Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Jeremy Bentham, [after 10 April 1780]

From Jeremy Bentham7

AL (draft): University College, London

[after April 10, 1780]8



This book (if ever it should reach your hands)1 was written for the use of leading men: nor to any but leading men has it been sent. As such a copy of it comes to you. My notion of you is such that if there be any thing good in it, you will not fail making a good use of it for the benefit of those for whom you act.

If at this or any more distant period any of the ideas which are contained in it should be the means of adding to the prosperity of your country (since the unhappy distinction is now made) it will be some consolation for the miseries you have been a means of bringing upon mine.

I am Sir with all the respect that is due to an eminent benefactor of mankind and all the regard which can be due to the destroyer of my country’s peace.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7Bentham (1748–1832) was a jurist, political philosopher, and member of Lord Shelburne’s circle at Bowood: DNB. In spite of his efforts he seems never to have met BF.

8On that date Bentham sent his brother Samuel the draft of a covering letter to Catherine II which was to accompany a copy of his work on penal law. Five months earlier he had told his brother he was considering sending copies to BF and to the philosophe d’Alembert. This work was now about to be printed. It was not published until 1789, however, and was then entitled An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation: Timothy L.S. Sprigge et al., eds., The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham (9 vols. to date, London, 1968–), I, xxviii–xxxi; II, 334, 411, 414–20.

9Bentham’s shorthand for “To Franklin”: ibid, II, 334n.

1Bentham sent a printed quarto copy of the work via Francis-Xavier Schwediauer or Swediaur, a medical writer and friend of Jan Ingenhousz. Schwediauer delivered it, but, to Bentham’s disappointment, BF made no observations on it: ibid., I, xxviii–xxix; II, 183; John Bowring, ed., The Works of Jeremy Bentham (11 vols., Edinburgh and London, 1843), X, 88.

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