Front Page Titles (by Subject) Dr Roget to Bentham. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 10 (Memoirs Part I and Correspondence)
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Dr Roget 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 Roget to Bentham.
“Sidmouth,September 9th, 1800.
“I received your parcel, very safe, yesterday morning. As you express a wish to know what were my first impressions on learning the nature of your scheme, I shall begin by telling you, they were very much in its favour. On a superficial glance over the papers, I was struck with the extensiveness of the views they seem to open; and a nearer inspection convinced me that the proposed experiments must lead to a wide field of investigation on various subjects, scientific as well as economical. From what I have as yet collected, I should conceive it to be no very difficult matter to succeed in maintaining a temperature, sufficiently constant and uniform, for every purpose in which it was required. I can perceive, at present, nothing that opposes any insuperable bar to success; and, indeed, we have it so much in our power to retard to almost any degree, the transmission of heat, that some sort of success can hardly fail to result from the attempt. By the means you propose, it appears in the highest degree probable that the total suspension of every species of fermentation may be obtained for any length of time. There is one consideration too, which just now occurs to me, (though you have probably anticipated the remark,) and is apparently of great moment in the future prosecution of the plan on a great scale:—it is, that the space gained by enlarging the dimensions of the building, will increase in a much greater proportion than the surface exposed to the heating or cooling influence of the atmosphere increases; the former being as the cube of the diameter, the latter as the square only. Hence, the larger the scale on which it is constructed, the greater proportion will the space cooled, bear to the quantity of cooling materials required to produce or maintain the same given temperature in that space. However favourable the results on a small scale, they will be still more so on a larger. The only discouraging reflection that has presented itself to me is, that the immediate utility that may result from the scheme, does not, as yet, appear in so clear a light, as the possibility of carrying it into execution does. But I am too ignorant on the subject of commercial speculation to venture offering any crude observations of mine to your maturer experience. When I have had a little more time to ruminate on the subject, I will trouble you with what has occurred to me. Allow me to mention, in the meantime, that I feel extremely flattered at your having selected me as not unworthy of your confidence, and at your permission to witness your experiments, and participate in your labours; a permission of which I shall very gladly avail myself. It was already my intention to have been in town towards the end of October,—as I purpose attending some hospital in the course of next winter. It will not materially derange my plans, to hasten my journey a week or two earlier,—I am, &c.”
Bentham is only strengthened in his convictions by the few difficulties which Dr Roget suggests—and replies of date September 13th:—
“Nothing could be more flattering or encouraging to me, than your obliging letter of the 9th instant, just received. I take you at your word, and consider you as in a state of requisition; but of that, more before I conclude.
“As to utility, in a commercial point of view, I wish it stood as clear of doubts in all other points of view as in that. Provisions to this purpose may be divided into classes. No. 1, those which are not to be had at all under the existing order of things, but at certain times of the year. No. 2, those that are regularly dearer at certain times than others. No. 3, those of which under the present impossibility of preservation, the price not only varies as between season and season, but fluctuates from day to day. Fish of most kinds do this on a scale of amazing length: for example, between 1s. or 1s. 6d. a lb. and 1d.
“Of No. 1, the instances are innumerable, the same peach or parcel of green peas which at one time may be had for 1s., shall at another time only by being a few months or even weeks earlier, fetch a guinea. What would they fetch at Christmas? Even early potatoes, have, by mere dint of earliness, been sold for 2s. per lb., and that at Manchester. At such enormous prices, the sale, it is obvious, must be extremely limited; yet, even at such prices, in such a place as London, the monopoly must be worth something. Reducing the rate of profit from 2000 per cent. to £100 or £200, the consumption might be so great as to render the amount of profit very considerable. To this class belong, you will find, most vegetables: item, a great many articles of animal food deemed delicacies, and bearing a high price: ex. gr. venison (buck,) house-lamb, even poultry, considered with reference to age.
“Of No. 2, I learnt one example t’other day by accident, in conversation with Mr Colquhoun, (police Colquhoun,) pig meat is at one time of the year dearer by 50 per cent. than at another.
“No. 3, it is that interests me more particularly. Nos. 1 and 2 do but administer to luxuries. No. 3 may afford substantial assistance to the poorer classes. On this subject I have a fortunately timed Report of the House of Commons before me. The prices of the other articles will form in due season the subject of a regular inquiry; but these broken hints, will, I suppose, be enough to remove your doubts. Grain excepted, all branches of the provision trade are subject to loss by spoiling, which must be made up by profit. On this plan, the profit might be reaped without the loss. A branch thus new and monopolized, might command ready money, and thus be clear of loss by bad debts.
“The thing that presses, is the calculation of the proportion necessary, as between quantities of ice for the years, or say one and a half year’s stock, and quantities of preservanda, taking succession into account. Unfortunately, I have never seen the inside of an ice-house, nor do I know anything of the quantities of ice usually employed, or of the average time of sojournment, for the purpose of manipulation in the way of trade, (the confectioner’s.) Before the building is begun, or the plan of it fixed, I must endeavour to get access to one or two of these places; and shall hope for the benefit of your company on that occasion. In the meantime, the most material assistance you could afford me, would be by turning that matter in your thoughts, and putting together and applying in calculation what data you may have had or could obtain access to from conversation and books. Lavoisier, Rumford, Kirwan, I am, of course, aware of. Are you ready at calculations? I am very slow and awkward.
“Upon the equity of the assurance given in your letter, I shall rely on your making my house your home, for such time at least as is occupied by the planning, building, and if season favours, original stocking of the Frigidarium: supposing the abode, (which in situation is not unpleasant,) and the retired life I lead in it, not to be incompatible with your plans of study and amusement, it certainly will not, with your intended attendance at an hospital. Of two rooms—one on the ground floor, the other on the two pair of stairs, (not to speak of two small rooms without fire-places, appendages to the upper room,) you will have exclusive possession, with abundance of out-house room if you wanted it for any purpose.
“I hold you, therefore, in a state of requisition on the first summons; which summons I should give even now, and by these presents, were it not that I wait for the clearing my mind of a task, of which I hope and trust it will be cleared within a week; but while it stays there, will render me very bad company, as well as incapable of attending to any other business. In the meantime, I will beg the favour of your answer, including any further remarks that may have occurred to you in relation to the scheme.
“The following particulars, relative to the fluctuation of the price of fish, are subjoined, for your edification, from the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on the British Herring Fisheries, printed 30th June, 1800.
“1. Largest cod, price from one guinea to two guineas each, the high price in winter.
“2. Mackerel, from five pounds to six shillings per hundred, p. 139.
“3. Herrings, from fifteen to two shillings per hundred, p. 139.
“4. Thornbacks, maids, and other flat fish, taken near Yarmouth, have been sold sometimes 20lbs. for a shilling, sometimes come in such quantities they cannot be disposed of at all. They come from banks, near Yarmouth, which are inexhaustible. None of these flat fish are good for salting, pp. 130, 131.
“5. The trade in cod and haddock, afforded a sufficient profit to the fishermen at a time when they never obtained so much as twopence per lb., pp. 126, 127.
“6. Vessels being allowed but eight days (instead of twelve) to clear their cargoes, is the cause (in the opinion of Selby, a person examined) that there is a great glut for a short time, and no supply for a considerable time after, p. 129.
“7. Fish, when they die at sea, (lobsters excepted,) are salted, or otherwise preserved. Inland codfish, two cargoes salted in bulk, (without barrels,) weight fifty or sixty tons. Quere, in Tepidario, with or without a cheap acid, (sulphuric diluted,) lobsters and all.
“Frigidarinm would neither buy at the cheapest of those prices, nor sell at the dearest. Yet would there be any want of profit?
“Twopence per lb., the price before the war raised the insurance as high as 40 guineas per cent., (p. 146,) affording a sufficient profit, seems to hold out a prospect of an unlimited sale, at a rate profitable to the seller, and yet cheap to the poor.”
Roget replies by consenting to become Bentham’s inmate, and to superintend the erection and management of the Frigidarium.
The following is a letter on the subject of Registration, from