Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VII.: 1785—1787. Æt. 37—39. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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CHAPTER VII.: 1785—1787. Æt. 37—39. - 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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1785—1787. Æt. 37—39.
Preparations for Tour in Russia.—Prince Potemkin.—Departure.—Paris.—Journey by Genoa, Leghorn, and Florence.—Smyrna.—Mitylene.—Scio.—Constantinople.—Personal Anecdotes.—Letter to Lord Lansdowne.—Journey through Bulgaria and Wallachia.—Ovidiopol.—Kremenschuk.—Russian Army.—Illustrations of Society.—Sir Samuel Bentham.—The Establishment at Crichoff.—Correspondence with Chamberlain Clark and Wilson.—Abbott’s Marriage.—Paley.—The Panopticon Scheme.—Sir S. Bentham’s Inventions.—Defence of Usury.
Before Bentham made the tour in Russia, of which this chapter will be found to contain some particulars, he collected vast masses of information on agricultural, trading, and manufacturing subjects, for the purpose of introducing improvements of all sorts, under the auspices of Prince Potemkin, in whose service his brother was then engaged. “Engaged,” says Bentham, in one of his letters, “as Jack of all trades—building ships, like Harlequin, of odds and ends—a rope-maker, a sail-maker, a distiller, brewer, maltster, tanner, glassman, glass-grinder, potter, hemp-spinner, smith, and copper-smith.”
I find a communication of Bentham to Prince Potemkin, dated from the Diligence d’Eau, on the Rhone, 27th August, giving an account of his journey, and of the various arrangements he had made in his service. Potemkin’s notion seems to have been, to transplant British civilisation and intelligence en masse to White Russia; as if all soils were equally adapted for the growth and development of capital, knowledge, and industry. He failed; as all have failed who forget that the march of mind, in order to be sure, must be slow; that it must gradually create around it its means and appliances; that the introduction of one, or a hundred enlightened foreigners into a country, is not sufficient to enlighten it; that all premature attempts to cultivate an unprepared soil will bring no productive harvest. Potemkin seems liberally to have scattered about his opulence, and to have exerted his influence; he was even fortunate enough in the instruments to which he looked for success; but success was in the nature of things impossible: so his money was wasted and his power employed in vain.
Of the friendly feelings of Lord Lansdowne towards Bentham at this juncture, the following letter is evidence:—
Lord Lansdowne to Bentham.
“Dear Mr Bentham,—
I had a headache yesterday and the day before, which made it impossible for me to write. I send you all which I have been able to write to-day. I have desired the Abbé Morellet to give you letters for Lyons and Marseilles, as he has very good connexions in both places. I have desired Mons. Rayneval to give you one for the French ambassador at Constantinople. You must take your chance about Dijon, Genoa, and Montpellier; though, I dare say, Mons. Rayneval will give you letters for them if you can find a proper moment to ask him. I will take my chance of to-morrow’s post finding you with three letters,—one for Rouen, another for Mons. Torryel, a celebrated lawyer at Paris,—and another, upon my own account, to the Abbé Morellet.
“I beg to assure you that you go with the affectionate good wishes of all this family. Lady Lansdowne and Miss F— desire me to mention them particularly. My last advice to you is, upon no account to be taken in, to stay among barbarians: they can make you no offer worth your acceptance, except they were to name you ambassador to China—I own that would tempt me. Come back soon, and bring your brother with you, if he does not get a provision, ample enough to live upon here, in a few years, and as well secured as the Bank of England. In the meantime get into no intrigues to serve either English or Russian; no, not even with a handsome lady, if any politics should be mixed with it; for I have said in all the material letters, that I would be answerable for every part of your conduct, public or private.
“The Abbé Morellet may possibly offer to carry you to Mons. Rayneval; but, in your place, I would go alone; but don’t say I advised you to do so.
“I have told Sir H. M— that you would write me an account of his health.
“I will send you a line for Blankett in case you meet with him.
“The post is going; and I must defer the rest till to-morrow.
“I am, very truly, yours,
The same sentiments are repeated in another letter:—
“The bearer, Captain Williamson, appears to me a very intelligent person. He has been last year at Constantinople, and the Greek Islands; and I thought it might be agreeable to you to make his acquaintance, which has made me desire him to call on you.
“I hope my servant told you, as I had not time to write as I intended, that we would have kept the Voyages de la Grèce, to be bound, before we sent them; but, as you will carry them on board ship, I thought it might be agreeable to you to have them half-bound in some fashion of your own, that might make them more portable.
“I hope you will have the goodness to present a sword from me to your brother, which you must pass for your own, to avoid the custom-houses through which you pass. Although a Russian colonel, I hope he will accept an English sword. I do assure you, that we are all (Miss F— included, who is sitting by me) concerned for your going, independent of the loss of your company, which we always have considered as a resource, when the interested and the factious deserted us. We are apprehensive that you will lend yourself to some plan which interested and ignorant people may open to you; and after detaining and robbing you of time—which may be more reputably, at least, if not more usefully to yourself employed—may desert you. This observation applies equally to your brother’s situation. I told Count Woronzow that I meant, if I had continued in administration, to have placed him in some advantageous situation here. Count Woronzow knows him, and wishes to see you. If you please, make use of my name to him.
“I am obliged to write in great haste, because Captain W. and a good deal of company are by, and waiting for it.—Ever yours,
Bentham left England in the beginning of August 1785. He had engaged a passage for Smyrna, on board the Mary Frances, Captain Richard Brine, which was to sail for Smyrna from London, and Topsham, on the 20th June for Nice; where Bentham, who travelled overland through Paris and France, was to meet her.
A remittance of £500 was sent to Bentham from Prince Potemkin, with a request that “a clever man” might be forwarded to the Crimes. A person was found, named Henderson, on the recommendation, I believe, of Mr Playfair, the brother of the late professor; and Bentham determined to accompany him to Crichoff, the spot on which his brother was established. The man’s morals do not appear to have been of the purest, although he was apt at acquiring knowledge, and had botanical information, which was especially wanted. He cohabited with a person who was intended to manage a dairy, which Potemkin proposed to establish on that magnificent style which was then growing into fashion in England. Two routes were discussed: the northern, by the Baltic,—the southern, by Constantinople. The southern was chosen, in order that they might have the advantage of seeing a greater variety of botanical gardens in their way. Potemkin paid the expenses of the parties selected by Bentham,—two women and a man; but Bentham paid his own. The three subordinates were despatched to Paris “to learn what they could,” and then to wait for Bentham, who followed a fortnight after. “This was at the period of the birth of chemistry,” he said; “and the phosphoric matches lately invented, charmed me so much, that I wrote a poem, inquiring how the world could have gone on so long without these admirable light-givers.” Bentham left his affairs at home “rather at sixes and sevens;” and at Paris, being without any useful introductions, seems to have visited only two or three people, whose conduct was more seemingly courteous to him, than generally creditable to themselves. Among them was one whom Bentham mentioned as the prototype of the Quinze Anglais, who were represented as the pillagers of their countrymen. A French lady was very desirous of recommending Bentham to Lady Craven; but he declined the honour. At this period, as throughout his life, a strong curiosity was tempered and controlled by an unusual bashfulness. He had corresponded with D’Alembert; but had not courage enough to visit him.
Among the few persons he made acquaintance with at Paris was R— M—, who had been bred a physician. He was pulling the devil by the tail, and snatching at whatever he could from his rich brother. He accompanied Bentham to Versailles, where the king was then living. Rayneval, who had been receiving kindness from Bentham two years before, was there; and in addition to that claim upon him, Bentham had recommendatory letters from Lord Lansdowne to him, and anticipated a hearty welcome. Instead of welcome, he found coldness: no invitation,—but a letter proffered for Count Choiseul, at Constantinople, was accepted by Bentham,—which letter merely said, that the bearer was held in estimation by Lord Lansdowne. R— M— was a forward man, whose habit was to take everybody under his command, and talk dogmatically, interlarding his conversation with a perpetual “ecoutez—ecoutez.” He contrived to use others for his own glorification; and insisted on going to Versailles with Bentham, ostensibly for the purpose of escorting him; but really for the purpose of introducing himself, though he was meanly clad, and looked like a man in distress.
As to the language, Bentham was perfectly at home in France. He had so accurate a knowledge of French, that he wrote it with great purity and ease. He was not embarrassed for a choice of words, as the language has few synonymes, or quasi-synonymes,—though he felt, as everybody feels, the irregularities and the imperfections of many of their verbs. German he had also studied.
A voiturier conducted the party, partly by land and partly by water, to Lyons, whence they descended the Rhone: its rapid stream delighted Bentham. His attention was naturally interested by the Pont St Esprit, and by the ruins of Nismes, which he visited on his way. “I remembered, too,” he said, “the Journal de Tréveux, the periodical of the Jesuits, as we passed through that town.” At Cette, which he visited, the extraordinary cheapness of living surprised him; and he was much gratified by a party of Frenchmen at a coffee-house, who insisted on the pleasure of treating him, because he was an English stranger. They proceeded to Antibes,—thence, by water in a felucca, to Nice, and thence to Genoa, where they were “land-bound or business-bound” for two or three weeks without any letters. A Genoese, however, of the name of Vignon, treated Bentham with great civility, and took much trouble to make his visit an instructive one. They next came to Leghorn; and Bentham left for Florence, to deliver letters to Sir H— M—, with which he had been furnished by Lord Lansdowne. Sea voyages were not much to Bentham’s liking. “I was not sick;” said he, “but I was in a state of enmity with everybody around me, and thinking whether any enjoyment that was to come would repay me for the annoyance I felt.”
Sir H— was an oddity. Bentham dined at his house every day, and every day eat ortolans; but he never sat at table. He had been a sort of gambling country squire, who had run out considerable property he possessed in Kent, and whose habits easily explained his embarrassments. Bentham was also recommended to Fontana, the writer on poisons, whose reception was cold and supercilious. He was then engaged in teaching chemistry to some of the emperor’s children. Bentham heard somebody inquire, “Che uomo è questo?” (what man is this?) and his answer was, “Eun orso Inglese!” (it is an English bear.) But he gratified Bentham by showing him a beautiful collection of wax anatomical preparations.
From Florence, Bentham returned to the vessel. “In passing through the Straits,” said he, “I looked for Scylla and Charybdis, but saw neither—nor did I hear the barking dogs.” Sicily exhibited the vestiges of an earthquake, with which it had just before been visited.
They passed among the Greek islands, specks rising inexplicably out of the ocean—no! not the ocean—the Mediterranean sea. A new passenger joined the party—a surgeon, who had outrun the constable, and who got on board the vessel to escape the pursuit of his creditors. He was pennyless, and thrown on the wide world. He challenged Bentham to play at billiards with him, when they arrived at Smyrna, and having lost, no money had he to pay. At Smyrna, Bentham remained a month. A Jew, whom he was in the habit of calling “the virtuous Jew,”—pleasant, modest, intelligent, and disinterested,—accompanied him to the interesting sights of Smyrna, and Bentham invited him to England, assuring the Jew that he would exercise all hospitality towards him, but could not persuade him to promise. A Turkish garden was among the curiosities to which the Jew found access for Bentham. It was a sort of orchard of vines and other trees, without order or apparent arrangement. From that garden, Bentham sent specimens of the Sultana raisin to England, which he believed to have been the first of that species which had ever reached this country. In France, they have been of late years extensively cultivated, and bear the name of “Chasselas de Fontainbleau.” From several of the merchants of Smyrna, Bentham experienced many courtesies; and in his memoranda, I find the names of Lee and Morier mentioned—names very familiar to oriental travellers and oriental students.
On leaving Smyrna, the vessel put into a small port in the gulf near Chesme, in ancient Phocia. There was a large stone with a Greek inscription in a sort of public place. While occupied in copying it, a message was sent for him from the principal judge of the place, who, in consequence of his being so occupied, supposed him to be an Effendi; and Bentham was conducted to the Court of Judicature, where the judge received him with marked distinction. A Frenchman, who spoke Italian, acted as interpreter between Bentham and the Turkish judge, who, by way of displaying his learning, brought forth a folio volume on geography in Arabic, of which he displayed a map, and undertook to show from whence the Russian fleet had sailed, which had encountered the Turks in the last war, but he pointed out Archangel instead of Petersburg. “He told me, too, there was a prophecy, that the Turkish power would be upset by a Christian power;—a prophecy likely to bring about its own fulfilment.”
The vessel which conveyed Bentham, was a Turkish vessel, taking her first voyage. He had no servant, but he made acquaintance with a German-Russian who had, and his conversation was very instructive. Henderson was on board with the two young women, one of whom was insipid and innoxious—the other a thorn in Bentham’s side, and a rod of iron over Henderson’s head. They were eight passengers in all. They found on board a singular personage in man’s attire, of whom they knew nothing, and divers hypotheses were mooted respecting him. He was made the interpreter of the party, and they called him the Dragoman. There were many fine young men on board, but the ladies reported them to be covered with vermin—“they being,” said Bentham, “more scrutinizing in that way.” There was a young Mahommedan priest, whose religious chants interested the voyagers. The food was prepared in the Turkish style, and was minced by an instrument consisting of two knives in the shape of half-moons. The cabin, though well suited to the Turks, who were almost always squatted on their haunches, was, from its lowness, wretchedly inconvenient to the Christian infidels, none of whom could stand upright in it. The cabin did not offer much to instruct or amuse Bentham, and he generally abandoned it in the evening when the Turks collected there. He had a small bed at the cabin door; and I have heard him mention, that one night a violent storm arose, and he was summoned to quit his bed in consequence of the danger—“but I thought,” he added, “that nothing I could do would be of any use in saving us, and I went quietly to sleep, having comforted myself with the reflection, that if I were to be drowned, to be drowned asleep was the best way of drowning; and I slept as soundly that night as on any night before or after.” The vessel, however, was badly constructed, heavily laden, and even when there was no storm, the waters often washed the deck. One phenomenon annoyed Bentham greatly. While seated round the table, showers of maggots fell. He could not explain the mystery. It was the raining of the Egyptian plague; and one person was constantly employed in gathering up the nuisances and throwing them away. He at last discovered that a quantity of dates which hung over their head was the cause of the grievance. “The German-Russian sometimes catered and provided new dishes: among other things he gave us fish, preserved in oil and vinegar; and we returned his courtesies by some civilities or other.” They landed at Scio, where the women came round the travellers, calling out “Inglese! Inglese!—buono! buono!” and offered to kiss my hands. “I wanted,” said Bentham, “to kiss theirs; but they were seeking, not kisses, but paras.” The vegetable scenery struck Bentham much—it was of a nature wholly new to him: palm trees, which he saw for the first time,—though he looked in vain for the orange groves. He reached the town by a walk of half a mile; by the side of which were stunted bushes of a succulent, or, to use his own phrase, “quasi-succulent character.” The streets were too narrow for carriages, and served to exclude the rays of the sun. A storm blew them, as it blew the apostle, into Mitylene; a small harbour, in the middle of which was a rock, two or three feet out of the water, which it required no little dexterity to steer by in safety. Bentham landed in a boat, and went into the fields, where abounded the intertwined narrow-leafed myrtles, Oleanders, and Agnus Castus. I remember hearing Bentham say, that in this Mitylene ramble he gathered botanical instruction by perceiving the fondness of the Oleander for marshy ground, which induced him ever after to give abundance of water to the Oleanders in his own garden—a garden, by the way, of which he was exceedingly fond, and in which he walked for an hour or two every day. It was the same garden in which Milton had often walked before, and which was, throughout Bentham’s happy life, a perpetual source of happiness to him. And, by the way, I cannot passover the love of flowers, which, I have already said, distinguished Bentham, without remarking that the distribution through the world of useful and beautiful plants and fruits, was one of his habitual occupations. His correspondence is full of suggestions for the introduction of new vegetable productions. He sent seeds from England to various parts of the globe. He directed the attention of his friends in distant regions to the collection and transmission of seeds from all parts. Where they had no botanical knowledge, he desired them to send all they could gather together; and especially, in lands little known, to reject no seeds because they appear to be in abundance; and he cautioned them against supposing, that because a vegetable grew in large quantities in one country, that it might not be very rare and very acceptable in another. He used to remark, that Botany was one of the most beneficent of sciences, as it lent itself to a boundless diffusion of new enjoyments.
The usual vicissitudes of a sea-life accompanied the voyagers. They passed a Venetian ship, the sails of which were shattered all to pieces. They expected her to founder, but she reached her port in safety. But they sailed close to a vessel that had foundered. The Turks, while the passengers walked backwards and forwards, used to come and eye the English girls, who gave them lumps of white sugar, which gratified them much, as they were in the habit of using sugar as a sweatmeat. The amusement of the passengers generally was to throw a sort of trident or harpoon at the fish they saw, and they thus killed many. Bentham and the English passengers quitted the Turkish vessel on falling in with an English ship, by which they were conveyed to Constantinople. Having reached the sea of Marmora, a tempest drove them back on the Asiatic coast, to a place called Kimid, where they spent a night. On reimbarking, the ship was found surrounded by floating masses, which, on inquiry, turned out to be wine in skins, the cargo of a vessel which had gone to wreck. The storm was violent—the lightning so vivid, and the flashes succeeding one another so rapidly, that the period of light lasted longer than that of darkness. Bentham suffered somewhat from sea-sickness, but not enough to prevent his reading, and he employed himself in the study of the laws of Italy. He had letters to the Imperial Internuncio at Constantinople (whose name was Herbert) from Baron Regesfeld, secretary to the Imperial Legation here, and who had lived a longer time in England than in his own country. He had also a letter from Lord Lansdowne to Sir Robert Ainslie, who had been a wine merchant, and another to Count Choiseul Gouffin, from Rayneval, who had come with the French ambassador to make the peace of 1783. The Count was related to the Duke de Choiseul, and had written a pompous book about Turkey. Bentham was received very kindly by the Internuncio, and dined with him several times. His beautiful little daughter, then nine years old, charmed Bentham much. She was introduced as a universal linguist, and spoke eight or nine languages. Bentham took the child in his arms, upon which she screamed aloud, and her mother took the matter up in mighty dudgeon. At that period, as now, the whole of the diplomatic body inhabited Pera, the other end of Constantinople; but had their country houses at Buyukdere, a high promontory beautifully situated, and overlooking the Black sea. Bentham there fell in with Eton, who had written a book on Turkey. He introduced Bentham to the Russian Minister, Bulgakow, in whom Bentham expected to find nothing better than a Calmuc barbarian, but he was a man of singularly handsome person, not to be distinguished from the best educated of Europeans. At his hôtel, however, though they dined between one and two o’clock, the guests were accustomed, even on occasion of great entertainments, to play at cards long before they sat down to dinner. Bentham remarked a prodigious variety of dishes, and was flattered by the attentions shown him, and the seat of honour that was given him. The minister talked with enthusiasm of his country; and said that the snow and ice of Russia were more brilliant than the snow and ice of other countries. Bentham suffered in the opinion of the minister by not calling on him after the entertainment. The fault was partly in his natural timidity, partly in his ignorance of the manners of the world, which his narrow, and as he always called it, his “miserable education,” had left behind it. The same feelings prevented his delivering his introductions to Count Choiseul. The women who have been before referred to, added not a little to Bentham’s embarrassment, and with good reason. He called them “strange cattle,” and knew not how to get rid of the encumbrance.
At Sir Robert Ainslie’s, there was living Sir R—W—, who had made himself ridiculous and celebrated by exhibiting his wife naked. Who was the Gyges to this English Candaules, I do not recollect to have heard; but his lady played a part very different from that of the Lydian queen,—for she recompensed her husband by making him a cuckold instead of a corpse. Sir R—had little to recommend him. He was, according to Bentham’s notes—haughty, selfish, and mean. Another Englishman of the name of Cadogan, connected with a family of rank, was staying at the British Embassy. Bentham retained a long remembrance of a discourtesy, by which they excluded him from a party which crossed the Bosphorus, to visit the mosque of St Sophia, having obtained the necessary authority; but perhaps his acknowledged backwardness and taciturnity may have been the cause. Ainslie, in conversation, was forcible and eloquent—though violent and pompous. He prided himself vastly on his dignity, and offended people by his braggadocio style. The Dutch ambassador being to be presented for the first time to the Sultan, Bentham was invited to accompany the diplomatic body to the palace, and he mounted on horseback with the rest, in a court dress, accoutred with bag and sword. One man only of all the cortége understood Turkish—a knowledge of the language of the court to which they are accredited, forming no part of diplomatic education, at least for English representatives, whose ignorance of the languages of the countries to which they are accredited is often as notorious as pernicious. In the hall of ceremony were many of the Turkish officers of state—among them was Hassan Pacha, who commanded the navy, and with whom Bentham’s brother (Sir Samuel) had afterwards, while in the Russian service, a sharp warlike encounter. The company dined in the seraglio; but none, except the ambassadors, were admitted to the presence of the sultan. Round tables were set out for the guests—who were thus distributed in small parties, and one officer of dignity was attached to each. The dining place was spacious, somewhat like the old King’s Bench, but larger. In the seraglio trees were growing here and there, and among them a beautiful mimosa. The dishes were in great variety, each one worse than the rest. They were piled one upon another like dumb waiters. A spoon was given to each person, and he fed himself from the common dish. The style was altogether barbarous. Bentham could hardly suppress a laugh, when he thought of the oddity of his own position, and this made him uneasy during the whole of the meal. The different officers attended, bearing bags of piastres, ostentatiously exhibiting their wealth; but had the bags been full of stones, said Bentham, we should have been never the wiser, for not one of them dreamed of exhibiting the contents to our view. Bentham got an indigestion as a recompense for his courtly curiosity; but a more civilised and congenial dinner provided by the Dutch ambassador, set matters to rights. Bentham had brought with him two sliding pencils, which were then a new invention, and he gave one to a diplomatist at table. Afterwards, when on the banks of the Danube, the great man of one of the towns saw the other pencil, which “excited his concupiscence”—and he asked Bentham to give it him; but it was too precious to part with, and all the great man got was a great quantity of regrets. Bentham lived at Constantinople with a merchant of the name of Humphries, and stayed there between five or six weeks. Under the same roof were Henderson and the two women. On mentioning this matter, Bentham said, “God knows what stories they told of me; but Humphries began to look on me coldly. I presented him with a book, but he declined to accept it. I could not understand him then; but some years after, my brother told me he had never seen an example of a hatred so intense as these women bore me.”
There was another family from which Bentham received abundant kindness; but as a sad history of shame and sorrow is connected with it, it will not be desirable to mention names. I was thrown some years ago into the company of a lady of the family, whose tale of distress I had heard from Bentham’s lips, and received from her the following account of the impressions he had made upon her mind at Constantinople, which will serve to throw light upon this part of the narrative.
“I do not remember precisely how long Mr Bentham remained at Constantinople: I think certainly not more than two months. He was a very constant visiter at my father’s house; but he resided, I think, with a Mr Humphries, an English resident merchant. There were no inns, or lodging-houses, in the city at that time. He was particularly fond of music, and used to take great delight in accompanying me on the violin. I well remember that he used to say, that I was the only female he had ever met with who could keep time in playing; and that music, without time, was to him unbearable. We went through together some pieces of Schobert, Schrocter, Sterkel, Eichner, and of other composers who were then most in vogue—all of which he played at sight, and with ease. He seemed to take great pleasure in my society, though I certainly never received from him any particular mark of attention which might not have been equally shown to one of his own sex. Indeed, not the slightest idea of any particular partiality, on his part, ever came across my mind. He was then about thirty-seven years of age, but he did not look so old. I have also impressed on my memory, that I obtained his commendation for my preference of works in prose to those of poetry: the reading of which, he asserted to be a great misapplication of time. I imagine, that at that period he was seldom excited to bring forward, or discuss, any of those subjects to which he afterwards so wholly and so successfully devoted himself. Had any conversations of that nature taken place in my presence, all traces of the purport of them would most assuredly, even at this time, not have been obliterated from my memory.
“I cannot positively assert that he brought a letter of recommendation to my father; but I know that he performed the voyage (from Smyrna, at least) in company with a Mr Henderson, who presented himself to as with a letter from a Mr Lee, an English resident merchant at Smyrna, and a particular friend of my father’s.
“Two young girls, under twenty years of age, accompanied this Mr Henderson, who was a very serious man, and very plausible in his manners. They were introduced as sisters, and his nieces. These ladies, however, were not mentioned in Mr Lee’s letter—a circumstance not noticed at the time.
“The elder had, to a certain degree, the manners of a lady; but those of the younger—and her appearance coincided—were by no means superior to what might be expected from a poor farmer’s daughter. Mr Bentham, as I have before said, was our constant visiter; and at our house he frequently met the Hendersons.
“It was not long before that period that the Turkish sultan, Abdul Hamid, and his inefficient and short-sighted ministers, had been wheedled out of their possession of the Crimea by the ‘finesse’ and eloquence of the able Russian Minister at the Porte, Mons. de Bulgakow. The Empress Catherine, most eager to promote the successful colonization of her newly-acquired territory, had invited a horde of adventurers of all nations, but chiefly Italians, to transfer themselves thither. Among others, Henderson was also enlisted in this service. He had engaged, together with his nieces, to establish a dairy in the English style. It occurs to me now, for the first time, that he might have been brought forward on that occasion under the auspices of Mr Bentham’s brother, who was then, I believe, in the Russian military service. But this is only conjecture. When I last saw Mr Bentham, however, he told me that the undertaking had turned out badly, and that Henderson had behaved very ill.
“When the time arrived for the departure of these people for the Crimea, the vessel in which they were to embark happened to lie at a considerable distance from the spot where they were dwelling, the suburb of Pera. It was determined they should transfer themselves to it by a short land journey, rather than by the more circuitous trip by sea, along the Bosphorus. A carriage was hired, (a most uncouth vehicle, but the only one which the city afforded.) In this they proceeded to the place of embarkation, escorted by my father and myself, with a servant on horseback.
“The wife of the owner of a trading vessel, who had formerly been in my father’s service, had been living for some years under our roof, ostensibly, to supply towards me the care and attention of a mother.
“At the period of Mr Bentham’s presence in Constantinople, the husband of this person, having returned from one of his voyages, was also our inmate.
“On the day of our absence with the Hendersons, Mr Bentham paid his usual visit at our house, and was received by this captain and Mrs Newman. In the course of conversation, Mr Bentham (who considered that the Hendersons had now taken their final departure from Constantinople, and felt himself in consequence no longer bound to keep their secrets) divulged that the elder niece was no other than Henderson’s mistress, and that the younger was an ignorant country girl, merely hired as a servant. Their surprise was naturally very great—much greater, I believe, than mine would have been; for I had already detected a want of concordance in what they separately told me, at different times, which I could not account for, but which I by no means liked.
“We did not return home till late in the evening. We were received at the door by the captain, who could not contain his laughter, and was in a hurry to attack my father about his extraordinary civility, and, as it now appeared, his ludicrous knight-errantry. My father felt ashamed at having been so easily taken in by these ignorant impostors; but he consoled himself with the idea that he had not been their only dupes, since Sir Robert Ainslie, our British ambassador, (following my father’s example, I fear,) had formally invited them to a dinner party. Their awkwardness and want of ease, which they could not modify to this sudden emergency, were sufficiently manifest; but it was attributed to English timidity and bashfulness.
“But the ‘nodo’ of this comic drama is still to be developed. Poor Bentham had made his disclosures most prematurely—our friends were not gone—they had, in fact, returned with us,—some impediment had occurred with regard to the sailing of the vessel, which appeared likely to occasion a long delay; and we had to increase the captain’s mirth by declaring that they were, even at that moment, again safely housed in their former lodging.
“The situation of these people during the remainder of their stay at Constantinople after this little éclaircissement, was, of course, a very mortifying one. My father had to endure his share also, in the laughter of Mr Humphries, and that of his other friends, who would not lose so fair an opportunity of amusing themselves at his expense. We did not see Mr Bentham till the following day, when he seemed rather confounded by the unlucky dénouement of the affair.
“I have said that there were no lodging-houses at Constantinople, but I remember that the Hendersons were put in possession of an empty house, in which a few articles of furniture had been put, just sufficient to serve their immediate necessities.”
Sir R—W—had not initiated himself into Bentham’s good graces at Constantinople. He was one of the last men whom he desired to meet. But Sir R. found his way to Crichoff when Bentham was there. A draughtsman, whom Sir R. had employed in Greece, had added considerably to Bentham’s unfavourable opinion. That artist accused this baronet of ill-usage—that his commands were given in the style of a bashaw—in a word, that his dependants were in the situation of slaves in the presence of a despot; he even menaced them with the rod and the scourge. Bentham was living with his brother at his small country house, about a mile from Crichoff, when one day notice was brought that Sir R. had arrived, and wished to see him. The colonel was for receiving him—the philosopher was for excusing themselves. However, he was received, and staid a week or two with them. Sir R. travelled with a black Abyssinian boy; but he treated the poor boy with barbarous cruelty, and nobody could be more wretched than he was in his master’s presence. Yet Sir R. called him his pet. On one of the tours, the Benthams accompanied Sir R. to General Bander’s in a drosky, and he made the boy sit at a little distance; but on arrival at any stage where they stopped, when Sir R. left them, they used to hear the boy crying out piteously “Signor Aga! Signor Aga!” The lad’s shrieks and agonies often tormented Bentham. Sir R. was accustomed to boast of his influence with Mr Pitt, and his great expectations from that quarter. He published a book on the antiquities of the Isle of Wight. Strange was his manner of life. He went to Petersburg, where he lived some months with a painter, having the benefit of his canvass, and offered no remuneration. When he was at Constantinople, he bid for some Circassian female slaves, but the price was too high.
The following letter to Lord Lansdowne is worth preserving:—
Bentham to Lord Lansdowne.
Capt. Richard Brine of the Mary Frances—the ship which brought me from Italy to Smyrna—expects to be in London again by the latter end of March. He has promised me, if possible, which he thinks it will be, to take home for me a he, and two she goats of the Angora breed. Should they arrive safe, I hope Lady Lansdowne will do me the honour to accept of them, and that Bowood, in addition to its manifold luxuries, will in due time afford a stock of comfortable muffs, such as her ladyship, as I understand, has sometimes not disdained to wear. Should the breed prosper, I may perhaps, upon my return to England, become an humble suitor for a part of the progeny, in the view of trying how they may succeed in some northern part of Scotland, where their sequestered situation may the better secure them against admixture, and where the coldness of the climate gives the wool of the country a degree of fineness, which, according to my friend Dr Anderson, is superior to any produced in the southern parts of our island. I wish I could have had a better security than the promise above-mentioned for the arrival of those animals; but there were none to be procured, not even seen at Smyrna; they are to be had, if at all, only by the caravans, which travel but now and then, and take a fortnight’s journey to go from Angora to that part.
“Smyrna affords two sorts of grapes, the one of the raisin, the other of the currant size, which from a property which is common to them, and to the maiden berberines we have in England, have received a similar denomination. I have heard them called by Christians, virgin raisins; virgin currants, by Jews; eunuck currants, eunuchs. If neither appellation should be deemed so conformable as might be wished to the laws of delicacy, the blame must be at the door of the first authors. I can hear of no other epithet to distinguish them by. As the ideal imperfection to which they owe their name is generally looked upon as no small perfection with reference to the use we put them to, I have taken measures for sending to England a few plants of each sort, in hopes of your Lordship’s doing me the honour to give them a place at Wycombe or Bowood, leaving it to your Lordship’s ingenuity to rebaptize them in such manner as may be deemed most proper before they are introduced to the notice of the ladies; and that the learned at your Lordship’s table may be the better enabled to pronounce whether they are worth a place in either garden, I have taken the liberty of addressing to your Lordship, by Captain Brine above-mentioned, a small specimen of each contained in two drums, as they are called, which have been filled under my own inspection, and marked by me V. R. L., the other V. C. L.: each drum contained, as near as could be contrived, 1-4th of a quintal, Turkish, equal to 30½ lbs., English. I should not have thought of troubling your Lordship with such trash, but that I was told at Smyrna that they never found their way to England but in the shape of presents; the stock not being abundant enough to send to market.
“I landed at this port on Monday last, the 21st instant; I found the ambassador full of friendship and politeness, as might be expected from the letter I was honoured with. He would have insisted on my quartering myself in the palace, had not the spare room in it been completely preoccupied by Sir R—W—, his draughtsman Mr Revely, and the Hon. Mr Cadogan. The two former come from Egypt: the latter is going thither; and for the purpose of the expedition, is nourishing a pair of whiskers, which, respectable as they are in an Asiatic point of view, form an odd mixture with a garb in other respects completely English.
“What with the remonstrances of friends, the want of pilots, and the inconveniences or rather dangers of quarantine, the fruits of Russian management, I believe I shall be obliged to finish my tour by land: the return of a Moldavian princess, sister to the reigning prince, promises safety as far as Jassi, and perhaps society. Before I set out on the expedition, if ever I should set out, I shall not fail to turn to a book of instructions given me by a certain noble friend, with as much devotion as Peter, Jack, and Martin did to theirs. Therein shall I find totidem literis, if not totidem syllabis,—‘cut the coat according to thy cloth,’ and, moreover, in the words of the seer, ‘metiri se quemque suo modulo et pede.’ In the meantime, to cut off all occasion of scandal, I think it meet to declare and to protest that the princess, being of fit age and experience to make a prudent choice, hath for some time past committed the charge of her household affairs unto a man, by nation a Greek, of goodly stature, and of a ruddy countenance; and, moreover, that with my knowledge and acquiescence, a certain young English surgeon is soliciting to be intrusted during the course of her journey with the care of the health of her Moldavian Highness.”
Bentham saw the sultan visit the mosque. He was on horseback, as were all his attendants, splendidly dressed, and the horses caparisoned with cloth of gold. He also met at the British ambassador’s, a brother of the Bey of Tunis, who had been in Europe, and strove to imitate our manners,—he sat upon a chair, and it was curious to see how he spread out his legs.
Bentham started from Constantinople by land. In passing through Bulgaria, where manure is precious, he observed they had collected a quantity of dung at the top of a hill, and it was washed away from time to time by the rain,—“This indeed,” exclaimed he, “is barbarism!” but coming back to England, he saw a repetition of the same ill-husbandry; but then his exclamation was, “Let us not be censorious!”
The churches of Bulgaria were ornamented with figures like those in Potter’s Antiquities,—no perspective,—and exhibiting the state of the arts as in Henry the Sixth’s time in England. They reminded Bentham of a picture of London Bridge, in which the man on horseback is twice as tall as the house by which he is passing, and the horse is walking on nothing at all.
Bentham’s servant would make a great noise in entering the villages,—smacking his whip, and insisting on lodgings,—sometimes in vain,—and when his master gave a few paras to the poor, the Janissary would grow furiously angry, but calmed himself by saying it was his own “danga,” (money.) At Bergas, about forty miles from Constantinople, was a manufacture of coarse earthen ware,—turned at the potter’s wheel,—painted red and ornamented with gold-leaf. Bentham endeavoured to get access to it, but was not able to make himself understood.
Bentham’s servant was very useful as an interpreter,—especially when sober,—but he often got drunk, and was then quarrelsome and abusive. He had been servant to that German-Russian who was on board the vessel in which Bentham went to Smyrna. Bentham and he met at Bucharest, and they went together to the house of an opulent Russian who lived on the roadside. In a corner of the room was a costly screen with fine pictures of the Russian saint,—one might almost say the Russian god, Nicholas,—when Bentham approached the screen, his friend said to him, “No! do not look hard at it,—you will give offence to the master of the house.”
The best maps at this time were very imperfect, and large towns were not noticed in them at all: for instance, Ruszig (Rustchuk on the Danube) which had nearly forty mosques. There were many detentions for want of horses, and stoppages from the badness of the roads. In travelling through Bulgaria, there is a striking distinction between the towns of the aborigines and those built by the Turks—the latter being generally gloomy dwellings of bricks, with holes, into which pieces of glass are put. Sprinkled among the Turks are a few Greek inhabitants. The Bulgarian houses are of mud, every house insulated, and having a sort of veranda or corridor projecting, under which you may walk: they have neat and very small windows covered with pieces of skin. The houses have cotton hangings, and generally a loom, in which a cloth inconceivably coarse is woven, used for their ordinary clothing. Many of the abodes have no chimney, but a hole in the roof.
At Bucharest, Bentham met with a Greek who was as much enamoured as himself with Helvetius. Bucharest has many leaning towers; one has given celebrity to Pisa. Bentham was wont to remark on the caprices of human judgment, of which this was an example; for Bucharest had many titles to the celebrity that Pisa has obtained,—yet has not obtained it. There are few towns which have such a number of churches in so small a space.
Jassy was a scene of new trouble. Bentham, to oblige a friend, had offered to convey a quantity of red caps, that were to be forwarded to the Crimea. They were seized by the officers, and he had to pay a large sum of money for their release.
Between Constantinople and the Danube, Bentham lost 200 ducats. Whether they were stolen or not, he never knew; but the loss reduced him to great perplexity. When they reached the Danube, Bentham offered ten ducats to the janissary who had conducted him from Constantinople. He was naturally dissatisfied; but Bentham could afford no more,—and was tormented with the thought that his resources would wholly fail him before he could obtain any fresh supply.
Then, as now, in Poland, except in large towns, there were no inns but those kept by the Jews,—all alike, large, lofty, and dirty,—a vast waste of space, and a great deal of the room occupied by cattle. The Jews were clad in long gowns,—a costume they continue to wear. Bentham, who carried his bedding with him, was used, whenever he was able, to get a heap of straw into a corner, and there to spread his bed, removed from the annoyance of the filthy floor. He hired horses from town to town,—sometimes four, sometimes six, but always from the Jews, to drag the wagon. At Soroka was a Prussian lieutenant, in command of the place, with whom Bentham conversed in Latin. The custom-house officer invited him to a repast. It consisted of brown bread, stewed prunes, and a strange dish, which turned out to be made of onion seeds. Bentham was alarmed by the man’s curiosity to examine his cloth-bag, in which was all his finery, and a precious pair of fur gloves. The Prussian asked what had become of the servants, seeing only one. Bentham said he had no more; and the lieutenant said to the servant, he supposed his master was a stage-player. A handsome set of six horses conducted Bentham from Soroka. They were the commandant’s, who did not object to “turn a penny” by the supposed “stage-player.”
Bentham said one day, in reference to this journey, “I’ll make you a confession how I turned thief. When my servant left me, I arose to look over his things. Among them I found a shirt, which he had stolen from a man who had borrowed money from me, and never returned it; so I appropriated the shirt to myself.”
On this journey he said, “His wheels sometimes carried his sledge, and his sledge at others his wheels.”
Bentham reached Ovidiopol in the middle of January. There he performed his quarantine. To his great surprise, the medical attendant refused a ducat which was offered him, saying, he was sufficiently paid by his imperial mistress, and carried on his discourse in Latin. Bentham feared that the refusal of the money was a bad omen, and that he was to be subjected to some despotic caprice. The medical assistant was delighted to get a portion of the present that his master had refused; and after a short purification, the prisoner was released, and three horses obtained to convey him to Kremenschuk.
Bentham arrived at Kremenschuk on the 15th January, 1786. It was night when he reached, and he was obliged to cross the river on foot.
He dined there with the governor. There were silver covers and bottle-holders, plates of Wedgewood ware; but the knives and forks were iron,—very dirty, and not changed with the dishes,—bright lustres of Russian glass,—eight or ten coloured candles on the table, in brass candlesticks,—red sweet wine from the Don,—dry from Cyprus,—Sauterne, Mountain and Muscadine; Burton ale was also introduced. All the gentlemen in boots, though many ladies were of the party; but they wore warm ruffles. Between dinner and supper, the church quire sang anthems, also songs of the Ukraine, and some Russian songs in parts. Some of the guests, particularly the military, came from considerable distances. The evening was spent in card-playing; and people whose salaries were not more than 600 rubles a-year, lost 800 rubles in a day. Everybody played high. The accounts were kept with chalk upon the green-baized card-table, with a hard brush at hand to rub them out.
Among the guests was Potemkin’s physician, who said, that for two years he had not received a farthing, of salary or other remuneration. He had been ordered about from place to place,—was sent to Dobrovna,—then to Crichoff,—then ordered to the Crimea, but this order countermanded,—then to Kremenschuk.
The gambling between the wealthy nobility Bentham represents to be frightful. Orlov, Potemkin, and others, used to play by day-light at ombre for 100 rubles a fish. One of the winners told Bentham that he had carried off from one sitting between 120 and 130,000 silver rubles, (£20,000.)
The state of the Russian army was then extraordinary. One of the colonels commanded 6 companies each of 136 privates, making 816 men; but with officers and myrmidons, they amounted to 1100. Among them they had 86 horses, the average cost of which was 1800 rubles. They had marched 300 versts without a farthing in the military chest. The colonel thought such marches very beneficial for training. One of the sources of profit was the meal allowed to the troops, which they did not think it worth while to take, but gave receipts to the officers notwithstanding. The colonel had been punishing a robber, suspected of murder, who was to be put to death by the gauntlet; and though they supposed they had killed him, he survived notwithstanding. He had been transferred for his death-punishment to the colonel. This man had previously been made a clerk by superior orders, and was employed by the colonel, with a clog fastened to his leg. Before he recovered, he stole a piece of money—was detected, and, being unable to run, was taken. So much for appropriate punishment!
When officers are put under arrest, their allowance is only bread and water. The colonel said, that money was made out of non-effective horses, and short allowances to men.
Of another dinner party with Prince Potemkin’s steward, are these memoranda:—
“Good Sherry wine, Russian beer in small square Hungarian bottles, light sparkling pleasant mead. Just before dinner, in a separate room, cold sausage, caviar with oil and vinegar, herrings with chopped onions. Then for dinner, bouilli, soups of two sorts. Pie with game, spiced meat, heath-cocks, Turkey-Russian pancakes, pickled mushrooms, to eat with turkey. Just before parting, dessert of apples, nuts, and raisins. Then retired the guests, that the host might have his feet tickled to sleep.”
“Another day, with Count Razumovsky: goose soup with bread-meat balls, roast-beef goose-pie, beef-steaks stewed, goose salted and boiled, omelettes prepared by the host. Extempore diet, bread excellent, Burton ale, claret, sweet wine from Cyprus, Hungarian wine remarkably delicate, Judac wine ten or eleven years old, sparkling like champagne, but better.”
“The soldiers have a considerable fund. They choose their own steward, they keep their resources in gold, that they may pass in any country, notwithstanding the agio. The money is under two locks—one the steward’s, the other the officer’s. This fund is responsible for each member, that he shall have his compliment of clothing, &c. What a member gets by labour goes to the fund. An officer may strike a soldier, but he must register the cause. Officers plead the necessity of the power, on the ground of their responsibility. When a soldier is in good humour, he calls his officer Batiushka, (Father,) otherwise by the name of his rank; Batiushka, and Matushka, (Mother,) are given to equals and superiors, even to Excellencies.
“There are three Russian merchants of the first class for wealth: Sabaxin, Wolodomirov, and another. The Demidovs are of the second class. Sabaxin, dying some time ago, left to seven sons, and the son of an eighth son, 1,800,000 rubles, in money, each (then about £300,000) besides fixed capital. Wolodomir has or had 400,000 rubles a-year.
“My host (Sitov) has only twenty servants, drives but a pair—qui déroge. His chariot cost 200 rubles, including conveyance hither from Moscow, being 30 rubles. He was of age at twenty, and spent his fortune of 200,000 rubles before he was twenty-three. Having had a bad mother-in-law, he forbears second marriage. At his estate, 250 versts off, on the Dnieper, he has a travelling carriage, that lets down behind and in front when he sleeps, it serving for a bed. Three hundred such, he says, are to be bought at Moscow.
“While I was at Kremenschuk, a soldier was accused by his wife of having seduced their daughter. The General sent him to be judged by the bishop.”
To his brother, Bentham was strongly attached. “General Bentham was,” said he, “of an inventive genius, full of schemes of mechanical improvement. One of his projects was to create an unchangeable temperature for time-pieces. My brother’s letters were subjects of great delight to me. He left Westminster school before he got to the highest forms; but he had got so far as to make Greek verses. He made Greek verses in Spring, and Latin verses in the Autumn.
“When he left England in 1774, he had no less than eighty-six letters of introduction. For three weeks previously, he lay on the floor to accommodate himself to that mode of life.
“On returning from his journey to Kiaktha, he made sundry suggestions to the empress, which were well received, but his plans were defeated by one of the governors, who said she was putting too much confidence in a young stranger.
“He contrived a scheme for baggage-wagons to pass through rivers without the use of pontoons. I proposed it to Sir F. Baring, who had a very narrow mind, and who did not think it worth his notice, because, he said, he did not see how it would benefit my brother.
“He travelled with Prince Potemkin from Petersburg, into the Crimea, and was in the same carriage with him for six weeks. He would sometimes be for three weeks together playing at cards,—so that if any business was done, it was when the cards were dealing.”
Bentham lived a very secluded life during his visit to his brother, occupied principally in his literary studies. The name of the estate where his brother was settled, is Zadobras, near Crichoff, (sometimes written Kriezew, and sometimes Tcherigov,) a small town to the south of Mstislav, in the province of Moghilev. Crichoff is situated on the right bank of the river Don, which runs into the Dnieper at Loev. Zadobras is situated on an elevation rather precipitous, of sixty or eighty feet, the river running at the bottom. The establishment, at whose head was Sir Samuel, then Colonel Bentham, was created under Potemkin’s auspices, for the introduction of various manufactures into that part of Russia. They had imported a master tanner, a master currier, a gardener, and divers other mechanics and artisans. Near Crichoff, was a lake whose waters were employed, and in the lake a floating island, on which were fine willows and large trees, which was sometimes at one end of the lake, and sometimes at the other. It was sometimes so near that it could be jumped on from the mainland. Zadobras had been a sort of infirmary. On occasions, all the mechanics were called away from their labours to make hay, which was sold to the governor at a fixed price. There was a sort of military command given to Sir Samuel, but his rule was disturbed by no small confusion, if not anarchy; and Bentham himself, who frequently did not visit the town for weeks together, was not wholly free from the consequences of misunderstanding and mismanagement. Dr Debraw, who had charge of the English workmen, sent to Bentham a most deplorable account of their proceedings. It seems to have been a scene of perfect bewilderment. He sends a “Journal of Transactions,” in which laziness, thievery, quarrelling, drinking—“large demands for doing nothing”—“all outgoings”—“no incomings,” form pretty nearly the whole record. Only one man of all the people imported from England, is represented as trustworthy, and against him the rest confederated. The poor Doctor writes as if he were driven to craziness by the rebellion of his subordinates—whom he calls a “Newcastle election mob”—“hirelings from that rabble town.” On one occasion the military were sent for to enforce subordination. The result of all this was what will be easily imagined. Much money was lost,—and much discontent existed; and the place was afterwards sold by Potemkin to a Pole. A piano, and a few books, among which was the Dictionaire de Jurisprudence, were Bentham’s principal external sources of intellectual amusement.
Once, during his residence at Crichoff, a German endeavoured to extort money from Bentham by holding a pistol at his head. The money was indeed owed by his brother, but it was demanded of him on whom there was no claim whatever. The Crichoff experiment has been characterized above as a very absurd attempt to domesticate in a barbarous part of Russia all sorts of civilisation. It was a hobby of Potemkin’s, and cost him many thousand pounds. Zadobras had a momentary fame,—it was prettily situated,—but has fallen into ruin. It was one of two of Potemkin’s civilisation experiments: one under Colonel Bentham, who had abundance of invention, cleverness and genius; another under Stahl, a German. Genius and economy, Bentham often said, are always quarrelling,—their thoughts run in separate channels. At Zadobras there was the strangest collection,—an English gardener, a Welsh majordomo, a Quaker tanner, a German quack doctor, to say nothing of a host of subordinates who took to quarrelling and plaguing everybody about and above them. From such scenes and such actors it is not wonderful that Bentham was most anxious to escape.
Many were the altercations which took place at Crichoff, and the confusion of tongues only made the quarrels the fiercer. Bentham had paid some attention to the Russian language,—enough to make his wants known, but not enough to understand what was said to him,—and he did not fall into the common folly of asserting that he understood more than he could speak,—a declaration which self-love and ignorance are prone enough to make.
“I know just as much of Russ,” said he, “as I know of the language of cats,—I could speak their language, and obtain an answer, but the answer I never understood.”
Of the reigning empress, Bentham said,—“Catherine the Second had celebrity; nor that altogether undeserved. In a feminine body she had a masculine mind. She laid the foundation of a code,—an all-comprehensive code.”
A letter from Chamberlain Clark, of 31st August, 1786, has this passage:—
Chamberlain Clark to Bentham.
“A great event has happened in the family of Q.S.P. [Queen Square Place.] Mr Abbot is married to a lady with a fortune (as I hear) of £60,000. I never heard a syllable of the business from either Mr or Mrs B., and the newspaper is the only channel through which I am informed of the marriage. I hardly know what public events to relate to you, as I conclude you receive some English newspapers. The sale of the Prince of Wales’s stud has made a great noise; but as his debts are put into a course of payment, I hope they, as well as the nation’s, will be honourably discharged. It has been long apprehended the King of Prussia’s death would occasion great commotions in Europe: that event has happened, and now things seem to go on as quietly as ever. The emperor’s brother has just arrived—but whether on business or pleasure is to me a profound secret. What do you intend to do with the Turks? Since the doctrine of Mahommed has been so heartily drubbed into your head and shoulders, I suspect you have some predilection for the circumcised. I have no wish to see Constantinople added to your empire, which, I think, is as large as can be well managed by one sovereign; but I wish a respectable kingdom could be carved out of the Ottoman dominions; and I should not have the least objection to placing the Princess of Moldavia, and the gentleman who accompanied her highness from Constantinople, at the head of it. The Board of Trade is going to be revived, and Lord Hawkesbury (late C. Jenkinson) is to be at the head of it. The members of the board are not to receive a salary, as such, but will possess sinecure places which can’t be well abolished. His lordship, for example, is made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. You may recollect that I have been remarkable for a number of road adventures. A few days ago, as Harry Russell and myself were going in a post-chaise to make a visit below Dorking, we were overtaken on the Epsom road about twelve miles from town, between one and two in the afternoon, by two gentlemen on horseback, who eased us of some cash and our watches. Mr Russell’s, unfortunately, was of gold, with a chain and seals of the same metal. I shall be glad to know where you are, and what you are about. Let me know the value of land in your neighbourhood, and whether there is any pretty snug farm, well wooded and watered, with a pretty snug house upon it, which you could recommend as a country retreat from the noise and bustle of London. I am informed that government has just determined to send off seven hundred convicts to New [South] Wales, under convoy of a man-of-war, where a fort is to be built, and a colony established, and that a man has been found who will take upon him the command of this rabble. Major Semple is to be of the party,—a gentleman who has given proofs of his dexterity to the Marquis of Lansdowne, also downwards to ladies’ maids and hackney coachmen. These wretches are to be furnished with a twelvemonths’ provision, seeds, &c., and then must shift for themselves. I forgot to take notice of an event which, for a few days, alarmed the country,—an insane woman offered to present a petition to the king, and, at the same instant, made a blow at him with a knife; she was instantly secured, and, after several examinations before the council, was sent to our hospital of Bethlem where she is like to spend the remainder of her days. She told me nothing could prevent a deluge in the kingdom, but restoring the blood; and that the only way to bring that about, was for the Prince of Wales to make her a mother.”
A letter from George Wilson, of 24th September, 1786, has some interesting passages with reference to books and politics:—
George Wilson to Bentham.
“I could give very good reasons for not having sooner answered your letter from Crichoff of 29th May, or 9th June; but it would take some time to state them. As to our silence before that, you will recollect that we had reason to suppose that you desired to hear from neither of us, and that it was, in a manner, settled, before you set out, that we were not to correspond, because you found yourself involved in too many engagements of that sort already. Your letter from Leghorn we did not consider as any departure from this plan; but only as an infliction of your revenge on Trail, for his and his cousin’s calumnies against the Grand Duke. I say this by way of justification, and by no means with any spleen; for, I do assure you, I have felt great yearnings towards you since you left this country, and vehement longings for your return. If I had the advantage of a title, I should, no doubt, have found it easy, as Lord L. has done, to see your letters to Q. S. P. on my own terms. Trail received, on going to town last Friday, a scrap of paper from you, desiring an account of the new taxes; and before he returns, will do what he can to supply you. I am not sure that any supplement to Burn will come down low enough; but you will at least have a little table of taxes, published by Kearsley. Trail had before sent you by Mr King, The Debate on the Sinking Fund, and Report of the Committee, Baring’s Principle of the Commutation Act, Plan for settling the Black Poor near Sierra Leone, by Smeathman, who is since dead, and, I suppose, the plan with him; Character of Lord Sackville, by Cumberland, Correspondence between Lord Macartney and General Stewart, Burke’s Charges, and Hastings’ Defence, and Maty’s Reviews, down to August, inclusive. Newspapers we cannot send you; because they go to Scotland, to my sister, who, by the by, is very well, and has a son nine months old. While you are making Fermes Ornées in a country which is not to be found in our maps, other people here are invading your province of a reformer. There is a Mr Paley, a parson and archdeacon of Carlisle, who has written a book called Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, in quarto, and it has gone through two editions, with prodigious applause. It is founded entirely on utility, or, as he chooses to call it, the will of God, as declared by expediency, to which he adds, as a supplement, the revealed will of God. But notwithstanding this, and some weak places, particularly as to oaths and subscriptions, where he is hampered by his profession and his past conduct, it is a capital book, and by much the best that has been written on the subject in this country. Almost everything he says about morals, government, and our own constitution, is sound, practical, and free from commonplace. He has got many of your notions about punishment, which I always thought the most important of your discoveries; and I could almost suspect, if it were possible, that he had read your introduction;* and I very much fear, that, if you ever do publish on these subjects, you may be charged with stealing from him what you have honestly invented with the sweat of your own brow. But, for all that, I wish you would come and try; for I am still persuaded, my dear Bentham, that you have, for some years, been throwing away your time; and that the way in which you are most likely to benefit the world and yourself is, by establishing, in the first place, a great literary reputation in your own language, and in this country, which you despise. But all this had been said often enough already, and it is needless to tire you with it any more. Paley’s book is written in a clear, manly, simple style, and he reasons with great accuracy. I meant to have copied and sent you an inquiry of his into the guilt of a drunken man who kills another, and the quantum of punishment that ought to be applied to him, which is as exhaustive and correct as if you had done it yourself, and, if I may say it without offence, less formal and prolix. But I have forgot it, and have not now the book by me. He has added, unnecessarily, a treatise on political economy, which he does not understand. You will see by the papers that there is a large subscription to erect a statue to your friend Howard, who is now making a tour of the Lazarettos for the plague in the Levant. Jonas Hanway, another of your fellow-labourers, but at some distance, is dead. Government are going at last to send the convicts to Botany Bay in New Holland; the Hulks being found, by sad experience, to be academies for housebreaking, and solitary confinement to any extent, impracticable from the expense of building. These colonists are not to be turned loose there; but are to have a government established over them, and some troops left; notwithstanding which, I much fear it will end in the ruin of the Friendly and Society Islands, which they will undoubtedly attempt to reach if they can either get or build ships; unless, indeed, the colony should expire, which is not unlikely, as, to 600 men there are but 70 women, and those probably not the most fertile. Will you have a few convicts for the Crimes? We have been reading here Cook’s last voyage, and are very desirous to know what is become of our good friend Major Behm, and whether our court ever interested itself to procure him any preferment. Tell us also, how far we may rely on De Tott’s account of the Turks. Eden went to Paris by no other revolution than that of his own principles, which came about more suddenly and with less pretext than any in this reign. He is to be a vice-treasurer of Ireland in the room of Lord Walsingham, who goes to Spain. It is universally believed that the French Commercial Treaty is settled; but the articles are not known: probably they will make some noise, as they cannot but touch some of our dearest prejudices. There is also an agreement about the mutual recovery of debts in France and England. It seems their courts have not been open to us, as ours are to them. Sir Gilbert Elliot is, I hope, by this time chosen for Berwick. The election was to be last Wednesday, and he was pretty safe. Douglas is well, and increasing in fame and wealth. Trail has left Ainge, and is now a complete and accomplished draughtsman, waiting for instructions. I am going on, or rather, standing still as before; for though I shall get rather more this year than the last, it is owing to accidents, and not to any regular or permanent business. There are great changes in the King’s Bench this year. Davenport is dead,—Tom Cowper dying,—Jack Lee paralytic, and John Wilson a judge by the death of Nares. By each of these events I get a step, as the soldier did when the general was killed. Bower is to have a silk gown;—so probably will Law, and Chambré, if he pleases. Erskine is at the head of the K.’s Bench decidedly, and Mingay almost before Bearcroft. Thurlow has been at death’s door, and is not well yet. Lord Mansfield still Chief-Justice, but unable to do the business. Thompson is Accomptant-general by the death of Anguish. All this you don’t care about; but I have no news but law news.”
Bentham announced the sending “Panopticon”—his great plan for a national penitentiary—to George Wilson in this letter, which answers that which precedes:—
Bentham to George Wilson.
“Crichoff,December 19-30, 1786.
“My dear Wilson.—
Great comfort to get a letter from you at last; but some chagrin to find I have been destroying the better part of my life, as you pretend to do your vacations. I had ordered horses for England, to take triumphant possession of the throne of Legislation, but finding it full of Mr Paley, I ordered them back into the stable. Since then, I have been tormenting myself to no purpose, to find out some blind alley in the career of fame, which Mr Paley’s magnanimity may have disdained. After all, I have been obliged to go a-begging to my brother, and borrow an idea of his, which I have dressed up with a little tinsel of my own, and now send to London as a private venture Parve, nec invideo sine me liber ibis in urbem.
“I think the effect of your good advice to me, is—commonly much snarling and growling at first, and obedience at the last. You and Trail passed sentence on my Introduction to a Penal Code, alias Principles of Legislation, alias I don’t know what besides, and there’s an end of it. I think you have told me more than once, that if it were possible for my scrawl to be tolerable in any shape, it would be in that of letters. I have accordingly given that form to my twopenny-halfpenny pamphlet, consisting, I suppose, from 150 to 200 pages. The hero celebrated is our Sam: for the hero to be addressed, I have taken Q. S. P. [his father] as Boileau took his gardener. The origin of this choice was, that when I first sat down, I meant nothing more than a private, or, if you please, a semi-public letter, to be shown by him to anybody that would condescend to look at it: more especially his worshipful brethren, the Middlesex Justices, to whom it more particularly belonged, as you will see. As it grew upon me, your dictum confirmed me in my choice. Being a sort of Flying Castle, or, to speak more to the times, an air-balloon, it sweeps over all sorts of ground. Amongst the rest, it passes over the ruins of the poor old Penitentiary house. There I have occasion, or, perhaps you will say, no occasion, to fling a stone or two once more at Goliah Eden. This you will be sorry for, as before, for the same reason that David’s brethren were for David. On the other hand, if you happen to think any of them give him a twinge, you will be glad, because Goliah is a Philistine. There are great bets here which carries it—private friendship or party spleen: to be sure, what we should be glad to see, were it possible, is that they might shake hands and divide stakes. Now for a little job for you and [or] Trail, which I have taken care to leave you both at the most perfect liberty to take in hand, or let alone as you have a mind. I have not here the Penitentiary House Act which passed; nor anything belonging to that affair, but my own view of the first Labour Bill. Consequently, I have been forced to proceed altogether upon the ground of the said View, whence divers undesigned misrepresentations may have arisen. What I want, is some charitable hand to take the Penitentiary Act, and, by a few notes at the bottom of the page, correct such misrepresentation for the benefit of the unlearned reader. These notes might be prefaced and accounted for by some such advertisement as this:—‘At the request of several of the Author’s friends, one of them has added a few notes for the purpose of correcting some undesigned misrepresentations of the danger of which he was aware, but which the distance of his situation rendered unavoidable.’ You may then disavow in what terms you please all combination and confederacy, &c. Treat me as cavalierly as you please, for which this shall be your sufficient warrant. If, in any shape, I have done said Goliah, or whom ever else it may concern, any injustice in point of fact or argument, redress the wrong, adding or not adding, that it was at my desire. If you and Trail want leisure, or resolution, turn the business over to anybody else that may vouchsafe to meddle with it. I avoid sending it to you, that if such should be your pleasure, you may avoid dirtying your fingers with it altogether. I send it to King, at the Coffee-house, with instructions to him to give you notice of its arrival, and make legal tender of it to you, or either of you, that you may do about it as you please. If, like old surly Northington, you please nothing, he will put it into Hughes’ hands to print, and, I believe, into Payne’s to publish. It remains for the learned to determine whether it were best in 8vo form—for the faint chance of being bound up by a few people with the poor View of the Hard Labour Bill; or in 12mo, in which case it might make a bindable book of itself. Two or more architectural drawings will accompany it; but as they are mere outlines, anybody may execute them, and the expense can be but a trifle. Perhaps the publisher will manage that. Alderman Clark had once a protegé in that line of the name or Sharp. If he is not dearer than othef folks, which Payne, I suppose, could tell, if it were worth asking, which it hardly can be, this Sharp might as well be employed as anybody else. . . . If out of compliment to Q. S. P., the Justices should be for having it published, and signify their desire in proper form, I suppose there can be no harm in the printing of their order containing such desire. . . . . . Whether you take any part or no in the publication, tell me in due time, in perfect sincerity, what you think of it, as well of Sam’s architectural idea as of the puffing and the collateral matter of all sorts which I have added to it; tell me also, as far as you can collect, what other people say of it, if they say anything. Perhaps, to give the thing two chances of arrival, I may take measures for the two copies being sent from Riga at a post or two’s distance.
“A possibility upon a possibility, is that we may pay England a visit in the course of the summer in a vessel of Sam’s invention, manned by a part of his battalion. If so, it will be from Cherson, or a port in the Crim; and perhaps we may make a point of pushing for England without touching anywhere in the passage. In that case we want to know whether, plague or no plague in the Levant, we should be obliged to perform quarantine. You could tell us by looking into the acts, or otherwise. There is no knowing beforehand, whether it will bear the sea or no; but a small trial will soon show. Perhaps though it did not at first, it may at last. At any rate, it can scarce fail to be of use for inland navigation. We shall know, as soon as rivers are open, what it is worth; and if it answers expectation, we shall have to take out a patent for it in England, and I shall have a puffing pamphlet to write to show the advantages it has above all other vessels imagined or imaginable, from which it differs as much as a house upon the inspection principle (my string of letters will tell you what that means) does from common houses. If it ever reaches England by sea, it will be scarcely less of a raree-show than the air-balloons. If it bear the sea, and the event demonstrates the received theories to be just, it should go near to supersede all other sorts of vessels, and it would have the strangest consequences with regard to trade and politics. It has already been tried, and answered as far as it has been tried: doing in its infant state what no other vessel could have done. But a regular course of experiments, whereby alone can be taken the exact measure of its utility, in comparison with others, cannot be made till the rivers are open again: in the meantime, the great improvement has been hit on to which he trusts for its bearing the sea. In the meantime, he has carte blanche for maturing the experiment; and very busy a-building we are. It is very foolish for me to run on in this manner: but it would have cost me more pains to stop than it was worth being at. At any rate, I have given one—yes, two answers, amongst more that might be given to the question, what Sam is doing? Other inventions he has of the mechanical kind, some finished, some finishing, which, if he comes to England, may perhaps form part of his cargo.
“You have received, I hope, a paper, which frightened, I suppose, the man that gave it you. I hope you quieted his fears. After one passage of it, the writer ought not by good rights to have sent it you, as he writes me word; but he tells me he had just received a kind letter from you, which made him sell his soul to the devil in hopes of pleasing you.
“Q. S. P. is so jealous of you that I have no hopes of getting you a sight of my letters by scolding him for his backwardness with regard to you. But as Alderman Clark makes similar complaints, I shall beg of him to lend them to the alderman, and write the alderman to lend them to you. I give Q. S. P. the power to prevent the publication altogether, or to add anything to it which he may choose to add, either in his own name, or in that of the editor; as likewise to strike out anything, either whole passages, or words, supplying the place with stars, or saying the manuscript was illegible in that part. . . . . . .
“Of the accuracy of De Tott’s account, I can tell you nothing certain. Some said that it was true, others that it was a lie, or exaggeration. I had no opportunity of cross-examining people. The diplomatic people and the Franks live very much among themselves, and have very little opportunity of knowing what is going forward among the Turks on the other side of the harbour. The account I could give you of the authenticity and verity of Habins’ publication would be about equally satisfactory.
“Major J—does not deserve the honour of your inquiries. He got at the time at least ten times the value of what he gave, and which he took care to set down to the public account. In the first part of his journey home, for instance, at Iskutsh, (where Sam heard of him, and drank some of the rum he had left there in presents,) he could not find terms to express his sense of the astonishing generosity of the English. As he advanced nearer Petersburg, his note lowered, till at last he came to complain of neglect and ingratitude. Sam, firing at this, sent him a message, recommending it to him to change his note back again, if he had not a mind to find himself contradicted to his face. Sam wrote particulars to Sir J—H—at the time; but his recollection of the matter is now very imperfect. Besides swords and watches, and other things, of which the value was known to the donors, he received those valuable sea beaver or otter skins, of which the value was not then so fully known, to the amount, as Sam thinks, of some hundreds; at any rate enough to make an ample fortune to him. Sam thinks he got, besides a gold snuff-box from Sir J. H., besides a magnificent piece of plate, with an inscription, which the Admiralty sent him, and which he offered to sell to Prince Potemkin, at whose house Sam saw it,—Sam thinks he got 600 of those skins; but does not pretend to any sort of certainty, except with regard to the general result.
“To speak seriously of Parson Paley, I should not have expected so much of him, from the account given of a part of the work in one of the nine reviews of Maty’s, which I received by Trail’s grace. People were surprised to see how green my eyes were for some time after I received your letter; but their natural jetty lustre is now pretty well returned.
“You have no need to breed mischief in my family by pretending affection to Sam. He never rebels against my authority, but he takes credit for your alliance. He has cut out some of the best passages in my pamphlet, on pretence that you would have done so if you had been here. Hang it, I shouldn’t care if you were, for you could not be a greater plague to me than you are now at fifteen hundred miles distant.
“Sir R. W. has a notion that Pitt means to reduce the rate of interest from five to four. Tell me what you hear about it; were it true I should like to give him a piece of my mind first. I have arguments against it ready cut and dry: the former epithet you may have some doubt about; the latter you will not dispute. You know it is an old maxim of mine, that interest, as love and religion, and so many other pretty things, should be free.
“Code was going on at a very pretty jog-trot, till Sam’s inspection-house came upon the carpet, not to mention his new model of ship-building, and his other whimsies. Fighting Sam and you together is bad enough, but correcting three copies taken by ignorant people is intolerable. In a few days I hope to return again to duty. The day has abundance more hours in it at Crichoff (or rather at our cottage three miles off, where I now live altogether) than anywhere in England. I rise a little before the sun; get breakfast done in less than an hour, and do not eat again till eight or nine at night. Trail with his three and a half lines is a shabby fellow, unworthy of my notice.—Sir W. Jones! how came he to return from the E. I.? Give me his history.
“Could you get me any lights respecting the following points?—1. Expense of the ballast lighters per man, per annum. 2. Expense per man of the New Zealand expedition. 3. Expense per man per month in prison before sent there.”
“My Dear Wilson,—
In my last which went from hence the latter end of December, but which I doubt was rather late in coming to you, I mentioned amongst other things a project of my brother’s which, if successful, would require a patent, begging the favour of you to tell us whether a caveat would answer in any, and what respect, the purpose of securing to him the property of the invention in the meantime. As it was necessary for him to send a model to Petersburg, we find it is beginning to make a noise: and there are various channels through which the idea seems likely to have already reached England in its unfinished state. We have, therefore, judged it advisable, to run the hazard of the post, for the sake of giving you a general intimation of it, under the notion that some such intimation may be necessary for the purpose of taking out a caveat, which, if it will answer the purpose, we will beg the favour of you to get taken out as soon as possible. The single word vermicular, is sufficient to give a general idea of a leading principle. The vessel consists of a string of barges to any number, each individually of the simplest construction, and capable of being connected or disconnected at pleasure. The modes of connexion have given a good deal of exercise to his invention: for inland navigation there is but little difficulty: any mode almost will do; but the difficulty lays in adapting it to sea service—a difficulty which, though he believes everybody in England who knows anything of what sea is, will look upon it as insuperable, he is not without hopes of overcoming. Two barges upon this principle, the one of three smaller links and the other of five larger ones, were built and made use of in the course of last summer. The former was used only in plying about upon this river, from one part of our dominions to another. But the larger was sent down from our Soz (Soje) into the Dnieper, and so down as far as Kremenschuk, (about midway between Kiev and Cherson,) about 800 or 1000 miles. Laying out of the account stoppages, which the business required to be made at different places, the voyage was performed in eighteen days, a degree of expedition much exceeding anything that had ever been known. Sam and I, and Sir R. W—, went down in it about one hundred versts, (sixty or seventy miles.) According to the received theories, the length of a vessel makes no difference in the resistance it meets with in pushing through the water. This, I suppose, may hold good with regard to the greatest differences in point of length, that can ever subsist upon the present plans: if it hold good in strictness, and with regard to any length, the velocity might be increased to infinitum, by adding sails and oars, so that you might get a boat, which, like Jupiter, would require but four efforts to get from one end of the world to the other. Back-breaking, which is the death of so many vessels upon the ordinary plans, is prevented, you see, by the division of the whole into vertebros, as short as can be required. The mode of connexion thought of for the sea is now practising upon a vessel which, under the name of the Imperial Vermicular, is building here, for the faint chance of her majesty taking a fancy to set foot in it. A barge has been built for her at Smolensko, and another for the emperor, and sent down to Kieff; but they are so clumsy, that there are great doubts whether they will be deemed fit for service. In this imperial vermicular, the joint is such as to render the vessel flexible in all directions: the tail (stern) of each intermediate link is concave and adapted to a corresponding convexity in the head (stem) of the link behind.
The enabling them to play up and down as well as laterally, is performed by a contrivance which I am not able to describe without drawings, and which would be difficulty apprehended without a model. Suffice it to say, that by means of an iron bar playing upon rollers in a horizontal groove, the links are kept from striking one against another, at the same time that they are capable of being allowed to pitch and roll in every direction. This has the inconvenience of requiring some good carpenter’s, as well as smith’s work. Upon further reflection, my brother has conceived what he looks upon as a more commodious mode of connexion, as well as more secure mode of fastening by nothing but ropes and wood; and the convex and concave terminations which required some work, he now looks upon as unnecessary, even for sea service. He is accordingly building two other vermiculars, which are nothing but a parcel of oblong boxes, such as every one can work at who is capable of handling an axe—that is, every man in Russia. As such a vessel cannot be governed by the tail, it must be governed by the head, and the head link is accordingly adapted to that purpose. There are other contrivances for rendering the serpent flexible or inflexible at any joint, as occasion may require. The above-mentioned are on Sam’s own account. The prince’s peasants are just about to be set to work upon a vermicular of a hundred links, which, if it has so many, will be just a verst—that is, two-thirds of a mile long. This is to fetch Crimean salt from Kremenschuk, to which place it is hindered by waterfalls from getting all the way from the Crim by water. Another, of a few solid links, is to try the experiment of sending wood to the Crim, where it bears an immense price: the timber alone costing more than the ship it is destined for would cost when completely built at Petersburg. Timber, at present, travels very expensively and awkwardly by sea. Sam flatters himself that his mode of navigation will admit of a considerable saving in the article of men in comparison with the common one, as well as in the articles of workmanship and materials. When you go over as Judge to the E. Indies, let him have the honour of building a vermicular for your conveyance. Should it be a calm, he’ll row you all the way faster than the wind could blow you. I wish I could know, for example, what the ordinary rate of expedition is at present in the London fish trade, and what advantage would be likely to be had, if that rate could be increased in any given degree, for example, doubled. I believe, at present, the fishing smacks are stopped every now and then at Gravesend waiting for the tide. A vermicular shall catch them for you at sea, and row them up to Oxford, dropping a link wherever there is a market. I doubt they will smell rather strong at that rate before they come to the end of their voyage, unless one can persuade them to live a little while in a cage with or without fresh water. I will leave it to your imagination to extend the idea to the thousand applications, belligerent as well as pacific, to which ours extended it some months ago. We intend you for the command of an expedition to storm Paris with; and pray do not let a foolish tenderness prevail with you to leave anything there alive. You will conclude for or against the patent according as you think it more likely to do good by securing the invention in this unformed state, or harm by publishing it. Mr Williams, Alderman Clark’s partner, has taken out patents: if the connexion still subsists, nobody better. I have all along understood that the taking out a caveat costs but a guinea; but this, I suppose, does not include the solicitor’s fee. A few words, I imagine, is all that is necessary, or even usual; just enough to serve as an index to the invention.
“I am grudging every instant of the time I am fooling away in writing stuff and nonsense to you, and the much greater time it takes me to consider which I shall say to you of the thousand things I should have to say to you if it took up no time. I am writing letters to you abusing Pitt for being about to reduce the rate of interest, and abusing the world for limiting the rate of interest at all.* I am marginal-contenting†Essai sur les Recompenses‡ about the size of Beccaria’s book, with Voltaire’s Comment added to it. It was begun to serve as one of the divisions of my great French work; but I found it detachable, so I swelled it out a little, and send it you to do what you will with it. It touches upon all the possible applications of the matter of reward, ordinary and extraordinary. I want the Report of the Commissioners of Accounts bitterly; but want must be my master. I pull down the church in it inter alia; but the church will have been settled, as well as the rate of interest reduced, before it gets to England. All I have to say on the civil branch of law is marginal-contented and ready for reading, were you but here. It is a preceding introductory book. There is a Frenchman of the name of Allix, whose business it is to teach French. Alderman Clark, by whose means I knew him once, knows, I suppose, where to find him. Him I should like to have to correct the press, and expunge solecisms. A parson would not do, because perjury subscriptions are abused, and the emoluments of ecclesiastics reduced to what they themselves set them at by Curacies. If ‘Hughes’ correctors understand accents and so forth, as a Frenchman would, I would take my chance for solecisms, if such a thief as Allix could not be had for the value of five guineas. I mention Allix thus early, because his lodgings may perhaps be unknown to the Alderman by this time, and it may take some time to find him out.
“I am distracted to know what to do about staying here or returning. Here I can work double tides; but every now and then I am non-plussed for want of books. London is infested with devils. If I knew of any such lodging-place as Thorpe, where I could be perdu till my book was printed, without being known to anybody to be in England, besides you and Trail, and honest Mr R. King, whom I could depend upon for not betraying me, it might be a means of my returning sooner than I should otherwise. I would change my name and pass for a madman, or a bankrupt. I can sleep without a bed, and live without victuals. The only article of luxury I should be puzzled by the want of, is a two-legged animal who lies down without a bed by the fire and keeps it in all night, with power for me to get up at any time and kick him out of the room. A rushlight, with a fire ready laid in my bedchamber, would be but an indifferent succedaneum.
“Pray get from R. King a packet containing securities of mine: open it and give me a list of them, (there are but few,) and keep them in your custody. In particular, tell me whether amongst them is a Tontine debenture on my life, and whether it appears therein up to what time the interest has been received.
“This day three weeks the empress passed through Crichoff, in her way to Kieff. Besides Russians, there were F. H., and the French and Imperial Ministers. Lord Carysfort was not of the party, as was expected. Poor F., who is ailing, having got something the matter with his liver, was sadly sick of the excursion. The same company, the same furniture, the same victuals: it is only Petersburg carried up and down the empire. Natives have too much awe to furnish any conversation: if it were not for the diplomatic people, she would have been dead with ennui. Dr Rogerson, the E.’s physician, attended her of course: no other Englishman of the party except a young officer, adjutant to one of the generals. Five hundred and fifty, I think, was the complement of horses provided here. The most extraordinary part of the cavalcade were no fewer than thirty washerwomen. A large wooden house, under the name of a palace, had been built here as at every other station, for the purpose of furnishing her a night’s lodging. Sam was not in the way, being then upon an expedition about the vermicular business to Cherson and the Crim, from whence he returned but Saturday. Neither was the prince,—for it was he that Sam was dancing after. Sam saw some of them in his way home through Kieff. I was, of course, much inquired after, which I chose rather to be than seen: being at the farm here a few miles from Crichoff, I escaped regal notice. The streets through which she passed were edged with branches of firs and other evergreens, and illuminated with tar barrels, alternating with rows of lamps, formed by earthen-pots filled with tallow and a candle-wick in the middle. So I was told, for I had not curiosity to go to Crichoff, either before or after, nor have I been through these three months.
“God love you. Answer this as soon as you receive it, and tell me the news, particularly what projects of all kinds are said to be in agitation.”
In the course of his residence in Russia, Bentham had oceasion to witness more than once the interference of arbitrary power. His person was arrested, and his property seized, for a debt of 280 rubles, alleged to be due by his brother. He appealed to the superior court of Mohilev, declaring that he was not altogether ignorant of natural or general jurisprudence, though unacquainted with Russian law. I find in his papers much correspondence both in French and Russian, on the subject; but I cannot discover whether he ever obtained redress. Notwithstanding the many annoyances to which he was subjected, and repeated applications from his friends to return to England, he still lingered at Zadobras, for the benefit of that complete solitude which enabled him to pursue his studies, and to proceed with his writings. George Wilson, to whom he had sent a pamphlet on Prison Discipline, refused to send it to press as being “small game,” the “subject unpopular.” Some of his remarks on the character of Bentham’s mind, are worth preserving. They are in a letter of 26th February 1787. He says:—
George Wilson to Bentham.
“You have now made a reasonable visit to your brother, and on your own account you are doing nothing there which may not be done at least as well here. I have, therefore, some hope that you will be induced to return by a shorter and more certain mode than that of your intended ship. It is not because Trail and I disapproved, that you abandoned your Introduction, your Code, your Punishments, &c. The cause lies in your constitution. With one-tenth part of your genius, and a common degree of steadiness, both Sam and you would long since have risen to great eminence. But your history, since I have known you, has been to be always running from a good scheme to a better. In the meantime, life passes away and nothing is completed. I don’t know why I talk thus, unless, because at this distance I may do it with safety; for, except the satisfaction of discharging so much spleen, I expect no good effect from it. I do very much wish, for many reasons, that you would come home; and am sincerely of opinion that your worldly interest absolutely requires it. If your father should not be wrought on to alter his will, there is great danger of his squandering his fortune.* I understand, that not long ago he purchased a house for Mrs B. to live in, after his death, which house they are now tired of, and want to sell. He is just now beginning a great building in his court, to look into the park, everything being down except the screen. In short, there are new whims every day, and all of them expensive.”
Trail adds to the letter:—
“I join most sincerely in Wilson’s entreaties, that you would return soon to this country; and for other reasons besides the very weighty ones which he has mentioned. Our ministers, as they have little to do abroad, seem to be full of schemes for domestic improvement. Pitt has just introduced a plan for consolidating the customs, and which he is to extend to the excise and stamp duties. The state of the poor laws has excited a good deal of attention. Gilbert, who has undertaken to reform them, is utterly incapable; but the information he has been enabled by the legislature to collect, may be useful to wiser heads. The Protestant dissenters are at work to get the Test Act repealed, and they entertain good hopes of success. Fox, and other leading men, have promised their assistance. Pitt owes so much to the dissenters, that he cannot oppose the measure. The people are certainly become more enlightened in their notions on commercial subjects. The French treaty is not only popular among those classes of manufacturers who expect to derive immediate benefit from it; but it is generally approved of throughout the nation. Lord Lansdowne sometimes says it is a pimping imitation of one of his great schemes—at others, that it is a very good treaty—and then, again, that it is a ruinous measure. I have heard nothing of late about reducing the interest of money. Soon after the conclusion of the war, it was a subject of conversation; and the landed gentry, who had found great difficulty in borrowing even at five per cent, were said to be very anxious to have the rate reduced. But since it has fallen of itself, and may be expected to sink still more, I think the subject has died away.”
Another letter of Wilson’s of 24th April, contains the following passages:—
“I have received your two letters of the 9-20, February and March. Why the first was enclosed to your father, you best know. The consequence of it was, that after keeping it a week, he sent me, not the letter, but information that he had it, for the purpose of obliging me to open it in his presence. I was accordingly obliged to read great part of it to him, and had much difficulty to conceal the rest. But reading it is not enough. I have been forced to promise to copy for him all I have read; and the copy he will put in a book which he has entitled Epistolæ Benthamianæ, consisting of your letters and Sam’s, mixed up with his to Lord Lansdowne, Alderman Clark, Dr Brown, &c., and their answers. He was much offended at having himself no letter in that packet of a later date than December, which should, indeed, have been a reason with you for not enclosing mine to him. But his anger as to this point, seems to have subsided since the receipt of your letter of March. He has at last given me a reading of the collection of your letters, which are entertaining, and in many parts interesting; but I think in other parts, it appears that you were working hard to make out a letter which you had no pleasure in writing. With respect to your inspection pamphlet, he seems inclined, since your last letter, to publish it, but with his own corrections and alterations, which are to be communicated to me to-morrow. I shall endeavour to delay the publication till the arrival of your answer to my letter of 27th February. I hope you have since received one from Trail and me, of about the 12th March. We are so well convinced from this experiment, of the difficulty of publishing for an author at such a distance, on account of the alterations which even the lapse of time may make necessary, to say nothing of other circumstances, that we are resolved, I mean Trail and myself, to have no concern in the publication of any other work which you may think proper to send over. We have another reason for this resolution, and that is, that being fully convinced of the necessity of your return, for the reasons mentioned in our two last letters, and which still subsist, we think it fair to use this species of distress which accident has put into our hands. It gives us great pleasure to learn that you have so many things in forwardness; and we think the subjects are such as will do you credit, but we are not quite reconciled to the French language, or the form of letters. As to the rate of interest, no proposal has been made in Parliament to reduce it, nor have we been able to learn that any such intention has been entertained by Mr Pitt, or any other great man; so that whatever applies to the alteration, as to this time particularly, you will have to alter. This circumstance alone, might satisfy you of the advantage of being on the spot, if you write on subjects relating to this country. I think you had your intelligence from Sir R. W—. The subject of interest, is, however, of great importance at all times; and you can say a great deal about it which has never yet been said. It is at all times sufficiently in people’s minds to make it interesting; and perhaps new doctrines concerning it, will have more weight that they do not appear to be published on the spur of the occasion. We are, therefore, very desirous that you should publish, but not till after your return.
“I have little news to write; and if I had, perhaps I should withhold it, by way of an additional distress. But, to use the words of a great author—‘it is a busy age, and everything teems with improvement.’ Our Customs are consolidated, and in three weeks our ports will be open to the French. The crown-lands are in a way of being sold. Great materials have been collected for a revision of the Poor Laws, which, in other hands than Mr Gilbert’s, might be turned to profit. The House of Commons have given a great blow to the ecclesiastical courts; and I think people begin to be more and more convinced of the mischief of tithes. Indeed, on all points of political economy, there is an evident change in the public opinion within these ten years, which may be in some degree owing to the circulation of Smith’s book, but still more to the events which have happened in our political and commercial connexion with America, to the utter disgrace of all the old thrones. In Ireland, there are great schemes of police going on, and a new system of education just announced in a long speech by Mr Orde; and all this time you are living in a cottage in White Russia, ignorant of everything that is passing in the world, unless when Sir R. W— gives you some misinformation. The dissenters have failed in their attempt to get the Test Act repealed, but the division was respectable, and they are not discouraged. They are very angry with Pitt, whom they will probably no longer support as they did at the general election. Priestley has written him a letter, a printed one, I mean, full of rage against Pitt, the Trinity, and the Church Establishment—clever enough, and very bold, but very indiscreet, and certainly prejudicial to the cause. They are founding a college at Hackney, which is to rival and overthrow Oxford, and Cambridge; but I fear they have not heads to effect that good work. They are violent zealots in their way; and one article in the constitution of the new college, is, that all the professors shall be dissenting parsons. Several eminent men among them have refused to subscribe on account of that clause. I know nothing of the history of the late transactions in France; but we are told that their land-tax is to be given up, and that at present, all credit, public and private, is at a stand. Not being a citizen of the world, I hear the miscarriage of improvements in France with great philosophy. There is a navy officer, whose name I forget, who has invented a pump which works by the motion of the ship, without men, and he is now gone out in a frigate to try it. Notice is given by Mr Minchin, of a motion with respect to the criminal law. Our fleet for Botany Bay, is, I hope, sailed to-day—they waited for a wind, and it is fair. Your father has heard of an Atlas de Commerce, by Le Clerc, Père and Fils, and a book of maps of Russia, &c., published last year in France, which are said to have great merit, and he is trying to get you a copy.”
Wilson writes again, 14th July, 1787:—
“Dr Smith has been very ill here, of an inflammation in the neck of the bladder, which was increased by very bad piles. He has been cut for the piles, and the other complaint is since much mended. The physicians say he may do some time longer. He is much with the ministry; and the clerks at the public offices have orders to furnish him with all papers, and to employ additional hands, if necessary, to copy for him. I am vexed that Pitt should have done so right a thing as to consult Smith; but if any of his schemes are effectuated, I shall be comforted.”
Bentham to George Wilson.
“Crichoff,May 4-15, 1787.
“My Dear Wilson,—
I send for your edification, a Defence of Usury and some other enormities. Abuse it and keep it, or abuse it and print it, as to your wisdom may seem meet. Don’t let Trail see it or hear it (the blasphemous 14th letter I mean) till he has submitted to have his hands tied behind him, for fear of mischief. Douglas’s phlegm might be trusted, but he is Attorney-general by this time, and has not time.
“Don’t let any very flagrant absurdities go for want of correction or erasure: false or dubious law I don’t so much care about, provided you correct it or clear it up in a note. What I send you at large is only the middle; the condemned head and tail I send you only the contents of: somewhat of their history you will find in margin of said contents. The chapter on Blackstone I give you full power over. Sam, as often as he considered it in the abstract, was for suppressing it, because Blackstone is dead, and its harping on the old string, &c.; but as often as he heard it read over, which he did two or three times, he laughed so heartily at the parody that he could not bear the thoughts of parting with it. You see there is nothing at all ill-natured in it, and as it adds a considerable strength, I think, to the argument, I should be rather sorry it were out. My greatest scruple of conscience is whether Jockeyship is really used in the sense in which it occurred to me, and in which alone it can be admitted, viz., for the sin of selling a horse at a high price. You may call this confined subject, flying at small game: but, with submission, I don’t think such a confined subject stands, as such, a worse chance for being read than a great system. As for the form of letters, it was written in this form before the law against letter writing was promulgated; and the Defence of Projectors could not have been conducted in any other way with near so much advantage. If you do print it, don’t let it linger; but send it to the press quickly, that it may begin the sooner to lay in a little stock of reputation for me against I get home. When that part that relates to the reduction of the rate of interest was condemned upon what you told me of that measure’s being laid aside, I was sadly puzzled for a long time how to introduce the part which you now see. I give you, on the other leaf, a various lection, which I wrote to humour Sam, who wanted something to be said to give folks to understand that I did not stay here, as some might suspect, to intrigue to get into this service,—an honour which I have most certainly taken no steps whatever to obtain, nor would accept of were it offered me.
“The intimation given that these ideas of mine about usury are of old standing, as I dare say you and I recollect they are, was a piece of selfish prudence, which you will think vain. There is one Playfair* who published, just before I left England, a trumpery book in 4to, called the Interest of Money Considered. Nine-tenths of it is bad writation about the origin of society, and so forth: the other tenth is a perfectly vague and shapeless proposal for relaxing the rigour of the anti-usurious laws in favour of projectors; yet without any argument in it, or any other idea, but that vague one thrown out in almost as general and vague a way as I have stated it in. I understand it has been well enough spoken of by several people.
“That you may not plead scruples of conscience, take notice that I give you full power to make all manner of alterations, additions, and subtractions to any extent you think fit.”
“ ‘Dear—, —
It was because he had a fancy for it that Ovid, as he himself certifieth, wrote his Metamorphoses. It is for the same reason I write about usurers, whom I have a fancy, and that you know not a new one, for metamorphosing into honest men. I have a fancy for addressing myself to you on this occasion, rather than to the world (at large.) I have a fancy for sending you these letters, rather than wait a few months, and be myself the bearer of them, when the visit, which, though to a brother, your friendship styles a long one, is at an end. I have a fancy for staying here, to pick, in not unpleasing solitude, this dry bone, instead of plunging into the passing vortex, and retracing the course of the Borysthenes, to stare at crowns and diadems.’
“The egotism and pertness of the above, will prevent, I suppose, your giving it place. But do with it as you list.
“When I wrote it, I had not as yet hammered out the introduction which you see.
“Don’t wait to correct the work before you write me word whether it is to see the press or no: that you can tell me within a few days after you have received it.
“Sam is gone in pursuit of the empress in his serpentine or vermicular barge, of which I have given some account to my father.
“I stay here partly to wait for him, partly to wait for my things, the bulk of which, whatever you may think of it, I have never yet been able to get from the Crimea.”
“Crichoff,Aug. 16-27, 1787. Tuesday.
Last post-day, Friday 12, I received yours of July 3-14. You have received, then, my Defence of Usury. You think you shall approve of it. You inform me of the imminent danger it is in of losing the appearance of whatever merit it may possess by delay. And yet—spite had almost said therefore—you delay it,—delay it till I don’t know when, still less you. No, you have not delayed it: I accuse myself of injustice in attempting to believe you. Yet my anxiety not to see week thus flung away after week, makes me force my mind for a few minutes to this improbable supposition. Send it, then, if you have any desire to acquit yourself of breach of confidence, or I, any power over my own,—send it somehow, anyhow, to the press. I wish it were possible for me to devise the least coercive form of words that would be sufficient to produce this very simple effect: no others would I use,—but those indeed I would use at any rate. . . . . .
“If you think it wants correction, which you want either time or inclination to give it, send the part in question, which comes within a narrow compass, to some publishing lawyer with a fee. But this unknown Mercury must not speak for me: what he says must be in a note of the editor’s—not in the text—yours, or Trail’s, or Douglas’s, who, the more you would say for me, the more I should be obliged to you. But even that is not at all necessary. All I am anxious to avoid is the plying the public with false law: the being seen to be ignorant or mistaken in points of law at 1500 miles distance from all sources of information, gives me not the least concern. I have no opinion-trade to spoil.
“ ‘To Mr—to peruse the enclosed paper for the press, and state in form of notes of the editor what, if anything, may be necessary for clearing up the points of law therein referred to, guineas.’ There is a form for you to save your trouble, and obviate, if possible, that uncharitable fund of scruples and difficulties of which your imagination is so fertile.
* * * * *
“ ‘The author being at a distance from all sources of legal information, and disappointed of the revision to which he had trusted with respect to matters of that nature, the present editor begs those circumstances may be considered.’
“Corrigenda if you please—not otherwise. Date—The letters were began, I think, in February or January, finished in April. If you think there will be any use in putting either of those dates instead of the one they bear already, do.
“In the short chapter on compound interest, strike out, ‘It makes frequent pretences of hating letters, but its hate is as inconstant as its love.’
“In the chapter on Champerty, strike out the passage beginning ‘You would tell me I had caught,’ and ending ‘but this is not a place to plant it in.’
“If you have an opportunity, tell Douglas how much I should be obliged to him for any part he might be disposed to take in it. He had once the kindness to say, ‘Don’t send your French to the press without my seeing it,’ and I the bluntness to reply, ‘I can have no confidence in your French.’ The vacation, I hope, will not be over before this reaches you. On the other side an order for Hughes—lest you should think it necessary that an advertisement be inserted, if necessary, that is, if your refusal makes it so; but subject to your correction.
“A thousand ways have I turned and twisted my imagination to squeeze out means of obviating the host of impediments apprehended on the part of yours; several of the condemned letters I had written before this. The event will show with what success.
“It is possible I may be set out on my return before an answer from you can reach me; but as that is quite uncertain, don’t let it hinder your answering.
“Sam is not come back yet, but I expect him every hour.
“Anderson had had the kindness to offer, even in the form of petition, to take charge of anything I might wish to publish in my absence. One of the condemned letters was to him for that purpose. I gave up that scheme for uncertainty of success and certainty of delay. He may be dead, ill, occupied, &c.
“When you see Ald. Clark, thank him for the letter I had the pleasure of receiving from him the other day.
“With this goes a letter to King, enclosing Tontine power-of-Attorney and Certificate.”
The latter portion of the above correspondence relates to the Defence of Usury, which it will be seen was written at the beginning of 1787, during the author’s residence at Crichoff. It would be difficult to find a specimen of logical demonstration more acute and perfect. It was an application of the Utilitarian principle to a limited part of the field of action. The letter to Dr Smith in favour of projectors, is novel in conception, happy in irony, eloquent in language, and irresistible in argument. Bentham, though the first to attack a widely-spread and deeply-rooted prejudice, has really left nothing to be done for its destruction, except for wise legislation to undo the mischievous work of ignorant legislators. Though not carried out to its full extent, Bentham’s principle has been partially adopted by Parliament, and the Usury Laws have undergone great modification. The MS., as intimated in the correspondence, was sent to George Wilson. He wished to suppress it; for he was by nature cold and cautious; but Bentham’s father got hold of the MS., and sent it to the press. On Bentham’s return from Russia, when passing through the Hague in 1788, the English ambassador, Sir James Harris, (after Lord Malmesbury,) put the volume into his hand, which he then saw in print for the first time.
The opinion of Dr Reid will be seen in the following letter to Dr Gregory, who declared himself converted to Bentham’s opinion, saying, that the reasoning amounted to demonstration. Dr Adam Smith himself used this expression to Mr Adam:—“The work is one of a superior man. He has given me some hard knocks, but in so handsome a manner that I cannot complain,” and he added that he thought the author was right.
Extract of a letter from the Rev. Dr Thomas Reid, of Glasgow, to Dr James Gregory, Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh, dated Glasgow, Sept. 5, 1788.
“I am much pleased with the tract you sent me on Usury. I think the reasoning unanswerable, and have long been of the author’s opinion, though I suspect that the general principle, that bargains ought to be left to the judgment of the parties, may admit of some exceptions. When the buyers are the many, the poor, and the simple; the sellers few, rich, and cunning: the former may need the aid of the magistrate to prevent their being oppressed by the latter. It seems to be upon this principle that portage, freight, the hire of chairs and coaches, and the price of bread, are regulated in most great towns. But with regard to the loan of money in a commercial state, the exception can have no place. The borrowers and lenders are upon an equal footing, and each may be left to the care of his own interest; nor do I see any good reason for the interposition of law in bargains about the loan of money, more than in bargains of any other kind. I am least pleased with the 10th letter, where he accounts for the infamy of usury. In one of the papers you mention, (which I give you leave to use as you please,) I have attempted an account of that phenomenon, which satisfies me more than his account does. I am, &c.”
The Monthly Review for May, 1788, speaks of the Defence of Usury as ‘a gem of the finest water,’—‘a grateful refreshment in the dreary fields of criticism,’ as preparing for our ‘emancipation from many great errors that capitally influence the business of human life.’ The work has been translated into several languages, and it awakened discussions in many parts of Europe. In the following year, (1789,) this advertisement appeared in the Austrian newspapers:
“His Majesty the Emperor and King, by his Aulic Rescript, dated Vienna, the 16th day of March last, has ordered to announce to the public the following question, with the premium annexed to it.
“What is Usury, and which would be the most efficacious way to prevent it, without recurring to penal laws? The answers, to be given in writing, may be sent to the Imperial and Royal United Aulic Chancery at Vienna, until the 1st of May, 1790: and the author of that which, combining the political and judiciary objects, shall be deemed the most adapted, shall have the fixed premium of five hundred golden ducats.”
On the occasion of Farr (brother of Charles) Abbott’s marriage, (to a lady of considerable wealth,) Bentham writes:—
Bentham to Farr Abbott.
“I have been telling your mother as how and as when I have been hearing of your having committed matrimony. Much about the time that you were recommending that holy state by your example, the thread of my lucubrations had led me to an humble proposal for the encouragement of it, in the only way in which such a connexion requires to be, or ought to be encouraged, by rendering it easy for those who do not find themselves comfortable in it, to shake it off. The idea itself is rather ancient; as ancient, for aught I know, as Adam and Eve; but the arguments I have brought in support of it, are of such strength, take my word for it, as must impress conviction upon the judgment of every unprejudiced person, who may think it worth his while to listen to them. Whatever you may think of them, I am in no doubt of meeting with readers whose feelings will bear due testimony to their merit. As far as I hear, however, I have little chance of finding either you or Mrs Abbott of that number: so that if I get any thanks from either of you, it must be by bespeaking them, which I do by these presents, of which take notice.
“I have been wishing your mother a whole rabble rout of grandchildren, but that was only a way of speaking. I hate squalling, as much as I love music. I hear from an old gentleman of our acquaintance, that my new sister has a pretty finger, which he invites me to come and admire; and as that is the only part of her person a man who is not her husband can have unlimited indulgence for admiring, any acquisition of children to you, would only be so much loss to me. I never yet knew any good, and have often known much mischief come to music from women having brats, whatever may be the case with other kinds of harmony. The world says, to use a Johnsonian expression—“You give good fowls:” I rejoice to hear of it: I scarce know of any greater merit in such a world as this is, than that of giving good fowls: it gives me a great respect for you. I am rubbing up my epicurean ideas as well as I can, to enable me to worship your fowls; 1500 or 2000 miles journey, will, I hope, give me some appetite for them. Amongst the many additional oddities I have, I dare say, contracted in this my hermitage, is that of never eating anything but bread and butter till about nine o’clock at night, and then not caring what I eat, nor much whether I eat anything or no—yet I never was better in health in my life, and I rather increase in flesh than fall away.
“Remember me affectionately to Charles. He is taking great strides, I make no doubt, towards the top of his nasty prostitute profession. I will not pretend to wish that families may be ruined for his sake, any more than that Turks may have their throats cut for Sam’s. All I can wish, is, that if Turks must be killed, Sam may have some share in the killing of them; and that if Christians must be plundered, Charles may have a good finger in the plunder pie.—I am, dear Farr, yours and his very truly.”
Bentham collected at Crichoff, the seeds from the plants described in the subjoined list, which he distributed largely among his botanical friends in England. The cultivation of new, and especially of beautiful flowers, was, through life, one of his greatest pleasures. Botany he loved for its instrumentality in the diffusion of enjoyment. “We cannot,” he would say, “propagate stones.” The mineralogist cannot spread or circulate his treasures without self-depredation; but to the powers which the botanist has, of adding to the pleasures of others, there are no bounds.
List of Seeds gathered in 1787, near Crichoff, in the government of Moghilev, in the province of White Russia, N. Lat. 54. and communicated to Dr Anderson, Dr Trail, Dr Pitcairn, Dr Fordyce, Mr Aiton, and Mr Lee.
Plants growing in a very shady situation at the skirts of woods:—
Plants growing in a situation not much shaded, though near the skirts of woods:—
Plants growing in a mossy swamp:—
Plants growing in a very dry soil and sunny exposure:—
N.B. For want of leisure, books, and instruments, the botanic characters were not attended to. The ground for looking upon them as new, is their appearing such to an experienced botanical gardener, bred up under the king’s gardener at Kew, and in other capital gardens in the neighbourhood of London. The names or descriptions here given, however loose and untechnical, it was presumed would be more satisfactory than none.
[* ] See farther allusion to this subject in a letter from Wilson, of 39th November, 1788.
[* ] The Defence of Usury, at the beginning of vol. iii. of the works. See farther notices of it below.
[† ] In reference to his practice of running an abridgment along the margin of his works.
[‡ ] See the Rationale of Reward. Works, vol. ii.
[*] This turned out to be a misconception of Mr Wilson’s, as will be seen on reference to a letter from Bentham to his brother, dated 2d May, 1788, p. 181.
[* ] William Playfair, a brother of the Professor.