Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Mr Stewart. * - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to Mr Stewart. * - 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 Mr Stewart.*
“June 27th, 1783.
I take advantage of your very obliging permission, to trouble you with a memorandum of the documents I wish for, relative to the criminal law of your part of the island.
“By way of a clue, give me leave to mention the purpose. Upon the supposition that the influence of religious instruction is beneficial, upon the whole, to the temporal interests of society, and that the labours of the clergy do a certain degree of service by what they contribute towards turning this influence to account; I know of no observable standard more exact for estimating the value of that service, than the comparative paucity of such mischievous acts, as the law has stigmatized under the denomination of crimes. England, which, containing such a number of people, and such a quantity of wealth, pays to its clergy such a sum, (which is distributed among them in such a manner,) has, in a given period, such a number of criminals: Scotland, which, containing such a number of people, and such a quantity of wealth, pays to its clergy, so much less in proportion, and that distributed in a different manner—has, in the same period, such or such another number of criminals. I am apt to think it would turn out that this latter number, instead of being greater than that in England, in proportion as the pay of the clergy in Scotland is less, is in fact less; and that therefore, in Scotland, the clerical work is not only done for less money than in England, but better done. This is the inference I am disposed to draw from the Table of Convictions in Scotland, already published by our excellent friend Mr Howard. But, as that table extends to no other than capital crimes, the information it affords can be, as you must perceive, but very unsatisfactory with a view to my purpose. It is the more so, inasmuch as the same crimes which are capital in England, are not so, in every instance, in Scotland, and vice versâ. To be sure, in both countries the denominations of crimes, &c., are, in but too many instances, determined not so much by the real nature of the mischief, as by extraneousand accidental circumstances, such as the punishment or mode of prosecution—but this is an imperfection I cannot help. I must take the information, and be glad to get it too, as it stands. What I wish for is, therefore, a table of the crimes, that within a certain period (suppose from the beginning of the century) have, been known to be committed in Scotland,—the more extensive as to the sorts of crimes, and the more minute the distinctions, so much the better. As to the distinctions, those given in Mr Howard’s table are, as far as that goes, sufficiently particular: the head of murder excepted, inasmuch as it makes no distinction between homicide in prosecution of robbery, and the murder of a defenceless person through particular enmity, fair duelling, and I don’t know how many other species I could point out, but which are as different from one another as guilt from innocence.
“I say, have been known to be committed; and, therefore, a table of the trials would be much more satisfactory than a table of the bare convictions,—and still more so, an account, which I suppose it is impossible to obtain, of informations lodged before a magistrate. You have a method, I have heard, of transporting suspected persons, with their consent, without a trial; of these, some, I presume, would, were it not for such provision, have gone into the class of those informed against, but discharged for want of sufficient evidence—others into the class of convicts.
“I dare say it is but a small part of all this information that is attainable; but any part that it should be in your way to obtain for me, without too much trouble, I should think myself infinitely obliged to you for.
“To a man of Mr Stewart’s turn of mind, the various public uses which at any rate such a sort of document might be put to, and the credit which (if my conjecture be well-gronnded) the result would reflect upon his friend, must, if fame says true, hold out inducements infinitely more favourable than any that could be presented by the acknowledgments of so insignificant an individual as myself. And that the information may receive a much greater degree of circulation than I could expect to give it, we will make Howard insert it in his next publication. He will, I dare say, be very glad of it, for he seemed to acquiesce in my remarks on the incompleteness of that printed in his own appendix. Be there more or less of it, the copying of it must necessarily be attended with some expense.—You will be kind enough to direct the copyist to make a memorandum of it, that I may pay the amount of it to your house in London.
“I took the liberty, as you may perhaps remember, of claiming kin to you and Mr Howard as a kind of brother of the trade, which I certainly am, as far as endeavours go at least, however inferior in point of means. The only proof I can as yet produce to you, in support of such a pretension, is contained in a little pamphlet,* a copy of which herewith sent, I hope you will do me the honour to accept.—I am, with great truth and regard, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,
“The expense and trouble it cost me, were not wholly thrown away, as the Bill, which was the subject of it, underwent a number of alterations, several of which, I understood by a note from Sir W. Blackstone, were the consequence of my remarks.”
In a letter of George Wilson to Bentham, dated 3d Nov., 1783, is the following passage:—
“Wallace is gone down to Tinmouth (Teignmouth) in Devonshire; they say it is the place where Dunning died, and in all probability Wallace goes on the same errand.† Everybody says that Erskine will be Solicitor-general—and if he is, or indeed whether he is or not, he will have had the most rapid rise that has been known at the bar: it is four years and a half since he was called, and in that time he has cleared £8,000 or £9,000, besides paying his debts, got a silk gown, and business of at least £3,000 a-year—a seat in parliament,—and over and above, has made his brother Lord Advocate. For my part, I have great doubts whether his coming into parliament was a wise thing; he sacrificed his House of Commons’ business, which was very profitable; and besides, his success seems to me very doubtful. He has several of Burke’s defects, and is not unlikely to have his fate; and the expectation from him will be too great to be satisfied. We expect a match between him and Pitt, and another between Fox and Flood.
“The apprehensions about Ireland are not quite so great since the Leinster meeting, where there was not the same appearance of unanimity as at Dungnnon. We have not yet heard of any meeting of the other two provinees; and their parliament has been adjourned for some time. The Bishop of Derry goes to the House of Peers, attended by a troop of horse, who remain on duty during his stay there. He quite eclipses the Lord Lieutenant. What a pity he is not captain of a man of war, and his son a bishop!”
I mentioned among Bentham’s acquaintance a mercantile man named Villion, a Genoese, “who helped,” said Bentham, “to cheer my Lincoln’s Inn solitude. He was very fond of my company, and was generally welcome to me. But once he annoyed me by coming at dinner-time; for I had but a scanty fare, and he grubbed up half of it. His dress was very shabby, and he wore a shirt as coarse as a hopsack. Everything about him was mean; and as I attributed it to his poverty, I only pitied him. But I soon learned he had lost no less than £4000 by the failure of his brother—this alone was equal to £200 a-year—so he sank in my estimation. I could have excused his poverty, but not his being so rich and living so meanly. I was passionately fond of chemistry then, and he studied chemistry for the love he bore me. In his brother’s absence, he once gave me a dinner at his brother’s expense. I remember a garden-like paradise on the top of the house. He used to borrow books of me. He was received into many good families, among others that of Peter Noailles, who had extensive silk-works at Seven Oaks. Noailles had a beautiful wife and a beautiful daughter; and, being introduced by Villion, I dined there once or twice. There was a renowned wine-merchant of the name of Chaillet, who afterwards migrated to Bedford Square. He had two daughters, one of whom married a secretary of the first Lord Melville. When I was a suitor on the subject of ‘Panopticon,’ the secretary did me some friendly service; and I once met his father-in-law at his office, and he said to me, ‘Mr Bentham, was it you that wrote the Defence of Usury?’—‘Yes.’—‘Then you shall dine with me.’ I went, and was surprised to find his wife a vulgar, purse-proud woman. There were a dozen people present, and we had some music. I remember observing something white on the middle of the table, and I asked what it was: ‘You will see,’ she said; ‘that is not to be eaten yet: it will be eaten by and by.’ Once when in the carriage with her, she asked me to make some verses to entertain them. I make verses!—I indeed!!”
Villion seems to have been much attached to Bentham. One of his letters, written in answer to a communication of Bentham, which was the resumption of intercourse long dropped, has the following passage:—
[* ] It is not stated what Mr Stewart the letter is addressed to, but the internal evidence points pretty clearly at Professor Dugald, then commencing his career of fame and usefulness.
[* ] This was the letter to Mr Eden.
[† ] James Wallace, Attorney-general. He died within a few days afterwards,—viz., on the 11th November.