Below is an update from Dr Michael Quinn. He explains how volunteer transcripts are helping in the editing of Bentham’s writings on preventive police and asks for assistance in transcribing Bentham’s ‘Annuity Notes’.
Some feedback on the Police Volume, and an appeal for help with the ‘Annuity Notes’.
I wanted to report back to the volunteers of Transcribe Bentham on the fruits of their efforts in equipping the Project with high quality transcripts of Bentham’s preventive police writings, and I am very happy to report that the texts of several works have been established, and that the back of the textual editorial work on the preventive police volume has been broken. The texts of Bentham’s preliminary draft of the ‘Thames and Marine Police Bill’, of ‘A Bill for the establishment of a Board of Police’; and of ‘Notes to the Police Bill: Containing Reasons, Precedents, and other Elucidations’ have been established. My colleague Dr Oliver Harris has made good progress with research for, and drafting of, notes for these texts. In addition, editorial work continues on ‘Introductory Observations on the Police Bill’ (for which Bentham seems to have drafted plural beginnings, but which he made limited progress in completing), and on fragments containing ‘Elucidations relative to the Thames Police Bill’, and others relating respectively to Coin Police, and to the Disposal of old Admiralty Stores.
I hope to complete the textual editing in the new few months, and to be in a position to pass the volume to the General Editor for review by the end of the year, with a view to submission to the press at the end of 2017, in conjunction with making the text available online via the Bentham Project website. The volume has not disappointed in providing new insights into the development of Bentham’s thinking on a wide range of issues, and I will be presenting some of these at the International Society for Utilitarian Studies conference at the Catholic University of Lille this July. Many thanks to everyone who worked on the transcription of materials for this volume: your efforts will be acknowledged in the Preface.
I also wanted to take this opportunity also to ask once more for your assistance. The fourth volume of Bentham’s writings on Political Economy will contain his plan for an interest-bearing currency, which he called ‘Annuity Notes’. After two years of developing the plan, and of attempting (with very limited success) to persuade the government to adopt it, Bentham abandoned the idea when he concluded that the inflationary consequences of the plan made it untenable. There are some 1,800 manuscripts associated with the Annuity Note Plan, almost all of which are contained in boxes 1, 2 & 3 of the UCL collection. To date, with your help, we have managed to produce transcripts of some 1,100 of these, which means that 700 remain untranscribed or incomplete. Any help with the remaining untranscribed folios would be much appreciated:
- Box 1 & Box 2 are currently available on the TB website, where I see that 685 folios sit patiently awaiting transformation from semi-legible scrawl to readable text, by the investment of the time, effort and skill of our volunteers.
It would be disingenuous of me to pretend that every single folio of this material is chock-full of thrills. However, it would be true to say that Bentham’s treatment of the issue ranges more widely than might be expected in such a text, since he is interested, for instance, in the consequences of the adoption of his proposal on constitutional stability. He thinks that William and Mary did a very wise thing in borrowing money from the public, and thus giving many people a significant interest in the stability and permanence of their rule. Bentham hopes that by making interest-bearing currency available to the poor, the government might not only facilitate habits of frugality on their part, but, like William and Mary, cement loyalty to the regime in the face of revolutionary demands imported from France. Please help us complete the transcription for this volume.
Many thanks, and happy (and productive) transcribing!