BENTHAM, Jeremy, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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BENTHAM, Jeremy (1748-1832). Philosopher and reformer.
Letter Signed with autograph postscript to Joseph Parkes, 2 pages 4to, Q[ueen] S[quare] P[lace], 31 March 1825. Asking him to 'convey' an 8-year-old boy to Hazlewood School, and mentioning Rowland Hill and Joseph Priestley.

Bentham explains in his letter that the 'smart pretty looking boy' is the son of Robert Hunter (then American consul at the Isle of Wight), who was introduced to Bentham by John Adams Smith, the nephew of the 'new' US President John Quincy Adams. Bentham quotes a letter of Mr Hunter's which explains that the expenses of the boy's education will be covered by Joshua Bates (an American financier who was later to become the senior partner of Baring Brothers & Co. and was to found the Boston Public Library).

Hazelwood School had recently been established in Edgbaston by Thomas Wright Hill, father of the postal reformer Sir Rowland Hill. Rejecting the cane as a disciplinary tool and advocating self-governance for its pupils, it worked on educational principles similar to those proposed by Bentham in his Chrestomathia. Bentham was a keen promoter of the school, and often encouraged his friends and acquaintances to send their sons there.

The recipient of this letter, Joseph Parkes (1796-1865), was a Birmingham solicitor and political radical who was a regular correspondent of Bentham's. He is also asked in this letter to 'desire Mr Hill [then a teacher at his father's school] to send me some more Epitomes and Proposals', as Bentham has already given four of them away to the Secretary of the Royal Institution, 'who has children of his own, and is a superiorly-informed and influential man there. He was a sort of pupil of [Joseph] Priestleys. Oh my weak and battered old memory! We spoke of you together: he and you are intimate'.

Bentham's autograph postscript, addressed to his amanuensis (John Flowerdew Colls), states that the original in his own hand 'goes to Mr Hunter' and mentions his disciple and later literary executor John Bowring (1792-1872), 'who is to dine here to day'. The fully autograph version of this letter is in the Bentham Papers in the Library of University College London (clxxiv.24) and is printed as letter no. 3182 in The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, ed. L. O'Sullivan & C. Fuller, 2006, vol. XII, page 113.
[No: 25497]

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