Jump to Content
Jump to chapter

Jeremy Bentham

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

Find Location in text

Main Text

Editor’s Notepg 181Editor’s Note280To Samuel Bentham27 October 1778 (Aet 30)

Linc. Inn. Tuesday 27 Oct. 1778

I am almost blind with bad eyes and beside that I am more than half asleep—Quere whether I shall be able to make out a scrap of a letter to go tonight.

Have you seen Horne's letter to Dunning? an 18d. pamphlet? it contains an important discovery in Universal Grammar. It gives you the Natural History and Chemical Analysis of conjunctions: it shews that they are most of them the imperatives of verbs. It tears Harris's Hermes all to rags.2

You will know by the News papers and from a thousand other quarters of Ld. Howe's being come to Portsmouth. I heard of it last night only as a report. To day /about 3 o'clock/ I heard of it from Lind as a certainty. I posted to J. Street (where by the bye La folle is along with La Grossiere) with the intelligence. La folle came to town on Monday /yesterday/ with her sister on pretence that verte would not be able to take care of the three children. I had not been there a minute when in came a man sent by Nairne the Optn. to give advice of his having received a letter from Davies at Portsmouth. They said that part of the message was to mention it as D's desire that she should not leave town till she had seen or heard from him: this however must have been a mistake as he could not possibly have known of her being in town; nor did Nairne that I know of. I suppose the message was to desire Mrs. W. to write to Mrs. D. to come to town.

I took that opportunity to give Verte a letter which I had just received for her from L'ecossois.3 He will be in town the 4th or 5th. and from what he heard about you last, he more than half expects to find you here then.

Schwediauer drank Tea with me last night—he and I are as great as Inkle-weavers. He adores Helvetius—He has translated (with large additions and explanations) Fordyce's Elements of pg 182Agriculture. He tells me of a new edition of Macquer's Dicty. of Chymistry4 that is coming out in 6 vols 8vo.: and Elmsly (as he told him) is getting translated into English as it comes out. Have not you got the 2d. edition of the English in 3 vols 8vo. If you have quere will you give it to Young5 and wait yourself for the new one, or will you wait for the new one to give him—He I dare say, knows nothing about the new one.

I have just been doing a thing which Q.S.P. would think the act of a poor simple mortal that had no regard to his own interest: others perhaps might think it an act of supreme magnanimity. The truth is it is neither the one nor the other; but an act done in pursuance of I hope not a dishonest regard to what I take to be my own interest—In my last I told you about Schwediauer's friend Pilate. Schw. was to write to him this evening. It came in my head this morning to write a note or rather letter to Schw. recommending it to him to press Pilate to write for the Berne premium. I had hinted it to him last night. To have such a concurrent I said would be a matter of honour to me if I succeeded, and of consolation if I failed. I urged all the arguments that I could have urged if I had been ever so desirous of his embracing the proposal: putting him in mind of the Empress, Voltaire etc. etc. and of the book that he has already written in which he has exposed some of the defects of the established systems of Criminal Law in a lively and not injudicious manner—that he would not be new to the subject; that it was expected of him, and so forth: and what is more than all this offering to exhibit to Schwed. all my papers without reserve that he might communicate out of them to Pilate any thing which he should think might be of use to him. Now as the time is not very long, as he has countries to travel over and Russian Bears to dandle through them, as he will understand that I am pretty well advanced, and as I imagine will be taught to look upon me as rather a formidable concurrent, what I rather expect is that he will not embrace the proposal. If so he will think it an act of great magnanimity, at least I hope so, and will trumpet it about as such to his young cubs and in Russia amongst other places; the rather as every thing I hear of him induces me to entertain a favourable opinion of him. But even if he should, I am not at all afraid of him; neither I believe are you: for if my plan is not what I look upon it to be, pg 183neither he nor I should get any thing for pursuing it: and if it is, I take it a man must have been used to see the inside of my gizzard for some years before he would be able to furnish as well as I should a thread that I had begun to spin out of it.

Schwede is intimate with Ingenhaus,6 a Physician of Vienna, a man of eminence, Physician to the Emperor. Schwede and Ingenhaus came over to England together—Ingenhaus is intimate with Franklin,7 and is now with him at Paris. Ingenhaus tells Schwede that Franklin has Helvetius constantly on his table. Here you see is a ladder by which my Code, and upon occasion either your pretty person or mine might be hoisted up to Franklin. Code might do for America when settled.

Schwede is to get me from Vienna the Criminal Code in force in the Empress's dominions; a book I have heard much talk of.

What you say about recommendations I had foreseen—however you did right to mention it because I might not have foreseen it, and because I sometimes do things rather against my better judgement, thinking you expect them8

Wastecoat? you have had your spotter green by this time: that will do for a change for some little time ⟨…⟩ ⟨…⟩ is in it. Here are such abundance of pretty wastecoats ⟨…⟩ ⟨…⟩ for wastecoats here that I don't much like the thoughts ⟨…⟩ ⟨…⟩ going hand over head and getting one there—consider ⟨…⟩ ⟨…⟩ will be here the 4th or 5th—Have you a good Tay⟨lor …⟩ If you have he will make much cheaper than ⟨…⟩ ⟨I⟩ suppose—I could send you down cloth like mine.

Now will you come to town, I wonder to ⟨meet⟩ ⟨…⟩ As soon as ever I hear any thing that can contribute to ⟨…⟩ ⟨…⟩ you, you may be sure I shall let you know.

It is not impossible but I may send you my last wastecoat to cut a dash with once or twice—if I do it will be by the Diligence tomorrow /or Thursday if none goes tomorrow/ which will reach Plymouth as soon as this letter. It is rather summerish so can be pg 184worn but once or twice—You shall certainly have my last winter one there or at Portsmouth.

I have two franks remaining—directed to Lloyd—what shall I do with them?9

Lind is to give Schwede a dinner one of these days—perhaps I may have the honour of partaking of it. Schwede hesitates about going to Q.S.P. but we shall talk more about it tomorrow or Thursday.

The plot thickens. The personages of our history seem to be all getting together, like the dramatis personae at the end of a play.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
280. 1 B.M. II: 247–248. Autograph. Docketed: 'LB. Octr. 27 1778.'
Addressed: 'Mr. Bentham / Plymouth Dock.'
Editor’s Note
2 A Letter to J. Dunning … [on the conjunction 'That', etc] 1778. For John Horne Tooke see letter 214, n. 7. For Harris's Hermes see letter 127, n. 3.
This whole paragraph is a subsequent insertion in red ink.
Editor’s Note
3 George Wilson.
Editor’s Note
4 For P. J. Macquer's Dictionnaire de Chymie, first published in 1766, cf. letter 111, n. 5. A second edition, not in six volumes but in two, was published at Paris in 1778.
Editor’s Note
5 Unidentified.
Editor’s Note
6 Jan Ingen-Housz (1730–99), was a Dutch physician and chemist, who had travelled widely in Europe. In 1772 he became physician to the Empress Maria Theresa and a member of the aulic council at Vienna. Later he settled in London where in 1779 he published a remarkable book Experiments Upon Vegetables Discovering Their Great Power of Purifying the Common Air in the Sun-Shine, etc., which introduced the concept of an economic balance between the animal and the vegetable world. He published various other works on plants and on electricity.
Editor’s Note
7 Benjamin Franklin (1706–90), the American statesman and scientist, had been in Paris as one of three United States Commissioners since the end of 1776 and had just become American Minister there.
Editor’s Note
8 This paragraph is a subsequent insertion in red ink.
Editor’s Note
9 This paragraph is a subsequent insertion in red ink.
logo-footer Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Access is brought to you by Log out