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Jeremy Bentham

T. L. S. Sprigge (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 1: 1752–76

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note107To Samuel Bentham5 April 1774 (Aet 26)

Dear Sam

So much for the Boat—I have read what you tell me about the Boat, with as much satisfaction as any thing upon any subject you could have written upon—But what's become of the 'tres capellæ'—'Tres Capellæ' are three little Goats, but from the occasion on which they are mentioned in an epigram of Martials, are made to stand for the subject whatever it was, that one was pg 180last upon. What we were last upon was the Air-experiments—The apparatus was to have been proceeded upon forthwith—Specimens were to have been fitted up, and your most obsequious elder brother and humble servant to command, was to have been commanded down by the time all was ready—A letter after a considerable time has come from your honour, and in the said letter, concerning the said apparatus, or concerning his said proposed-to-be-commanded journey your said humble Servant has heard nothing—To confess the truth, your said humble servant, being now as at all times a little upon the lazy order, is not sorry for the pretence—But you, Sir, may it please your projectorship, where is your consistency, your steadiness, your resolution? Where are the fruits of your gold, that you melted into Glass? Is the Glass to be melted into Pitch again to caulk your Boat with? You who blew so hot when the weather blew so cold, do you now blow colder, as the weather, Sir, blows warmer? Think, and if you regard not an epigram of Martial, hear a text of scripture. 'These things ought ye to have done, and not to have left the others undone.'

Alas! Samuel. Night is come, and I can write but very little longer—I don't know that either of us is a Sorcerer, that we are thus both stricken with blindness—You indeed with your spouting Dolphins and Water-Trumpets may be a conjuror, for aught I know—but I! what have poor I done? however so it is—for these 3 weeks past I have sympathized with you in your blindness—As the Candles have come my eyes have gone—It began with an Inflammation in my left eye seemingly from cold, with soreness and a trifling degree of pain—I put a salve to it a day or two after, of

Mrs. Browne's prescribing which seemed to have taken off the other Symptoms—but left a weakness behind. My eyes (for I put it to both, as the right began to be slightly affected) felt very stiff and astricted the next morning (it was at going to Bed that I applied it) so I did not repeat it—Since then I have put sometimes Conserve of Roses between a Rag doubled, with a few drops of solution of Camphor in Spirit of Wine dropped upon it, sometimes the Conserve alone—It was the prescription (voluntary and gratuitous prescription) of a Physician a friend of Mr. Lind's. What efficacy it may have as far

as I can judge, seems to depend entirely upon its mechanical properties. By it's glutinous consistence fit to retain moisture it applies itself closely to the eye, and covering it (the eyelid you are

to understand is closed) prevents the water of the Tears from evaporating and leaving the mucilaginous matter in the form of a Gum which you know is troublesome by its hardness. It is the Air pg 181which it serves to exclude, that is the grand promoter you know of evaporation—But I am encreasing my blindness while I am giving an account of it. Every Candle in the Coffeehouse is surrounded with a thousand luminous circles in all the colours of the Rainbow— You talk of scraping and raking money together as if you were poor. Our riches here have made us as poor as poor can be—The Bank is locked up and my Father's Executorship has made him for this 3 weeks an absolute Beggar—I received the Guinea for you from the Dr.2 before he left Town: but it is gone the way all other Guineas go with me—If you were to skin me alive, this instant you could not get it out of me—You would get just so much and no more out of me as you would out of a Cat viz that is to say the Skin. My Father's face is as long upon the occasion, as a reasonable man's arm.

  • Adieu mon Frere      
  • J.B.     

April 5th 1774

Ramsden is … but I won't swear—I must not send this letter, I believe till I can send you some fresh account of him.

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Editor’s Note
107. 1 B.M. I: 281–282. Autograph. Docketed: 'I.B. April 5th 1774.'
Addressed: 'To / Mr. Sam: Bentham / at Mr. Gray's / Master Shipwright / at his Majesty's Dock Yard / near Rochester / Kent.' Postmark: '7 AP'.
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