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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 Note997To Philip Metcalfe14 September 1794 (Aet 46)

Hendon, Middlesex, Sept. 14, 1794.

Dear Metcalf,

Very badly; worse than badly: for it stands stock-still. A letter I had occasion to write by Long's suggestion to Dundas,2 so long ago as this day month, has remained unnoticed, partly, I suppose, on account of Nepean's illness, whom I have not been able to get to the speech of in all this time.

Meantime, the whole undertaking does not know whether it is to live, or be starved to death. So long ago as August twelvemonth, I was to have had £10,000 from Government; three months afterwards, £10,000 more: it was all agreed upon—nothing wanting but signature, when the idea was started by Administration that Parliament was necessary. I have spent in one way or other about £6000 upon it; of which, after much ado, I got, as you know, £2000 Treasury currency—that is between £1800 and £1900. A letter pg 75I wrote to Pitt, at the suggestion of Nepean, for the first of the above instalments of £10,000, as soon as the bill had passed the Lords—that is, in June, remains unnoticed.3

It costs me at the rate of more than £2000 a-year merely to keep the men together; if one has the spare £2000 a-year, it is very well; but if he has not—?

Some of the men I have discharged already: the greatest part will be discharged in about three weeks more; we may go on lingering with the rest a little while longer. When they are dispersed, how we are to get such another set again, if we should want them, God knows. Such a set, after the instruction they have had, scarce exists in London, nor consequently, in the world.

Things standing thus, we are deliberating upon two projects,—one is to try to mortgage, and go on with some of his inventions on a contracted plan, and in a private way, if Panopticon should linger longer; the other is, for Sam to go back to Russia, where, though absence has lost him his regiment, (better than any two in his Majesty's service,) he is not without friends: a catastrophe of which, by the by, Mr Pitt had notice before it happened, and since it happened. Mr Pitt assured the D. of Dorset in June, that everything should be concluded to our satisfaction; the satisfaction, hitherto, has not been great. If Sam goes, there is an end of Panopticon in all its shapes, and of everything that hangs to it.

Sam flies to company for relief: I to solitude and scribbling. He is gone down to his friends at Portsmouth. Vexation has not been of service to either of our healths. Q.S.P., to both of us, is like school to a truant schoolboy. The only comfort is, I have just now got possession of a new channel for coming at Dundas, through which, I have some reason to hope, I shall get him to speak, I should say, to write, (for speaking is as good as nothing,) before many days are at an end.

As to the Chinese embassy, I know no more about it, than the Pope of Rome: had I been in sorts I should, before now, have known as much about it as other people. If I can muster up exertion enough, I will hunt out Staunton, and enable myself to give some satisfaction to your curiosity.4 Sir J. Sinclair brought him to see our lions, when Sam only was at home. Then a party was made for us both to dine with him at a common friend's in the city, he wanting pg 76to see the lions a second time, with the other lion-owner. He had with him a young Jay, little more than fledged, and Colonel Turnbull his secretary.5 All of them seem pleasant people; with more sense and talent, or I am mistaken, than would easily be found in an equal set of English diplomatists. Turnbull, you know, I suppose, is a famous son of the brush, and has lived a good deal in England. Chief-justice Jay is a good chief-justice-like looking man, of a sensible, shrewd countenance, rather reserved, but not unpleasantly so. He had been sitting up best part of the preceding night upon his despatches, which are to be made up by next Thursday; and under the urgency of the pressure he was obliged to miss the party he had made for Q.S.P. in the morning, and to leave dinner early. Sam and I both should like much to cultivate them all; but of course cannot attempt it before Thursday is over, and whether we can find spirits for it afterwards, must depend upon Dr Pitt.

Men who are somewhat in the way of knowing, say that Windham is going into the D. of Portland's place,6 and the Duke into some other; but all this, if there be any truth in it, you must have heard of long ago from better quarters.

There was a grave assertion in the papers, not many days ago, of Broderick's7 quitting, (which I should have been sorry for,) and Baldwin the Counsel taking his place. It was supposed to be a joke upon Baldwin,8 not a shadow of truth in it.

Here you have your queries answered, and little over. Prosperous or unprosperous—sick or well—weeping or exulting, I am, dear Phil, ever yours,


Notes Settings


Editor’s Note
997. 1 Bowring, x, 301–2. A reply to letter 996 above.
Editor’s Note
2 He probably means the letter and Memorial of 16 August (see letter 988 and the Table of Contents of the Memorial, p. 67 above).
Editor’s Note
3 Missing, unless Bentham means the letter of 18 June, the surviving draft of which is addressed not to Pitt but to Nepean (see letter 978).
Editor’s Note
4 Sir George Leonard Staunton, who had recently returned from Macartney's embassy to China.
Editor’s Note
5 A mistake for 'Trumbull'; John Trumbull (1756–1843), an American artist, who had fought as a colonel in Washington's army and had been briefly imprisoned when he came to London in 1780 as a pupil of Benjamin West. He acted as Jay's private secretary during the treaty negotiations in 1794 and at the same time supervised the engravings of his paintings (see F. Monaghan, John Jay, New York, 1935, p. 369).
Editor’s Note
6 The rumour that William Windham, who was Secretary at War, July 1794–1801, would replace Portland at the Home Office, proved unfounded. The Duke of Portland stayed in that post until 1801, was Lord President of the Council, 1801–6, and became prime minister, 1807–9.
Editor’s Note
7 Thomas Brodrick (1756–95), barrister, Counsel for the Admiralty 1792–4, brought into the Home Office by Portland in 1794 as under-secretary, but became ill and lost the power of speech by early September (see R. R. Nelson, The Home Office, 1782–1801, Durham, N.C., 1969, p. 36).
Editor’s Note
8 William Baldwin (c. 1737–1813), lawyer and m.p. 1795–8 and 1802–6. He acted as Counsel to the Home Office in matters of criminal law, but was not on the regular establishment. It was stated in The Oracle and Public Advertiser, 8 September 1794, that Portland had appointed Baldwin his private secretary (see also L. J. Hume, 'Bentham's Panopticon: an administrative history', Historical Studies, lxvi (1973), 710 n. 23).
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