Archive for October, 2013

New material to transcribe: Bentham on political economy and religion

By Tim Causer, on 29 October 2013

We are delighted to say that two new batches of material have been uploaded to the Transcription Desk for volunteers to explore and transcribe.

Box 1 contains material pertaining to Bentham’s annuity notes scheme, and date from 1799 to 1801. Bentham spent almost twelve months planning, drafting, and revising a major work entitled A Tract Intituled [sic] Circulating Annuities, which has never been published (though a précis of the text was provided in a work entitled Abstract or Compressed View of a Tract intituled [sic] Circulating Annuities). Bentham hoped that his plan for an interest-bearing circulating currency would provide the means both to reduce, and even eliminate, the national debt, and to inculcate the culture of saving amongst the poor, thus preserving the stability of expectations from the political and financial threats of revolution and national bankruptcy respectively.

The Bentham Project’s Dr Michael Quinn, is currently working on Bentham’s writings on political economy, and an unexpurgated text of Bentham’s Annuity Note scheme will present an exciting resource to scholars and historians of economic thought alike. The work of Transcribe Bentham volunteers has the potential to significantly expedite work on this material, and contribute to its first publication in a forthcoming volume of the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.

The second batch of material is Box 5, pertaining to one of Bentham’s works on religion, Church of Englandism and Its Catechism Examined (1818). This work was part of Bentham’s sustained attack on the English political, legal, and ecclesiastical establishments. Bentham always argued that religion should bear no influence upon morals and legislation, and came to suggest that religious belief was used by the clergy to promote their own interests. Bentham was particularly critical of the role of the Church of England in education, whether this was in its schools for the poor, or its domination of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (the ‘two public nuisances’, according to Bentham, ‘storehouses and nurseries of political corruption’). In Church-of-Englandism, Bentham recommended the ‘euthanasia’ of the Church, that is, as ecclesiastical offices became vacant, they should be left unfilled and abolished.

We hope that you enjoy transcribing these manuscripts, and do let us know if you have any queries!

Progress update, 19 to 25 October 2013

By Tim Causer, on 25 October 2013

Welcome along to the progress update for the period 19 to 25 October 2013, during which time further steady progress has been made by Transcribe Bentham volunteers. During the last week, 7,189 words of Bentham text have been transcribed, along with a further 3,035 words of TEI XML.

6,400 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 23 on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 6,100 (95%) are now complete and been locked, up 38 on this time last week.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

We had an excellent meeting with students on UCL’s Centre for Publishing MA course this week, who will be producing a Bentham cookbook based on the panopticon recipes uncovered by TB transcribers. We’re looking forward to this, and are sure that the results will look much better than our attempts at Bentham’s baked apple pudding.

Progress update, 12 to 18 October 2013

By Tim Causer, on 18 October 2013

Welcome along to the Transcribe Bentham progress update for the period 12 to 18 October 2013, during which time further steady progress has been made by volunteer transcribers. Over the last week, 12,365 words of Bentham text have been transcribed, along with a further 6,705 words of TEI XML.

6,377 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 33 on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 6,079 (95%) are now complete and have been locked, which is up 38 on this time last week.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

We were thrilled to learn this week that Trinity College Dublin’s terrific Letters of 1916 project, which digitises and crowdsources letters written around the time of the Easter Rising, has incorporated Transcribe Bentham‘s transcription toolbar into its interface to allow volunteers to add mark-up to their transcripts. The project also uses the Omeka platform produced by the Roy Rosenzwig Center for History and New Media, and the customisation of this platform developed for DIY History by the University of Iowa Libraries. Code reuse is a win all-round, we think!

Thank you, as always, to everyone who has contributed their time and effort to Transcribe Bentham during the last seven days. It remains as greatly appreciated as ever.

Progress update, 5 to 11 October 2013

By Tim Causer, on 11 October 2013

Welcome to the progress update for the period 5 to 11 October 2013, during which time further superb progress has been made by Transcribe Bentham volunteers. We are also delighted to say that during this week we were able to lock our 6,000th transcript! This was JB/122/530/001, transcribed by volunteer Ohsoldgirl, in which Bentham makes his case for compensation for the failure of the panopticon to the British government.

6,345 manuscripts have now been transcribed or partially-transcribed, which is an increase of 68 on last week’s total. Of these transcripts, 6,041 (95%) are complete and locked, having met the required quality control standards. 14,771 words of Bentham text were transcribed this week, along with a further 6,402 words of TEI XML mark-up.

The more detailed state of progress is as follows:

This week, we uploaded a new batch of material relating to Bentham’s work in assisting in the foundation of the Thames River Police, which we hope volunteers will enjoy transcribing. As our digitisation programme continues apace, more manuscripts will be added to transcribe at regular intervals.

Thank you, as always, to everyone who has contributed their time and effort to Transcribe Bentham during the past seven days. It remains greatly appreciated by us all.

New material to transcribe: Bentham and the foundation of the Thames River Police

By Tim Causer, on 7 October 2013

Bentham’s work on the panopticon during the late 1790s put him in contact with several influential individuals with whom he became friends. These included Patrick Colqhoun, whose works on the police and other statistical studies Bentham greatly admired. The Pool of London – a stretch of the River Thames running from London Bridge to just below Tower Bridge – was in Bentham’s time vital to London’s trading powers, and was filled with wharves and ships. However, theft of cargo was an increasing problem, and in 1797 John Harriot, a Justice of the Peace and a master mariner, worked with Colqhoun and Bentham to persuade the West India Merchants to fund a new police force. The Thames River Police was the first regular, professional police force in the world, was initially under Colqhoun’s direction, and had a permanent salaried staff of 80, and an on-call reserve of 1,000 more. It’s visible patrols were a success in reducing crime, even though a mob attempted to set fire to the police station.

Bentham worked on drafting the 1798 Thames Police Bill, and the manuscripts from Bentham Box 150 demonstrate just how much effort he put into the endeavour. The Bill was enacted in 1800, permanently establishing the Thames River Police. Colqhoun published his Treatise on the Commerce and Policing of the River Thames in 1800.

This material also contains some remarks by Bentham on the prevention of forgery of coins.

We hope that you enjoy exploring these manuscripts!