the funds on that occasion: at least enough to make my £1650 5 per Cents £2000: instead of that I fear I shall have to sell You owed me God knows how much more than that £100 for rent: but you having ceased to pay it, I thought you had rather not pay it—and therefore let you take your own course: but now you are become rich, in present ready money at least: while I am poor in present money, though a little richer (bating depretiation of money) in future money, which will 'ere long become yours or your brats'.

Without a little money in the funds toface a sudden exigency, a man lives in a state of constant indigence and dependence—at least the dread of it.

Your 1/14 of a sheet of | | Feby.14 in your own hand, is before me. 'Your unwillingness to remain here' (viz. at Petersburgh) regards only the remaining there for life (I hope and presume) not the staying there a few years longer to make a little reputation as well as a little money. As to the leave of absence, the official letter you pg 427must have received before this from the Admiralty has I hope tranquilized you on that score. Under the mask of an order to return, it is in fact a permission to stay, if you can but obtain a request for that purpose from the government where you are; without which the ground would fail, and the permission could not be granted you in common decency. If that letter did not convey to you an answer signed by Ld Spencer, it conveyed (it seems to me) the effect of his friendship, through your friend Tom Grenville.15 Alexander and his people can not surely be to such a degree deficient and inconsistent, as to refuse or neglect to ask for the leave which they are so sure will be granted.

As to our visit to Petersburgh, all my projects have all along proceeded upon that supposition; and so are still: as to setting out before the close of summer—say about the middle or latter end of August, I don't know that I ever thought of it.

10th April Friday.

The papers are come in—and (lack-a-day!) the majority is against us.16 I have not seen any body since: nor can either of us attempt it, for fear of losing the Messenger. But the consequence must be— that for the present, the new Ministers continue in their places. A worse collection of riff-raff never was raked together. Our Times is not come in: I send you a Morning Chronicle.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1923. 1 BL VIII. 269–72. Autograph. Docketed; '1807 Ap 9 / JB-SB.'
Editor’s Note
2 Grenville's 'Ministry of All the Talents' had been replaced in late March by a Pittite ministry headed by the Duke of Portland.
Editor’s Note
3 Grenville's ministry had introduced in the Commons on 5 March a bill to open commissions in the army and navy to Roman Catholics and Protestant dissenters. This measure having aroused strong opposition from the king, the ministry abandoned it on the 15th. The king then asked the ministers for a written pledge that they would not raise the Catholic question again; but this they refused to give, and on the 23rd the king informed them that he was seeking new ministers.
Editor’s Note
4 See letter 1920.
Editor’s Note
5 18 December 1783.
Editor’s Note
6 The king dissolved parliament on 24 March 1784, and at the ensuing general election he and the younger Pitt won a decisive victory over Fox and North.
Editor’s Note
7 In response to a report that Spencer Perceval, the new chancellor of the exchequer, would also be appointed chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster for life, Henry Martin moved an address to the king on 25 March, urging him not to grant for life any office that had hitherto been held during pleasure. The address was carried by 208 votes to 115.
Editor’s Note
8 Parliament was in fact to be dissolved on 25 April, and the general election was to result in a strengthening of the ministry's position.
Editor’s Note
9 A motion of the Marquis of Stafford, expressing regret at the recent change of ministry and the way in which it had been effected, was debated in the House of Lords on 13 April, but was in effect negatived when a motion to adjourn the House was carried by 171 votes to 90.
Editor’s Note
10 Maksim Maksimovich Alopeus (1748–1822). He had recently replaced Count P. Stroganov, who had served briefly as Russian envoy to Britain in succession to S. R. Vorontsov.
Editor’s Note
11 The first edition of the whole work, entitled Scotch Reform; considered with reference to the Plan, proposed in the late Parliament, for the Regulation of the Courts, and the Administration of Justice in Scotland: with illustrations from English Non-Reform … In a series of Letters addressed to the Right Hon, Lord Grenville, was not published until 1808. It included a Letter V, 'On the bill called Lord Eldon's', which was written between the autumn of 1807 and the spring of 1808 (see UC xciii–xciv).
Editor’s Note
12 See letter 1886.
Editor’s Note
13 i.e. eat dinners: cf. letter 1896 n. 5.
Editor’s Note
14 Missing.
Editor’s Note
15 Thomas Grenville (1755–1846), brother of Lord Grenville, was first lord of the admiralty 20 September 1806–6 April 1807.
Editor’s Note
16 In the Commons on 9 April Thomas Brand moved that it was contrary to the duties of the ministers of the Crown to restrain themselves by any pledge from offering to the king any advice which circumstances might render necessary for the welfare of his majesty's dominions. When the House divided at 6 a.m. on 10 April the motion was defeated by 258 votes to 226.
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