Front Page Titles (by Subject) Lord Wycombe to Bentham. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Lord Wycombe 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 Wycombe to Bentham.
“Naples, October 2, 1795.
“My last was dated on the 24th ult., from Rome, which I quitted the same evening. On the 25th I passed through Terracina, which has been judged a proper residence for those whose lives the government has thought it not expedient to prolong, and which is situated at the extremity of the formidable Palude Pontini, now the Ager Pontinus, since the pope will have it so; for the good pontiff, with his usual vanity, pretends to have regenerated these swamps, and actually has created in them a job for the nephew, if not an accession to the state.
“So angry are the people with the partiality which enables that prince to sell grain out of the country, whilst the government exports specie to bring grain into it, that the former, who probably cannot apologize for opulence by any plea of private worth, much less of public service, is hardly safe within the walls of Rome.
“The industry excited in this quarter, which almost insures ill health and premature diseases, has of course proved fatal to a large proportion of the labourers employed; still, however, the building at Terracina, which must be more or less connected with the improvement of the lands contiguous to it, is progressive, and after the many well-earned imputations which will stain the sacerdotal reign of Pius Sextus have been enumerated, it is but justice to remark, that he has contributed much to the perfection of the roads in the country of which I am speaking, and not a little to the increase of cultivation throughout the state.
“The nullity of the pope, the vacillation of the court, the false and unbecoming part which, through the intrigues of Lady E. M., it acted in the affair of Armfeldt, the discovery of the correspondence carried on through Genoa, the affair of Medicis, the increase of imposts, the insidious project with regard to Leghorn, the jealousy which Acton bore to Caramanico, the change which has taken place in the ostensible existence of the former, and the death of the latter, are topics which cannot be new to you.
“To these topics it appears to me that the history of Neapolitan intrigue may be confined; at least my information does not go beyond them. The main question to be considered here, as elsewhere, is naturally peace or war. The language is extremely warlike: but it is certain that A. prides himself on the address which left it in the power of his Sicilian Majesty to make peace at any time, consistently with the stipulations of the treaty entered into with Great Britain; it is, I believe, scarcely less certain that the conduct observed at Venice accords ill with the language which is held at Vienna; and indubitable that not a shadow of reliance can be placed either on the probity of this court, or on the sincerity of any declaration which its Ministers may make. Upon the whole, I am inclined to think that it is their intention to make peace, but their ambition to bring it about in such a manner as shall leave them independent of the Spanish mediation. In other words that they are anxious to put an end to the risks, and the expenses of the war, but determined to maintain A., who is almost as much detested at Madrid as at Paris and at Naples. The trial of Medici, the Regent of Police, who still continues in confinement, is not as yet commenced. From time to time more persons are arrested. A few days since, a young man, of one of the most illustrious families in Italy, (that of Colonna,) was taken up and confined in a fortress. His crime is supposed to consist in his having sung ‘Ca ira’ two years ago at a supper. This circumstance may serve to show to what an extent suspicion has been carried and authority abused. I have every reason to suppose that even strangers are minutely watched, and that the contents of this letter, if it were sent to the Post-office, would be in a fair way of being reported to Mr Castel Cicala. Last year I was almost proscribed: it seems as if it were intended that I should be smiled upon in this: but such particularities are wholly immaterial.”
“The packet from Palermo arrived upon the 2d, and brought over a young man, nephew to the Prince of Campo Franco, who has been taken up for Jacobinism. Notwithstanding the time which has elapsed, nothing certain is known with regard to Caramanico, the sudden and peculiar circumstances of whose death make suspicion unavoidable. The most probable conjecture seems to be, that he poisoned himself. He had perpetually solicited leave of absence, but was always frustrated by A—. At length leave was granted; but he was hurried off about ten days after his arrival here, and certainly went, saying to some one that he should not come back.
“I live most in habits with the Danish Minister, whom I have always known the same, and liked these ten years. He dines at home, almost every day, with Count Reydern, not now employed, but whom you remember in England, and scarcely anybody else. I am also beholden to a society at Portici, consisting of Lady Hamilton, who is not ignorant of the astonishment with which she strikes me; of the handsome Princess Vintemiglia, who, born in France, unites, as I make no scruple of telling her, a Parisian tournure with the charms of southern countries; of the amiable Countess Corletti, for whom I had a letter from her brother, the Chevalier de Saxe; and of the Russian Minister’s wife, who, if my old friend her husband may be taken at his word, is exceedingly devout, but whose eyes, if I may trust my skill in physiognomy, tell a different story.
“The men, excepting a little commandeur who has seen the world, and the Russian, who is very gay, passably consequential, and communicative with a vengeance, are little better than mutes; I mean in that society. I must, however, do that Nestor in love and politics, Sir W. H., the justice to say, that he is very particular in the mention of the obligations he owes to his friends.
“Upon the 3d, I accompanied the Hamiltons to Monsieur Esterhazy—a stupid, good sort of rich man, who plays whist, because he cannot bear to read; and told me he was ambassadsur de famille, with scarcely another idea in his head. In the meantime, he was doing the honours of a fête, at which the king and queen were present. I was presented to both: the former was as gracious as he could be, without speaking; the latter spoke to me different times in the course of the evening, with the air of a determined maitresse femme, and very well. The rising generation seemed to me not promising. In a corner, I was introduced to the evil genius of this country,—that sinister being, A—, who rarely insults the public by his presence, but, reigning through the medium of an Inquisition, resides in sad obscurity and gloomy opulence, attended by a chosen band of satellites and spies. Lady Hamilton told me, that the queen had assured her that morning, there should be no peace but with the consent of England. She added, ‘I could not think what a domestic, good-hearted woman the queen was!’ The Russian minister’s wife, who is no favourite at Court, was absent through an indigestion, the consequence of eating too much supper.
“I am condemned to stay here till the departure of a ship, in which I mean to go to Sicily; and make a point of telling the ladies that I must quit Naples soon, lest I should grow to like it too well. In point of fact, I am impatient to breathe the sea air, uncontaminated with the breath of strumpets; but this is not so easy as you may imagine, for what with corsairs, quarantines, and French depredation, the Mediterranean has become an odious gulph.
“The new Russian minister, Count Golowkin, is a young man, born and educated at the Hague, who came to Russia not very long before I made an acquaintance with him, which was almost intimate for the time it lasted, at Moscow. I was surprised to find him inveterate against Marcoff, who, he pretends, has not so large a share of influence as is commonly imputed to him; but my surprise increased, when I heard him declare, that the empress had never had, during the whole course of her reign, one minister of whom he would make his secretary. He says, that Osterman, the chief of the Foreign Department, is a man of veracity, but that he knows little of what is passing, and is merely ‘celui qu’on livre à la curiosité des etrangers.’ Besboroolks he calls a ‘masse de chair.’ He reprobates Marcoff. taxing him with profound immorality, with mismanagement of the affairs of Poland, and asserting that it was found necessary to take the business of Courland out of his hands. He declares that Zubow is the real minister; but though he inclines upon the whole to speak well of this favourite of the empress, he evidently thinks him very inferior to himself. He exclaims against the falsehood and tripotage of this Court, which he affects to consider as diminutive: talks of A. as he would of a valet-de-chambre, and of Castel Cicala as a man who got out of his metier of advocate by chance. He vows that the queen of Spain’s great ambition is to imitate the empress, but that she can only do it in the article of favourites; and asserts that Lord M— judged very ill during his mission in China. He does not always judge very well himself, for he cannot get over the circumstance of a box opened at the custom-house by mistake, out of which he affirms that his wife’s petticoats and some other articles have been purloined. He observes, on this occasion, that he is the representatif du souverain le plus marquant de l’ Europe: he desires to know what reparation the Court of Naples would expect in similar circumstances, and begs that reparation may be his. Monsieur de Castel Cicala writes for answer, that, in such a case, the King of Naples would take such and such steps, and would inquire whether his minister enjoyed any personal consideration in the Court to which he was sent. Everything will be done to make his situation disagreeable, if I may judge from little things which I have had occasion to observe.
“The Chevalier de Saxe, whose acquaintance I had great pleasure in making at Rome, and who has lately quitted Petersburg, by order of the empress, for an affair which seemingly does not imply a shadow of discredit, told me that Golowkin had assisted Zubow, who wants political talents, in private; but began, at length, to give umbrage to that favourite, who wished him at a distance. Golowkin is, beyond a doubt, the most indiscreet man alive; but I am bound to speak well of him: he received me with the utmost cordiality, and gave me to understand he dined at home five times a-week.
“It is now high time that I should apologize for having troubled you with this compilation of small talk. A more formal letter, however, might have conveyed a less accurate idea of the present situation of this residence, the business of which is conducted like that of an ill-regulated private family, in which an artful interloper finds a foolish husband in occupation and amusement, enabling, by such means, a dissipated wife to tyrannise over her household, spend the fortune of her family, and give loose to all her passions.
“P. S. I am assured this will be conveyed safely to Rome, where it will be put into the post.”