Progress update, 7 to 13 September 2013

By Tim Causer, on 13 September 2013

Welcome to the progress update for the period 7 to 13 September 2013, during which time superb progress has been made by Transcribe Bentham volunteers. 16,447 words of Bentham text were transcribed this week, along with a further 8,536 words of TEI XML.

6,105 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 70 on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 5,819 have met the required quality-controls and are complete, which is up 75 on this time last week.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

Boxes 121 and 122, or two most recently uploaded batches of material, have received the most attention during the last week. Box 122 was uploaded only on Wednesday, and already 33 of its manuscripts have been transcribed. It contains manuscripts detailing the revival of interest in Bentham’s panopticon prison proposal in 1808, the scheme’s second rejection in 1811, and an angry Bentham’s quest for financial compensation for the losses and miseries he had endured.

Bentham had been crushed by the first rejection of the panopticon, and an example of Bentham’s frustration with the British government can be seen in an 1801 manuscript, transcribed by volunteer Jan Copes. Bentham writes that:

Certainly neither can my faculties be so serviceable, now will my remaining years be so many, as they might have been, had it not been for Mr Pitt, Mr Rose, and Mr Long: not to mention so many as yet unnamed noble and illustrious persons, whom for the present I will not attempt to drag forth out of that shadow of the darkness which in their own judgement is the only one adapted to their designs…

The individuals to whom Bentham refers are William Pitt, the Prime Minister; George Rose, Senior Secretary to the Treasury; and Charles Long, Secretary to the Treasury. Bentham was particularly aggravated by Rose and Long, on whom dealings over the panopticon were delegated. Bentham was often ignored and delayed by Rose and Long, and took to hanging around the Treasury to try and gain an audience with them.

Writing to his friend Reginald Pole Carew on 25 May 1799, Bentham recounted his abject humiliation at trying to get hold of Long: ‘I have been obliged to consume the whole morning there [at the Treasury] without seeing him at all. Apprehensive lest this sort of treatment should mark me out as an object of contempt to the Messengers and Porters, my way has been latterly not to send in my name, but to way lay Mr Long in his passage from one apartment to another‘. Bentham was reduced to chasing Long into the porters’ bathroom, where he had ‘just time t say that I came to thank him for his letter … His countenance expressed displeasure, he turned from me and entered into conversation with a somebody else … and for the evident purpose of avoiding me … turned off … with that somebody else … if I give up sollicitation [sic], the business perishes … if I persist in sollicitation [sic], personal ignominy seems the only fruit I am likely to reap from it‘. (This letter can be seen in volume vii of Bentham’s correspondence, in The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham).

Thank you, as always, to Transcribe Bentham‘s volunteers for giving their time to the project so generously during the last week. It remains greatly appreciated by us all.