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Jeremy Bentham

The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, Vol. 5: January 1794 to December 1797

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Editor’s NoteEditor’s Note1181To Baron St Helensc. 12–13 September 1796 (Aet 48)

Q.S.P. September, 1796

My dear Lord,

Make yourself easy—no such tender will be made to you. The Ethiopian must have changed his skin, before anybody who is eminently fit for a business will be charged with it. Since, therefore, you will risk nothing by the promise, promise me, that if you go, you will take me with you; not as Secretary of Legation for the reasons that you mention, but without a title, character, and even for reasons that I will mention, without so much as my own name. My person, such as it is, has the honour to be sufficiently unknown to them; but my name in that conspicuous, and at the same time subordinate situation, might impregnate them with umbrage. An adopted French citoyen, the third man in the universe, after a natural one, put under a vile aristocrat, a malignant, who bears the mark of malignancy upon his very name—a colleague and confederate of the ci-devant monarchy, a crony and support of the ancien régime!

* * *2

French citizenship, no, never! My name is John Brown. I am sober and honest—capable of bringing a parcel from Paris to London, when it is made up; and even of copying a letter if bid, after a little instruction from a master, though not a writing one. My business would be to make myself master of the freshest discoveries in French chemistry, and my amusement to pick up what political intelligence I could from your lordship's maitre d'hôtel, and principal valet-de-chambre.

Your lordship's history of future contingents I admit to be correct pg 272as far as it goes; but my copy happens to have another page in it. The resolution was moved, carried, as yourself has it, by Mr Fox, (Mr Pitt being absent), and carried without any dissentient in the lower house; and without any but Lord Stanhope's in the upper. Message from his majesty full of satisfaction, firmness, and dignity. But then next day came Mr Pitt with a speech, the most brilliant of any upon record, expressing in proud language, his humble, but unalterable resolution, on no consideration whatever, to stand between his country and the blessings of peace.

As to the dukedom that he got, and the pensions and grants of land confirmed by parliament, and the cenotaph prepared for him by his father's side, with the most brilliant toasts of the speech sparkling in capitals on the pediment, are they not written in the chronicles of the kings of Johanni-taurinia?

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Editor’s Note
1181. 1 Bowring, x, 320. A reply to letter 1177, which Bentham mentions receiving on 12 September (p. 270 above), so this one may be dated that day or the next.
Editor’s Note
2 Footnote in Bowring: 'Here there is a partly obliterated Latin quotation, which which cannot be satisfactorily made out.'
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