George Bentham

George Bentham: Autobiography, 1800-1834

edited by Marion Filipiuk
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 728
Stable URL:
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  • Book Info
    George Bentham
    Book Description:

    George Bentham was the nephew and assistant of Utilitarian philsopher, Jeremy Bentham, and himself emerging figure himself in the field of botany ? where he would prove to be one of the great taxonomists of the century

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7525-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction (pp. ix-xlviii)

    George Bentham (1800-84), whose life spanned most of the nineteenth century, is recognized by the scientific community as among the greatest taxonomists of his day, and is known to generations of botanical students as one of the authors of the monumentalGenera Plantarum.¹ Outside the sphere of the natural sciences, however, he is little known, because his work was not, like Darwinʹs, the origin of a dramatic conceptual revolution. Benthamʹs quiet contribution to botany was nevertheless extraordinary in range, insights and precision, and his influence has been worldwide, particularly through the colonial Floras that he composed. The legacy of his...

  4. Autobiography
    • 1 Childhood; St Petersburg, Hampstead, Gosport (pp. 3-15)

      [1] The earliest record I have obtained of my paternal ancestors shows them to have been from father to son Scriveners in the Minories from the commencement of the seventeenth century.¹ After the middle of the following§century my grandfather, Jeremiah Bentham, then an Attorney or Solicitor of extensive practice, migrated to the West End having purchased some§property in Queen Square Place and Petty France (now York Street) on the south side of the Bird Cage Walk—partly freehold partly leasehold§—under the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.² Here (No 2 Queen Square Place) he resided the remainder of...

    • 2 France; Saumur to Toulouse, 1814-18 (pp. 15-51)

      [17]We sailed from Portsmouth in the afternoon of the 23d Augt 1814, arriving at Le Havre the following morning. The place was full and busy. The restoration of peace, the opening of the port, the revival of trade and influx of foreigners put the inhabitants and officials into excellent humor. We were well received as English, the landing and custom house formalities were readily gone through and early in the afternoon we found ourselves established amidst scenes persons and things so totally different from anything we had been accustomed to as to excite in us children more wonder than interest....

    • 3 Montauban to Montpellier, 1818-22 (pp. 51-98)

      Moving to Montauban early in the summer,¹ [73] we settled ourselves in the Maison Collet, agreably situated in a large garden above the high bank of the Tarn at the end of the public Promenade, and here I led a very different life from that of Toulouse. We made acquaintances, went to a few balls and parties in the winter and gave one or two at home, but these were no longer occupations. I entered as a student at the Faculté, followed closely various courses§—the higher branches of French and Latin litterature—the latter under Prof. Encontre, an excellent...

    • 4 A Visit to England, 1823 (pp. 98-153)

      We left Montpellier, my sisters Clara, Sarah and myself, by the malle poste of the 25th Jany, and I immediately commenced a diary, in the form of letters I regularly despatched to my elder sister during the whole of our absence, and from which chiefly the following is compiled or extracted. This was our first experience of the then lately improved and accelerated mail carriages, holding three inside and one outside by the Conducteurs. It was ʺeasy and comfortable, and it is such a comfort not to have all sorts of strangers clean or dirty nodding and falling asleep on...

    • 5 A Tour in Scotland and the Lake District (pp. 153-208)

      The weather cleared up in the afternoon and allowed me to leave Berwick outside the mail at ½ past two, arriving at Edinburgh at nine in the evening. ʺThe journey was very pleasant from the variety of the scenery. The road lay mostly along the seacoast, and at first was only pretty from the exceeding calmness of the surface of the water, which is here, I believe, a very unusual circumstance. The [217] country is in general bare of trees, and consists chiefly of immense fields of arable land, many of them now being sown in turnips, in straight lines...

    • 6 France Again; Botanizing in the Pyrenees, 1823-25 (pp. 208-234)

      [300] The autumn and winter of 1823-4 was spent at Restinclières, like the previous winters in the direction of the improvements, etc, going on on the estate—occasional social parties in Montpellier, etc, amusing myself with my usual course of reading on philosophical subjects, and now taking with encreased zeal to botany, having the large accumulations made chiefly during my visit to England and Scotland to arrange in my herbarium. My two younger sisters, however, began to feel the contrast between the quiet country life and the social enjoyments they had had amongst their English friends, and showed a restless...

    • 7 Return to England, 1826-27 (pp. 234-280)

      [340] In the course of the spring of 1826 various domestic complications arose. My eldest sister was induced to return to her husband, who she vainly hoped had reformed his ways, and was living quietly with his mother at Pompignan, my two younger sisters were getting restless and longing for a more genial life at Paris or in England. We had seen a great deal of our friends the Daxʹs in Montpellier and I had again become entangled with my attachment to Emma Dax, and negociations for our marriage were far advanced; a compromise was entered into as to our...

    • 8 London Society; Further Travel, 1827-28 (pp. 280-324)

      My sisters had expressed a great wish to see a ball in Almackʹs rooms,¹ and Lady Colchester applied to the Marchioness of Stafford for tickets for them to the Caledonian fancy ball, on the 14th. Lady Stafford recalled having known my father at Paris forty years previously,² and expressed a wish to see him again, my father much enjoying the visit, recalling to him old times. We had made acquaintance with Sir Murray Maxwell (who commanded the Alceste that took Lord Amherst to China,³ and afterwards had the severe contest for Westminster with Sir Francis Burdett),⁴ and Lady Maxwell offered...

    • 9 Legal Studies and Botanical Pursuits, 1829-30 (pp. 324-363)

      [473] The year 1829 was one which had considerable influence on my future life. Various circumstances tended to prevent my giving way to social enjoyments so as to interfere with the two rival pursuits to which I devoted myself with more and more zeal, law and botany. We had begun the year like the two preceding ones, with the Carrsʹ family New Yearʹs party, still a happy one, though with some signs of dissolution; and early in March, Mr Carr died from a sudden attack, brought on by overwork, which carried him off after two days suffering, and this broke...

    • 10 Death of His Father; Montpellier and Geneva, 1831 (pp. 363-382)

      [536]The year 1831 brought about a reversal of the career entered upon the previous one. The death of my father and consequent loss to us of his pension (£1600 a year), and the growing uncertainty of my Uncleʹs arrangements as to the disposal of his property after his death, recalled to me the necessity of my following up a money-making profession. The year rose for me in Botany and set in Law.

      The first two or three months passed like the latter ones of 1830—much of Horticultural Societyʹs business, regular attendance at the Linnean Council and meetings, and frequent...

    • 11 Death of His Uncle; Congress at Vienna, 1832 (pp. 382-415)

      [568] The year 1832 brought about another change in my prospects and pursuits, though it did not finally settle them. By the death of my Uncle, notwithstanding the large deductions from his property occasioned by some of the dispositions of his will, my sisters and myself came into a considerable addition to our incomes,¹ and rendered us less dependent on my earnings; and other circumstances, especially my visit to the meeting at Vienna, tended to turn the balance in favour of botany versus law. In the first half of the year, however, I stuck pretty steadily to legal pursuits, in...

    • 12 Marriage; and Botany at Last, 1833-34 (pp. 415-438)

      [624] The year 1833 finally settled the course of my future life. I married, and after some months, finding that there was little likelihood of our having any family, that my wifeʹs wishes were very moderate, that our income was sufficient to enable us to live comfortably, though not luxuriously, and that I need not toil for our support, I determined to give up the law, and to devote myself entirely to botany.

      The year began well for me. I had been spending the Christmas with my sister at her friends, the Scudamoresʹ, at Kentchurch in Herefordshire, on the borders...

  5. List of Abbreviations (pp. 439-440)
  6. Notes (pp. 441-514)
  7. Appendices

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