Front Page Titles (by Subject) Dr Anderson to Bentham. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Dr Anderson 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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Dr Anderson to Bentham.
“Of Sir J. S.*
you entertain, with justice, a high opinion, respecting his industry and application. In these respects, perhaps, I know no man who is his equal,—and I believe his dispositions at bottom are very good. But as to the stretch of his parts, these are very moderate,—you must not, therefore, expect that he can ever be pleased with (read forgive) the man who exposes his errors in public. His foible is vanity. I do not, therefore, think he is at all an object for you to fight with; and the public will give you credit for overlooking him. Blackstone, Smith, and some others, you ought to take notice of. Even, perhaps, Hume, who is among the most superficial political reasoners, may get a set down as you go by, because of his name,—but a serious answer to Sir J. S. would be absurd. This I speak between ourselves, merely for a clue to direct you. For as to hurting Sir J.,—he is among the last persons I would wish to prejudice the public against,—for I think he has a serious desire to do good, and he has the art of picking up ideas from one and another, and then bringing them out in some measure as his own. He may thus be the means of doing much good,—and I am happy in being able to say that he has, in this way, been already of much use, and may be of more. His Statistical Account of Scotland will. I really believe, be the best that ever was published,—and the pains he has been at to bring that forward, to my certain knowledge, have been such as scarce any other man could have submitted to. I think myself capable of some exertion; but I do not believe I could have done the half of what he has done. Besides these causes I have for respecting him, I lie under such obligations to him for his ready assistance to me in helping my correspondence, that could I be capable of doing anything to hurt him, I should be a wretch who should be detested.”
On the subject of a proposal of Bentham, that Dr Anderson should make Panopticon tenders to the government, he says:—
“As to the idea of contracts, which your friendship makes you think of for me, I have it not at present in contemplation. The great point, at present, should be to bring the general plan to bear,—and I see nothing so against that as its superior excellence. I have no expectation of your succeeding with Pitt,—unless you have made your application through the medium of some party connexion. Were your plan demonstrably capable of saving some millions of lives each year,—and, what is of more consequence to him, some millions of money,—I would not give one penny for your chance of success, unless your application was through a proper channel,—and if it be through that proper channel, were it as expensive as the Botany Bay establishment, I would not despair of seeing it adopted.
“As to Pitt, he is a very Jew,—he will say, at this moment, the very reverse of what he intends to do, if he think it can effect any little object. I would as soon believe that the wind which now blows in at my window, told me in what point it was to be a month hence, as I would trust to a word that he says. This need not, however, prevent you from making use of him, if you find it can be done. I would trust to him as a tool of mine, however, and not put myself in his power as a tool of his.
“You know that I would rather walk a dozen of miles than write a letter at any time, and I always put it off till the last hour. This letter should have been written four days ago; but this is the last day I prescribed for detaining it. I must now, of course, write, though I feel myself in one of those testy humours when a person would send half the world to Botany Bay, if he thought they were to meet with half their deserts. Even in that humour, however, the thoughts of a friend produce a kind of a suavity of disposition that nothing else could effect. I am most anxiously interested in the success of your plan, though the gloomy bile that possesses me makes me fear that, on account of the bad properties of your assistant, and other little arts that you are not calculated to countervail, your work may be pilfered from you, and you get nothing but vexation for your pains. I will expect to hear from you as soon as possible; and it will give me very particular satisfaction if I find I can be of any use to you about it.”
“I have got a great acquisition to my Bee last day, the remarks made by an old, shrewd, sagacious, witty judge on the Scotch bench,—Lord Gardenstone, on a tour he lately made through Italy, &c. It is the same person who writes the remarks on the plays in the Bee. You will, by that specimen, see he thinks for himself, and says what he thinks.
“I have a character of your great favourite, Lord North, ready for insertion. But I get so many communications from others, that I must make my own give way. It was intended to have followed in the second number after Mr Fox, and has not yet got a place. It will be followed by that of my favourite, Lord Chatham; but when, the Lord knows.”
Benjamin Vaughan writes to Bentham, (May, 1791):—
“I have taken much pains with the Bishop of Autun, through a common friend, respecting weights and measures. I will, some time or other, tell you what I urged. The consequence was, that the Bishop of Autun was stated as saying, in the N[ational] A[ssembly] that the English approved of what the French were doing: the very reverse of the fact. The last report makes the matter worse than ever, for the reason you mention. I have stated this also; and my friend writes, that he shall speak to Condorcet; but it is all in vain. If the French have a right direction, they are ingenious and laborious; but here they miss the mark, from being unacquainted with good instruments, and their use, which, if used, would prove that even the best fall short of the necessary perfection in the case in question.
“I shall be glad to see your warming scheme for your Panopticon. They have been doing something with the House of Commons within this fortnight. The airing or cooling part of the scheme, if I remember, made no subject of our conversation.
“I see English newspapers at free cost, morning and evening. I take in the Journal des Debats, and des Decrets, (and the Proces Verbaux, by volumes only;) but I think I can find you a partner in your Moniteur, or Gazette Nationale, and send it you with the Leyden Gazette.
“Return me the enclosed. Burke has lost and Fox gained by the discussion; and the court (whose tool B. is, or appears to wish to be) can be pleased by the issue in no shape.”
On the 27th May,—
“Payne is writing a book against Kingship. Assignats at 14 per cent. discount, but Paris tranquil; and the whole owing to non-payment of taxes, for nothing from foreign powers warrants the fall.
“Some of our ministry have been for an alliance with France. Russia holds firm, as also Denmark. I lent your book at Lansdowne House, and consequently can say nothing about it. What am I to say for keeping one of these papers a day? Diem perdidi! Will you let the punishment of conscience be the whole?”
In answer to Dr Anderson’s letter on the subject of contracting for Panopticon, Bentham, in a communication of 28th May, goes into the details of the matter thus:—
Begging your pardon, I should think the offer of contracting, if it suited you in other respects, might be made without solicitation; nor need it wait for the complete architectural representation of the building. Your offer would be very simple. ‘Prisoners cost you at present so much a-head; give me such a building as this, the rent of which will amount to so much a-head, I will keep your prisoners for so much a-head more.’ The strength of your cause will lie in the cheapness of your terms; if your terms are rejected, you have kissed nobody’s —, and you are but where you were.
“With regard to economy, I will unbosom myself to you without reserve. Part of my expedients you will find in print. I was afraid of giving the whole of them, or placing them in the clearest point of view of which they were susceptible, for fear of being beat down, or seeing others reap the fruit of my labours. A man who begins with saving 50 per cent. to the nation, may be allowed to think a little for himself.
“Potatoes.—I have been afraid to show how immense the saving may be, by the exclusive adoption of this article. You value the price at 1d. for 4 lb. But even at your price, the saving would be very great. I speak still at random; I have other data, but have not yet had time to sift the matter to the bottom. Along with the house you would get some land. The current penitentiary notions represent this as necessary, though it is not necessary to keep off other buildings, &c. Wandsworth, which would be my place, has as much land as cost £5000.
“Stockings unnecessary—unless on Sundays, upon the open chapel plan, which would well pay for them.
“Shoes—Wooden, instead of leather; slippers perhaps for Sundays.
“Coat, &c.—I have patterns of very good cloth, linsey woolsey, which cost but 1s. per yard (yard wide,) retail, dyeing included; consequently, wholesale less. Dyeing costs something, and is best omitted, as without it, cloth washes the better. Sleeves, one shorter than the other, for the reason above-mentioned in my book. If washing were rejected as superfluous, might not the cloth be of the natural brown, or black wool?
“Shirts—rejected as unnecessary—this saves one-fourth perhaps of the cloth of the coat.
“Skirts—long enough—but all unnecessary fullness, as for plaits, &c.—worked wristbands, and worked collars rejected.
“Hats and Caps—unnecessary.
“On Sundays, when they have no work to keep themselves warm, and spend a good deal of time out of doors in the open school, those who choose it, to be at liberty to wear their week day waistcoats and breeches under their Sunday ones.
“Bedding—Hammocks, if cheaper than bedsteads. Bed, straw frequently changed, put in a sack. Instead of a pair of sheets, another sack, (though finer,) with a short flap to turn down under the chin. In sheets on the common plan, there is a deal of unnecessary amplitude, for the mere purpose of tucking in.
“Blanketing—The coat, waistcoat, and breeches, will go in part of it, especially if in a hammock, and in a building kept to the same temperature in winter, every part of it, by constant fires: never under temperate, viz. 55°. In clothes and bedding, no one article that will not wash.
“Working-hours.—You will see in my book, how, by mixture of employment, sedentary with laborious, and the preference given to sedentary, making even airing times as profitable as any other, I get sixteen and a half profitable hours; very near twice as many as our Penitentiary systems allow.
“Potatoes—dressing.—You will have seen in the section on warming, how frugal the mode of dressing will be. I make each man’s allowance more than any man can eat; what is left, with the skins, &c., goes to feed hogs or other cattle. In proportion as a man gets better food out of the share I allow him of his earnings, he will eat so much the less of potatoes: here will be another great saving.
“Each man’s mess separate, in a separate tin pan—the pans square, of the same size and shape. In these same pans they are dressed, (by steam,) and when dressed, pan and all are put together into trays, so many in a tray, and thus twisted up by the crane to the several galleries, and from thence distributed in a trice among the cells. Or, the trays being made of tin, or of wood lined with tin, they might be dressed in the tray, and so tray and all be twisted up without the trouble of shifting.
“Billingsley (see the Bath Memoirs for ’78, or Annual Register, 1786) got 30,800lbs. on an acre; rate of expense such that 10⅔lbs. cost him one penny. This he seems to look upon as a good crop; but the sort not being mentioned, seems to have been taken without choice. Young (Ireland, i. 21) says, a good English acre should produce at least 480 bushels of the cluster potato. He reckons 70lbs. to the bushel; this makes 33,600lbs. Expenses supposed not greater than Billingsley’s, this gives about 12lbs. for one penny. He makes eightpence a bushel (70lbs.) the average prime cost in Ireland, where husbandry is so bad, and labour not cheaper than here, considering how little is done for money; that is, 8¾lbs. for one penny. Young, everybody says, is inaccurate; therefore, this is only matter for inquiry. Six hundred was the number of bushels, Howard, who was a very accurate man, told me he got of his potato, from but indifferent land. I took a memorandum of this, a pretty full one, from his own mouth; but God knows what is become of it: 200 only he got, at the same time, from a piece not worse of the same field, of some other sort of potato. So far I remember with certainty.
“I told you before I had not yet had time to set my shoulders to these calculations. I throw out these hints, undigested as they are, thus early, for your consideration, in hopes of your picking out something that may be of use to you in the event of your making any such offer. But having thus unbosomed myself to you, I rely on your honour, not to make the offer till you have communicated it to me, and till you hear from me that the terms of it will not prejudice my negotiation. But this need not hinder your saying in general terms, that with such a building, you could undertake the business on such terms as to reduce greatly the expense. I have heard nothing all this while from A[dam], which makes me suspect I shall find him jealous and adverse. No such thing. I have just received a letter of his from my friend, to whom he says, ‘the reason of my troubling you is, to beg, if it is not disagreeable, Mr B. would be so good as to inform me to whom he has sent his book and plans here; as I would communicate with him on that subject, and get his aid to endeavour to influence our magistrates here, who are attached to Mr Blackburne’s ideas, and join with me in showing them the infinite superiority of Mr B.’s inspection principle over his, and everything of the kind hitherto thought of.’ This you see is explicit enough: his absence accounts for his silence. He had been on the hunt for me, and could not find me out. I write to him to let him know about you; but as you had been to inquire after him, I suppose you and he have met before now. As there seems no contrariety of interests, if you feel yourself inclined for the contract scheme, perhaps you would not do amiss to make Mr A. your confidant, speaking of it as a thing I had suggested to you; in short, making what use of my name you choose. You might then, as if from yourself, speak of the great disadvantage to the scheme from my not being there; in short, propose as in my former letter, &c.; taking this along with you, that it is very uncertain whether I should be able, owing to my own affair, and to my brother who is just arrived. It is what I should not have the smallest inclination for, on any other supposition, than that of a probability of its being of service, either to the plan or to you. For travelling is a disagreeable operation to me, and in a carriage that holds four, a perfect punishment. It was not Sir W. F., but G. F., a very different and very superior man. The other is an applewoman.
“28th May, 1791.—I have no time to finish. I enclose two patterns of the cloth above-mentioned. Perhaps you may know of something cheaper and better. I am aware of its not being very lasting; but I think it is better to have it cheap, with frequent change.”
Bentham wrote to Lord Lansdowne, June 1, 1791:—
[* ] Sir John Sinclair.