Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to William Wilberforce. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
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Bentham to William Wilberforce. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 11.
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Bentham to William Wilberforce.
“My dear Sir,—
Enclosed is the paper which you gave me leave to trouble you with. Observe the dates. It was after receiving a copy of it, together with a Memorial addressed to the Treasury Board, which he desired to have pro forma, that Mr Dundas, upon my meeting him at the outside-door of his office at the Horse Guards, said to me these words,—‘Mr Bentham, I have just been saying to Mr Long, what I had before said to Mr Long and to Mr Pitt, that it is impossible to change the land.’ Mr Dundas was addressed at that time in consequence of Mr Pitt’s having signified his intention of resting his decision (as Mr Long told me) on the judgment of Mr Dundas, who, he observed, had the circumstances more on his mind than he (Mr P.) could have. Afterwards, Mr Long sent for me, and notified to me in form, that Mr Pitt had fixed upon the land in question as the proper spot,—and an instrument for the purpose was accordingly, by Mr Long’s direction, drawn by me, approved and signed by Mr Long,—settled by the Attorney-general, and engrossed by Mr White, and when I heard last of it, about six weeks ago, was lying (so Mr Long told me) (together with the draught of the contract perused and settled by the Attorney and Solicitor General, and ready for engrossment) upon Mr Pitt’s table. Lord Spencer has given up his opposition more than once: once, as I was informed by Mr Long, who called upon me at my house to congratulate me on it, and afterwards in conversation repeated to me that, after what Lord Spencer had said to him,—as I understood,—he certainly could not go back with honour,—honour was the word: another time, (after having been at my house, and seen what was to be seen,) as was notified on his part by Lord Hugh Seymour to my brother, who came to me full of it at the time, but I doubt has since forgotten it.
“Lord Spencer has since offered to me, through my brother, to give up his opposition if I would accept of a marsh, admirably convenient for me in a pecuniary view, but as certainly pregnant with the destruction by hundreds in a year of those whom I would wish to reform, and not to poison, (I speak not from surmises, but records.) I wished to rid myself, once for all, of the temptation to commit safe murder for great gain; and, accordingly, after a hard struggle, prevailed to have retained in the contract the clause binding me (in consideration of what was deemed an adequate premium) to pay £100 for every death.
“Lord Spencer, on the report of his steward, who I believe has been the private mover of all these vexations, estimates at between £2000 and £3000 a-year the detriment that may accrue to his son, (to whom he pointed on the occasion,) by an adhesion to the old choice, quoting two instances in which persons who had been treating for taking land of him, on I know not what advantageous terms, had broke off on hearing of the Penitentiary House. Hopeless of justice, I would most gladly bind myself to take the land upon those terms, whatever they were, and, in short, indemnify this poor family from the apprehended injury, according to their own estimate of the extent of it.
“It was in September last that the draught of the contract, after having been settled in terminis with Mr Pitt, through the medium of Mr Long, went to Mr White, with a letter signed by Mr Long, ordering it to be ‘prepared for their Lordships’ signature:’ since which I have been obliged to pay (inter alia) (in addition to £8000 or £9000 out of pocket before) £1140 for cast-iron, (materials for the building,) not to reckon some hundreds more, which by this time I am bound for. I am now lending my mind to the irksome task of drawing up my case with the vouchers for publication, that when those who take an interest in my fate become witnesses of my ruin, they may see it has not had imprudence for its cause, unless it be imprudence to have attributed common honesty to Mr Pitt. In this crisis you are my sheet-anchor,—more orientali!
“P. S. What can I say more? I could read you a memorial to the Treasury, with Mr Dundas’s answer, refusing to forward it, as being injurious to Lord Spencer, attributing to him what he has since avowed.—N. B. It attributed nothing, it was merely hypothetical,—that people would say how it would look, if, &c.
“It was about the month of September above-mentioned, that Lord Spencer (according to his own account of the matter to my brother) signified his last, and still subsisting opposition to Mr Pitt, who all the while, either not meaning to sign the draught he had ordered to be prepared, or at least doubting whether he should sign it or no, has been suffering me (without vouchsafing the least hint of any such doubts) to amuse myself with putting it through all its stages, and laying out my money upon the faith of it.”
I have introduced the following paper because it exhibits Bentham’s manner of looking at every subject in all its bearings; and, secondly, because it affords an answer to an accusation frequently brought against Bentham, that he selected the unhealthy site of the Penitentiary, Millbank, for his Panopticon; but the correspondence shows that the site was no choice of his:—