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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 Note30To Jeremiah Bentham30 June 1761 (Aet 13)

Tuesday 30 June 1761

Dear Papa

I have sent you a Declamation I spoke last Saturday, with the approbation of all my Acquaintance, who liked the thing itself pg 50very well, but still better my Manner of speaking it. even a Batchelor of my Acquaintance went so far as to say, that he never heard but one speak a Declamation better all the time he has been in College. which indeed is not so much to say as perhaps you imagine; for sure no body can speak worse than we do here, for in short 'tis like repeating just so many Lines out of Propria quæ Maribus.2 I have disputed too in the Hall once and am going in again tomorrow, there also I came off with Honour, having fairly beat off not my proper Antagonist but the Moderator himself: for he was forced to supply my Antagonist with Arguments, the Invalidity of which I clearly demonstrated. I should have disputed much oftener, but for the Holidays or Eves that happened on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays: and besides we went 3 times into the Hall before we disputed ourselves, that we might see the Method: indeed I am sorry that it does not come to my turn to dispute every disputation day, for, for my part, I desire no better sport.—I wish you would let me come home very soon, for my Cloaths are dropping off my back, and if I don't go home very soon to get new ones, I must not go down stairs they are so bad, for as soon as one Hole is mended, another breaks out again: and as almost all the Commoners either are gone for the Vacation or will be gone in a day or two's time, very little business will be going forward; pray give me an Answer very soon, that I may know whether I am to wear Clothes or go in Rags. Pray give my duty to my Grandmama, and love to dear Sammy, and represent the woeful condition of one who is nevertheless

  • Your dutiful and             
  • affectionate Son         
  • J. Bentham        

I should be glad to know your's and Mr. Skinner's Opinion of Higgenbroccius.3 Pray see if you can make out this thing which is strictly true here.

pg 51Nostra parva Ursa non solum est sus vel, sed etiam oportet ego.4 Pray excuse my not writing over my Declamation.

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Editor’s Note
30. 1 U.C. clxiii: 1. Docketed by Jeremiah Bentham: 'Jeremy Bentham / Letter datd. Queen's College Oxford / June 30 1761.'
It is suspected that this letter belonged to Bowring's private collection of which C. K. Ogden was at one time the owner, and was presented or sold by him to the College. The relevant documents have been destroyed by fire. It has some notes on it in Ogden's hand. It was the only juvenile letter published by Bowring (x, 42) and apparently the only one of which he knew. On his own copy of Works, Volume x, now in the British Museum, he has noted at the end of chapter II: 'It is to me a subject of great regret that so little remains of Bentham's early correspondence with his father and family. He believed that the letters were destroyed wilfully by his mother-in-law, and his suspicions added not a little to the severity of judgment with which he visited that lady.' (It seems from this that neither Bowring nor Bentham knew that the contents of B.M. I survived.)
Editor’s Note
2 These arc the opening words of a doggerel mnemonic on the genders of Latin nouns found in Lily's Latin Grammar. The phrase was used to signify the merest rudiments of Latin.
Editor’s Note
3 Presumably a reference to some comic Latin verses about Oxford. These are published in the 1806 edition of a humorous account of Oxford called A Companion to the Guide and a Guide to the Companion: being a Complete Supplement to all the Accounts of Oxford hitherto published. The verses are headed 'Carmen Introductorium Pietati Oxoniensi Praefigendum Auctore Gerardo Higgenbrocio, etc., etc.' They are not published in an earlier (1762?) edition of the work.
Editor’s Note
4 Our small beer is not only sour but also musty.
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