Betty Kemp

Betty Kemp an emeritus fellow of St Hugh’s College, Oxford, is the author of King and Commons and Sir Francis Dashwood: An 18th-Century Independent.

Parliamentary Sovereignty

Betty Kemp, 22 December 1983

The publication of Bentham’s Collected Works is likely to produce more new or revised views than the publication of Burke’s Writings and Speeches: indeed, it has already done so. The Bentham project will also take longer, for the establishment of the text is a herculean task. Bentham left a vast archive of notes and of drafts and redrafts of works planned but not published. Some of what was published in his lifetime was published in French, by his friend Dumont, with little help from Bentham, and retranslated into English. After his death his disciple Bowring added to the confusion by publishing an edition of Bentham’s works which seems to aim at recording Bowring’s interpretation of Bentham’s thought rather than his own words. Burke left no problem like this. Most of what he wrote was written as a reaction to current events, and published at once, and past editors have treated it with respect. What is particularly valuable about the present undertaking is that Burke’s speeches – many printed for the first time – and his notes for speeches are brought together with the pamphlets he wrote and published at the same time.–

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