By Tim Causer, on 20 December 2010
Bentham did not approve of Christmas or other religious holidays, which he regarded as an abject waste of waking time which could be put to better use.
He practiced what he preached, and often spent Christmas Day writing. There are a good number of manuscripts and letters composed by Bentham dated on or around 25 December. For example, on Christmas Day 1814 Bentham wrote about blasphemy:
‘Impiety—blasphemy—in no instance in which it was ever made, had any charge for which expression has been found that was ever expressed in either of those words any the smallest ground.
Yet with what symptoms have not the charges made on these words been accompanied? And this passion what has it had for its cause? In the first place, in this as on every other occasion the difference of opinion, and the testimony thus borne by the opponent to the intellectual weakness of him in whose breast the flame is thus by the opposition kindled: in the next place, by the sort of humiliation which in the mind galled by the yoke is produced by the idea of the case enjoyed by the sound which remains untouched by it’.
Similarly, on 25 December 1806 Bentham wrote to Lord Grenville on the subject of ‘Scotch Reform’, and on Christmas Day the following year discussed the process of appeal under Scots and English law.
We at the Bentham Project take a slightly softer line than Jeremy. As such, transcribers should be aware that though the Transcription Desk will remain fully functioning over the Christmas break, it will be largely unstaffed from Thursday 23 December until Wednesday 5 January when UCL is closed. Transcripts submitted during this period are unlikely to be corrected until we return and, likewise, emails sent during this period may not be attended to immediately.
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See you in 2011!