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!