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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 Note13Jeremy Bentham to Jeremiah Bentham21 November 1760 (Aet 12)

Queen's Coll. Novr. 21st 1760

Dear Papa

I have been so busy for this last week about my Verses, that I have hardly stirred out in that time; which business was the reason of my delaying my letter. I think it was last thursday sen'night I was at Baliol to see Mrs. Lee2: at first I was shown into a good pretty genteel dressing room, where a Lady waited to receive me, whom I had not seen before. we talked together upon various subjects, such as Westminster, the University, the King's death, and the like. after a while, we went into that large Parlour, that they sat in, when you went there (I forgot to tell you that Miss Hodgekin3 a young Lady, who you know, was there then, was ill, upon which I offer'd to go away; but they desired me to stay, telling me, that there would be company; for which reason I should stay, as they were to receive them.) in a little time Dr. Lee came in, and asked Mrs. Lee who I was; so she told him, and in the meantime a Gentleman came in whom they call'd Mr. or Dr. (I do not know which) Kennedy: I believe he is head of some Colledge or pg 25other.4 I am now in Mr. Chambers's room, (only upon a visit, for I am now got into my own Room) and as he is just stepped out, I take this Opportunity to write that that I promised about him5: which I could not do so well before, for fear, if he should by chance see what I am writing he might take it ill. he was a Scholar here at first, but is now a Commoner. after he had been here about a year, he grew a little disordered in his Senses, and was what I think people call Hypocondriac. he fancied once that the blood had all gone from his face, and that it was quite pale and wan on that account; he would take hold of his throat with his hands and squease it 'till he was almost throttled; and one day he tied a rope as tight as he could round his waste; and all this to get the blood up to his face; but after all this trouble he declared that it would not do, and that he was a dead Man. at last a Physician was sent for, but Chambers said it would not do, 'twas all over with him; he did not expect to live 2 hours longer: however, at last he recovered: Sometime after this, he and a Acquaintance of his a Scholar too being Confined to College for some Misdemeanor or another, one night being got a little tipsey as I suppose, and wanting to get out they went to a back door that looks into New-College-lane; a little lane if you remember by the side of Queen's; and from that door they wrenched off an Iron bar with ease, which it was thought 4 or 5 strong men could not have done; but they had the prudence after all, not to go out, for if they had, they would have been expelled ye. University certainly. however, the next morning the Provost6 sent for Chambers, urging him to tell the truth, with a promise that if he did, he might find some favour: upon which he very ingenuously told him the whole affair. next the other was sent for, who for a long time stifly denied it, but it being proved clearly against him; he was turned out of the foundation; and accordingly put off his Scholar's Gown and put on a Battler's.7 Chambers too tho' he was not ordered, yet as his Companion had been, thought he must too; and did so. but the Provost seeing him at the hall with his Battler's gown and apart from the rest of the Scholars, was surprised and sent for him again. Well, says he, Chambres, I though I had told you, that I would favour You on account of your ingenuity (ingenuousness I believe I should say) how came you to put on this pg 26Gown? Yes Sir, says Chambers, but as you had turned off Hewson,8 for the fault to which I was as much accessary as he, I thought I deserved Punishment as much as he. The Provost admired that, but told him that he was pardoned for telling the truth, and it would be better for Hewson if he had too. but at last he forgave them both, and restored them to the Foundation. About half a year ago Chambres having received a bank note of 3 〈…〉 from his Mother (for his Father was not living) he made an Elopement from the College. the reason was, he did not like to be a Scholar, and indeed it is no very desirable thing; for the fellows are very absolute over them; and if it was not for the money and necessaries which amount to (I believe) not above 10£ a Year they would be no better off (for the time that they are Scholars, than even the Servitors9; and they too are paid by every Commoner so much a Year for their attendance at meals: besides a Scholar does not come to a Fellowship till he has been at College 15 or 16 years or more. for this reason Chambre not liking his situation, went to London with his Money, and there lived for some time very comfortably; but at last his Money being almost gone, he was forced to decamp, and go home having bilked his Taylor; in his journey he unexpectedly met with an Uncle of his, who carried him home, to whom he told his Story, and at last got leave to come and be a Commoner. he treated with the Vice-Chancellor from his own home and would not have come if he could not have obtained leave to be a commoner. You see I am stinted for room now, and therefore cannot write all that I would. I have received my Cloaths10; you will soon receive the Verses from

Your dutiful and affectionate Son, Jeremy Bentham

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
13. 1 B.M. I: 49–50. Autograph. Docketed by Jeremiah Bentham: 'Jeremy Bentham / Letter datd. Queen's Coll. Oxford. Novr. 21 1760. Reed. 24th'.
Addressed: 'To / Jeremiah Bentham Esq. / at Crutched-Fryars / opposite Savage-gardens / London.' Franked: 'Wortley Montague'. Postmark: '8 NO'.
A possible explanation of this postmark is that Jeremiah Bentham has coupled the wrong cover with this letter and docketed it accordingly. The cover of the letter here is separate, not, as in many cases, constituted by the reverse of the letter itself. Thus this cover may really belong to letter 11.
Editor’s Note
3 Unidentified.
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4 No head of a college or hall of this or any similar name can be identified at this period.
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5 In letter 11.
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6 Joseph Browne, d.d. (1700–67), Provost since 3 December 1756. He was also at this time Vice-Chancellor, holding that office from 1759 until 1765.
Editor’s Note
7 Battlers composed a rank of students below commoners and above servitors.
Editor’s Note
8 Joseph Hewson of Wigton, Cumberland, matric. Queen's October 1756, aged 19; b.a. 1760, m.a. 1764.
Editor’s Note
9 Students who paid reduced fees or none, and performed in return some menial services.
Editor’s Note
10 Probably the mourning clothes asked for in letter 11. There is a letter from Mr Jefferson to Jeremiah Bentham dated 20 November 1760, in which he comments on Jeremy's having forgotten to send the letter asking for mourning clothes (B.M. I: 47).
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