Front Page Titles (by Subject) Lord Lansdowne to Bentham. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Lord Lansdowne to Bentham. - 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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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:—