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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 10: July 1820 to January 1821

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note2735To Francis Placelate 1820? (Aet 72)

J.B. to F.P.

For these two years past or thereabouts, on the part of Mr. Hobhouse, a disposition has been understood to have place to take upon himself the function of Editor, with reference to my papers on Political Fallacies, in the state, too imperfect as it is, in which they have been left by me, and, occasionally, to enrich the work with notes by the Editor.2 At different times, the mass of these papers has been in his hands, and remained in them for months, waiting his leisure. In the last instance, the scrawl proved, and no wonder that it did so prove, to be illegible to him. On this account it was taken out of his hands, under an understanding that a legible copy of it was to be taken, and ultimately placed in his hands. The original had but a short time been in my hands for that purpose, when the Election business, that sprung up, rendering it evidently impracticable for Mr. Hobhouse to bestow any part of his time on the subject here in question, the execution of the design of putting the papers into the hands of a copyist, was suspended of course. During the sitting of Parliament, a pg 251bar, equally insuperable, will prevent, on his part, the commencement of any such undertaking. But, sooner or later, the Session will close, and vacation commence. Is it at present the disposition of the gentleman in question to commence, at that time of comparative leisure, the execution of the so long contemplated, and so unavoidably long postponed design? If I receive information in the affirmative, I place the papers in the hands of a Copyist: if not, not. The time will scarcely be so little as three months; the expence, so little as twenty pounds. What is worse, antecedently to the putting the papers into the hands of a Copyist, comes, unavoidably, the sorting of them, to which no time but my own can be applied, and that time will not be less than—I don't know how many days. This expenditure, and most of all that which regards my own time, you will not wonder at my not being willing to incur, without an adequate ground for the expectation that, if bestowed, it will not be thrown away. For procuring to me this ground, or shewing to me that it is not procurable, I cast myself Mr. Middle-man, on your experienced kindness and […?]

While in name it will be The Book of Fallacies, in its effect, the work will include a defence of Parliamentary Reform against the most operative of the instruments of attack that are so continually employed against it: and, as Reform, in all other shapes whatsoever, is so compleatly dependent upon reform in the parliamentary shape, the use of the work, if it has any, in relation to parliamentary reform, will be its principal use—and that greater than all its other public uses put together.

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Editor’s Note
2735. 1 BL Add. MS 36,458, fos. 436–7. Autograph. Internal evidence suggests that this letter was sent some while after the March 1820 general election, when Hobhouse was returned for Westminster, and before the end of that session, which closed on 23 November 1820.
Editor’s Note
2 See letter 2532 (Correspondence, ix). The Book of Fallacies was published in 1824, edited by Peregrine Bingham, not Hobhouse.
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