Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Miss V—. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to Miss V—. - 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 Miss V—.
“Lord Lansdowne gives me pain. A friend of mine, who is intimate with Madame Helvetius, having put into my hands a couple of remarkable letters of her husband’s, in which he condemns his friend, Montesquieu, for his aristocratical principles, predicts the immediate success of the Esprit des Loix, and its subsequent downfal, as well as the prevalence of democratical principles, I communicated them, as a literary curiosity, to Lord Lansdowne. They interested him, and, as a proof of it, they ought to be translated into English, and published with a commentary, says he,—suppose now you were to do it. There are friends of ours, my lord, who could do it better—they are more in the habit of doing such things. What, Mr V—! the same? Ay! see what comes of my proposing it: if anybody else had proposed it to you, or nobody, it might have been done. What, I suppose, if your orders were to come from Warwick, then perhaps it would be done! O yes!—to be sure—that or anything else. What! then you are serious?—Quite so,—that is, first the petition goes from hence to Warwick, then orders from thence to Ampthill, then other orders from thence to Dover Street, and then the business is done in a trice. But the orders must be particular, and tell me what it is I am to do, otherwise, how am I to know whether I do right.—Oh, no, you know what to do well enough. Indeed! not I—then a look of dissatisfaction. Well, as you will, you know I have no interest in it—not I. My dear lord, my wish is to comply with yours; but then I must know what it is distinctly; else, what can I do? I have no interest in it. This was the very language on a former occasion, when my intractableness brought me into a disgrace, from out of which I am not yet perfectly recovered.
“Now, my dearest and most respected friends, suffer me to call you by that name—help me, pray do, to satisfy him, which you can, if you please; and which you will, if you believe me, that I regard him with the same tenderness as ever. Suffer him not to fancy himself that I am of the number of these, who, upon the first rebuff that any wish of theirs happens to meet with, think themselves licensed to forget past kindnesses, and to fly off from their best and kindest friends and benefactors.”
The letter which follows, in which a little disappointment and annoyance is obviously united with the pleasantry and irony of its style, was addressed to the ladies of the Bowood family, on occasion of their having denied themselves to Bentham when he called:—
“Dover Street,February 2, 1792.
“I am glad to find you have begun to feel something like remorse; it is a virtuous sentiment,—do not struggle to suppress it. It has, however, a little more work to do yet, or it has worked to little purpose. If it be still true that you have no possibility of seeing me anywhere but at Lansdowne House, it remains as true as ever, that I have no possibility of seeing you any more. Excuse me; but the footing on which your compassion would replace me, is not now a tenable one. My mind was made up, and everything arranged; such work is not to be done only to do over again, nor to be done for nothing—No! indeed it is not. If the unintentional offence is to have its intended effect, and my exclusion from your house is to remain in force, I remain excluded from every house which has your eyes for guards to it. What desperation suggested, reflection has confirmed. To what purpose depart from my resolution? What is it I have to lose? If it would not be any pleasure to you to see me, what pleasure can I have in seeing you? If it would, is it possible you can persist in excluding me from the only place to which you can give me a right to come?—At Lansdowne House. Yes, surely, whenever it so happens, with, I mean always, the greatest pleasure; so long as yours were likewise open to me; but if it should not so happen? I am at Lansdowne House—if you will have the goodness to recollect, not when I please, nor even when you please, but when the owner of it pleases. In the course of last winter, for example, two or three times; one of the times I saw Miss V.—how? through a telescope, amidst a cluster of ladies whose faces were scarce known to me. What charms do you suppose an intercourse like that can have for a man of my habits and turn of mind? What should I lose by losing it? What is it you supposed me to have looked for in the company from which you have banished me? I will tell you as if you did not know. A society of two or three, since one is too much to hope for, whose prudence and intelligence authorized me, while their kindness invited me to unbosom myself to them without reserve; who would listen, not with derision, but with satisfaction, to my notions and my projects, my hopes and my apprehensions, my disappointments and my successes; by whose judgment I might be enlightened, and by whose sympathy I might be soothed; to whom, should any occasion happen, I might even look for marks of reciprocal confidence, without fearing the imputation of impertinence. This, or something which seemed not altogether incapable of being improved into it, I have now and then enjoyed, by short snatches, at Bowood and elsewhere. This, if such had been your pleasure, I might have enjoyed without disturbance in Albemarle Street; but what room could I have hoped to have found for it, in the promiscuous bustle of an accidental dinner, two or three times a-year, at Lansdowne House? You who know in such perfection everything that women ought to know, may please to recollect that houses too have their sex: that there are some at which a man may beg to be let in without being ashamed; others at which no man deserves to be let in, who will be content to beg for it.
“One comfort I have left me, that the disgrace I had to swallow was not embittered by the consciousness of anything on my part that could have led me to expect it.
“Two years and more are elapsed, since I received an invitation, which has not been forgot by anybody; had I then understood it time enough, and accepted it, how, then, I wonder, should I have been received?
“With repulsive looks, short answers, and concerted silence? Would the fourth teacup have been kept carefully out of the way, and the time of your breakfast have been fixed to the exact moment, whatever it might prove, when the door had been heard to shut upon me? Had I happened to have found any advice to beg, or paper to put iuto your hands, would the communication have been received with a tone made up of indifference and impatience, and a look of surprise at the presumption that could have dictated so ridiculous a liberty?
“Had my title to consider the sentiments which dictated the invitation, as subsisting, suffered any diminution in all that while? So many marks of sympathy and kindness—so many letters which, estimating them by my wishes, I found cold, and short, and few, but which now are too much otherwise to be trusted in my sight; was I, from all this, to conclude myself thrown back into the condition of a stranger, and that the favour shown me in those early days was become too much for me?
“Is it for any want of Lord Lansdowne’s sanction that you found it necessary to consider the permission as withdrawn? Lord Lansdowne, to whose kind suggestion I so plainly owed it at the time, who has so often rallied me for my non-acceptance of it, and oftener in the presence of those who had given it than otherwise. Was it for want of knowing how to prevent my availing myself of it?—was it for want of expecting me to do so?—was it for want of notice of my intended intrusion, that you were driven to so ingenious an expedient for cutting it short, and punishing it? Would Lord Lansdowne have reminded me of the invitation so lately as he did, if he had received the smallest intimation from you to prevent my executing my threats?
“I have really nothing to accuse myself of, unless it be excess of prudence. Miss V.’s arrival in town not being so early as that of Miss F. and Miss E., I would not venture till she came. I announced myself to the servants as coming with a message from Lord Lansdowne, that it might appear a matter of necessity to receive me, and that I might appear to them to be indebted to my mission, and not to myself, for whatever notice might be taken of me. I do think I enter, at least as well as any other man upon earth could do, into the spirit of all your scruples and your delicacies, and with very little exception, even in the midst of my sufferings from them, admire you but the more. Believe me, you can scarcely be more awake to what may be, or may be thought, propriety on your part, than I am. But unless some recent aversion be at bottom, I really cannot find out what it is your delicacy, three of you as you are, could have had to apprehend from a man like me; still less had I taken upon me to execute my threats in their full extent, and bring with me another person, whom you may recollect by the relation he bears to an old gentleman who had the exclusive honour of being the subject of your inquiries, the situation he is in, being your security against his presuming upon such a mark of notice on the manner a younger son of his might have done. But why do I talk of delicacies? as if your experience were less mature,—your prudence less confirmed, or less superiorto censure, now that you thought fit to punish me for obeying the invitation, than two years ago when you vouchsafed to honour me with it?
“Now will I be generous to you. If you cannot muster up kindness enough to enable you to receive my visits without repugnance, I shall not be the only sufferer: you will, in that case, have the consciousness of having inflicted an unmerited wound, which it was out of your power to cure; and this consciousness, if I know anything of you, will not sit lightly on you. I say kindness; for if the statement be wanting, you know me too well to think the momentary expression of it could either satisfy me, or pass upon me; you owe it to me, as well as to yourselves, not to make any such attempt. Accept in that case my forgiveness; you have need of it. But if without effort, as well as without compliment, you can say to me, ‘your visits would give us pleasure,’ what possible consideration can excuse you from listening to the suggestions of compassion, when backed by the commands of justice? The sufferings I have endured will serve, then, but to heighten the value of the amends you have in store for me. Do you fear my becoming troublesome? correct me, or even discard me at any time. Whatever place I may have enjoyed in your favour, I am, and ever shall be, your debtor for; your grateful and insolvent debtor. The smallest hint from Lord Lansdowne would do it,—this would be the gentlest of a thousand modes. I need not, repeat to you the severest. I could fain find excuses for what is past, and so I could, perhaps, had I any encouragement to look for them. Some of you, I doubt, were not chidden quite so severely, some years ago, as you ought to have been, for tearing flies’ wings off, or holding them in the candle. You saw, in thought, a male creature in your power, and mistaking cruelty for delicacy, you thought to give yourselves a moment’s amusement at his expense. It did not occur to you at the instant, so completely as it ought to have done, who that male creature was, or what you knew of him, and what you had seen of him, nor that the parts of his character which made him such good sport, ought to have saved him from being the object of it. When ready to sink under his distress, he looked into every eye for mercy, and found none; sentence had been passed before he had made his appearance, and no fresh council could be held to give him a reprieve.
“Now, retire each of you to your pillow; and, to-morrow, let the coldest hand among you, write to me:—‘Mr Bentham, we had once a friendship for you; but the humour is past, and you must not see us any more.’
“I have been forced to write this at odd times, when I could escape from my brother’s, as well as every other observing eye. I have had him to comfort all this while, as well as to get rid of; for to this moment he knows nothing of the whole affair, but by the effect he has seen it have on me. You may think this odd—but it is most true; and if you knew our way of dealing with each other, you would easily conceive it.”
The effect of the letter was an immediate invitation.
There are some amusing references to the Panopticon project, in a letter to Miss F.
“Just returned from the post-house, where I ran in my own proper person, with my letter in my hand, as fast as my heels could carry me. There lies your note, and here sit I, eyeing it as the cat did the gold-fish in a pail of water, longing to devour it, and terrified from so much as touching it by the idea of the impression under which it was written. What heroism! Had you been Mrs Bluebeard, the fatal closet would never have been opened, and the world would have remained for ever deprived of so edifying a history. What if, after all, you should be laughing at me? I suspect it terribly; and that your taking me at my word, is a contrivance for turning the tables on me, and punishing my feigned anxiety with a real one. . . . . .
“My ideas just now are a jumble of architecture, and Lord L., and natural philosophy, and two Minervas, and two hundred and fifty felons, and Miss F.: the flower of the creation and the dregs of it, all afloat together. The dregs are all I ought to be thinking of,—but how is it possible?
“The state this same Panopticon book is in, is that in which a copy of it has been taken for the press in Ireland; but as there are things, which, though one addresses to the world in general, one could not address to everybody in particular, especially where one is under continual terrors of giving offence, I may perhaps find a leaf or two which I may see occasion to draw a curtain over, somehow or other, which if anybody thinks fit to undraw, it is no fault of mine. Had Miss E. such a person as an aunt at her elbow, I should make no scruple of addressing the whole to the great aunt as it stands, that she might hand it down from niece to niece with or without reserves, as to her wisdom might seem meet; but as you have no such piece of furniture upon whom I could unload myself of the burthen of responsibility, it concerns me to take care of number one, and not get into any more scrapes, with so terrible a one, which I am not yet clear of, before my eyes. But do not make a handle of this, to send the whole back again unlooked at, for I stake my whole credit with you, upon my leaving nothing in the smallest degree dubious, which it shall be possible for you to set eyes upon, without your own act and deed. Please to observe, that it was not only designed for publication, but addressed originally to my father, besides having since passed through the censor’s office, as above-mentioned. It would be necessary you should have read it, were I to lay the projects upon projects I have built upon it at your feet, which I should beg permission to do, if—Oh heavens! there I am at a cruel stand—if you did not live in an enchanted castle, with a guard of hobgoblins all round it. The magician I have offended leaves me no rest. The day I sent the letter that was returned me, I made a second attempt to see Lord W., and had actually learnt of the porter that he was at home, though not very well, when out rushed a furious dragon, breathing fire and smoke at me. I lost my senses to such a degree that I had not power to make any inquiries how long the monster had been there, how long he was to stay, whether he had flown thither with Miss E. and you upon his back, or whether he had left you with a guard of any and what subdragons at the other castle. I crawled back as well as I was able to Bedford Row, from whence I came; and thus it was that the two letters which have brought me into this scrape, instead of being addressed at once to Bowood, from whence your thunder-striking note that speaks of them is dated, went under cover to the Great Dragon of Berkeley Square. Yesterday I saw Lord W. at last, at Mr Vaughan’s, together with a pretty young prince he brought in his hand, whose name begins with a Cz., and whom I suppose you know; and Dr Blagden, Secretary of the Royal Society; and Mr Vaughan, and Mr Reveley, whom Mr V. had invited out of pure kindness to me, not having ever set eyes on him before. The conversation was all general. I found no more occasion than I had courage to talk to Lord W. about dragons, though we talked a good deal about elephants, as well as about an animal bigger than an elephant, and bloodthirsty into the bargain, and who, instead of exterminating all other animals, has himself been exterminated. It was a pretty little party. Your whole triad loves and protects Mr Vaughan. Methought I heard, every now and then, a sound like that of three humming-birds fluttering about the table. If it was you, I dare believe you were amused. Lord W., at coming in, took Mr Reveley by the hand, with his wonted courtesy. ‘Ah,’ said I, (no, I did not say any such thing, any more than I thought it,) ‘beware of specious men.’ Talking of Abyssinia, and so forth, he (Lord W. I mean) laid me flat on my face, with a volley of Herodotus in the original. ‘How good-natured and well-bred is Lord W.,’ (says Reveley to me, just after he was gone,) ‘he has the air, without anything at all of theairs,of the man of quality.’ Moreover, the Great Dragon had appeared to him in a dream, and said to him, ‘Be of good cheer: thou shalt build the Panopticon: and thy fame shall go forth amongst the nations.’ This is all I know about the dragon, except what there is in the Apocryphs.
Did it ever happen to you, in communing with Miss V., to drop a word about the presumptuous mortal who writes thus to you? Tell her with what devotion I embrace the tip of her left wing. She is helping, I suppose, to train the beautiful little cherubim at the castle. I have not yet forgot the kiss I obtained of the eldest, for worshipping her on the fiddle.”
The following letter to the same lady accompanied a coloured drawing of a fuchsia,—a flower then rare, but now as common as it is beautiful:—
“Do you know the proper name of this flower? and the signification of that name? Fuchsia from Fuchs, a German botanist. Fuchs is German for a certain lady’s name. Did you know as much? You are a philospher: you know the influence of the association of ideas. When last at Bowood, you were pleased to accuse me of indifference to Fuchsia: pretty association, was it not? J. B. indifferent to Fuchsia! This is a wicked world to live in. I half suspect a little malice in the case, and that a little more was understood of German than was acknowledged: it is an old amusement of some people’s to observe what I am fondest of, and charge me with dislike to it. Will you hear what an innocent man has to say for himself? At first sight, Fuchsia’s own proper merits had made an impression on me, and such a one as ought to have saved me from the imputation; what is mere, the charms it derived from relation were, at the time of the charge, not unknown to me. I pleaded, generally, not guilty, protesting innocence, and, as usual in like cases, with little appearance of success. What could I do?—beset as I was, I chose rather to see condemnation passed on me, than bring to light the strength of my cause,—produce my German evidence, and preve guilt to be impossible. The place was infested, as usual, with third persons, painted Frenchwomen and Irish cormorants, hovering, as you may remember, over fuchsias, geraniums, myrtles, and devouring them with their eyes.
“Hoping no offence, I have taken the liberty to resume a small sprig for myself, to set up at home in the part of the room where a good Russian puts his saint. Should I ever become a convert to the Negro religion, it will serve me for a Fetiche; it has more properties than Mynheer Fuchs with all his learning was able to discover. Fuchsia is symbolical, emblematical, typical; but I must stick to generals, for if I attempt to draw parallel lines, I shall make blots, and fall into a scrape. All I shall say is, there are different species of fuchsia. Some, if the truth may be spoken, with all their beauty, not altogether free from formality, and a little affected: others superior to all formality, and pure from all affectation: a man need not be a Linnæus to descry the difference.
“This Birmingham fuchsia, after all, now it is come, does not answer expectation. The one I saw before, and which suggested to me the idea of endeavouring to get another such, seemed, upon recollection, much better done; but, perhaps, the supposed difference may be owing more to the different degrees of interest with which I viewed them, than to any difference in the objects themselves: another subject for your philosophy to exercise itself upon. Upon taking notice of the paleness of the leaves, the lady who got it for me observed, that this was made from no better a model than a coloured print of Curtis’s, whereas the other was made from the plant itself, of which no specimen, she said, is to be had at this time of the year. The red stripes in the leaves, I am positively assured, are according to nature. How that may be, I cannot pretend to say; but at any rate, the green is of such a colour as surely no natural plant of the kind could ever have exhibited, unless, peradventure, at the eve of its dissolution. Why, then, says the indignant fuchsia, pester me with such trumpery? Because, because—now I will answer you honestly—in the first place, because, in order to know whether and how to find it, I was forced to ask Lord L., which I did before I knew that what I had to send was not fit to send; whereby Lord L. and Lord Henry, who was by, learned that I had something to send to Ampthill, and so the intelligence might get to Warwick, and from thence to Ampthill, where expectation, if not prevented, might be raised, and Miss E. and Miss F. might be upon the look-out for a collar of brawn at the holiday time, or a barrel of oysters, or something else that was good and valuable to make them welcome where they are, and the good family wanting something friand for a side dish, (not for the value of it, but to look pretty upon the table,) and being disappointed, might look cool upon them.
“In the next place, you have heard, probably, of the billets de confiance, which they coin at Birmingham for some bank at Paris. They are promises fairly printed in good copper, to deliver French money for a certain number of them on demand: the value of the copper is not equal to that of the money promised; but as it is not greatly inferior, it is preferred to paper.
“This indifferent representation of fuchsia, then, you may consider as a billet de confiance, which, when nature will permit the real Fuchsia to sit for her picture, will be exchanged, if you permit it, for a better.
“So much for counterfeits.”
Again he writes to the same lady:—
“When will the unreadable letter get a reading? Heaven knows. If I was afraid to look at it at first, the two angelic ones that succeeded it have made me more and more so. Come—you shall understand exactly how it is with me. Did it never happen to you to find yourself half awake after a pleasing dream, still wrapped up in it, afraid above all things of losing it, keeping as still as a mouse, and staving off to the last moment the operation of turning on the other side, for fear of putting an end to it. Who would change a pleasing illusion for an unpleasing reality?—I would not, I am sure.
“Do you know why it was Jepthah sacrificed his daughter? Was it that he wanted to get rid of her? No such thing: there was not a better behaved young woman in the whole parish, and she was the only string he had to his bow. Why then? Because he had said he would; and if he had not been as good as his word, he would have been accused of inconsistency, he thought, and want of perseverance, in all the Jerusalem newspapers. He wished his tongue had been cut out a thousand times over, rather than he had said any such thing: and yet you see, poor Miss Jepthah went to pot, notwithstanding. Had there been such a person as a Pope in the neighbourhood, he would have gone to his shop, and bought a dispensation: but Popes were not as yet invented in his days.
“Some historians tell a story of Curtius, that when he was got to the edge of the gulph, and saw how deep and black it looked, his heart misgave him, and he began casting about to find excuses to get out of the way of it. They had given him a wrong horse: if he jumped in with this it would break a set, he would just go to the stable and change him, and come back again; unfortunately some boys that were standing by, began to set up a hiss, so he set spurs to the poor beast, and in they went together.
“When Sir Thomas More was going to have his head chopt off, and bid Jack Ketch not meddle with his beard, as that had not committed any treason, do you think it was a matter of indifference to him whether his head was off or on? I question it. The case was, he had got a trick of talking in that manner: and it was as natural to him as to ask what o’clock it was, or to observe it was fine weather.
“I remember when I was a boy, and had occasion sometimes to pass through a churchyard of a night, I used to set up a singing: Was it from high spirits? The deuce a bit: on the contrary, my heart was going pit-a-pat all the while, and I fancied I saw a ghost perched upon every tombstone.
“When Miss F. takes upon her the part of the accusing angel, how happy would it be for me if my kind good friend Miss E., would take upon her that of the recording angel. I would not willingly put her to the expense of any of her precious tears on purpose; but if she has any that she does not know what to do with, she cannot make a more charitable use of them than by dropping them upon some of the severest of Miss F.’s accusations, as she enters them; but, above all things, let her begin with the words:—‘has succeeded here beyond expression,’* which are more cruel than a thousand accusations. How does my other patroness all this while, and where is she? On duty at the castle, I suppose: this is all the news I ask for.
“I hope there is a letter on the road for me—you need not be at the trouble of looking for any more excuses for delay. The budget is empty, for between us, they are all used.
“What made me write so foolishly? come—I’ll tell you: for I have made my head to screw off and on, and I can set it on my knee, and open it, and see what is in the inside of it. It was a few grains of ill-humour mixed with a great many more of quill-driver’s vanity. It sounded in my ears as if it ran well, and was sharply said: though at bottom it was nothing but a common schoolboy’s sentiment in man’s language. The turn of a sentence has decided the fate of many a friendship, and, for aught we know, of many a kingdom. Not that I need load quill-driving with it, for I believe there are few men, and as few women, to whom it has happened at some time or other when a speech has appeared to come pat, to out with it, though half-conscious, at the same time, it were better let alone.”
Another letter has this passage:—
“Tell me, said I, nine days ago, either that I have not offended, or that I am forgiven. Ten days which have elapsed since, have lowered my pretensions. Tell me now, it would be a kindness done to me, that I have offended, and am not to be forgiven. Bid your maid or your man tell me so. Anything would be a favour in comparison of this inexplicable silence. For five minutes together I cannot fix my thoughts to any other subject. My business is retarded, my spirits sunk, and my health hurt by it. The post, if I wait for it, reaches between one and two: if I go to meet it, as I have frequently, at about twelve, the hours that precede that time are wasted in anxiety, those which follow it in disappointment and despondence. There goes two, and there is an end of hope for the remainder of the day. The causes of your silence were not difficult to imagine. I left nothing to imagination. I begged for an immediate answer, in words which surely did not indicate unconcern. Ten days you will believe have hardly lessened it. Surely these were not the sentiments which commenced the correspondence—What, what is it I have done to alter them?
“I have a long letter from my brother, which, if it came from a person not related to me, you would find an interesting one. Your circle contains the only persons with whom I could trust it: no one else so much as knows of its existence. In the condition I am in I can neither send it you, nor, what is worse, answer it, though it requires an answer, and that a speedy one.
“If this is to continue how bitter will be the remembrance of former favour! The kinder your letter was, the less I can bear to look at it.
“If an advocate were needful, I should have hoped to have found one not far from you: but friends and advocates, I think, are all gone.
“My great employment has been hunting for grounds of self-accusation: no very pleasant one, while the bushes are beating, and still less where game has been found. Was it ever yours? I suppose not: may you never have the experience in it that I have!
“If I have offended has not my punishment been sufficient?”
The following letter is so characteristic of the writer, that I introduce it without naming the party to whom it was addressed, or the subject to which it refers:—
“When a man takes upon him to inform another, what were, or were not the feelings of that other, upon such or such an occasion, (a thing not often done, I believe,) and that with certainty, he runs no small risk of finding himself under a mistake. Such happens to have been your case, in yours of the 28th. It is truly painful for me to tell you so; but it is what you have forced me to do, or submit to a sort of dictation, the most extraordinary I have over happened to meet with. Suffer me, then, to inform you, if you will allow me to know anything of my own thoughts,—that whatsoever happen to be my feelings or my opinions, it is my constant wish, and I believe my usual practice, to avoid introducing the expression of them where the subject does not call for them; but that whoever calls for them, and will have them, if he gets them at all, gets them as they are. Without making use of words so vague as ‘exceptionable’ or ‘improper,’ know then, that whatever my opinion was of the expressions in question, at the time of my receiving this last letter of yours, such it was precisely at the respective times of my writing those two notes: such, I do believe, it would equally be fifty years hence, to which time I would much rather have reserved the expression of it.
“When, with so much self-complacency, you express yourself altogether unconscious of anything in your manner of expressing yourself, but what is most unexceptionable, I do not perfectly understand what it is you mean: whether it is that matter of a nature at once invidious and irrelevant, introduced without provocation into the discussion of a law question among friends is noways exceptionable, or improper; or that no such matter has place in any of your letters. If the latter interpretation be the right one, the cause, I hope, is to be found in a want of recollection, to supply which, I will send you as a specimen one of two sheets of which your letter is composed; the whole of which appears to me to come within the meaning of those epithets, and such as consequently might have been saved in the lump, not only without injury to the business, but to very great advantage.
“That I take the liberty of thus giving an explanation, which seems rather forbidden than called for by the expressions of soft complacency above noted, is owing to the unfeigned desire I entertain of seeing the renewal of an intercourse which I little apprehended would have suffered any such interruptions. If upon a review, such a style of address be judged altogether suitable to the person and the occasion, the consequence is, that in the intercourse with that person, the same style of address would be ordinarily observed. The consequence again would be a complete bar to all intercourse with him, but what was barely necessary. Certainly with respect to you, I will not take upon me to assume: but as to myself, I am certain of two things; one is, that I never experienced such a style of address from, the other is, that I never used it to any human being. Generosity would preserve me from using it to any one who was a dependant; the fear of ridicule, to any one who was not so.”
Considerable delay took place in the printing of the Panopticon, as ordered by the National Assembly, in consequence of which Bentham wrote to Brissot, on the 17th of February, 1792.
[* ] The words used in announcing to Bentham Romilly’s arrival at Bowood, and the impression he had made.—(See p. 187.)