Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Farr Abbott. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to Farr Abbott. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 10.
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Bentham to 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.
1787—1789. Æt. 39—41.
Return from Crichoff.—Journey through Poland, Germany, and Holland.—Klaproth the Chemist.—Pursuits on his Return.—Notices of the Fordyces, Hoole, Lord St Helens, Fitzherbert, Stone.—Intercourse with Romilly and Dumont.—Hastings’ Trial.—Sir Eardley Wilmot.—Opinion of Lord Lansdowne.—Correspondence with France.—Brissot.—Work on Penal Law.—Tactics of Political Assemblies.—The Abbé Morellet.—Letters of Anti-Machiavel: Controversy with George III.
Bentham reached Crichoff in February, 1786, and left it in October or November, 1787. He says, “I stole out of the Russian dominions. There was no harm in my stealing out; but there was considerable harm in my stealing out with me a Swede, who represented himself to be of noble blood. He wrote an admirable hand, and spoke seven or eight languages: having been two years in the English service, he was perfectly master of English. He had presented himself to me in my brother’s absence, soliciting employment. He had married a Polish lady of rank; but how they lived I know not.” He was, however, delighted to be taken into service, and Bentham employed him in copying. Seeing his capacity, Sir Samuel, on his return, made the Swede a sergeant, and, of course, enrolled him, and gave him a uniform. When Bentham got weary of his exile and wished to get away—distant 1500 miles from any port—he could not accomplish it, ignorant as he was of the languages of the countries through which he had to pass; so he determined, at all risks, to take the polyglot Swede with him as a servant,—and that without leave, as leave could not be obtained. Bentham consulted General Bander, who warned him of the perils to which he would expose the Swede and himself, and of the heavy character of the offence, should it be discovered. But Bentham had other perplexities,—and among them, not the least, was the want of money,—so he sold off a second-hand chariot which he had sent from England to his brother, and his brother never used; and engaged the Swede, who, though he was undoubtedly a great linguist, was a still greater liar: however, he was most anxious to escape from barbarous Russia to civilized Europe, and to avail himself of the occasion Bentham’s departure offered him. At Crichoff money was not among obtainable things; and the resources which Bentham had spent in coming, and which had been provided principally by his uncle, were not to be replenished.
The Swedish sergeant wore, of course, a serjeant’s uniform; but when Bentham had to ask a passport for his Liudi, (or follower,) the business was to destroy the serjeant’s identity; and a coat was found with a broad edging—finery which both the Benthams had worn in turn. They started from Zadobras in a kibitka made for the journey. It had a mattress, covered with leather prepared at the tannery, but very offensive from the strong odour of the birchwood bark. However, in this lay Bentham, covered with a couple of Turkish shawls, which he had bought at Constantinople. The tanner-in-chief was an English Quaker; and his wife (a Quakeress) kindly prepared the only food the travellers had for their journey, except when they reached a town. Part of the supply Bentham found so delicious, that, instead of consuming it, he brought it as presents to his friends in England. It was a compound of honey and apples, of the consistency of a rusk,—the apples of which it was made having been brought from Kiev. The apprehension of being stopped was constantly haunting Bentham; and the journey was performed with perpetual trepidation, until they passed the Polish frontier; and divers discoveries of the mendacious propensities of his Swedish companion did not add to his comforts. Bentham was both cheated and robbed in his progress.
Bentham stopped at Warsaw, intending to pay his respects to King Stanislaus, whose correspondent he had been, through Lind, the king’s agent in England. But bashfulness and gloominess interfered. He stayed a week at Warsaw, and saw nobody. He called on the British minister, and not finding him at home, did not repeat his visit.
At Berlin he was in somewhat better spirits, and made the acquaintance of Dr Brown, the king’s physician. Brown was an idolater of Scott, afterwards Lord Eldon, whom Bentham hated as much as it was possible to his benevolent nature to hate—considering him the mightiest and most mischievous of all the opponents of law reform.
Chemistry, as the reader will have had occasion to notice, was a favourite study of Bentham’s. In 1783 he had translated “Bergman’s Essay on the Usefulness of Chemistry;”* and he mustered up courage enough to call on Klaproth, who was then living there in very handsome style. So little was Bentham’s name or writings known at this time, that he was introduced as Mr Bentham, a gentleman of considerable fortune. He had something to recommend him to Klaproth, for he brought a specimen of asbestos of remarkable beauty—of a green colour, divided into filaments of inconceivable fineness.
“At the Hague,” he says, “I dined with Sir James Harris, where I went with the son of the lickspittle to the Duke of New castle, who was the dirtiest fellow I ever heard of, and when at school we used to shut the doors against him. Sir James wanted to introduce me to the Stadtholder; but he was a foolish fellow, and I should only have stared at one who would only have stared at me.
“At Hanover,” said Bentham, “I was amused by the picture of the Duke of York (apt illustration of royalty!) pulling his fool’s nose before the whole Court.”
The want of acquaintances, which in early life was felt by Bentham as so great a grievance, was gradually supplied. Desirous of instruction, few had been the means of instruction which were allowed to him beyond those which school and university afforded; and the narrow and monkish system of education which then prevailed, was not very favourable to the development of the mental faculties. Bentham too had strong affections, to which he would willingly have found a response from the breasts of others,—but in his youth this happiness was denied him. Mr Foster, who has been before mentioned, was an instrument through whom Bentham obtained some knowledge of the world.
Mr Foster’s friendship, his brother’s long residence in White Russia and connexion with the court, and his own travels in Russia, had naturally established connexions in that country. He used to speak of two brothers of the name of Tatischev, whose fraternal fondness for each other created in his mind a strong affection for both. There was also a Ronzov, (a natural son of Woronzov, for in Russia illegitimate children lose the first syllable of their father’s name.) The Tatischevs were idolators of the Empress Catherine—to them a sort of a goddess divine, and they so landed her esprit de legislation, that Bentham longed to be engaged in her service, and would willingly have gone “to codify” on the banks of the Neva.
In a letter to Colonel Bentham, dated 2d May, 1788, he gives the following particulars of his homeward journey from Russia, and of his way of life after his return:—
[* ] Essay on the Usefulness of Chemistry, and its Application to the Various Concerns of Life. Murray, 1783. 8vo.