Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Pole Carew. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Bentham to Pole Carew. - 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 Pole Carew.
“My dear Sir,—
Your Finance Papers are now sprawling out before me in form, and have already afforded me very important information, which, I am satisfied, I could not have obtained from any other source. In testimony of the respect I feel for the work, as well as my wish not to be regarded as ungrateful by its author, behold, without further preface, the following offer: Say you will print it, together with my observations, and my observations shall be written: as to names, whether both shall appear or neither, or one and which, without the other, that shall be exactly as you please; but I must know before I write, whether my own part will appear or no, because, if it does, I must suppress a good deal of what I might otherwise insert: for example, what concerns your great man, of whom my sentiments are such as it would be neither prudent nor even decent to exhibit with my name. [Upon second thoughts, no use in any such personalities; they being all beside the purpose.] My observations might likewise be either in the form of a perpetual commentary, like Barbeyrac’s on Puffendorf, or in a separate work: and this should also be as you pleased. Moreover, where we don’t agree, I give you the last word. You engage not to leave out anything either of the text or of the observations on it: but you reply to the observations what you please, and it rests with you to put or not to put your own name. My copyright I sell to you for twelve copies, by which I shall make an exceeding good bargain; but I cannot afford to give you a better, because my own part, I am clear, would not pay the expense, and I have spent too much money in printing, to be able, in my present poverty, to spend any more. You are sensible how dry the subject is in itself,—an arrangement of this sort, by its singularity and whimsicality, might (to change the metaphor) help to give it piquancy. Perhaps as good a way as any would be to preserve, at first, an incognito, or at least a half-incognito: you would not be the less at liberty to take to yourself the whole or any part of it, according to events, in the original, or in a maturer shape. There is not a syllable in it that might not afford instruction; either in itself, or, at any rate, by means of what might be said on the other side. All that I should say of it, would of course be against it: for where everything is exactly as it should be, there is nothing more to be said. Observe that man (says Epictetus) who admires himself so much, and admires Chrysippus so much, for the commentary he has been writing on Chrysippus,—had Chrysippus been as clear as he might have been, where would have been the commentary and the commentator? What my malice can find to say against you, will not (I am sure it need not) inspire you with any very violent apprehension; where you appear to me to have succeeded, you appear to me (who, however, am very raw upon the subject) to stand alone; where you appear to me to fail, you appear to me to fail in very numerous and good company. But as I write nothing but in the humble hope of being of use, and in that hope should have bestowed upon some other subject whatever I may bestow upon this, it is on that account that I must stipulate that whatever I write, shall make its appearance; and, consequently, that whatever happens to be the subject of observation, shall appear also; for I have written so much, and to so little purpose, and have so little time left to write in, that I could not bring myself to write at all, what I knew beforehand would be to no purpose at all. To give you an example of one of those passages, which, perhaps, upon a second glance, you might be disposed to suppress, and which, therefore, for the instruction of the public, you must stand precluded from suppressing,—“To suppose the contrary, would be to entertain notions repugnant to the grounds of all reason and common sense; and to minds so fraught, we can have no farther arguments to offer, but must content ourselves with reminding them that,”—Billinsgaticè, if you are not of my way of thinking, G— d—m you for a stupid son of a bitch. These are sallies which all men full of their subject are apt to run into,—few more apt than Mr Commentator. There is no supposition, however, in which they are not better refrained from than run into,—for if there is no such son of a bitch, the thunderbolt has nobody to fall upon: and if there is, it neither tickles him nor stuns him, but puts him in a rage, and he throws it back again: unless it be here and there a quiet and timid young man, who, having felt an inclination for the prescribed opinion, is frightened out of it, and gives it up for fear of being thought a dunce by so great an author. What gave rise to these reflections was, the unfortunate consciousness of being as great a dunce as my supposed young man, though being old and obstinate not so obsequious an one.
“The proposition is, that if the portion of revenue at present appropriated to the buying up a proportionable part of the annuities which have been sold by Government, and which Government would otherwise have been bound to pay to individuals, was to be disappropriated and made applicable to the discharge of a further mass of annuities, which, it is proposed, should be sold by Government, and the payment charged upon this fund, the monied man would be as ready to lend his money upon the fund thus proposed to be remortgaged, as he is at present upon new and clear funds. Making the experiment on myself, this readiness is what I must confess I do not feel. So far from it, that were I to think of becoming a subscriber to what is called a new loan, i. e. a fresh mass of annuities offered to be granted, payable as usual, nominally, out of the produce of taxes to be imposed on the occasion and for the purpose, my view would be directed slightly, or rather not at all, toward that particular fund, but exclusively to the general fund at present standing behind them: satisfied as I am, and should be, that Government would never do any such unjust and impolitic thing as to stop payment of one part of the mass of annuities it has granted, for the mere purpose of buying up another. In this point of view, every portion of the mass of annuities which the Government buys up, seems to me an additional security for the payment of the rest. While this general fund subsists, every fresh and successive mass of annuity, as well as every old and already existing one, has two securities to stand upon, viz. the general fund, which, in the case of a fresh annuity, a man thinks about, I suppose, more or less, and some particular one which, in the case of an old annuity, no man, I am sure, ever thinks anything about at all. Were it to be proposed to me to buy a fresh mass of annuities, and by way of security, were this general fund proposed to me and nothing more, my answer would be—what you now offer me is a second mortgage upon an estate already in mortgage,—whether I might not look upon the estate as capable of bearing this second charge is another question: but certainly I could never look upon the security offered to me on these new terms as equally ample with, much less as being more ample than, the security offered upon the hitherto usual terms: I could never look upon any one security by itself, as equally ample with that same security and another put together.
“You understand already, that as to the selling over again the annuities Government has bought up, (subject to the above lien,) it is what I cannot agree with you in: what concerns the suspending of further purchases of the same kind during the war, (leaving accordingly the funds allotted to that purpose to be applied to the current services of the year,) that is a question that remains for consideration. You have shown, and shown most clearly and effectually, to how great a disadvantage, in point of profit and loss, all such purchases are made. I am sorry to see that what we are obliged to raise in present money, we must pay so dearly for, if ever we do pay for it, in future money: but, heavy as the expense is, I really do not see how it can be avoided. The security, such as it is, is not by any means too great: many are the people who as it is (so I hear from auctioneers) sell out of the funds, where a man makes above 6 per cent., for the purpose of buying land that does not afford 3½ per cent.; and the very remarkably high price of land, in comparison of the price of Government annuities at the present period, as compared with the close of the American war, seems to prove at once two things—viz., the superior plenty of money, and the superior want of confidence in the solvency of Government. In this view of the matter, I must confess I cannot so far join with you as to say of the buying up plan that from the first, fieri non debuit: but if I did, I could not forbear adding, factum valet: for if what has been thus bought up, were to be attempted to be resold, I cannot forbear thinking, that, (though I myself should not,) yet people in general would, regard the attempt as the first scene of an act of bankruptcy: to produce the contrary impression, does not appear to me to lie within the competence of the united powers of human reason and human eloquence. What you say about the monies being employed to more advantage in the hands of individuals than in those of Government, is true to a certain extent: but the extent to which it is true you have not as yet defined; though the defining it is a task that seems not only well worthy of your powers of investigation, but altogether indispensable for the purpose of your argument. For my own part I must confess I do not much expect to find it true to the extent in which it is necessary it should be true, for the purpose of that argument. The one thing needful is £10 every year in the Exchequer for every annuity of £10 sold. This Mr Pitt and you join in providing: but he adds £1 or £2 over, to provide against contingent deficiencies; and that increasing, to provide against the increasing danger of deficiency. This surplus you, instead of gathering it into the Exchequer, prefer leaving in the hands of the individual: concluding that, if left there, it will, somehow or other, go farther towards the payment of the annuities in question, or towards the satisfying the other demands of Government, than if taken into the hands of Government. But to produce this effect, I am afraid to say (for fear of your being angry with me, and saying I have misrepresented you) what requisites are necessary: the individual, instead of employing the greatest part of the labour in question, (I should be apt to say, at random, nine-tenths at least,) in ministering to the purpose of present gratification, (extra eatables and drinkables, forexample,) (in other words, spending so much of the money,) must employ the whole, or the greatest part, at least, in giving birth to instruments of future and durable gratification or use, (on building, for example, or draining land,) (in other words, laying by so much of the money;) and this stock of wealth, with its increase, (the house-rent, or additional land-rent, thus produced,) instead of employing on his own account, he must, (I am afraid to say it, but the purpose of the argument, I think, requires it,) he must pay into the Exchequer: and this track of unrelaxing good economy, (not to add generosity,) every individual in question must go on persevering in for the forty or forty-five years which you speak of, with a regularity as inviolate as that with which the portion of wealth in question would, if received. into the Exchequer, have been applied to the buying up of the annuities granted by Government. What a man would be saved, by your system, from paying to the new taxes in question, he would, (it is true,) in the course of his expenditure, (whether consumptive or productive,) he would pay in part towards the already existing taxes: but this happily is but a small part: you yourself have stated it somewhere at about a tenth.
“Your disapprobation of the triple assessment system I join with you in; but this is quite a distinct measure, and, in point of argument, stands upon different grounds: grounds so different, that, according to my view of the matter, it would be for the advantage of both questions, to be consigned to different publications—that which concerns the buying-up system, though treated of in the best manner possible, and simplified to the utmost, would, of itself, be found more complicated than one would wish.
“But it is time I should have done: otherwise this, instead of a letter offering a dissertation, would be a dissertation of itself. My amanuensis is far advanced in the copying of your papers. When it is completed I will return them, with some loose scrawl of my own in the margin, clapped down in pencil just as it occurred.
“Is there any other way in which I could contribute more towards the dissemination of your ideas, and the extraction of that truth which would alike be the object of us both? Shall I, too, sit down to inquire what is best to be done? Write an essay accordingly, and you a critique upon it? Writing more at leisure, and being arrived at a sort of method by hard labour, I should abstain from treading upon collateral topics with more rigour than you have done: but perhaps your wish is to make this work a vehicle for your sentiments upon other subjects: if so, strict unity of design would be unfavourable to your purpose. Society, especially society like yours, would animate me, and might inspire me with the exertion necessary: but without you I shall not meddle with a subject so remote from any of my former views: for I have neither heart to write nor money to publish of myself.
“Neither of these plans need supersede the other: except the having the same subject, nothing could be more different than the two works. The greater part of the topics you have introduced in your work would not appear in mine: mine, on the other hand, would present others, which do not occur in yours. But whichever may come out first would be referred to in the other; or if they come out together, then, by the help of cross references, each might serve to procure readers for the other. Your method would certainly be more agreeable to some readers, (I do believe to most readers;) mine, perhaps, to others: and what is odd enough, to yourself perhaps in the number.
“My aim in all this is neither more nor less than to second what I understand to be your wishes, as far as can be done, without prejudice to that sincerity, any departure from which would be more repugnant to them than any other part I could take. Those wishes are—to attract readers to the subject, by all lawful and honourable means. Among these means, debate is an article of approved efficacy, according to the notions current among booksellers: what distinguishes the proposed debate from ordinary ones is, its being so purely amicable, and published—not the two sides of it by the respective parties, each with opposite views, but by one of them, for the furtherance of his own views, and yet with the consent and concurrence of his opponent. But this singularity, whether the parties be or be not known, (a point which I finish by leaving entirely to your choice,) would contribute (I imagine) rather to strengthen than weaken the attraction; rather to increase than diminish the number of readers. Converts I could neither promise you without breach of that sincerity, nor endeavour to procure for you without a breach of that probity, neither of which you would wish to see impaired in any man whom you honour with such a place in your friendship as you have given me. To do what may be in my power without any such breach—to help find you readers, has been my concern: to make them converts will be yours. In the transport inspired by the idea of a severe labour ended, and a great work achieved, you “did not conceive it possible that he, (the author,) should be convicted of error in the conclusion.” Should that persuasion have preserved itself, to the present period, in unabated force, it may inspire you with some apprehension for a friend whose temerity prompts him thus to raise his head against demonstration: but your friendship will suggest, on the other hand, that his address, though in a bad cause, may be trusted to for saving him from gross ignominy in his defeat: and, at the worst, the maxim, volenti non fit injuria, may serve to tranquillize your conscience. Whatever there may be of badinage in all this, there is not a syllable of persiflage which, from me to you, would be abominable. Whimsical as the offer may appear to you, gratitude was the source of it; and in dropping it, the golden rule, which is the foundation of Christian morality, has been my constant guide. If you doubt this, try me with a correspondent offer on the subject of the Pauper Outline. Scarce room to say that this comes from yours ever,” &c.