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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 100Editor’s Note683To Caroline Vernon3 November 1789 (Aet 41)No. 3

Of the pretty ladies two were Sr J.'s nieces, the two Miss Cramers nor did the epithet seem inapplicable.2 On entering the room I found Ld L /grappled with/ in the hands of another Lady, whom I imagined to be M. de Polignac, or some other fair and illustrious refugee.3 The French language infinite volubility and a reasonable measure of pretention and the names of Bruxelles and other places bordering on France first catching my ear scarce admitted of any other supposition. It was Lady Caldwell, whose husband Sir John, nephew to Sr J. Hort, was also /of the party/ present.4 She proved an old acquaintance of mine. If you do not already know their history, Ld L. of course will give it you. When /they were gone/ he had got loose from her he confessed himself quite fatigued. 'What a difference between Miss V. and Lady C. Her conversation is always a relief, her's has been a fatigue to me. Though an interesting woman as you see, it is quite a tax upon me even to talk to her.' The displaying of herself to him, he had before acknowledged, seemed likewise a sort of tax upon her. If the result of a visit is to be a state of mutual oppression, no matter I should think how seldom it be repeated: /but her part of the tax, I take it, was of the number of those which people are not averse to pay/ but on her part I believe the tax did not meet with much reluctance.

If Ld L could be made proud and /or/ vain it would be [by] Miss F.5 A speech of hers was t'other day repeated with great triumph. Being asked whether she intended to go this winter to pg 101Ampthill.6—No, says she, that I won't, if I can be of any use to Ld L.

I had a curiosity to see Sir J. H. ['s] bagatelle7 and his stile of living in it. Ld L /whose political capacity is /politics are/ ever busy who has an insidious /way/ knack at divining from circumstances and situations what will be acceptable to his friends, conceived as much, though I had never let slip the smallest hint of it. Sir J. gave me a second and serious invitation to Lisbon, but would not have given me a dinner in England if he had not been forced to it. Sir J. in giving the invitation to Ld L. stopt there: Ld L. added, and Mr B. Lady H. after the invitation /gave/ introduced the appendage/ added Mr B. of her own accord, and without having heard what passed before. My modesty puts the most natural construction upon the difference and I say to myself, see what it is to be a dangerous man.8

I am in agonies at the thoughts of this temerity repeated twice repeated in the compass of 5 days. Evil suggestion is /the/ my sole excuse. The original sin lies at the door of Ld L. The relapses are all I have to answer for. He knows of neither. Miss V. and Miss Fox seem desirous of French news: I shall send them my Papers. May not mine accompany them?—Certainly—I'll send them then.—Do so—and won't you write?—I was so much surprized and startled /at/ by the proposition that I should not wonder /if/ to hear that my countenance exhibited symptoms of reluctance. Yet how could I /do otherwise/ avoid complying with it? And when a mans foot slips and breaks the ice, head and /shoulders/ ears are but too apt to follow./If ice is broke what more natural than to tumble in head over ears/. My comfort is the worst that can happen that the reprimand if it does come will first light upon Ld L. so that the force of it will be in some degree broken before it /descends/ reaches/ comes down to me.9

Ld L. desires me to dine at L. House /on Wednesday/ tomorrow; being the first day of meeting of a weekly /meeting/ club proposed pg 102to be formed of the friends of the new principles /liberality/, or as some would say, of mischief. What shall it be called? The New Principle Club, the Regeneration Club, the Philo-Gallicon Society. Miss F. is too much on our side to betray us to her Uncle Charles, or even which would be the same thing, to her Brother.10 If they get hold of us what fine portraits there would be of us in the Opposition papers?

Ld L. would likewise have me stay Thursday, to meet Mr. Towneley11 and Mr Agar12: because Mr T. has a capital collection of Statues, and Mr A. of pictures. What are they to me, who knows no more of statues than a statue nor of pictures than a picture? I wont stay a minute longer for any such idleness. /Having/ When I have given /yesterday/ today to curiosity and tomorrow to political sympathy, my disposable time will be run out. Since Miss F. condescended to accept a share of it, it is a sacred thing in my eyes, and not to be profaned to vulgar uses.

If these /fruits of my indiscretion should ever be betray'd/ letters are ever mentioned to Ld L. first /for the joke sake/ try him with some of the particulars, if any such there should be which are not mentioned in his letters; without letting him know whence you got them, and see how impressed he will be. The joke though suggested by me being purified by the lips through which it passes will not be of the number of my foolish jokes.

Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
683. 1 U.C. clxix: 156. Autograph rough draft, with many corrections. 'No 3' in pencil at top.
This third report was evidently written on Tuesday, 3 November, since events on Wednesday and Thursday are referred to as in the future.
Editor’s Note
2 Sophia and Elizabeth Cramer, daughters of Sir John Coghill (who had changed his name from Cramer), and Mary, née Hort, sister of Sir John Hort. The elder, Sophia, married in 1801 Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Doyle. A crossed-out following sentence in the draft reads: 'They seem not a year or so older than his wife.'
Editor’s Note
3 As Bentham goes on to explain, the lady turned out to be not the refugee duchesse de Polignac, but the French-speaking Harriet, Lady Caldwell.
Editor’s Note
4 Sir John Caldwell (1750–1830), son of Sir James Caldwell, the 4th baronet, and Elizabeth, sister of Sir John Hort. He married Harriet, daughter of Hugh Meynell.
Editor’s Note
5 Caroline Fox.
Editor’s Note
6 Ampthill Park, a Bedfordshire residence of John, 2nd Earl of Upper Ossory, Caroline Fox's uncle.
Editor’s Note
7 That is, a small but luxurious country house, comparable to the chateau de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne.
Editor’s Note
8 A paragraph interpolated here, and reappearing in slightly different phrasing a few lines below, runs: 'The proposition startled me. The physiognomists whose interpretations have sometimes sat so heavy on me might for aught I know have mistaken diffidence for reluctance. But could I do otherwise than comply? and when a man's foot slips and breaks the ice, how apt are head and ears to follow.'
Editor’s Note
9 The whole draft letter is scored through in pencil up to this point, perhaps at a later date.
Editor’s Note
10 Caroline Fox was conducting a vigorous correspondence with her brother, Henry Richard Vassall Fox, 3rd Baron Holland (1773–1840), who was in close touch with their uncle, Charles James Fox (1744–1806).
Editor’s Note
11 Charles Towneley (1737–1805), who was educated at Douai and lived in Rome, 1767–72, studying ancient art and collecting antiques. He presented a collection of statues to the British Museum in 1805. The Towneley Gallery was at No. 7 Park
Street, now Queen Anne's Gate, Westminster. See J. T. Smith, Nollekens and his Times, i, 1920, p. 314 and illustration.
Editor’s Note
12 Welbore Ellis Agar (1735–1805), commissioner of Customs, whose 'exquisite collection of pictures' is mentioned in Boswell's Johnson (G. B. Hill edn., rev. L. F. Powell, vol. iii, Oxford, 1934, p. 118 n. 3).
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