The present edition of Panopticon versus New South Wales and other writings on Australia consists of fragmentary comments headed ‘New Wales’, dating from 1791; a compilation of material sent to William Wilberforce in August 1802; three ‘Letters to Lord Pelham’ and ‘A Plea for the Constitution’, written in 1802–3; and ‘Colonization Company Proposal’, written in August 1831, the majority of which is published here for the first time. These writings, with the exception of ‘Colonization Company Proposal’, are intimately linked with Bentham’s panopticon penitentiary scheme, which he regarded as an immeasurably superior alternative to criminal transportation, the prison hulks, and English gaols in terms of its effectiveness in achieving the ends of punishment. He argued, moreover, that there was no adequate legal basis for the authority exercised by the Governor of New South Wales. In contrast to his opposition to New South Wales, Bentham later composed ‘Colonization Company Proposal’ in support of a scheme proposed by the National Colonization Society to establish a colony of free settlers in southern Australia. He advocated the ‘vicinity-maximizing principle’, whereby plots of land would be sold in an orderly fashion radiating from the main settlement, and suggested that, within a few years, the government of the colony should be transformed into a representative democracy.
Philip Schofield is Director of the Bentham Project, Faculty of Laws, UCL, and General Editor of the new authoritative edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.
Tim Causer is Senior Research Fellow at the Bentham Project, UCL Faculty of Laws.
Symbols and Abbreviations
Correspondence, sent to William Wilberforce, of Jeremy Bentham with Sir Charles Bunbury
Letter to Lord Pelham
Letter to Lord Pelham, &c. &c. &c. Giving a comparative view of the system of penal colonization in New South Wales and the Home Penitentiary System
Second letter to Lord Pelham, &c. &c. &c. In continuation of the comparative view of the system of penal colonization in New South Wales and the Home Penitentiary System
Third letter to Lord Pelham &C. &C. &C. On the hulks and the 'improved' prisons, in continuation of the comparative view of the system of penal colonization in New South Wales and the Home Penitentiary System
A plea for the constitution: Shewing the enormities committed to the oppression of British subjects,innocent as well as guilty, in breach of Magna Charta, The Petition of Right, The Habeas Corpus Act, and The Bill of Rights; as likewise several transportation acts; in and by the design, foundation and government of the penal colony of New South Wales: Including an inquiry into the right of the crown to legislate without Parliament in Trinidad, and other British colonies.
Colonization Company Proposal: Being a proposal for the formation of a joint-stock company by the name of the colonization company on an entirely new principle intituled the vicinity-maximising or dispersion-preventing principle
Collation: Panopticon versus New South Wales
Index of subjects
Index of names
Open Access PDF
February 21, 2022
Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham