Truth versus Ashhurst; or Law as it is, contrasted with what it is said to be. Written in December, 1792. And now first published.

London, T. Moses, 1823.

8vo, pp. 16; green calf-backed marbled boards, spine lettered gilt.


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First edition. The text was also printed the same year by Carlile, with Bentham’s name on the title and a short annoucement that the work was first printed (i.e. by Moses) ‘by order of Mr. Bentham for distribution among his friends’, before Carlile asked whether the work might be made available for a wider audience and duly produced his own edition.

This pamphlet was first written in 1792, in response to a widely circulated charge made by Sir William Ashhurst, a puisne judge of the King’s Bench, but was not published till 1823. Bentham is scornful of Ashhurst’s claims that no man is so low as not to be within the law’s protection; that the laws of this country only lay such restraints on the actions of individuals as are necessary for the safety and good order of the community at large; that we are not bound by any laws but such as are ordained by the virtual consent of the whole kingdom; and that we are not bound by any laws but such as every man has the means of knowing. He argues that, on the contrary, the law is prohibitively expensive, arbitrary and esoteric.

Chuo T10-1 (b); Everett, p. 530; Muirhead, p. 23; see Atkinson, p. 127f.

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