Front Page Titles (by Subject) Bentham to Charles Abbot. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 11 (Memoirs of Bentham Part II and Analytical Index)
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Bentham to Charles Abbot. - 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 Charles Abbot.
“7th September, 1802.
“I had been used from time to time to send Panopticon progress to Wilberforce. August 27th, I sent him the correspondence with Sir C. Bunbury, and Lord Pelham’s letter, and the marginal contents of Panopticon v. New South Wales: Sir C.’s last letter excepted, which did not come till afterwards. Yesterday he returned my packet with a long letter of four sheets.* The remarkable feature in it, and the cause for which I mention it, is this: the most material and striking article of the packet lying before him, was this letter of Lord Pelham’s, in which his lordship says:—‘At all events . . . I will endeavour to get something settled before the meeting of Parliament.’ Yet with this before his eyes—all his good advice—all his projects, assume that nothing at all will have been settled before the meeting of Parliament. To get it settled, such and such things are to be attempted (though with a chance of success which he scarce ventures to give as more than a faint one) in Parliament. This assumption of his, to what cause can it be imputed? Was it that he thought Lord Pelham would not so much as make any attempt? Was it that he thought it would be unsuccessful? Was it that he knew it would be unsuccessful? viz. by having communicated on the subject with Mr Addington? The latter is a matter of fact which might have been a material object of inquiry, if my time admitted of the making of it. Meantime, of these three interpretations, between which Mr Wilberforce did not look upon it as worth his while to distinguish, one at least supposes that sort of conduct, which, in Sir C. Bunbury’s more frank and open estimate, ‘would disgrace not only a Minister’s secretary but his porter.’
“The uniformly honourable character which, as far as my obscurity would admit of my hearing anything, I had always heard attributed to Lord Pelham—this, added to the marks of candour on his part that seemed to transpire through the debates, would have led me to place as much confidence as my experience of those offices would admit of my placing, in so positive an undertaking on his part as the above, had it not been for his expedition of discovery for ‘finding out what steps had been taken by the Treasury.’ What, if anything, had been done there legally and above board, the Minute-book would have shown him at any time in half an hour, out of the week he took to give his answer. The only possible matter of discovery the case afforded, was, any such clandestine and dishonourable, and unavowable and unavowed assurance or assurances as that which had been given to Lord Belgrave. Far from being matter of triumph, it is matter of most serious concern to me, to find those suspicions of mine receive already so much apparent confirmation.
“There are two things I could not get either Mr Long or Mr Hiley Addington (at the conference they entrapped me into, 9th July, 1801) to speak of, as possessed of any the smallest binding force: Acts of Parliament, and the engagements taken by men in office, in consequence: nothing could equal the scorn with which the idea was received. Wilberforce, notwithstanding the probity of his own conduct, seems to have entertained all along a sort of implied notion to the same effect, derived, doubtless, from that practice, which, on the part of Messrs Rose and Long, (and perhaps Pitt,) he must have had so many occasions to observe. I cannot, antecedently to experience, bring myself to think that these notions will find approbation with the public at large. I am sure they do not among all placemen. Sir Evan Nepean, at any rate, is an example.
“Next to the setting up of Panopticon, which, if I were to live, might enlarge my opportunities of being of use in one way or other, I cannot think of anything by which I could do more substantial service, than by exposing a line of conduct which seems at present to be endemical and habitual, in such manner as to render it if possible no longer tenable.
“Wilberforce, however, amongst other good advice, preaches passive obedience, and non-resistance for this one session, giving me a dispensation for hostility should this prove fruitless: and in the meantime, recommends that Botany Bay should be exposed in a quiet way, and on the ground of immorality only, I mean without blame to anybody: for which he offers aid, which, if I understand him right, is by communication of facts. He, however, knows nothing of the præmunire, and the illegalities and tyrannies connected with it. Not that I shall take his advice: my own experience runs uniformly counter to his theories. I have found the principle of terror operate in several instances, and no other principle in any. He is all in a flutter about his friends: he does not himself think they will do as he is convinced they ought to do, and he dreads the seeing them exposed for it. He shuts his eyes against the facts: and then imagines excuses for them incompatible with the facts, which, from the first, so far as they tend to imputation, he has never been able to bear to look at—or at least to own the looking at them. It is natural enough that he should be for laying law and engagement out of the case, because those topics cannot be handled without imputation to his friends: it is equally natural that I should not part with strong ground, and confine myself to weak ground, for the accommodation of those who have made a point all along of keeping me to that weak ground, that they might crush me at their ease. Not that he is indifferent to Panopticon, for he talks of it all the while like an enthusiast.”
[* ] See Wilberforce’s letter in Ch. xiv. of the Memoirs.