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Utility of Religion a subject little as yet examined

A Survey of Bentham’s writings on the utility of religion
Catherine Fuller

Résumé

Cet article examine chronologiquement les différents manuscrits que Bentham consacre, à partir de 1807, à la question de l’utilité de la religion. Dans la continuité de l’Introduction aux principes de morale et de législation, il approche tout d’abord la question religieuse sous l’angle juridique : les sanctions religieuses sont-elles conformes à l’utilité ? En 1811, il problématise la question religieuse comme une opposition entre la raison et la Révélation divine en insistant sur les dangers d’attribuer à la Révélation le primat sur la raison. L’analyse prend ensuite un tour plus politique, Bentham dénonce le pouvoir corrupteur des élites cléricales dans un système où la religion est « établie » par la constitution. En 1815, il reprend ces manuscrits avec James Mill et Francis Place, insérant désormais la question religieuse dans sa réflexion épistémologique sur les fictions. Il passe le Nouveau Testament au prisme de la critique utilitariste dans un volumineux manuscrit intitulé « Histoire de Jésus ». En 1819-20, il réorganise à nouveau les manuscrits existants selon un plan qui aboutira enfin à distinguer la critique de la religion naturelle de celle de la religion révélée. La question des liens entre le droit et la religion est également soulevée de nouveau dans le contexte de sa correspondance avec l’Américain Aaron Burr. L’article se conclut sur un examen du travail éditorial effectué par George Grote à partir de ces manuscrits pour compiler An Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind(1822).

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Texte intégral

1On 10 July 1807 Bentham headed a manuscript: ‘Ch.1. Utility of Religion a subject little as yet examined—demand for such examination.’ and wrote

  • 1  British Library Additional Manuscripts (hereafter BL Add. MS) 29,809, fo. 313, written at Barrow H (...)

While meditating on the subject of religion, and in particular on the influence which the notions presented by that term have or have been supposed to have on the welfare of mankind during the present life, it has frequently occurred to me, that after so much as has been said on both sides of the question respecting truth ... yet the question concerning their utility with reference to the present life, together with reference to a life to come, has never yet been placed in a full and satisfactory point of view.1

2What follows is a survey of Bentham’s writings on the utility of religion, for a work entitled by Bentham The Usefulness of Religion to the present life examined, together with some suggestions as to the relation between those writings, and developments in his own thought, and in the world around him. The survey is divided into four broad periods which fall between 1811 and 1821. The survey was undertaken at the request of members of the Centre Bentham at Paris, who are working on some of Bentham’s early French manuscripts on the topic of religion.

3All the manuscripts discussed are kept in the British Library in the Grote Papers. The manuscripts were sent to George Grote, who produced a work derived from part of them in 1822 entitled Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion on the Temporal Happiness of Mankind.

  • 2  British Library Add. MS 29,809, fo. 196, 19 February 1819.

4Two further preliminary points: First, it is pointless to criticise Bentham’s lack of acknowledgement of any aspect of transcendence in the matter of religion, or of the idea of the sacred, since the complex phenomenon of the metaphysical aspects of religion simply did not interest him. In his manuscripts the words belief/religion/faith are given as alternatives, and within none of those words does he acknowledge the possibility of any nuance of spiritual apprehension of divine truths beyond the experience of the senses. Bentham does, however, acknowledge the comfort brought by faith: ‘He who is inbred with so delightful a persuasion [of only a heaven, and no hell], let him not divest himself, let not any one seek to divest him, of it: no service can compensate for such disservice’.2 As a rationalist and empiricist, Bentham’s focus was on what we can learn from observation and experience, and these were the only criteria to which he would appeal when examining the utility of religion.

5Secondly, most of Bentham’s manuscripts on religion are headed ‘Jug’: an abbreviation for Juggernaut or Jagannath, the Indian deity, an earthly incarnation of Krishna, an image of which was dragged through the streets of Puri, in Orrisa, annually on a cart under whose wheels, it was believed, devotees threw themselves and were killed. The word was later used figuratively as Bentham used it here, to indicate blind and ruthless devotion to religion. The heading Jug. gives us a clear picture of Bentham’s feelings on the subject.

1811

  • 3  Bentham, Jeremy An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ed. J.H. Burns and H. (...)
  • 4  E.g. IPML, pp.13–14.

6After Bentham’s initial statement in 1807, the first period of work on the utility of religion was undertaken for the most part in 1811. Writing in December 1810 and January 1811, Bentham’s first intention was to examine the utility of religion in relation to the general constitution of human nature, and on the grounds of particular experience. His starting point was his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (IPML),3 and the questions he raises when exploring the utility of religion use the terms of reference he had developed in that work. For Bentham, in IPML, the general constitution of human nature4 guides a man by observation and experience towards that course of action which will maximise his pleasure and minimize his pain. Bentham’s plan focuses on the uselessness and perniciousness of the religious sanction. In IPML Bentham had explored the principles of asceticism and of sympathy and antipathy as principles adverse to the principle of utility. With regard to religion, Bentham saw the principle of asceticism as approving actions which diminish happiness in individuals by, for instance, forbidding sexual acts, and encouraging men to believe that pain and suffering were a duty and merit, and he saw the principle of antipathy as encouraging men to hate those who do not conform to the tenets of their own religion. Bentham was writing at a time when in Britain Catholics and Dissenters were not allowed to graduate from the universities, or take up public appointments.

  • 5  The life to come is described elsewhere by Bentham as the theatre of retribution: BL Add. MS 29,80 (...)
  • 6  Later examples at BL Add. MS 29,809, fos. 223–4, 6 February 1820: Bentham asks does a lottery winn (...)
  • 7  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 184, 27 August 1811.

7Almost immediately Bentham reorganised these ideas into a first Book. The religious sanction holds out the expectation of punishment and reward in this life and a future life,5 an expectation of which no man has ever, or will ever, see the fulfilment. In the absence of the proof of the workings of this sanction, Bentham concluded that no man would act in accordance with the religious sanction, and in fact in pursuit of a balance of maximum pleasure over pain, no man would act other than in accordance with the laws of human nature.6 This initial inquiry was to be followed by two sections on asceticism and antipathy. Bentham cross-references to a second book entitled Experience. What I believe he meant by experience in this case is what he also called particular providence: an habitual swearer swears and dies, an habitual drunkard drinks and dies: are these deaths to be seen as a supernatural punishment?7 Bentham thinks no man will judge them to be so. Bentham retained these first thoughts on the subject over the next ten years, not abandoning any of the arguments, but developing the ideas contained in them.

  • 8  And later in BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 357, 25 April 1815.

8By September 1811 Bentham had rearranged his writings on religion, no longer using personal psychology/human nature as the organizing factor, but instead categorizing religion into two distinct types. In September 1811 the first book is no longer based on the general constitution of human nature, but is entitled ‘Revelation Apart’, that is to say religious belief which is not based on any revelation from a supernatural being. He uses the phrase ‘independently of revelation’, more familiarly at this time called natural religion or deism, meaning religion discovered from the works of God, as experienced in the world. In later drafts and plans Bentham used the term Natural Religion as a distinct system of belief, but at this time the term features only infrequently in his writings. The basic contrast in 1811 is between Reason and Revelation8 rather than between Natural and Revealed Religion. In the section ‘Revelation Apart’ Bentham placed the topics he had written about so far (i.e. on the religious sanction, supernatural punishment/reward in this life/life to come), formerly organised under the heading of the general constitution of human nature.

  • 9  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 122, 24 August 1811, and 29,807, fo. 186, 27 August 1811. For further discu (...)
  • 10  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 270, 28 August 1811.
  • 11  He wrote ‘Logic of tyrants.  This is my opinion: ergo it shall be yours: This would not afford me (...)
  • 12  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 3, 6 August 1821.

9Under the heading ‘Revelation Apart’ he also began a section on the attributes of God, (attributes such as Benevolence and Justice, Wisdom, Power, Veracity, and Fidelity to engagements), and started a discussion that continued throughout his revisions and rewritings. Without Revelation, Bentham thought expectation of punishment or reward might be formed from our knowledge of the attributes of God (based on our conception of attributes most valued in man). Is God just? is God benevolent? If he is, we know how he will judge our actions. For Bentham there was no justice without benevolence; the principle of utility is based on benevolence through justice. Benevolence determines the end, Justice is but a means. Bentham found God sadly lacking in Benevolence and Justice, and in fact in all the attributes listed above as humans recognize them, and at the end of his exploration he resolved: ‘not to wander long in the labyrinth of attributes,’ but he was unable to keep to his resolution, and in fact wandered in the labyrinth for years!9 In 1811 he concluded: ‘From our experience of the world, God is more malevolent than benevolent.’ In fact ‘if what is called God’s justice does not bear benevolence in the same ratio as man’s justice, tyranny is its proper name.’10 Bentham returned to the subject of tyranny and God as a tyrant in subsequent drafts:11 in August 1821 Bentham put forward the idea of the God of Natural Religion as having the cruelty of a wolf, with the weakness and folly of a sheep, and the God of Revealed religion as a self-regarding man with anti-social passions, a tyrant on a throne.12

  • 13  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 92, 31 August 1811.
  • 14  See, for example, BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 305 [n.d.], 423, 28 September 1811.

10Bentham entitled Book II‘Revealed Religion or Under Revelation’ that is to say religion revealed by a supernatural being: the word of God i.e. the Bible, in the case of a Christian God. Here, conscious that he was more likely to cause offence, Bentham began by stating that the work was hypothetical not categorical: he would only say: if you maintain so andso, this is the consequence;13 and he would only look at tenets and doctrines of religion which had been embraced by the main Christian churches. This is the first introduction in which Bentham explained his reason for writing, his terms of reference, and the methods he would use. There are at least ten other statements of this kind in various states of readiness, drafted as prefaces, beginnings, and introductions to the topic, dating from 1811 to 1830. Bentham kept a careful eye on the possibility of prosecution, and causing offence,14 especially with a view to preserving the integrity of his other works.

  • 15  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fos. 519–20.
  • 16  BL Add. MS 29, 808, fos. 211–12, 18 September 1811: ‘a contrivance of nomenclature to ascribe good (...)
  • 17  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 398, 25 April 1819.
  • 18  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 170, 18 September 1811.
  • 19  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 109, 6 September 1811. ‘Atonement. Punishment inflicted on an innocent pers (...)
  • 20  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 121, October 1813.
  • 21  BL Add MS 29,808 fo. 70, 29 December 1814. ‘Except in so far as occasion calls or is supposed to c (...)
  • 22  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 76, 26 December 1814.

11For Bentham the influence of religion with the support of revelation was mischievous, and in 1811 he began to list the mischiefs arising from Revealed Religion. Later in a manuscript, dated 18 April 1819,15 Bentham reorganized this list into three categories: Revealed Religion produces mischievous tendencies applying to the sensitive part of man’s frame; to the intellectual portion of man’s frame, each man considered by himself; and, finally, to the intellectual portion of man’s frame considered as a member of society. Among the first category of Mischiefs to man’s sensitive frame initially enumerated by Bentham were the unassuageable terrors produced by descriptions and threats of the torments of hell; the depriving men of the pleasures of sex and the pleasures of taste (often unorthodox) which Bentham argued Jesus did not do; producing antipathy from this asceticism, and antipathy on the grounds of unbelief, towards those who do not believe as you do. Among the Mischiefs to man’s intellectual abilities were the habituating men to deceptious reasoning by, for example, begging-the-question (taking for granted the matter in dispute i.e. religion); ascribing all the good effects of religion to religion itself, and all its bad effects to superstition;16 asserting as true doctrines such as original sin for which God continually punishes mankind (for Bentham original sin was ‘Original nonsense. Original disobedience to precepts never delivered’17); and the efficacy of prayer: man is led to believe that if his prayer is granted it is because his faith is strong, if not it is because he lacks faith.18 In tracing the Mischiefs inculcated by religion that were destructive of society, Bentham used as his primary source the Sermon on the Mount, which he felt encouraged disinterestedness/idleness: ‘consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not’. For Bentham the Sermon on the Mount encouraged man to be meek, to love his enemies, to be bountiful without limit, all of which would be disastrous to society. And finally, religion was responsible for inculcating doctrines that entail the misapplication of punishment for transgression in two ways. First, revealed religion applied punishment where no transgression has occurred: that is to say it taught man that he is born in sin, and that he must assuage God’s wrath because of the sin of Adam and Eve (which of course as far as Bentham was concerned God had allowed in the first place). And second, revealed religion recommended atonement, whereby repentance earns God’s forgiveness. Therefore the superhuman sanction that recommends penitence and repentance threatens to subvert the constraints and restraints established by the human legal sanction of punishment:19 ‘Atonement i.e. abolition of penal retribution.’20 Later Bentham extended his list of mischiefs with, for example, the prohibition of suicide, which forces man to embrace pain, by depriving the miserable of the relief held out by suicide; expanded the topic of misseated punishment and atonement; and added the inculcating of anarchic precepts, i.e. to do no evil that good may come,21 and give to the sovereign all coins bearing his name.22

  • 23  BL Add. MS 29,807, fos. 2–3, September/October 1811; 29,809, fos. 451–64, 1–3 October 1811.
  • 24  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 457, 3 September 1811.
  • 25  E.g. BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 256, 3 September 1811: ‘At the bottom of the pagan magazine of miserie (...)

12The third Book, entitled ‘Influence of religion as manifested through the medium of church establishments’, is brief.23 Bentham supplied an Analytical Sketch, which merely set out divisions and subdivisions of topics to be discussed. For example, he stated he would look at the mischief arising from the application of the legal sanction to the creation and preservation of faith, and at the class of men appointed to apply it. Despite the rather innocuous sketch, he ended with the words: ‘Christian thanksgiving is a scream of terror, not the laugh of love’,24 but left the comment unremarked upon. It is a feature of these writings (perhaps partly explained by the controversial nature of the topic, and partly by Bentham’s habit of noting thoughts on manuscripts), that Bentham often ended a manuscript with a controversial statement, as if whispered, because he was saying more than he dared.25

  • 26  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 3, 1 October 1811.
  • 27  BL Add. MS 29,809 fo. 462, 28 September 1811. Later in 1865 the clergy of the Church of England ha (...)

13In this Third Book, Bentham expanded only on the section ‘Mischief of the ruling few’: that is to say the insincerity of churchmen, in subscribing to and teaching the 39 articles of the Church of England (the statements of faith drawn up during the Protestant reformation in England in 1570s and inserted in the English Book of Common Prayer). Described here by Bentham as being ‘replete with mischievous immorality, and grossest absurdity’,26 the strength of his feeling betrays the sentiments of the younger man who had had to subscribe to the 39 articles of religion before he could graduate from Oxford University. Young and impressionable, he read the articles of faith and felt them to be contrary to truth and reason, and his objection to having to sign, or perjure himself, influenced him profoundly, informing as it did his thoughts on the laws on evidence, and his dislike of establishments such as Oxford University and the Church throughout his life. Unsurprisingly therefore, Bentham questioned the veracity and validity of clergy, who with superiorly cultivated minds, perjure themselves by subscription to these articles.27 He concluded that churchmen are universally insincere, and that therefore the religious sanction was inefficient.

  • 28  BL Add MS. 29, 807, fo. 115, 22 September 1811.

14The briefest sketch, dated 22 September 1811, introduces a Book IV headed ‘Mischief of Establishment. How to Reduce it to its minimum’.28 The book was to recommend five measures. Three of the measures related to the obfuscation of the liturgy: to attach to all liturgies a declaration of extreme abstruseness of all doctrines, and thence their uncertainties; to remember that Jesus prescribed only faith in general; and to have no fixed liturgies, thereby allowing men to detach themselves from mischievous and absurd tenets, as reason progresses. And two related to freedom of speech: instead of a declaration of belief in existing creeds etc, substitute a promise not to preach contrary to them; but to allow the liberty of writing against them. Freedom of personal tastes, and freedom of religious beliefs, remain a thread which runs through Bentham’s writings on religion.

15Generally, Bentham’s work on the utility of religion takes its shape and base from these first writings, which he expanded, reorganised, and redrafted as his thoughts and interests changed and developed, and as circumstances prompted. The writings become a mixture of the insightful, the brave, the silly, the enigmatical, and the controversial.

1815

  • 29  BL Add. MS 29,808, fos. 144–7, 22–3 December 1814.

16The bulk of his next tranche of writings was composed during his stay at Ford Abbey in Dorset, a former Cistercian monastery, which had been in secular ownership since the dissolution of the monasteries in 1538. Bentham stayed there with James Mill and his family for a period of six months each year from 1814 to 1818, usually from July to early the following year. Mill and Bentham were joined for the last summer by Francis Place. The irony of their situation, all three men unbelievers, living in the grandeur of an abbey built by the church, was not lost on them. Perhaps struck by this monument to the power and influence of religion, or in response to the weight of his own criticisms, or carried away by the effectiveness of them, he also asked how this system came to be admired? His answer was by its extravagance, paradoxicality, difficulty, impracticality, by its service to the self-regarding interest of the ruling few, and by expectation of extreme enjoyment in the hope of heaven.29 While at Ford Abbey Bentham wrote and/or prepared for publication the greater part of both Church of Englandism and Not Paul, but Jesus. He also worked on the utility of religion.

  • 30  According to a plan dated 3 and 10 March 1821 (BL Add. MS 29,807, fos. 157–8) the final work had e (...)
  • 31  Bentham uses the word ‘soul’ to mean qualities of the mind, rather than the immortal spirit of man (...)
  • 32  BL Add. MS 29,809 fos. 154–62, 15–21 July 1815, ibid., 29,809, fos. 384–9, 24–6 February 1819.
  • 33  UC cii. 9, 11, 15, 25–7 September 1814.

17In July 1815 Bentham added his theory of fictions to his writings on religion. He had identified fictitious entities as things that were spoken of as if real but were not, and developed interpretative processes, used notably with the terms duty and rights, to give such words ‘a determinate meaning fit for discourse’. Included in his plan from 1811 and eventually put into Part II of the final plan of eight parts,30 was a section entitled ‘Futurity Improbable: Life after death—its natural improbability.’ He asked a series of questions concerning the possibility of posthumous existence: after death when the body putrefies, what happens to the mind or soul?31 in what state will the mind be preserved? as it was in old age at the point of death, or in youth? How shall an idiot’s mind be preserved? as it was in life? What is the criterion for resurrection? if it is a degree of intelligence, then some animals should be resurrected.32 For Bentham the mind or soul cannot exist outside the body, it is a cluster of fictitious entities existing only through the medium of a living body. Mental faculties such as perception, memory, judgment, affection, desire etc. are also merely fictitious entities, existing only through the medium of a living body. After death we, and it, cease to be. The rationale for this argument comes from his work on language and logic written ten months before in September 1814, when Bentham had proved, to his own satisfaction, not only that the soul was a fictitious entity, but that God was a non-entity.33

  • 34  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 376, 15 July 1815.
  • 35  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 333, 6 August 1815.

18The reference to fictitious entities (in the above case soul or mind) here is also echoed in an introduction of the same date, which Bentham concluded with the hopes that his work would not be thought badly of on the grounds of either improbity or lack of intelligence; and that substances such as soul and God might eventually, like heat and light, be considered as no more than an ‘affection of the world’ (that is to say, considered with the same cool emotional detachment that a man would discuss the sensation of heat, or the quality of light), rather than objects of prosecution, or pretended or real hatred. Bentham hoped the topics of God and soul would be considered with mutual forbearance and good humour.34 However, in August 1816 he added a note on the term spirituality, which he identified as a fictitious entity although he used neither forbearance nor good humour when so doing: he wrote ‘spirituality—the idea was an engine in the hands of impostors for dragging in dupes.’35

  • 36  BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 427–8, 18 January 1814.
  • 37  These categories, added to those above, Without Revelation and Under Revelation, and often abbrevi (...)
  • 38  See BL Add. MS 29,809, fos. 357–61, 25-6 April 1815: Bentham wrote a set of manuscripts, entitled (...)
  • 39  See BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 242–9, 261–75, 365–72, 427–8, 474–89, all written in January 1814. For (...)
  • 40  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fo. 395, 17 July 1815.

19In January 1814, Bentham began to use the truth of religion, and as a second organizing theme, having previously dealt with the utility of religion.36 Dated principally between July and November 1815, and written at Ford Abbey, the manuscripts which focus on an examination of the truth of religion are headed ‘Verity considered’, or ‘Supposed Verity considered’ or ‘Jug. True’.37 Bentham looked at the supposed truth of Revealed Religion in general, and of the Religion of Jesus in particular. Acknowledging that the matter of truth is not straightforward,38 the truth of religion was a topic he returned to in later redrafts. In chapters that became ‘Part III On the Usefulness of Supposed Revealed Religion at Large. Verity Considered’, Bentham looked at the Abrahamic religions in general.39 He examined, somewhat improbably and with no hope of success, miracles and prophecies to find proof of the verity of religion. He placed miracles and prophecies in their historical context, stating that miracles were the stock in trade of a statesman,40 and used as proof of divine commission by every ‘adventurer’ who claimed to be a new messiah. He argued that prophets were public statesmen or public speakers, and that prophecies were political discourses. Neither miracle nor prophecy would have been considered extraordinary in the context of a man claiming a divine commission from God.

20For Part III Bentham also redrafted part of an essay on the current debate on miracles, credulity, and probability. The essay, entitled ‘Antimir’, (a Bentham coinage meaning against miracles, from the Latin anti-against and miracula-wonders) was begun in 1806, and examined Hume’s Essay on Miracles with its claim that the sole cause of belief and disbelief was the vividness and faintness of ideas. In the essay Bentham also tackled Campbell’s attack on Hume, with its own claim that belief was the work of the senses, and Price’s theory of the probability of improbable things. Initially the essay was proposed for his work on evidence. But in 1811 he wrote ‘Omitt out of evidence, this being polemical, and anti-juggernaut post off to the anomyn work’. The word anomyn means disregard of law, disregard of divine law, and this discrete essay has remained within the religious writings. Bentham returned it intermittently until 1819.

  • 41  See UC cxxxviii. 1–139, dated March to September 1815.
  • 42  See, for example, BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 511, 24 July 1815.

21He then proceeded to look at the religion of Jesus, in three contexts: with regard to truth, without regard to truth, and in the light of a critical examination of his life (in what would become Parts IV, V, and VI). In September 1815 he wrote an introduction to Part IV ‘On the Usefulness of the Religion of Jesus. Verity considered in a general point of view’, in which he discussed the utility of religion with regard to the precepts and doctrines ascribed to Jesus, and the verity of the narratives of the life of Jesus from the four gospels and the acts of the apostles. Everything was to be accompanied by the relevant text (rationale) from the scriptures,41 which Bentham hoped would aid both believers and unbelievers to defend or counter-attack religion. And for this work he composed tabulations of Jesus’ miracles and prophecies, with the appropriate New Testament references. The miracles were also categorized into type: cures, dispossessions, sea miracles, vegetation destroyed, etc., and the cures divided again into blindness, leprosy, palsy, fever, bedriddenness etc.42 The work Bentham completed on this topic, entitled ‘Comparative Study of Accounts of the Life of Jesus in the gospels’, is stored at UCL and so may not have been sent to Grote.

  • 43  BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 230–1, 28 September 1815.
  • 44  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fo. 231, 28 September 1815.
  • 45  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 230, 28 September 1815.
  • 46  In fact the later work of 1820 and 1821 consists predominantly of introductory, explanatory, and e (...)

22In an introduction written at this time Bentham was defensive, and apprehensive.43 He pleaded that his errors, if such there were, were honest, and that he had tried to be clear and temperate in expressing his thoughts. He recalled the words ‘Feel my pulse’ uttered by Algernon Sydney, on being sentenced to death by Judge Jefferies in 1683 for seditious writings: ‘Feel my pulse, and see if I am disordered. I bless God, I never was in better temper than I am now.’44 Bentham also wrote: ‘Nothing is here brought to view that would not be sooner or later by other hands: hence were it only in the character of difficulties for solution, the sooner brought to view the better.’45 The balance between the fear of prosecution and the desire to be taken seriously, recur in his subsequent redrafts of introductory material, as I noted earlier.46 These remarks concerning current debates on religion, and the stress that his thoughts are clear and temperate, may refer to the next part, which was probably and eventually destined for Part VIentitled ‘Jesus Displayed, or the History of Jesus, as deduced from a critical examination of the documents’.

  • 47  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 8, n.d.
  • 48  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fo. 302, March 1815.

23A large wrapper entitled ‘History of Jesus’ contained according to Bentham, 392 pages of manuscript.47 The manuscripts do contain a history of Jesus, and while relating the history of Jesus, Bentham developed the idea of Jesus’ own temporal ambition to become King of the Jews. ‘His sole purpose’ Bentham wrote, ‘was to raise up a temporal sovereignty for himself in that country at that time; and to this end every discourse as well as every act will, upon examination made in this view, be, it is believed, found to be directed.’48 Bentham surmised that the plan originated with Zachariah, father of John the Baptist the prophet. As a priest, Zachariah, who was privy to the secrets of government, probably intended his own son, John the Baptist, to lead the Jews, not John’s cousin, the son of a carpenter, but Jesus was eloquent and charismatic, and therefore a better candidate for the task. Bentham saw Jesus’ adult life as one devoted to a plan of temporal dominion over the Jews, in the role of the looked-for messiah to lead them out of subjection to Rome.

  • 49  Herbert Marsh (1757–1839), biblical scholar, Bishop of Llandaff 1816–19, Bishop of Peterborough fr (...)
  • 50  E.S. Shaffer, ‘Kubla Khan’ and The Fall of Jerusalem, The Mythological School in Biblical Criticis (...)

24This idea was not new—some Jewish commentators at the time had regarded Jesus as one among many messianic leaders willing to lead the Jews to victory against their Roman oppressors. It was, in the eighteenth century, a matter of discussion among members of the German Enlightenment. The German deist Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768) is generally regarded as among the first persons to examine critically the life of Jesus, as Bentham did, putting forward, among other things, Jesus’ messianic ambitions, and the role played in early Christianity by his disciples after his death. Reimarus’s work in this area remained in note form only, until it was published posthumously and anonymously by one of his followers, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, between 1774 and 1777. The idea certainly had currency among scholars in Germany at the time when Bentham was writing, and Goethe, for example, had left among his unpublished notes the statement dated 1814: ‘The Christian religion was an intended political revolution, which, after failing, subsequently became an ethical one ...’. All three, Bentham, Reimarus, and Goethe, left their thoughts in unpublished manuscripts, and the subject was not really tackled openly until the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century. Indeed Reimarus’s work was not translated into English until 1879, but the substance of the work was known and discussed by a wide circle of English contemporaries of Bentham, for example: Herbert Marsh, a biblical scholar, and Bishop of the Church of England,49 Thomas Beddoes, a chemist and physician; and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a Romantic poet.50 Given this wide spread of interest, it is unthinkable that Bentham and his friends were not acquainted with the ideas of Reimarus and his contemporaries.

  • 51  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 44, 17 July 1815.
  • 52  See also, BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 406, 24 July 1815: ‘On the subject of repentance, he impregnated (...)
  • 53  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 332, 8 August 1815.
  • 54  The omitted text is as follows: ‘and in the pursuit of that object had his precepts been under the (...)
  • 55  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 58, 2 October 1811.

25For Bentham, the Sermon on the Mount, from which he had earlier identified so many Mischiefs, now also became evidence of Jesus’ ambition. ‘These precepts ... what had they for their object? The accomplishment of his own project of temporal ambition—that and nothing else.’51 Jesus, Bentham wrote, preached liberality and improvidence: he needed money from the rich (benevolent extravagance); he needed the multitude of poor for his army. His call for repentance merely filled their minds with terror, and added to his reputation by assuming the power to forgive sins. As his followers fought for position and pre-eminence he had nothing to give them, so he planted the ideas of claiming nothing, of yielding to everything, and of total abjection—the first shall be last etc., and a life to come was only invented when the hopes of success of Jesus’s mass insurrection faded.52 Bentham wrote: ‘At length, as ... hope slackened, fear predominated ... an interpretation of refuge was provided, the idea of spirituality was raised up to save, as far as it could be saved, the reputation of a sinking cause—a cloud of ambiguity was thus exposed, the kingdom had two sides a temporal or spiritual one, ... till at length when the temporal kingdom had expired with the expiring king, ... what remained was the spiritual kingdom alone.’53 Bentham held that for the individual and the purpose of the moment all these precepts were perfectly well adapted, but for society, and the universally and perpetually necessary purposes of human society, these precepts were destructive. The interpretation of the precepts preached on the Sermon on the Mount had preoccupied commentators for centuries, but none of them had tested them against the principle of utility. Of course, as Bentham had written on 2 October 1811, ‘Had the discourse of Jesus taken for its object the felicity of mankind during the present life, ...54 the following or thereabouts is the course he would have pursued ...’.55 He would have codified the different species of transgression under the title of crimes and misdemeanours. But, as far as Bentham was concerned, Jesus was not a utilitarian nor a codifier of a penal code, and his discourse was specifically developed for his time and his purpose.

26Bentham placed this work in Part VI ‘Jesus Displayed, or the History of Jesus, as deduced from a critical examination of the documents’, in 1820–1 when he was compiling a plan of the entire work, and in fact in a note to Grote he called it ‘a matter of curiosity’ of which nothing had been written in detail, which of course is not true. The manuscripts were sent to Grote, but he made no use of them. There are few marginal summary sheets relating to most of this Part, and this suggests that Bentham was reluctant to publish such material.

1819

  • 56  Six sanctions: BL Add. MS 29,809, fos. 64–7, 17 February 1819. Seven sanctions: BL Add. MS 29,809, (...)
  • 57  The extensions of sanctions from four to seven was a topic of correspondence from October 1821–Nov (...)
  • 58  See BL Add. MS 33,550, fo. 31, 11 November 1814, also Bowring iii. 292 ‘Logical arrangements, or I (...)
  • 59  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 98, 29 April 1819.
  • 60  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 520v, 18 April 1819. The mischiefs are placed in Part V ‘On the Usefulness (...)

27In 1819 Bentham looked again at two sections of his work on religion. First of all Bentham’s work on Deontology during 1818–19 included a re-examination of his theory of sanctions, and Bentham developed his thoughts about the efficiency of the human sanctions, which in turn added weight to his arguments on the inefficiency of the superhuman sanction, which he first put forward in 1807. The work on sanctions becomes the second section of Part I. Bentham lists seven sanctions,56 widening their scope and therefore their influence and efficiency.57 Sanctions could be punitive and remunerative; and also self-regarding and extra-regarding. To the self-regarding sanctions Bentham had added the retributive sanction, fear of pain or hope of reward in the form of retribution; and into an extra-regarding category he put the sympathetic and antipathetic sanctions, actions undertaken in sympathy for or antipathy towards others. The idea that sanctions took into consideration the pleasure and pain experienced by others was important to Bentham. He wrote: ‘were it not for the operation of this sanction, no small portion of the good, physical and moral, which has place in human affairs, would be an effect without a cause.’58 This material helped Bentham combat the arguments of those who did not believe in religion, but believed that without religion morality and human society would end.59 The idea also added a moral dimension to Bentham’s mischievous tendencies: in the plan dated 18 April 1819 Bentham added a fourth category of Mischievous tendency, namely that applying to the moral part of man’s frame.60

  • 61  BL Add. MS 29,809 fo. 10, 7 March 1819.
  • 62  Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, p. 36, for example.

28In 1819, and in plans of 1820–21, sanctions are placed in Part I of the work, under the title ‘On the usefulness of Religion at Large—Verity Apart’. In this part Bentham refers to Religion at Largeas both Natural Religion and ‘supposed’ Revealed Religion. This is a shift in organization. In earlier drafts he had organized his work into reason and revelation. In March 1819 he defined the terms: ‘Religion is distinguished into Natural and Revealed. The distinctions in every mouth and in very pen and from which the word religion is to be found.’61 I do not know why Bentham resisted, or chose not to use the term Natural Religion in this way in his earlier drafts on the utility of religion. He had made the distinction between natural and revealed religion in IMPL.62 Natural Religion or Deism was commonly used in discourses about religion at this time, for example, Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason, 1794, David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, 1799, and Paley’s Natural Theology, 1806. The term was often used by unbelievers to attack Revealed Religion covertly through natural religion. Whatever his previous reticence, in 1819 Bentham begins to use the term Natural Religion in opposition to Revealed Religion.

  • 63  BL Add MS 29, 807, fo. 218v, 8 January 1820.

29Bentham puts his earlier discussion on Futurity Impossible, the problems of embodied resurrection, and the soul as a fictitious entity in Chapter V of Part II ‘On the Usefulness of Natural Religion. Verity considered’. In this Part, Bentham also examined two groundless suppositions involved in the belief of a life to come: the first supposition is of the existence of an apposite Creator, and the second is the existence of an apposite Creature, capable of living in a future life.63 Part II ends with a further reprise of the discussion that had gone on since 1811 about the attributes of God, especially with regard to benevolence.

  • 64  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 139, 11 February 1821.
  • 65  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 374, l May 1819.
  • 66  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 135, 13 February 1821.
  • 67  John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) Secretary of State of the United States, and later President 1825–9.
  • 68  Aaron Burr (1756–1836), Vice-President of the United States 1801–5.

30I can only guess why Bentham wrote again in 1819. Clearly his work on sanctions for Deontology may have suggested a parallel proposition for his religious writings. America may hold another clue. Bentham had long admired the United States of America, the only government, which had a representative democracy,64 where the powers of government were not employed in giving support to religion,65 where peace and security were achieved without the support of religion, and where religion was allowed to grow as a weed, which ‘each man for himself may gather up or trample upon at pleasure.’66 In 1817 Bentham had written to John Quincy Adams,67 at this time Secretary of State of the United States, with a set of questions about religion in America concerning prosecution for libel with regard to religion, blasphemy, dissenters, deism, and atheism, and bars to office of those professing atheism or dissenting beliefs. The answer was few prosecutions, but in certain states avowals of anti-christian sentiments would give a man a bad name, and be a bar to office. Perhaps Bentham was thinking of publishing a work on religion in America, for on 29 November 1819 Aaron Burr, formerly Vice-President of the United States,68 wrote to Bentham: ‘If you will send me your Work on Religion, I will publish it without delay and under any restrictions which you may impose.’ Nothing was sent, so we cannot be sure what restrictions Bentham might have imposed, but a reluctance to reveal his authorship might have been one.

1821

  • 69  He also adds in a plan a further section, Part VIII ‘National History of the Jews to the time of J (...)
  • 70  BL Add. MS 29,807, fos. 157–162, 10 March 1821.

31Looking at the remainder of Bentham’s work on religion as he prepared the manuscripts to be sent to George Grote, it seems that most of the work was preponderantly concerned with prefaces, plans, and instructions to Grote, that is to say the work is either justifying and explaining his motives to his readers, or explaining his motives and ambitions to Grote. In a statement entitled ‘Addressed to editor’: headed ‘Design’ and ‘Plan’ and dated 10 March 1821, Bentham stresses the importance of clearness in the text,69 and of putting forward clear and concise definitions, and identifies his twins goals: to free men from terrors and useless privations of which a supernatural agency is the source, and to destroy the powers of government that employ these forces for the oppression of the subject many.70

  • 71  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo 147, 14 October 1821.

32In October 1821 he wrote again stressing his ambitions, and the methods proposed to achieve them: ‘direct object: maximize converts, collateral object: avoid sufferance at the hands of the political and popular or moral sanction, and suppression of this work. How? minimize irritation, attack natural religion first, giving your enemy as long as you can a loop-hole to creep out at.’ Bentham’s brief meditation on the utility of religion in the present life begun in 1807 had expanded and deepened.71

33In brief: from all these manuscripts what did Grote use? Grote’s work draws on only a small portion of Bentham’s work: basically the book is a synthesis of some of Bentham’s ideas, and of Grote’s own: the first part examines the absence of a directive rule in Natural Religion, and therefore the efficiency of human sanctions to the happiness of mankind, and inefficiency of the superhuman sanction (or inducements) as Grote terms them, to happiness, and its efficiency to evil. The second part lists and discusses the mischiefs identified by Bentham both to man himself, and to mankind in general. He took up the instruction from Bentham to concentrate in the first place on Natural Religion. Grote cherry-picked the mischiefs from Part V ‘Religion of Jesus, verity apart’, and realigned them within natural religion. Grote included Bentham’s discussion of sanctions. He used the idea that God’s attributes cannot be equated with those of a benevolent human being but with those of an earthly tyrant, but justifies his claim on the grounds of praise and blame. Grote had put forward the idea of the irrational behaviour of an imagined invisible being linked to similar behaviour in an earthy potentate in his unpublished essay on Magic.

  • 72  UCL MS ADD. 266/A2.12.

34Caring, as Bentham did, not to be vilified as the author, Grote chose a pseudonym, and his reputation remained intact, he later became the foremost English historian of ancient Greece. The pseudonym did not indicate however that Grote was not fully convinced by the work he produced. He wrote to his sister-in-law in February 1823: ‘when once you have thoroughly satisfied yourself that an action is sanctioned or commanded by the principle of utility. [You will realize that] This is the only rule which can possibly be delivered & whoever lives without this, must really live without any rule at all.’72

35Grote’s pseudonymous text, published at London in 1822, was republished, again pseudonymously, by Grote in 1866. Nine years later in 1873 (and after Grote’s death in 1871) both John Stuart Mill’s posthumous Autobiography and Alexander Bain’s The Minor Works of George Grote, revealed Grote and Bentham as responsible for Analysis of the Influence of Natural Religion, which prompted two new editions acknowledging their authorship in 1875 in London and in Paris. The Paris edition was translated into French by M.E. Cazelles and entitled La Religion Naturelle son Influence sur le Bonheur de Genre Humain d’après les Papiers de Jérémie Bentham par George Grote.

Last things

36The very last page of manuscript sent to Grote ends with another ‘whispered’ comment, a plea for freedom from antipathy, and freedom of taste, but sexual rather than religious:

  • 73  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 491, 31 May 1812.

We have a Society of the Friends of Religious Liberty: a Society composed of persons of the highest character in every sense, men not themselves Catholics, whose object is to rescue from oppression those whose misfortune it has been to be born without the pale of the dominating sect.  When will a correspondent Society of the friends of liberty in matters of taste—be seen—a society composed of men who having no such misfortune as that of having received from the hand of nature—peculiarity of taste, will be generous enough to employ their endeavours to rescue from equally oppressive [...?] those who are sharers in such misfortune?—73

  • 74  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 515, 2 August 1815.
  • 75  UC cxxxviii. 162–5, 166.

37In 1830 Bentham returned to the topic for the last time. In June 1830 he entitled the work ‘the Usefulness of Religion in the present life, or Chrestosebia’ (meaning on the usefulness of worship), a word he had used only once before, fifteen years before, in August 1815,74 and wrote three manuscripts of introductory notes, and on 25 September 1830, in response to an article in the Spectator on the untrustworthiness of evidence, he entitled the work ‘Religion examined or A Rationale of Evidence applied to the fact expressed by the words the existence of a future life’.75 The rest is silence.

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Notes

1  British Library Additional Manuscripts (hereafter BL Add. MS) 29,809, fo. 313, written at Barrow Hill House, Oxted, Surrey.

2  British Library Add. MS 29,809, fo. 196, 19 February 1819.

3  Bentham, Jeremy An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ed. J.H. Burns and H.L.A. Hart (London: 1970, first published at London in 1789).  Hereafter IPML.

4  E.g. IPML, pp.13–14.

5  The life to come is described elsewhere by Bentham as the theatre of retribution: BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 100, 27 August 1811.

6  Later examples at BL Add. MS 29,809, fos. 223–4, 6 February 1820: Bentham asks does a lottery winner win, does a soldier survive a battle, because he is a good christian; does an underwriter enquire about christian credentials of prospective captain, crew, passengers before insuring boat/voyage.

7  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 184, 27 August 1811.

8  And later in BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 357, 25 April 1815.

9  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 122, 24 August 1811, and 29,807, fo. 186, 27 August 1811. For further discussions see, for example, BL Add. MS 28,809, fos. 268–73, August/September 1811; 29, 809, fos. 280–2, April/May 1819; 29,809, fo. 330, 19 February 1821; 29,807, fo.22, 5 September 1821.

10  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 270, 28 August 1811.

11  He wrote ‘Logic of tyrants.  This is my opinion: ergo it shall be yours: This would not afford me pleasure: ergo, you shall be punished if you practice it’, 29,809, fo. 490, 31 May 1812. And later the following dialogue between Orthodox and Heterodox: ‘Schism heterodoxy heresy: In all these instances an offence indeed has place: but the offender is not he to whom: but he by whom transgression is imputed.  Heresy means making a choice—nothing more.

Orthodox: The offence consists in making a wrong choice. i.e. a choice different from mine.

Heterodox: This is as much as to say I am tyrant ..., and wish to subject to my tyranny all mankind—rendering miserable all who profess to think differently from me’’: BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 442–3, 25 December 1814.

12  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 3, 6 August 1821.

13  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 92, 31 August 1811.

14  See, for example, BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 305 [n.d.], 423, 28 September 1811.

15  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fos. 519–20.

16  BL Add. MS 29, 808, fos. 211–12, 18 September 1811: ‘a contrivance of nomenclature to ascribe good effects to religion, and bad effects to superstition. Superstition a scapegoat, on which the sins of religion are layed. All bad effects disposed of, remain good ones and no others.’

17  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 398, 25 April 1819.

18  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 170, 18 September 1811.

19  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 109, 6 September 1811. ‘Atonement. Punishment inflicted on an innocent person consenting, in the view of its operating in the way of atonement.
According to that article God having by the offence of Adam and Eve, from whom all of us are descended, been put into a state of wrath, and in consequence and gratification of that wrath determined to consign to a state of boundless torment all human creatures to whom therefore it should happen to be born of those said first parents, and having determined that each successive progeny should successively be born, and ... accordingly in case of such wrath, and for giving to that passion such gratification as it was susceptible of, determined accordingly to consign every such infant ... at and upon its death, to a state of endless torment as above.’

20  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 121, October 1813.

21  BL Add MS 29,808 fo. 70, 29 December 1814. ‘Except in so far as occasion calls or is supposed to call for its ending its own doings, Government can not to do any thing. Government can not act in any way without doing evil, in so far as it acts with good and right and useful intentions, the evil which it does, is done by it that good may come: that good i.e. good that shall be more than equivalent to the evil, and that by as good an amount as possible.’

22  BL Add. MS 29,808, fo. 76, 26 December 1814.

23  BL Add. MS 29,807, fos. 2–3, September/October 1811; 29,809, fos. 451–64, 1–3 October 1811.

24  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 457, 3 September 1811.

25  E.g. BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 256, 3 September 1811: ‘At the bottom of the pagan magazine of miseries, at the bottom of Pandora’s box, there was Hope: at the bottom of the magazine of torments manufactured by the God of infinite benevolence—at the bottom of the Christian box, there is no Hope.’

26  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 3, 1 October 1811.

27  BL Add. MS 29,809 fo. 462, 28 September 1811. Later in 1865 the clergy of the Church of England had to affirm only a general assent to the articles.

28  BL Add MS. 29, 807, fo. 115, 22 September 1811.

29  BL Add. MS 29,808, fos. 144–7, 22–3 December 1814.

30  According to a plan dated 3 and 10 March 1821 (BL Add. MS 29,807, fos. 157–8) the final work had eight parts:
‘I. On the usefulness of Natural Religion, Verity not considered.
II. On the usefulness of Natural Religion, apparent Verity considered.
III. On the usefulness of Revealed Religion at large, apparent verity considered.
IV. On the usefulness of the Religion of Jesus, its apparent verity considered in the general point of view.
V. On the usefulness of Religion of Jesus, Verity apart or not considered.
VI. Religion of Jesus considered under the form given to it by Political Establishments.
VII. Jesus Displayed: or the True History of Jesus (as deduced from a critical examination of the documents).
VIII National History of the Jews to the time of Jesus.’

31  Bentham uses the word ‘soul’ to mean qualities of the mind, rather than the immortal spirit of man: see Dr Johnson’s Dictionary.

32  BL Add. MS 29,809 fos. 154–62, 15–21 July 1815, ibid., 29,809, fos. 384–9, 24–6 February 1819.

33  UC cii. 9, 11, 15, 25–7 September 1814.

34  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 376, 15 July 1815.

35  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 333, 6 August 1815.

36  BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 427–8, 18 January 1814.

37  These categories, added to those above, Without Revelation and Under Revelation, and often abbreviated to sine rev and sub rev, and of course, Jug Util, make up the main headings of the manuscripts.

38  See BL Add. MS 29,809, fos. 357–61, 25-6 April 1815: Bentham wrote a set of manuscripts, entitled ‘Beginning’, to introduce the topic of truth; making the point that the truth and the utility of religion are different: Those who believe in the truth of religion also believe in its utility, but those who believe in the utility of religion do not necessarily believe in the truth of it, the latter among which are often the ruling few, prevent the lessening of belief in the truth of religion.

39  See BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 242–9, 261–75, 365–72, 427–8, 474–89, all written in January 1814. For the Abrahamic religions see BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 15, 12 March 1821.

40  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fo. 395, 17 July 1815.

41  See UC cxxxviii. 1–139, dated March to September 1815.

42  See, for example, BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 511, 24 July 1815.

43  BL Add. MS 29,806, fos. 230–1, 28 September 1815.

44  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fo. 231, 28 September 1815.

45  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 230, 28 September 1815.

46  In fact the later work of 1820 and 1821 consists predominantly of introductory, explanatory, and explicatory material.

47  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 8, n.d.

48  BL Add. MS 29, 806, fo. 302, March 1815.

49  Herbert Marsh (1757–1839), biblical scholar, Bishop of Llandaff 1816–19, Bishop of Peterborough from 1819. Thomas Beddoes (1760–1808), and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834).

50  E.S. Shaffer, ‘Kubla Khan’ and The Fall of Jerusalem, The Mythological School in Biblical Criticism and Secular Literature 1770–1880, Cambridge, 1975.

51  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 44, 17 July 1815.

52  See also, BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 406, 24 July 1815: ‘On the subject of repentance, he impregnated their minds with terror, engaged them to fly to his arms and person for protection. Giving value to the power assumed by him of forgiving sins. His object first to last was to get them into his net by which or by what means.’

53  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 332, 8 August 1815.

54  The omitted text is as follows: ‘and in the pursuit of that object had his precepts been under the guidance of that degree of intelligence and wisdom of which human reason without any assistance from religion—without any assistance supernaturally given by and received from God—is susceptible,’

55  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 58, 2 October 1811.

56  Six sanctions: BL Add. MS 29,809, fos. 64–7, 17 February 1819. Seven sanctions: BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 58, 24 February 1821, and ibid., fos. 25–30, 11 March 1821.

57  The extensions of sanctions from four to seven was a topic of correspondence from October 1821–November 1822 with Dumont, who was keen to know when the list expanded, and whether he should include the new list in the reprint of Traites de législation, see Letters 2815, 2820, 2824, The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham vol. x, ed. S. Conway (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1994), and Letters 2821, 2913, 2918, 2936, The Correspondence of Jeremy Bentham, vol. xi, ed. C. Fuller (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000). In exasperation Bentham wrote to him in May 1822: ‘A sheet, to which this exemplification [of drunkenness in the seven sanctions ] had been consigned, has found its way—to the moon, I imagine, for upon earth I can not find it.’ In fact, the paper in question was among Bentham’s religious writings which were with George Grote at this time (probably BL Add. MS 29, 809, fo. 25, 11 March 1821).

58  See BL Add. MS 33,550, fo. 31, 11 November 1814, also Bowring iii. 292 ‘Logical arrangements, or Instruments of invention and discovery’.

59  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 98, 29 April 1819.

60  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 520v, 18 April 1819. The mischiefs are placed in Part V ‘On the Usefulness of Religion of Jesus—Verity apart’.

61  BL Add. MS 29,809 fo. 10, 7 March 1819.

62  Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, p. 36, for example.

63  BL Add MS 29, 807, fo. 218v, 8 January 1820.

64  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 139, 11 February 1821.

65  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 374, l May 1819.

66  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo. 135, 13 February 1821.

67  John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) Secretary of State of the United States, and later President 1825–9.

68  Aaron Burr (1756–1836), Vice-President of the United States 1801–5.

69  He also adds in a plan a further section, Part VIII ‘National History of the Jews to the time of Jesus’, of which there is put a barest outline.

70  BL Add. MS 29,807, fos. 157–162, 10 March 1821.

71  BL Add. MS 29,807, fo 147, 14 October 1821.

72  UCL MS ADD. 266/A2.12.

73  BL Add. MS 29,809, fo. 491, 31 May 1812.

74  BL Add. MS 29,806, fo. 515, 2 August 1815.

75  UC cxxxviii. 162–5, 166.

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Catherine Fuller, « Utility of Religion a subject little as yet examined », Revue d’études benthamiennes [En ligne], 6 | 2010, mis en ligne le 01 février 2010, consulté le 27 juin 2017. URL : http://etudes-benthamiennes.revues.org/74 ; DOI : 10.4000/etudes-benthamiennes.74

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Catherine Fuller

Bentham Project, University College London

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