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.
“Q. S. P., 31st May, 1803.
On the 8th instant, I received from Sir Charles Bunbury a letter, the conclusion of which is in these words:—
“ ‘I spoke to Mr Wilberforce, to know whether he would apply with me and other friends to Mr Addington; but he declined; saying he thought you had been used very ill, and could not keep his temper when he talked on the business.’
“The practical determination thus represented as announced, presented itself to me as being in such diametrical opposition to the observation on which it is represented as grounding itself, that I should have stood convicted of rashness in my own mind, had I suffered myself to regard the intelligence as correct, without applying to yourself for the confirmation or correction of it.
“It is my misfortune to be a principal in the business: so much so as to have everything at stake upon it. It never yet occurred to me to have the smallest apprehension of not being able to keep my temper in talking about it, much less if I were to go prepared. Silence, at the very worst, would be a sure resource.
“That a comparative stranger, in the ocean of whose public concerns this business is but a drop—a man remarkable (as I have ever understood) for the mildness of his temper too, as well as for so many other virtues—should be so much more affected than the party himself, who has had nothing else to think of for these ten years, seems to me so irreconcileable to the known principles of human nature, that I feel myself quite unable to admit it. At this rate, were a minister on any other occasion to find his convenience in sacrificing the interests of public security and morality—in trampling upon acts of Parliament—in breaking the public faith, to the oppression of an unoffending individual—he would need to but screw up the enormity of his guilt to a pitch sufficiently provoking, and on those terms he might make sure of the acquiescence of Mr Wilberforce. What a lesson! what an encouragement—for the advocates of the Slave trade, for example, were they to hear of this—which, perhaps, they have done by this time—though certainly not from me! Had the proposition been to move for the impeachment of these friends of yours—to move for an inquiry—to move for papers—so much as to stand up and say anything upon the subject in the House, it would be a different case. But, if I understand the matter right, your refusal went not merely to the speaking on the occasion, but the so much as going up to the Minister in his closet, and entering a silent appearance among the approvers of the measure.
“Sir Charles was then on the point of setting out for the country: whether he has returned or no, I know not: for I have not seen or heard from him since. By the date of his letter you will see how far I have been from being forward to trouble you on the subject. But the case is, every now and then, somebody is dropping in upon me, and asking—Well, and Mr Wilberforce, what says he to the business?—a question to which I know not what answer to make, pressed as I am between the apprehension of doing you an injustice, and the difficulty I find in conceiving any incorrectness in the evidence, in a case upon the face of it so simple. Labouring under this perplexity, you will, I flatter myself, forgive the trouble I am putting you to, in thus applying to the only person in whose power it is to relieve me from it.
“Two former letters had in some measure prepared me—as it seemed they were designed to do—for abandonment: but that recollection, far from removing, scarcely so much as lessens, the difficulty I experience in conceiving such a reason to be assigned for it.
“I once considered myself, nor shall anything short of absolute necessity make me cease to consider myself, dear Sir,
your much obliged, humble servant.”