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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 2: 1777–80

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note261To Samuel Bentham6 July 1778 (Aet 30)

Linc. Inn. July 6 1778

Your letter, my dear Sam, which I received this afternoon, deliver'd me as you may imagine from a good deal of anxiety.2 It pg 134is to no purpose to tell you all the theories and conjectures I had formed to account for your silence. You have seen I suppose, before now a letter I wrote about you to Mr. Witchell. As the Devil would have it he was in town at the time (so I learnt today from Nairne through Mrs. D.) by which means I was doubly distressed and disappointed. The first that I heard of you was from Q.S.P., with whom I dined on Thursday and Friday.

Friday's post brought me a letter from D'Alembert,3 which put me in bad spirits. I have transcribed it for your edification on the other leaf. It is civil indeed, but rather cold and dry, and very short. N'importe—I am by this time very well reconciled to it—We shall soon see, I hope, what the other men have to say to us.

After I had read your letter to me I posted to Lind to see that which you had written to him—Why could not you as well have sent it under my cover? You were afraid I suppose of my being out of the way. He seemed mightily pleased with it I can assure you and told me he intended to answer it—I told him that as time was pretious to him, I would save him that trouble—All he had to say was to thank you for what you have done, and to exhort you to lose no opportunity of doing the like in future. I do exhort you in his name and my own. I can assure you it has answer'd very well: therefore grudge neither time nor trouble in scraping up whatever intelligence you can. He says it is inconceivable the anxiety they are in in Poland to know every thing that happens between us and France, thinking that if we were disengaged we might take some part or other in the disputes in Germany. The best days for your letters of news to Lind to arrive are Tuesdays and Fridays: because then what is in them goes piping hot the same day to Poland. However if any thing material should happen, don't make that a reason for delay.

Wilson keeps making great preachments to me about the necessity of your having another coat and Waistcoat. I should think you might as well have it there as here.

Mrs. D. observes that her neighbour Mr. Frere[?] is now at Portsmouth and is very intimate with Sr. Charles Douglas.4 Nairne told her of a Parson, Swan5 who is there as being a person you would pg 135like to be acquainted with. I believe he has mentioned you to him. Amongst other things he is musical.

La folle of late has behaved very well—She talks of departing on Thursday. Very likely I may pay her the compliment of pressing her to stay another day or two.

You may imagine us all very well pleased with your account of your proceedings, which is all I need say about the matter.

Q.S.P. has told you I suppose of Charles's Geneva expedition. It was made a pompous affair of in Q.S.P.'s account of it to me. But the truth of the matter, as I got it from Charles is that he goes by a Carrier, who makes it his business to make up parties as many times in a year as he can. The scheme for eating Ld. Trentham's6 toads has not taken—He is gone off by himself to Holland. I concluded at first that it had, from the chuckling and exultation.

My eyes (God blast them) have been almost in the same way as Wilson's. He says you are a good boy, that he is very well pleased with you, and gives you his blessing.

We take it for granted that you will spare neither time nor trouble nor sollicitation nor coaxing nor bullying to get your project put in execution before the fleet sails.

Your letter to Q.S.P, was read by him after dinner in a sort of triumph. I believe it had a good effect. He sat down forthwith to answer it: but his answer I did not see.

[The letter from d'Alembert]

J'ai reçu, Monsieur, il y a deja quelque temps, les deux ouvrages interessants que vous m'avez fait l'honneur de m'envoyer, et j'ai reçu depuis peu de jours votre obligeante lettre, dont je vous fais tous mes remercimens, ainsi que de ces deux ouvrages. Quelque flatté que je sois du suffrage que vous voulez bien accorder a mes foibles productions, je suis bien éloigne de m'en croire digne. Quant a votre projet, et aux tables que vous m'avez envoyées, je ne puis qu'y applaudir et en desirer l'execution. Il seroit temps que le genre humain reformāt enfin tous les absurdites, et les atrocités même, de la jurisprudence criminelle. Mais si nous ne pouvons pas esperer de voir sitôt ce pretieux changement, il est bon au moins que des Philosophes tels que vous, Monsieur, le preparent par leurs pg 136ecrits. Je ne puis trop vous exhorter a remplir un project si ⟨…⟩ pour vos semblables et si honorable pour vous.

J'ai ⟨remis⟩ a Mrs. Morellet et de Chastellux les paquets que vous m'avez adressés, et je ne doute point qu'ils ne vous en fassent bientôt leurs remercimens.

Recevez l'assurance des sentimens d'estime, de consideration et de reconnoissance avec lesquels j'ai l'honneur d'être.

  • Monsieur                                
  • Votre tres humble          
  • et tres obéissant serviteur        
  • D'Alembert               

Paris ce 26 Juin 1778.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
261. 1 B.M. II: 207–208. Autograph. Docketed: 'I.B. July 6 1778.'
Addressed: 'Mr. Bentham / Dock Yard / Portsmouth / Single Sheet.' Postmark: '. . IY'.
Editor’s Note
2 In this letter, dated 'Portsmouth Academy July 5th 1778' (B.M. II: 205) Samuel, just returned from St Helens on the Isle of Wight, says that he has at last received the parcel and letters. He says in reference to Lind's complaints (see letter 258) that he sent him the letter the day it was written. He has dined with Dr Lind and his son-in-law Dr Meek, and is very grateful to Bentham's Lind (John), for the introduction to them.
Also he has dined and slept aboard the Formidable and met Sir Hugh Palliser. A proposal he has made for an improvement in the steering apparatus was well received. Dr Lind has given him a letter of introduction to Sir Charles Douglas, captain of the Stirling Castle. He has called on board the Victory, to see Peake, and also on board the Bienfaisant and the Foudroyant.
Samuel's new acquaintance was John Lind's cousin, Dr James Lind (1716–94) who had been physician to the Naval Hospital at Haslar, Gosport, since 1758. His A Treatise on the Scurvy (1754), recommending the consumption of oranges, lemons and green foods while at sea, was the first work on this subject written by a scientifically equipped observer. Sir Robert Douglas's table of the Lind family gives Mrs Meek as Dr Lind's daughter (see letter 12, n. 1).
Dr James Lind of Haslar should not be confused with Dr James Lind of Windsor (see letter 12, n. 1 and letter 295, n. 5).
Bentham sent this letter on to his father, with this covering note:
'Hond. Sir
I take the liberty of sending you these two letters of Sam's, imagining they will give you pleasure, and that you will not grudge the postage of them. My respects wait upon my Mother. My health is better than when I saw you last. I have taken some pills that were prescribed by Dr. Fordyce to Mr. Wilson and they appear to have been of service to me. Your's dutifully and affectionately J.B.' (Addressed: 'Jere:h Bentham Esqr. / Petersham / Surrey.' Postmark: '7 IY'.)
Editor’s Note
3 This letter was in reply to a letter from Bentham corresponding to the draft letter 249. Bowring published a part of it in translation (x, 87). Perhaps he had the original letter.
Editor’s Note
4 Sir Charles Douglas, bart. (d. 1789), commanded the Stirling Castle at Ushant; he became a Rear-Admiral in 1787.
Editor’s Note
5 Possibly Henry Swann of Portsmouth, matric. Oriel 1750, aged 16; b.a. 1754, m.a. 1757.
Editor’s Note
6 George Granville Leveson-Gower (1758–1833), son and heir of the second Earl Gower, and as such styled Viscount Trentham till 1786, when his father was created Marquess of Stafford. He then bore the title of Earl Gower till 1805, when he succeeded his father as second Marquess. In 1833 he was created Duke of Sutherland, his wife being Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland in her own right in the peerage of Scotland. He had been a contemporary of Charles Abbot at Westminster and Christ Church.
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