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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 60Editor’s Note1705To Étienne Dumont28 June 1802 (Aet 54)

28 June 1802

Avocats = Courtisannes etc. etc.2

Oh, yes—wondrous merit, truly!—If I had called a cat a cat, would that have been any warrant for your making me call him so? My picture of a lawyer was not half-finished: I had not laid on half the colours I had in store for him.


Millions of thanks for the kindness of the offer, and the means you afforded me of profiting by it.

I have said in my wrath something like what holy David said in his—All Frenchmen are undependable-upon: all except Dumont: and Dumont too is a Frenchman.

  • Ειπεν ὁ Δημοδοκος, 'Χιοι κακοι': ουχ ὁ μεν ὁς δ᾽ου:
  • Παντες πλην Προκλεους:—και Προκλεης ὁ Χιος.3

My Greek display'd, I accept your excuses, naughty boy!, and pardon you.

'Petite injustice'—

You are a pretty fellow, an't you? So beautiful you, I did not know you from myself! A compliment sofulsome, my fear was, lest in that character, you should not be able to swallow it: and lo! mixing it up with bile of your own, you convert it into an injustice. Seriously though, whatever parts there may be in it of your's, with very few exceptions I have not been able to distinguish it from my own. If I had nothing else to do, it would be matter of amusement to make the rummage you are for putting me upon, and give suum cuique.4

pg 61Received your two letters one dated '27 Mai': the other posterior to it with no other date than 'Lundi': I suppose the 7th of this month (June)—if it was not rather the 31st of May: for in that of the 27th you speak of your departure as fixed for that day four days. In the letter of Lundi by Mr Studdings,5 you speak of your having sent along with the compleat copy in three volumes 'le troisieme volume defait'. What means defait? Literally it seems to mean first done-up (i:e: sewed) and then undone. I suppose it means here not done up: i:e: as we say in sheets. Be this as it may, done, undone, or not done, no such thing have I from Mr Studdings. His servant brought the compleat copy in the three volumes loose—H.K.6 asked him for the other odd volume, translating to him that part of your letter—but he knew nothing of the matter. His master had then already been in London a fortnight (he said), and the day he brought it was 23d June. Since then I have heard nothing from Mr Studdings: so that the 3d Volume, if sent, must have served him for waste paper. Sending the next day (according to your worships order) the twofirst volumes of my entire copy to Romilly, I sent him a license, if he thought it worth his while, to dun Mr Studdings for the other. So much for Mr Studdings.

Your Lundi letter promises a dozen copies through Deboffe. Instead of those dozen came on the 25th half a dozen from Abauzit,7 with a promise of the rest soon. This was I suppose by a fresh occasion unthought of when you mentioned Deboffe. Abauzit had the honour to be mine etc. 'avec tous les sentimens d'un homme heureux, regenere pas la lecture de (mes)/ Vos' / ouvrages'

What does this mean? He is a Ministre du Saint Evangile—is n't he? Have I his soul to answer for then, as well as other Souls?

Paper Wars

I should like much to see your paper-wars with Morellet and Garnier8 and if you had been good for any thing, you would have pg 62told me that I should see them, and how. Is there no young man in Geneva that would be glad to take a copy for so great a man as Monseigneur Dumont? Papa Morellet to make war upon us! et tu Brute?9 As for your man of merit, I have been sadly disappointed with him. He has thrown a little more light upon the subject here and there, but I doubt a good deal more darkness. His levity, presumption, ignorance—blindness frequently with every mark of wilfulness— is prodigious. To be sure I have not yet read half his volume but I don't know how to get on with it: Text and Commentary together will make such a hodge-podge, as we must endeavour one of these days—if Providence grant us life and grace, to supersede: You may expose his want of instruction—but as to instruction, from him I doubt, neither you nor the public will get any. You will find in him neither the candour nor the discernment that are necessary for that purpose. From what I see of him already, I set him down in the list of incurables. Can you tell me whether he had seen Emancipate Your Colonies Law Taxes—Defense de l'usure or Defence of Usury—or Judicial Establishment?10 Notwithstanding all I have said, I would send them to him—such of them as he has not seen.

Gallois11 Puff

We are looking for it every day with all our eyes, like Astronomers for a Comet, but we have the Moniteur of 7 Messidor12 before us and still not a syllable of a puff from him or any body. Will he put his name to it I wonder? many puffers (I see) do: if a puff without a name is worth one pot of beer, a puff with his name is worth two.

You see the Moniteurs I suppose regularly: and therein you have seen the annonce of the book—the simple or rather imperfect annonce—with my name only and not your's.13 The Bookseller is a pg 63noodle. The lettering at the back of the book is (Traités de) legislation (par) Bentham. Bentham—Legislation penale et civile—would have been more expressive.

On second thoughts, I am inclined to think I misunderstood your expression. 'Gallois s'est chargé de l'annonce dans le Moniteur.' Perhaps, by the simple annonce above mentioned he has acquitted himself of the charge: and this was all the charge you meant. But for this, what need of Gallois? Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus.14 Was not the Bookseller equal to the task of copying and sending to the newspaper the title of the Book? We shall see one of these days what the Journaux say of it. In the mean time, if you are good for any thing you will let me know whether people say anything at all about it at Paris where I presume your citizenship is not altogether without corespondence.

Bye the bye, do you know that my Citizenship—like a good French Citizen—went to the keeper of the Voting book (Mr Otto's15) and voted a freehold interest in the Consulship to Bonaparte?16

Henry Thornton on Paper Credit17—There is a book of real merit: a controversy with him would be really instructive. I have tumbled it over, but very imperfectly—that not being the order of the day— and for fear of its calling off my attention, and absorbing my capacity of exertion. But, one of these days, I may not improbably grapple with him: admitting all his facts with thanks—agreeing with him with /in/ almost all his conclusions but disputing with him what seems (as far as I have as yet seen) to be his most material conclusion— viz: that paper money does more good than harm.18 Here is a book of real instruction, if the French are wise enough to translate it: the stile clear, plain, without ornament or pretension: the reasoning close.

pg 64Code-Manufactories

You see from the Moniteur that there are several of them setting up—at Petersburgh19—in Bavaria20—to say nothing of probable ones in little Republics. Of the 6 copies received already I think of sending two to Ld St Helen's21 leaving him to do with them what he pleases. Count Rumford22 would be a proper channel I suppose for any thing to Bavaria: but it is against my habits—my principles— my every thing to propose it to him. By Pictet I suppose it might be done, if you thought it worth while to mention it.

German Critiques

Should it fall in your way, I wish you would give a commission to any German capable of undertaking it, to transmitt to me whatever critiques may come to be made upon Dumont Principes. I would not grudge a few pounds (nor in short any sum that it could amount to) in this way for my menus plaisirs. I would not serve you as x. y Bellamy23 had like to have served us.

Diatribes contre la Loi

How raw and extravagant is that proposition of [… ?]24 about suppressing Advocates etc. It is as if a man should propose to keep meat sweet, by keeping maggots off from it. He has made me almost ashamed, every now and then, of my own opinions and my own wishes, by the bad arguments he has given for them.

'Archimedes'25 received (through he knows not what channel—I suppose Abauzit) two copies of a book which goes at Q.S.P. by the name of Dumont Principes. Whatever was the design of this anonymous not to say insidious present, the effect of it was destroying subordination in a regular quiet family—making younger branches insult the elder—snapping their fingers, and vaunting their independence.


I had like to have forgot the Institut—I declare—a pretty kettle pg 65of fish there we have made of it.26 You must now draw in your horns, and put your microscope into your pocket. You will not have the face now to set about making observations upon man, now that auspices are wanting from above.

Has Abauzit fingers capable of holding a pen? If so, ⟨and⟩ he is a true Apostle, you might set him to take off some of your enemies off your hands.


Thank you for your account of him. His name was as well known to me as any name, viz: by its connection with his works, which however I know only from extracts.


Benthamiste?—what sort of an animal is that? I can't find any such word in Boyer's Dictionary.28 As to Religion—to be sure a new Religion would be an odd sort of a thing without a name: accordingly there ought to be one for it, at least for the professors of it. Utilitarian (Angl) Utilitaïrien (Gall) would be the mot propre. Consult the physical class of the Institut: which by the bye I am truly sorry to hear you say is in its decline—or at a stand at least.

Dumont's return

You have nothing particular to do here—when you have seen Ld H.29 safe to whatever place he would be safe at, you ought to take another trip to Paris, to see how matters are going on there. You might by that time take the opportunity of buying Dumont Principes at so much per pound. Imported here, they might be put into one of the new-invented Quasi-Medean kettles30—boiled young again, and regenerated into poems and sermons. You brag of your paper—but besides its letting the fingers through, it will not hold the ink: a pg 66device of your's, I suppose, for stopping the current of my amendments.

Place and Time etc. Ban et Arriere Ban31

I have not compared any thing with the original Brouillon, and probably never shall: but as far as I can judge it is a happy thing that there happened to be so much room to spare. The Promulgation des raisons edified me very much: it was a favourite topic, and I was very glad to see it, and see it so well managed—putting the specimen after the general matter was an idea altogether excellent. 'Place' and 'Time' being of the nature of that sort of general speculation that on likes, and at the same time fixed and specialized by the applications made of it, will (I should think) be found rather amusing than otherwise, and by giving a sort of vernis philosophique, make an excellent finish.—I have filled my paper—a duty I never neglect—so now, my good boy, good by we to you.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
1705. 1 Dumont MSS 33/I, fos. 99–100. Autograph. Addressed: 'A Monsieur / Monsieur Etienne Dumont / Poste restante / à Genève.' Postmarks: 'FOREIGN OFFICE / […?] / 1802', 'Tothill I Street', and 'Paid—10d'. Printed, Bowring, x, 387–90. A reply to two missing letters from Dumont, of 27 May and 'Lundi' (31 May or 7 June).
Editor’s Note
2 This and subsequent headings appear to take up topics raised in the missing letters from Dumont.
Editor’s Note
3 'Demodocus says, "Chians are bad": not one bad and another not so: all bad except Procles— and Procles is a Chian.' Anthologia Palatina, xi. 235. The reference to 'Holy David' may be to Psalms 146: 3; cf. letter 1839.
Editor’s Note
4 'to each his own'.
Editor’s Note
5 Not identified.
Editor’s Note
6 Herbert Koe.
Editor’s Note
7 Marc Théophile Coutau (1761–1834), a Genevan cleric who resided for some years in London and took his mother's name of Abauzit. His covering letter to Bentham is missing.
Editor’s Note
8 Morellet's name, here and below, and Garnier's, have been heavily crossed out in the MS. André Morellet (1727–1819), French priest and political economist, had corresponded with Bentham in 1789 (Correspondence, iv, as index). He disagreed with Bentham's views, as expressed in the Traités, on the origin and foundations of property: see letter 1734. Germain Garnier (1754–1821), French politician and economist, was at this time prefect of the department of Seine-et-Oise. He became senator 1804, count 1808, a minister of state after the Restoration, and marquis 1817. He wrote Abrégé élémentaire des principes de l'économie politique, Paris, 1796, and produced in 1802 an annotated edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (see letter 1740 n. 3).
Editor’s Note
9 Julius Caesar, III. i. 77.
Editor’s Note
10 For these works— apart from Defence of Usury (1787), which was published in a French translation under the title Apologie de l'Usure in 1790— see letter 1686 n. 12 and letter 1604 n. 2.
Editor’s Note
11 Jean Antoine Gauvain Gallois (1761–1828), French politician, had become president of the Tribunat in May 1802. He had corresponded with Bentham in 1792. (Correspondence, iv. 387 n., 397–9; vi. 459 n.)
Editor’s Note
12 26 June.
Editor’s Note
13 Moniteur, 27 prairial an X (15 June 1802). The announcement read:
'Traités de Législation civile et penale, par M. Jérémie Bentham, 3 vol. in 80. Prix. 15 fr. brochés.
A Paris, chez Bossange, Masson et Besson, Libraires, rue de Tournon, et chez Pichard, Libraire, galerie de bois, no. 235, palais du Tribunal.
Il y en a un très-petit nombre tiré sur papier vélin. Le prix est de 24 francs.'
Editor’s Note
14 Horace, Epistles, II. iii. 191–2: 'nec deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus / inciderit …' 'Let not a god intervene, unless a problem should arise that requires such a deliverer.'
Editor’s Note
15 The French minister in London (see letter 1684 n. 10).
Editor’s Note
16 Bentham had been made an honorary citizen of France in August 1792. In June 1802 he voted in the plebiscite on the appointment of Bonaparte as consul for life (cf. Bowring, x. 571).
Editor’s Note
17 Henry Thornton, Enquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Paper Credit of Great Britain, 1802. For Thornton, see Correspondence, vi. 18 n„ and letter 1717 n. 30.
Editor’s Note
18 Bentham did subsequently write a critique of Thornton's pamphlet: see Dumont MSS 50, fos. 441–53. Also, Dumont translated Thornton's pamphlet intofrench. The translation originally appeared in the Bibliothèque britannique, vols. xxi-xxiii, and was then published in pamphlet-form as Recherches sur la nature et les effets du crédit du papier dans la Grande-Bretagne, par Henri Thornton … Traduit de l'anglais, Geneva and Paris, 1803.
Editor’s Note
20 Moniteur, 6 and 18 prairial an X.
Editor’s Note
21 Alieyne Fitzherbert, Baron St Helens (1753–1839), ambassador extraordinary to Russia May 1801–August 1802 (Correspondence, vi. 385 n.).
Editor’s Note
22 Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Rumford (1753–1814), inventor and philanthropist. He had worked in the service of the elector of Bavaria in the 1780s and 1790s, and had returned to Bavaria in May 1802.
Editor’s Note
23 Perhaps Thomas Bellamy (1745–1800), miscellaneous writer and editor of magazines.
Editor’s Note
24 Name heavily crossed through.
Editor’s Note
25 Samuel Bentham.
Editor’s Note
26 The Moniteur of 21 prairial an X (10 June 1802) announced that the Institut National, at its general meeting of 4 prairial, had chosen its new members, including, for the class of moral and political sciences, 'M. Nieburh, célèbre voyageur, dont les concurrens étaient MM. Muller, historien, et Bentham, publiciste'.
Editor’s Note
27 Jean Léopold Nicolas Frédéric (known as Georges) Cuvier (1769–1832), French zoologist, author of Tableau élémentaire de l'histoire naturelle des animaux, Paris, 1798, and Lectures on Comparative Anatomy, translated by William Ross, 2 vols., 1802.
Editor’s Note
28 Abel Boyer (1667–1729), The Royal Dictionary. In Two Parts. First, French and English. Secondly, English and French, 1699. A 20th edn. appeared in 1802.
Editor’s Note
29 Lord Henry Petty.
Editor’s Note
30 In the Greek myth, Medea restored Jason's father Aeson to youth by boiling him in a cauldron with magic herbs.
Editor’s Note
31 The last two sections of the Traités were 'Promulgation des lois', iii. 273–321, and 'De l'influence des tems et des lieux en matière de législation', iii. 323–95.
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