The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism

By Elie Halévy; Mary Morris | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
'TRAITÉS DE LÉGISLATION CIVILE ET PÉNALE'

'My task, which was of a merely subordinate nature, has been concerned with details only. It was necessary to select from among a large number of variants, to do away with repetitions, to throw light on obscure passages, to put together all that pertained to one and the same subject, and to fill up the gaps which the author left in his anxiety not to delay the work. I have had rather to cut down than to supply, rather to shorten than to extend. The number of manuscripts which has passed through my hands and which I have had to decipher and compare has been considerable. I have had to do much to secure uniformity of style and much in the way of correction, nothing or very little as regards the substance of the ideas. The profusion of his wealth called only for the care of a steward.' It is in these words that Dumont defines the nature of the work on Bentham's papers to which he devoted himself. An examination of the manuscripts in University College makes it possible to verify and on certain points to complete these indications of Dumont's.

I. Date of writing of the manuscripts used by Dumont. -- The manuscript was not completed when Dumont carried it off. 'I owe it to the author', he writes, 'to state that he only yielded them up to the entreaties of friendship, and that he often reluctantly gave up to me works which were incomplete, and sometimes material which was quite unarranged'. The greater part, however, was completed, not only as a rough copy or outline (matière as Bentham called it) but also as a fair copy (forme in the language of Bentham), and we may add, had been written for some years already -- in 1783, according to our estimate. At the end of 1780 Bentham was still resisting the entreaties of his brother that he should write his work in French (Add. MSS. Brit. Mus. 33,539,

-515-

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