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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 4: October 1788 to December 1793

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Editor’s Notepg 491Editor’s Note936To an Unknown CorrespondentLate 1793 (Aet 45)

Dear Sir,

The conflict betwixt the desire of seconding your wishes, and the despair of effecting it, has retarded my answer to your letter,2 to a degree which I cannot think of without compunction. Had I yielded to the first impulse that it gave me, I should have gone open-mouthed to the Admiralty, saying, O ye generation of vipers! A little reflection informed me that I had no means of impressing any of the lords, much less Lord Chatham, with any idea of any such case.3 As to Lord Chatham, you may judge of the sort of chance I should have of being listened to by him,—I who have not come across him these dozen years, when you recollect his refusal to listen to a proposal of my brother's, promising the greatest advantage to the service, without any risk, on the ground of his being a Russian spy. As to any other lord, it is a question with us whether they durst interfere in so invidious a business; it is pretty clear to me that they would not like it, and I have no acquaintance there but what is too recent and too slight to warrant my so much as asking a favour, much less the demanding justice. Your brother, as I am happy to find, has in his favour the recommendations as well as wishes from all that know him, from those in particular whose recommendations on such an occasion have, of all others, the best claim to regard. Supposing all this to be ineffectual, can there be the smallest chance that anything I could say would be of use? I, who cannot so much as pretend ever to have set eyes on him in my life, and who can have no motive to wish well to him, nor reason to think well of him, but what is afforded by a man who is the object of so unfortunate a prepossession as what you pg 492speak of. If no such prejudice exists against him, what room can such a body of recommendation allow for fear? If such a prejudice does exist, and that so strong a one as to overpower such a body of recommendation, could the interference of a stranger like myself present any ground for hope?

I beg you will be assured, that no opportunity that, to my judgment, promises any chance of being of use to you or yours, will be omitted by me, and that I am, with the truest regard, yours ever.

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Editor’s Note
936. 1 Bowring, x, 296–7. Introduced by the statement: 'In answer to a gentleman who applied to Bentham, requesting his interest at the Admiralty, in favour of his brother, who had been accused of Jacobinism, Bentham says:'. No indication of date is given, but the letter is placed between the one to Metcalfe of 31 October 1793 and the one from Dresden, dated 15 January 1794 (letter 942).
Editor’s Note
3Sir John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham (1756–1835), and the elder brother of the prime minister, was First Lord of the Admiralty from July 1788 until December 1794, when he changed places with Earl Spencer, who had been Lord Privy Seal. Bentham had met him at Bowood in 1781 (see Correspondence, iii, 82), but apparently, from what he says in this letter, not since that time.
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