Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Geo. Wilson. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to Geo. Wilson. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 10.
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Bentham to Geo. Wilson.
“Bowood,October 2d, 1781.
“It was a cursed foolish thing of me to set myself such a task as that of sending you a diary of everything that passes here; and, now, I do not recollect where I left off. Oh, I think it was on Saturday that I despatched my letter, and I think I told you of Banks coming in from Fonthill, with Pratt and William Pitt.
“Sunday, September 30th.—Came in to dinner a whole heap of Sturts, likewise from Fonthill: Mr and Mrs Sturt, Miss Sturt, a girl of seventeen or eighteen, and Miss Eliza Sturt, about eleven. Banks, it appeared, is intimate in that family. After dinner came in Dunning, piping hot from Bristol.
“Monday, yesterday, 1st October—a party of us went to Methuen’s, at Cosham, about five miles from this place, to see his pictures. It is a famous collection, made by Sir Paul Methuen. The family were not at home: they are at Lord Boston’s, who married a daughter of Methuen’s; I should have said Methuen’s daughter, as he has but one. The party consisted of Lady Shelburne, Lord Camden, Miss Pratt, and Miss F—, in Lord S.’s coach; Pratt, Pitt, Banks, and your humble servant, on horseback. On our return, to my great mortification, we found Mr and Mrs Dunning were set off for London. It was absolutely necessary. Mrs Dunning and her maid were expecting every hour to fall to pieces.
“Tuesday, October 2.—In the morning, before breakfast, Lord Camden and Miss Pratt went off for Herefordshire; Banks and Pitt for Kingston Hall, Banks’ house in Dorsetshire; the Sturts to their house, which is four miles from Kingston Hall.
“Wednesday, Oct. 3.—This morning, before breakfast, Pratt went off for Bath, where he is gone to cultivate his belly: so that there is nobody left but Barré and I. Sir E. Bayntun has been breakfasting here. One would think he came here as a spy of the court; for he always comes at breakfast; the time that people are collected together. This is, at least, the sixth time of his breakfasting with us since I have been here.
“I see, by the Dutch papers that are come to-day, that the Dutch despair of saving their Prince William. This will be a great loss to them, as she is one of the most capital ships they have, or can have; a seventy-four.
“Affairs seem to wear a very unfavourable aspect in Minorca. Barré’s character of Murray is, that he is obstinate and wrongheaded, but brave to desperation. He has seen a letter from Draper to a person here, who is a government man. Draper says that the effective men in garrison are but 1500 regulars; consisting, upon Barré’s computation, of two battalions English; three of Hanoverians: upon paper, 2400. The Spanish account speaks of 400 of the latter deserting. God forbid this should be true! Draper writes that, with infinite perseverance, he has succeeded in putting and keeping himself upon good terms with the general; but that he is the only man in the island who is so, reckoning as well the army as the inhabitants. Barré, who has been in the island, speaks of Fort St Philip as being excessively strong; the garrison covered everywhere in a surprising manner: that the fault of it, if it has any, is that of being overworked; the souterrains so intricate, that a man must have a better head than the governor to understand them.
“This morning (Wednesday) I received yours of Saturday, September 29. As to all that concerns my adventures in the family, and the footing I am upon, I must be as concise as possible; there would be no end in giving the details; and, as these are things there is no danger of my forgetting, there is no occasion for it. What I fill my letters with, in preference, are anecdotes concerning persons, places, number, weight, and measure—which, relating to persons I have no personal acquaintance with, and therefore making but a faint impression, might be lost, if they were not quickly consigned to paper; temporary ones more especially, as, for example, the foregoing. The greater part, however, are inevitably lost, either on account of their being but imperfectly heard, (for my hearing is, in reality, very dull,) or but imperfectly related; the relaters having their reasons for not being perfectly explicit, or, in short, but imperfectly remembered. A disadvantage I labour under is, the want of power to cross-examine. A thousand considerations intervene to limit the exercise of this power, which, however, I do exercise, at least as much as is agreeable to the deponents: the fear of being troublesome; the fear of galling them, by obliging them either to give an answer, apparently evasive, or to betray anything which would subject them either to disrepute, or some other inconvenience.
“Suffice it that I tell you, in very general terms, that with Dunning I could have no communication; there was no time for it, except a joke or two, which the devil tempted me to crack upon him, immediately upon his coming in. With Lord Camden I had but little, for reasons I will tell you at large; with Miss Pratt, who is a charming girl in every respect but beauty, pretty much. She has given me a sketch of Miss F— in crayons, which she was two days about; it is not ill done, considering, and has some resemblance. With Mrs Sturt, who is a good, fine woman, at the age of forty-two, after bearing eighteen children, fourteen of whom are alive, I had a little flirtation, but left her after seeing a little more of the ton of the family, which I did not like. With Sturt I had some general conversation; but saw nothing about him that made him very interesting to me. With Barré, although we have few ideas in common, I am upon terms of some familiarity, owing to the good nature and companionableness of the man. Dunning’s health seemed not so much amiss, notwithstanding the fatigue he underwent at Bristol; he had got up a good deal before that happened to throw him back; and, the morning he went away, he told me he had already recovered himself to a considerable degree. All these are heads for you to examine me upon: as such, I set them down without further particularity.
“As to my health, it is still but so-so; but I promise myself something from the ease and comfort of Thorpe, and something more from the winter, which seems to agree best with me. For a long time I had no notion of riding out, because my lord did not ask me; but at last I found out that his reason for not asking people to ride out with him was, that all he rides out for is to superintend his workmen, which takes up all his attention for the time, and is rather sitting on horseback than riding; since that, I have taken heart of grace, and ride out almost every day, before breakfast, independently of casual excursions in company. As to the Duke of Bedford’s being an Opposition-man, I understand as much from Lord Shelburne.
“I desire no reflections upon Miss Mercer; it is the greatest satisfaction to me imaginable to hear of handsome girls falling in love with ugly fellows. Alas! poor Clarke! commend me to them and the St Pauls, with whom I please myself with the thoughts of spending a comfortable day or two ere the month is out.”
“Bowood, October 7, 1781.
“Yours of the 29th September, I think, I acknowledged in my last, which I believe was dated Wednesday, the 3d instant; since then, nothing very particular has occurred in this place. That same day, I think it was, came Hamilton (of Payne’s Hill) and his wife, from Bath. Lord Shelburne sent his carriage for them, and sent them back yesterday. Hamilton has been giving his assistance in laying out the grounds here. He is an old man of seventy-five or seventy-six, and is, besides, very much afflicted at times with the stone; but this time he was very cheerful and alert. There came, at the same time, a Mr Tonge or Tongue, who has no connexion with them, but, as it happened, came and went on the same day with them: an insipid, insignificant man, who lives at Bristol. I could perceive no other bond of connexion than the circumstance of his once having rented a house about a mile from Lord Shelburne’s, which his lordship has just pulled down.
“On Thursday, came General Johnson, a neighbour of Lord Shelburne’s: he is equerry to the king, and has been in waiting. He is an old man; is deaf at times; and has got the nickname (so I learned by accident) of ‘Old Sulky;’ he travels in a leathern conveniency of the same name. The account he gives of Governor Murray, quadrates very exactly with that which Barré was giving, and, being a government man, may the better be depended upon. He has a son there, to whom, he acknowledges, Murray has been very kind; so that there does not appear to be anything of passion to corrupt his judgment.
“Since my last, I have received a letter from Q. S. P., at Bath, in which (blessed be God therefor) he tells me there will be no occasion for me to go to Oxford; for that C. Abbot has no competitor, and looks upon himself as sure. I had asked him about the price of woollen cloth, which, I had heard from Barré, was as cheap there as broadcloth in London, viz. 18s. Q. S. P., upon inquiry, confirmed that idea, and offered me a coat of it as a Bath present; so away go I on cock-horse to-morrow morning, to be measured for it. I shall return in the afternoon.
“A day or two ago I received a letter from Sam,* dated Catherineburgh, and Nigriaghill: the bad news it contains is—that he has lost a portable barometer, and gold to the value of £13 or £14, by the breaking of a phial of quicksilver by the overturning of a trunk; the good news—that the model of his plane-engine is finished, and succeeds to the satisfaction of everybody; the engine itself would have been finished, but for a vacation of six weeks, which the workmen have on account of the harvest; the time for which, in that country, being very short, requires as many hands as can be mustered. I wait only for Parson Townsend, to quit this place. I cannot think what has become of the man; he leaves me in an awkward predicament. He was to have been here on Wednesday. There is now nobody but Miss F— and Colonel Barré. Adieu. I send you a frank for Davies.”
[* ] His brother, Sir Samuel Bentham, then in the Russian service.