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CHAPTER VI.: 1863–1863. - William Stanley Jevons, Letters and Journal 
Letters and Journal of W. Stanley Jevons, edited by his Wife (Harriet A. Jevons) (London: Macmillan and Co., 1886).
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To his brother Herbert.
8 Porteus Road, 18th January 1863.
“We unfortunately missed the last mail, from not thinking of it at the right moment—perhaps because Christmas was coming upon us. … Whether you get on well or ill, I should be sorry to think of your always remaining away. In some years to come I hope we may all be better placed. But what every one, and yourself, of course, included, wants, is not so much comfortable living as a satisfactory occupation—in short—work, and that is even more difficult to get sometimes than anything else. If you could make yourself interested in work, whatever it be, and go through with it successfully, that, according to philosophers from Aristotle downwards, is happiness. I believe he is right, and that happiness is inseparable from exertion, and is, in fact, hopeful exertion This is in direct contradiction to your doctrine, which excludes exertion altogether, and lets things take their course.
“I am still in statu quo ante in London. I am trying the scheme of agency at the Museum, but as yet have only had one job, and that not of the right sort. I am much inclined to fear it will not do. It is regarded as too dubious and irregular an occupation, as is apparent from the notes of the few who have applied to me; to say the truth, I am not so much set as I was upon remaining in London. Its principal advantage is access to the Museum—but this rather misleads one into trivial subjects, and I should, perhaps, do better with fewer books.
“At Christmas Harry Roscoe proposed my going as tutor to Owens College, where I might make perhaps £200 a year. I put the matter off till the beginning of next session in October, when, if nothing better occurs in the meantime, I shall probably go. ‘Half a loaf is better than no bread,’ as they say; and I am not afraid that, because I begin with a rather humble place, I shall never get a better. I require some years of quiet work to bring out my theories in at all a presentable form, and I must have a means of living in the meantime. And if I do not get on so fast in worldly ways, I am quite satisfied with my own theories, which ever become clearer and more perfect.
“The diagrams, after all, have not lost me much money, as they will pay back more than £20 of what I spent on them. Since you left they were praised in the Exchange Magazine—the editor of which has a fancy for diagrams. They were just mentioned in a Times money article, and also in the Economist, and by these opinions, sent in a fresh circular, I continued to sell a good many more of them, and Stanford has sold altogether nearly two hundred, and at Liverpool three dozen were sold. I have been encouraged therefore to prepare a new set of small diagrams, to form a small atlas, and give numbers of prices, etc., for the several months of 1844–62. They are getting on pretty well, and will, I think, succeed. In the meantime I have been led to observe the great rise in prices of nearly all things since 1851, which is obviously due to a fall in the value of gold. This I am now trying to ascertain and prove in a conclusive manner, which will, of course, be a very important and startling fact. Supposing it to be proved, I do not yet know whether to publish it with my atlas or separately.”
Mr. Jevons had thought of the scheme of a Literary Agency to which he refers as a possible means of earning sufficient income to enable him to remain in London and pursue his own researches in the British Museum Library. He offered to undertake researches on any subject for persons who might be prevented by want of time or distance from the Museum from undertaking the work for themselves.
The investigations on the fall of the value of gold to which he refers, proved to be of even more importance than he expected, and the early part of 1863 was devoted to the preparation of his tract, A Serious Fall in the value of Gold, and its Social Effects set Forth, which was published before the end of April. This little book, although at first it remained unnoticed, proved to be an unhoped-for success, for it attracted considerable attention in the autumn of 1863, and at once gave him a place amongst the rising economists of the day.
To his brother Herbert.
8 Porteus Road, 19th February 1863.
“… We are at present in London as for the last few years, but I am convinced I must get some more regular occupation as soon as possible. … The notion of living in Manchester is not altogether an agreeable one; but I think it will be a step in the right direction. After some experience in teaching, and by degrees in lecturing, I shall be more ready to offer myself for any professorship that may happen—perhaps one at Owens College itself. There is no doubt, I think, that the professorial line is the one for me to take. I have given up all notion, for the present, of hack-writing, as it seems to me it must be destructive of any true thinking, and, unless to a person with a very ready and popular style, must be an occupation full of hardship and disappointment.”
To his sister Lucy.
43 Richmond Grove, Manchester, 20th April 1863.
“I don't know whether I informed you that I was coming here to arrange or consider the tutorship affair.
“… On Sunday afternoon Mr. Greenwood, Harry, Alfred Booth, and myself went a walk, in the course of which I talked the matter over with Mr. Greenwood. I have also gone into it pretty fully with Harry, and also with Professor Clifton, who has been very friendly.
“Although there are, of course, many things to deter one from coming here, it becomes more and more obvious that it will, on the whole, be greatly to my advantage to come.
“It is quite possible that I may make £200 the first session—at least probable I shall make £150, and there can be no doubt I shall make over a hundred at any rate.
“Considering the less cost of houses and living, my income would in any case be equal to or greater than my expenditure. The teaching work may be considered drudgery, but it is a very proper preliminary to a better place, and such as almost all go through in the larger universities before getting to a professor's chair. Even Mr. Greenwood hinted that in the course of a few years I might fairly look forward to a professorship in Owens College.
“And then I find that Manchester, although smoky, has still a distinguished literary position. I should see a great deal more of good society than I should in London, living there for a quarter of a century.
“I have not lived twenty-eight years without being aware that, independent of any inward merits, there is a certain position necessary to make one known and recognised. This I have a far better chance of getting here than in London. … It is also not to be forgotten that the college is a very rising one, and although decidedly a shabby one at present, may grow, and in future and more prosperous years will probably be rebuilt, and rendered very important. I have been to-day to see the Cheetham Library, of which I had heard not a little. I find it to be one of the most delightful old libraries I could conceive to exist, apparently hardly touched since the Middle Ages came to an end. Nor is it the only good library here.
“My work here would consist in teaching small classes of six or eight students for some two or three hours per day, as well as giving my general assistance. I might also have, if I liked, some of the evening classes, attended by men from the town, which are at present taken by the professors or by other teachers, the profits of which would amount to some fifteen shillings each evening, or £15 per course. And it seems I might almost have a carte blanche to form courses of logic or political economy for these evening lectures—if students presented themselves in sufficient numbers. I should of course have some difficulty in beginning to teach, but it must be met sooner or later, and there cannot well be a better opportunity for practice. On all these accounts I am inclined to come here, the only contrary inclinations arising from the dull nature of the town, and the regret in leaving London and the Museum. I have been much more inclined to the scheme since I found that Mr. Greenwood's explanations of the subject were even more favourable than Harry's. You may, then, I think, conclude that I shall to-morrow agree with Mr. Greenwood about it, and the minor arrangements may then be considered matter of course.”
In his journal he writes:—
“25th April 1863.—For several months before Christmas I was often in low spirits. Since Christmas I have hitherto felt buoyant in spite of every apparent obstacle. Now that I have returned from Manchester with a reasonable prospect of a comfortable living I find myself again falling into dejection. High hopes must, it seems, be succeeded by the opposite. It is peculiar, too, that as long as I am going on with my work I am happy; when it is done I collapse, hate my work, and, feeling my best efforts useless, life seems useless and better away. This is no doubt unreasonable, but how avoid it? Now, I suppose I am low because my essay on ‘Gold’ is out, and as yet no one has said a word in its favour except my sister, who of course does it as a sister. What if all I do or can do were to be received so? In the first place, one might be led to doubt whether all one's convictions concerning oneself were not mere delusions. Secondly, one might at last learn that even the best productions may never be caught by the breath of popular approval and praise. It would take infinite time and space to write all I have thought about my position lately. As I have even thought myself in many ways a fool, I am in no way surprised to find that many notions which I have had are ridiculous. At last I fairly allow that the one great way of getting on in this world is to get friends, and impress them with a notion of your cleverness. Send them about to advertise your cleverness, get their testimonials like so many levers to force yourself where you wish to go. How well did Shakespeare see through all these things when he wrote his sixty-sixth sonnet.
“It is quite obvious to me that it is useless to go on printing works which cost great labour, much money, and are scarcely noticed by any soul. I must begin life again, and by another way, ingratiating myself where and when I can: only after long years of slow progress can one's notions be brought out with any chance of being even examined by those capable of judging of them.
“Faulty as I am in so many ways, I yet feel that my inmost motives are hardly selfish. I believe they grow by degrees less so. Sometimes I even feel that I should not care for reputation, wealth, comfort, or even life itself, if I could feel that all my efforts were not without their use. Could I do it all anonymously I perhaps might consent to it. And yet the condemnation of friends and all you meet is hard to be borne, and their praise or admiration must be sweet.
“I am convinced that at any rate it is best to clear out of London. I make no progress here—quite the opposite; I may do better elsewhere. I must go upon a different tack.”
To his sister Lucy.
8 Porteus Road, 11th May 1863.
“… To-morrow I am going to take my seat in convention, and deliberate as to whether women are to be admitted into our university. As yet I have hardly decided how to vote; but I begin to feel quite senatorial, having received tracts urging a little favour to the other sex.
“The next day is the presentation, when I hope to get my medal, having waited for it long enough.”
On the 13th May 1863 he received the degree of M.A. and his gold medal at Burlington House, and two days afterwards he wrote to his brother Tom:—“I am now a veritable M.A., having been presented to Granville. I have also got my medal, which is a good heavy lump of bullion: it sorely tempts me as a professed gold assayer to try what metal it is made of. If nothing happens to it you shall see it some day.
“I am in rather good spirits, as my logical system is at last clear from farther doubt. It is the same as Boole's in some ways, but free from all his false mathematical dress, which I show to be not only unnecessary but actually erroneous, and only giving true results by a kind of compromise really reducing it to my form. On the other hand, my methods reduce the most complicated sets of propositions with great ease and intuitively. From one set, for instance, of three propositions involving say five or six different terms, I can easily deduce as many other propositions containing relations between those terms. There would be many hundred propositions between five or six terms. Boole can get these relations, but only by laboriously working out each case by mathematical processes. The Aristotelian logicians might perhaps deduce one or two of the results with difficulty. The essential part of my method, however, is to show that the proposition is really an equation analogous in most of its properties to an equation in quantity. Boole has confused the equation of quality and the equation of quantity together, and all the wild complexities of De Morgan and other logicians arise from confusing quality and quantity. My doctrine is that there is no quantity at all in logic. All terms are really universal, as Boole shows indeed, but then Boole spoils his system by introducing I and o, and various symbols whose meaning is really derived from logic not contained in it.”
On first leaving London Mr. Jevons proposed to spend a few weeks with his brother Tom in lodgings in the Wirral of Cheshire; and on the 15th May he wrote to him as follows:—
“The chief thing is perfect quietness for me to work during the day. If you could get a solitary cottage on the sandhills it would do admirably. But there must be neither children nor cocks and hens near it. If near the sea, all the better. I don't object to the noise of the waves. A good walk to the ferry early every morning will do you good. We will get up at daybreak and bathe before breakfast, and all that sort of thing.”
To his brother Herbert.
8 Porteus Road, 19th May 1863.
“As the mail day is nearly come again, I must tell you what little there is to interest you. I am still in London, but closing up my affairs here, and in a week more I expect to leave here' for good.
“London is very lively just at this time of year, and there are various meetings, rifle affairs, and so forth, which detain one, but I am very anxious to have some time in the country this summer before going to Manchester. I am arranging with Tom that we shall go into lodgings together at Wallasey,1 where he is in treaty for a couple of rooms.
“I shall stay there a month or six weeks, and then spend the rest of the four months at Beaumaris, or any part where Lucy may be.
“My arrangements with Mr. Greenwood, the principal of Owens College, are that I shall go there in October if some twenty or twenty-five pupils offer to pay three guineas each for the session. There is little doubt, he thinks, that some thirty will offer, giving me £100 to begin with. There is also an evening class for logic which I am to have, but which will not pay more than a few pounds. Private teaching must make up the rest. For the second session, if I desire it, I may probably have elementary evening classes of Latin and Greek, which pay more; it must, however, be chiefly left to experience to show how much I shall do there.
“Our literary and philosophical society at college, of which I am president, seems to have a long future before it. At first many of the older students held aloof from it, and predicted its ill success, but a few dull meetings having been survived, many of the old students, including distinguished graduates, are joining, and many of the papers are interesting. This day week we are to have a strong meeting, at which a professor will preside.
“Rifle matters are in a very favourable position. The force on the average is scarcely less than it was, and is probably better trained and managed. Our corps in their inspection last Saturday brought up 908 men of all ranks, which is more than they presented last year by 15 per cent, and most of the manoeuvres were fairly done. Parliament have not only voted additional allowances of money to support the corps, but have readily passed a new Act consolidating the law and giving various facilities and regulations tending to make the institution permanent—and it is now regarded as such on all hands.
“I shall be sorry to leave my corps, the Queen's, but I shall be sure to join a Manchester corps if I remain there any time.
“I am forwarding some copies of my pamphlet on the value of gold to Miller, and he will, I hope, send one or two on to you. It has as yet sold very badly, and has not been noticed by more than one or two papers. R. Hutton has given me an article, or part of an article, and warmly adopts my view of the question. I have had acknowledgments of copies which I sent to various persons; among whom Mr. Newmarch, the chief authority on the opposite side of the question, does not agree to all my conclusions, but says he has carefully read the whole, and seems to regard it favourably. I also have a brief acknowledgment in the handwriting of Gladstone, who is now regarded as the leading man in the country.
“I shall not, I think, go on with these statistical matters much at present; but I have plenty of other work going on, and, besides, have to prepare for my college work at Manchester.”
To his sister Lucy.
Wallasey, 31st May 1863.
“I am at last out of London, and find the quiet of the country delightful. Our lodgings are just on the edge of the sandhills, and I shall never be tired of wandering on to the open shore. In the morning, too, we bathe with great convenience. …
“I pretty well closed up my London business, and went to a few exhibitions, theatres, etc., before leaving the gay world. I have brought abundance of books here, and am looking forward to some quiet work, chiefly in preparation for October. …
“We went to church this morning! There was a good musical service, which was as pleasant as could be expected, considering I was at Westminster Abbey last Sunday, where the organ-playing is perfection itself.
“Just before leaving London I had a pleasing letter from Professor Cairries, a political economist, who is thought a good deal of now, thanking me for a copy of the pamphlet, which he said strongly confirmed some conclusions of his own, arrived at in a different manner, and published in various essays in 1859 and 1860. He says he has written a letter to the Economist, drawing attention to the fact. This will probably sell many a copy for me, and perhaps induce Mr. Bagehot to take the subject up in the paper, as I have already heard he was reading the pamphlet.”
To his brother Herbert.
Leasowe Hotel, 22d June 1863.
“… I have brought plenty of books with me, and spend nearly the whole day, from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M., in logical and other work; then we have tea, and stroll in the evening, going early to bed. I find the quiet of the country extremely delightful after so long living in the noise of London; But the long days of unbroken solitude and work are apt to become very tedious unless I now and then have a change. Most days, indeed, I get a bathe, which freshens me up, and occasionally I go to Liverpool.
“I am engaged partly in practising up my mathematics, Greek, and Latin, for my tutoring work at Manchester; but just at present I am chiefly working at my logical system. It has only of late taken a definite form, but I have been more or less at work upon it for some two years. I think I shall have a paper ready in the course of a few weeks, of a very complete character, but I am afraid it will be hard to get it accepted, because there are not half a dozen men who, as far as I know, occupy themselves with logical speculation, and these are too much occupied with their own systems to tolerate an antagonist one. …
“I feel rather relieved at having got away from London. It is an inhospitable place, and, as I was placed, made my life rather dreary. It got worse the longer I stayed. As yet I do not miss the Museum library, for I have far more books with me in a single trunk than I can read, and the library is only useful now and then to look up out-of-the-way books. A large library almost prevents thorough reading. There are two at Manchester besides the Free Public Library, and various half public ones, the fine old Cheetham Library, where I have no doubt I shall spend much of my time.”
To his brother Herbert.
Low Newton, NewtoninCartmel, Lancashire, 19th July 1863.
“I am now staying with John and Lucy at their country lodgings here. This place is close to the Lakes, the lower end of Windermere being about four miles off, and the country is very pretty and full of good walks, although by no means so mountainous as it seems to be a few miles farther north. I have two rooms here of my own, where I do my work in quiet most of the day, and in the evenings we usually go a walk.
“I have as yet been here only some four days. Previously I continued with Tom at Leasowe, where we had a quiet but pleasant time of it.
“Monday, 20th July.—Last evening Lucy and John and I went to Cartmel to the old Abbey Church, a rude but ancient piece of architecture, with some tombs and curiosities, which I saw after the service. Excepting walks of a few miles with John, I have not yet seen much, nor do I intend to go about very much. I have plenty of work to do at home, and am more inclined to take the country easily.
“… I am having the first long period of country life which I have yet enjoyed. Unless Sydney could be called country, I may say that I was never before living in the country for any long period. I find it excellently agreeable, both for mind and body, for work and play. I think I should like to live altogether in quiet country, with only occasional sights of the town; but as it is, I am only getting my spirit up for a long residence and plenty of work in Manchester, one of the worst of towns. Yet I think my position will be far more cheerful than it was of late in London, with large outgoings and no incomings, and all my time upon my hands for good or bad. During my first Manchester session I shall have some difficulty in practising teaching, and learning and keeping up with all the necessary work. In following sessions my work will be more familiar and easy, being partly the same over again. My college work will only occupy three hours for five days per week, independent of certain evening classes, and there are three months' clear vacation. I shall thus have plenty of time to go on with my own work.”
To his brother Herbert.
NewtoninCartmel, Lancashire, 24th July 1863.
“Since posting my letter through Tom's hands we have got your first letter from Nelson, and we all greatly rejoice in its cheerful character.
“It seems to me that a warmer England is what any one might desire for his adopted country. I hope that you may be able to stay at the Nelson side, by a good development of the diggings there. The Otago country, I should imagine, is somewhat wilder and more inclement. In any case I don't think the bank and you will wish to part for the present, and the longer you stay the more will be your salary.
“Your photograph, taken by my old photographic friends the Freemans, has given great satisfaction here. It is really well done. It seems also to show that the voyage, the southern climate, or something else, have made you look fatter and better in a great degree.
I have just received the bill for my pamphlet on Gold. The total cost of printing, advertising, etc., is £43, and the offset by sales only;£10: only seventy-four copies seem to have been sold as yet, which is a singularly small number. “On the other hand, my diagrams still continue to sell, thirty copies having been sold by Stanford during the last half year, so that only ten of the ‘English funds’ now remain in their hands. This sale returns me some £3: 10s. The superior success of the funds over the bank diagram makes me think that a single diagram well fitted for an office, and rather less costly than either of these, might sell well. By getting these diagrams spread about it spreads one's name, and might enable me at a future time to publish larger works successfully.”
To his brother Herbert.
Beaumaris, 23d August 1863.
“Our long-contemplated visit to Beaumaris is at last begun, and Henny and I are very agreeably settled here in a small house of our own, expecting Tom to join us at the beginning of September. You will be surprised at hearing a house of our own, but Lucy has managed very cleverly, as she usually does in these matters, to find a small house which was to let for the required period. We have only as yet been about four days here, but our visit promises to be a very pleasant one, as well as favourable to my work. I have indeed only a small bedroom to do my work in, but it is pretty quiet; and the cheerful life of Beaumaris, with daily visits to Lucy's house, will tend to relieve the tedium of working at home. …
“Your letter is a great satisfaction to all of us. It makes us feel that the star of our family has passed its Nadir and is rising. We have none of us yet attained any permanent success or place in society; but I hope that in time we shall all have it. Some people may have thought that we had a wrongness in us which made us continually refuse the goods the gods provide us, and you and I especially may seem to have done so; but I trust we shall both be soon well enough off, even in the way society takes the meaning of this. I have no fear but that Tom will find a place suitable and profitable in due time, because his more peculiar qualities are so well tempered by sociability and sense. …
“My own affairs are in static quo ante. I am still reading up subjects for my tutoring, and writing a set of forty lectures on logic and political economy for my evening lessons. The latter is no light job, and I cannot finish them quite before the session begins. Nor can I do more than make them up roughly with great aid and copious extracts from books. It would require several years' practice in lecturing, and plenty of labour, to form a good set of lectures; but this of course is not to be expected in a mere evening class.
“My work will at first be very novel and hard to me, and most inadequately paid; but it would be absurd to despise a small beginning. In fact, I could hardly venture to take a professorship, if I could get one, without some previous practice in lecturing. I have all my life had the strongest possible horror of public speaking, and I used to think myself absolutely incapable of it But the last session at college I found it not impossible, and, after getting over a few failures and breakdowns, I have no longer an insuperable objection to it. After the practice which teaching will give me, I think I may become quite expert at it, and perhaps the fonder of it as I formerly so much disliked it. … I am inclined to think I only need practice myself to make a lecturer, though I should never make a rhetorical speaker or debater, the two things being quite distinct. It is a well-known fact that there is nothing to which practice is more essential than public speaking.
“Since my last I have finished my first paper on logic and sent it to De Morgan, who agreed to read it and give me some opinion on it. But he has not yet had it long, and has not yet sent any answer. I have written on the subject to Professor Boole, on whose logical system mine is an improvement. In his answer he does not explain away an objection I had raised against his system. He seems to think that my paper probably does not contain more than he himself knows, this being a common failing of philosophers and others; but still he tells me very civilly that if I think still that there is anything new in my paper I ought to publish, which of course I shall do one way or another before long.”
To his brother Tom.
Beaumaris, 30th August 1863.
“… I have just thought of a point which will remove a difficulty in the Primary Logic. I said there that every term means one or more qualities, known or unknown. I now see that every term must mean an indefinite, or rather infinite, collection of qualities of which only one is necessarily known—viz., the fact of being indicated by a certain sign, and of the rest some may or may not be known. It is obvious, in short, that anything either must or must not have any property that you like to name.
“Every term also taken in extent must be considered infinite, for we can never tell how many things may exist of any kind in this world, or in other worlds, to which universal truths must extend ad infinitum. The only possible definition which is not unlimited is that of things within your feeling at a time, as this pen, this point, this world.”
During the summer Mr. Jevons devoted much thought to his logical system, and the results appeared in the small volume, Pure Logic, or the Logic of Quality apart from Quantity, which he wrote chiefly during his stay in the country, and which was published at the beginning of 1864. In the Preface he thus describes the purpose of the book:—“My present task is to show that all, and more than all, the ordinary processes of logic may be combined in a system founded on comparison of quality only, without reference to logical quantity. Before proceeding I have to acknowledge that in a considerable degree this system is founded on that of Professor Boole, as stated in his admirable and highly original Mathematical Analysis of Logic. The forms of my system may, in fact, be reached by divesting his system of a mathematical dress which, to say the least, is not essential to it. The system being restored to its proper simplicity it may be inferred, not that logic is a part of mathematics', as is almost implied in Professor Boole's writings, but that the mathematics are rather derivatives of logic.”
To his brother Herbert.
Beaumaris, 15th September 1863.
“… I have myself been rather in luck lately concerning the pamphlet on Gold. Mr. Fawcett, a blind M.A. of Cambridge, to whom I sent my pamphlet, he having written on the subject before, was convinced by my figures, and delivered an address on the subject to the British Association lately, quoting my figures. The Times reported his speech, and took the subject up in a leader, also quoting me, and then there followed a discussion of the subject in many letters, as well as articles in other papers. Professor Cairnes also again wrote on the subject to the Times, and almost challenged people to disprove the conclusions of my pamphlet Lastly, the Economist has been induced to notice the subject in a cautious manner, and, though attributing to me some exaggeration of the matter, comes over to my conclusion substantially. Thus it may almost be considered that the matter is settled as regards a certain depreciation. All that the papers admit, however, is the lowest possible estimate of 10 per cent, whereas, though, this is the result given by my tables, as it happens, I believe the real depreciation to be nearer 20 per cent.
“In the last few days I have been thinking of applying the method of my pamphlet to prices extending some centuries back—in fact, of trying to determine the general variation of prices from the earliest times of English history for which any data exist. The result, consisting in a simple curve of the value of gold, would be one of the most important and interesting statistical conclusions that could be got. The method I should use would enable me to bring into one general induction the most scattered and various data of prices, which are of little or no use for any other purpose. If I could get such an inquiry done in two or three years when prices are again rising and attention is drawn to the continued depreciation, the publication would be probably very successful. I have already so much work upon my hands that such a serious addition is no joke. I think, however, it is well, having had a first success in this subject, to draw that line well, and it is one in which a name is rather easily made. I am better in theory than I am in fact; but theorists have a bad odour until their soundness is established by the slowest possible process. Hence it is a good thing to begin by diagrams, tables of prices, and such things, so that you can never be charged with arguing without a reference to or knowledge of facts.
“I am now within about two weeks of the time when I must set out on my Manchester business. I have been engaged lately in writing lectures on logic and political economy—a rather dreary occupation—and in working up some subjects for my tutoring. At first my work will be by no means easy, but perhaps the same might be said of any other new occupation. I think it probable that I shall not desire to take additional private pupils to any great extent, but rather to use my spare time on private work, which will ultimately make a better return “
Before the end of September Mr. Jevons went to Manchester to be ready for his new duties at Owens College His younger sister decided to accompany him there, and, as a temporary arrangement, they took a house with Mrs Henry Roscoe, the aunt whom Mr. Jevons had previously lived with during his first college days in London. This house, No. 9 Birch Grove, Rusholme, was Mr. Jevons' home until the time of his marriage. Mr. Jevons' own letters sufficiently explain his duties. Now that Owens College has a whole staff of lecturers to aid the professors, it is difficult to realise that little more than twenty years ago it was only as an experiment that one tutor was appointed He was to be prepared to aid the students in any of the branches of knowledge then taught at the college and Mr. Jevons soon found that the variety of subjects entailed great labour for a very inadequate reward. If he could have been content to lay aside his private work it might not have been too much for him, but, as it was, the attempt to do both by degrees injured his health, and he never wholly recovered from the effects of the strain upon it.
Mr. Herbert Jevons now had an appointment at a bank in New Zealand, and, having to undertake assaying, he had written to his brother asking some questions about the best way of doing it. Mr. Jevons replied in a long letter dated “Owens College, 19th November 1863,” minutely detailing the process. He then adds:—
“… I have written at such length that I have not time to speak of my own affairs.
“I am rather busily engaged between my college work and private work. I get on pretty well with lecturing, having six lectures in the week, the classes varying in number from nine up to more than twenty. The preparation of the lectures, the correction of exercises, etc., takes up a good deal of time. But I feel that it is my vocation; that, in fact, though I may seem to make slow progress, I am in the right line. I have, I think, on the whole done better in the four years I have as yet been at home than I could have expected.”
In his journal he writes:—
“9th January 1864.—Though still capable of taking a very gloomy view of affairs, there is much on which I may congratulate myself. My first college term has convinced me that I can be a lecturer—a passable one, if not a good one. The intolerable fear and weakness, that of public speaking, is removed from my way. Moreover, my pamphlet on the gold question has had a degree of success that must surely be allowed to be beyond my highest hopes.
“I often debate with myself, and have cause to debate, whether it is better to lead a solitary, laborious life given up wholly to study and writing, or whether it is not better to do as others do—involve myself in the pleasures of society and of a family, and trust still to find time and opportunity sufficient to my other work. There are many instances of the highest men who have remained unmarried, and two of them, Locke and Newton, are the very two that one might take as almost perfect examples. But Locke, if never married, was yet a man of great social powers, and far from being the morose awkward creature to which I have a great tendency. Newton, again, though he led a close college life for a long time, was probably not the better for it. It seems very likely that he rather overworked himself, and injured his mind, and he indubitably wasted a great part of his vast labours. Should we not be always striving to correct our worst faults, our weak parts? We should not, indeed, place ourselves in a position where these faults may do us special harm, but, if possible, let us place ourselves where they may be corrected as far as possible. Then our better parts may be almost left to develop themselves.
“I begin to think that I am too much wrapped up in my own thoughts and prospects; too constantly dwelling upon, congratulating myself on, my own supposed excellencies. This cannot be good. I should get quite as much work done without thinking so much about it. And if I had some one to love and care for, no real interference with my other work need be apprehended.”
To his sister Lucy.
Birch Grove, Rusholme, 10th January 1864.
“… I enclose a letter of Tom's, mentioning a review of my pamphlet among other works, which is quite as satisfactory as he says. It also speaks of me as being master of every part of the subject. You will also, perhaps like to hear, and I only tell you because I know you will like to hear, that my pamphlet was mentioned in a report by one of the English delegates to the International Statistical Congress at Berlin on the progress of Statistical Science in England as in a certain degree a novelty. Altogether the pamphlet has had an extraordinary degree of success, but it brings no money, and I don't seem likely to get money anywhere.
“I have a note from De Morgan pointing out a slight mistake in my logic, but saying he likes it well at first sight. He evidently takes some interest in it
“I find it somewhat dull and discouraging beginning here again after our cheerful time at Beaumaris. I think I shall need a holiday again at Easter with you if it can be managed, but it is rather soon to begin thinking about it.”
To his brother Herbert.
18th February 1864.
“… I have not much to tell you about my own affairs. I shall make this year nearly £ 100 from the college. Railway dividends also are improved up to six per cent, so that I shall have an income of about £170, which fully covers expenses. My work takes up a good deal of my time, but after Easter the evening classes cease. I am going on with various work. I am nearly completing the full reduction of prices since 1782, which will show many things of interest, I think. I am also about to undertake the subject of the exhaustion of coal in England, which I believe is a very serious matter; a good publication on the subject would draw a good deal of attention. I am convinced that it is necessary, for the present at any rate, to write on popular subjects. My logic has made no noise, although it is somewhat favourably regarded by De Morgan, Professor Sandeman here, and others who know what logic is or should be.”
At Easter Mr. Jevons went for a short walking tour in Derbyshire with his brother Tom. In the following letter he refers to a visit he had made there with his parents and elder brothers and sister in the year 1844 or 1845.
To his sister Lucy,
Rowsley, Derby, 26th March 1864.
“Tom has written you an account of our proceedings, but I wish to tell you how far I find my recollections of our visit, nearly twenty years ago, are carried out. We found Castleton and the Peak Cavern and Peveril's Castle very interesting, and Little John's tomb at Hathersage was a thing to be seen. The first part I could remember seeing was Middleton Dale, descending among picturesque limestone cliffs. I think we must have driven down there, and there was pointed out, I think, a cave where a murdered person had been hidden. We got a lift in a car for a few miles to Baslow to save time. I at once recognised the hotel where we lodged—a new comfortable place, though I had lost all thought of it. The stream was close by where I remember Herbert and I paddled about and were amused by the ducks. I looked for the cottage up a little hill where Uncle Hornblower lodged, and found it at once.
“Chatsworth seemed quite familiar to me, and no part more so than Queen Mary's Bower, a kind of small garden enclosed in a moat. We did not care to see the inside of Chatsworth, but pushed on for Haddon Hall, getting, however, a beautiful view of the park and palace and river and all from a hill in the distance. Edensor seemed familiar to me.
“At Haddon Hall I recognised the doorstep worn through by persons stepping in and out,—a fact which had immensely impressed me years ago. The most of the interior of the Hall seemed new to me, but almost larger and more interesting than I had supposed. The gardens, on the contrary, were smaller than I expected. The view of the Hall and of the valley altogether from a little distance was quite new to me, and is one of the most pleasing views I have ever seen. You must know that Haddon Hall is the subject of the only piece of poetry I ever wrote, namely, soon after our visit, and I can yet remember being disappointed because you did not seem to think much of my verses, which was, no doubt, a very salutary thing for me.
“I find I have not the slightest recollection of most parts of the road we must have passed, but only of remarkable objects here and there. I shall look out at Matlock for the large hotel where I was lost among the passages, and the fountain that Herbert turned off and on to our great surprise, and the cliffs on the other side of the river.
“We have been much favoured by the weather as yet, and I feel immensely benefited by our two days.”
To his brother Herbert.
Beaumaris, 18th May 1864.
“I omitted to write last month, being much occupied. I am here for a week's holiday at Whitsun. week, during which our college is closed. It happens to be a period of splendid hot summer weather thus early in the year. The sun is so hot here that we can hardly go out in the middle of the day, and the season as yet has been such that the trees and all vegetation are growing with the utmost luxuriance.
“As the tide happens to suit well, I get up before breakfast and have a delightful bathe, all the better perhaps because from the coldness of the water it must be brief, and I sometimes have a second bathe towards evening.
“By the end of the week I think I shall be almost recovered from the fatigue of my first college session. I have now only two weeks more at college, and after that intend to go up to London for some weeks of my vacation. In spite of my ill success this year I am inclined to think I shall succeed better next session, and shall find it much easier and pleasanter work. In that case I might make an income of some £200 to £250 over all, and might begin to think of taking a house of my own. I have at times overworked myself during the past session, and always feel it in subsequent depression; but I try to work to the best advantage, by giving up night work and taking plenty of sleep, and occasional holidays, and I hope thus to get through the whole of the summer, and do a great deal of reading in connection with the question of the exhaustion of coal, which I look upon as the coming question. At the same time I am going on with the gold question, and only slightly deferring further logical work.”
In his journal he writes:—
“23d May 1864.—Yesterday I walked with Tom and Will Jevons from St. Michael's Hamlet to Allerton and the neighbourhood. We walked in the fields near the Hall, and in every way it was an hour of pleasant feeling to me. I could not but reflect upon those from whom I come. I could not but feel the hope that I may do my duty and use my powers as well, and I was filled with the beauty and cheerfulness of the scene around. …
“4th June 1864.—This day the working session ends at Owens College, and as I have nothing to do with the examinations, my college work is at an end. I shall stay, however, another week in Manchester, having to give three lessons to a pupil, Captain B—, to get some price diagrams drawn for the British Association, and to wind up my affairs for the session.
“I have for at least a month now been in good, and, what is more, equable spirits. As the session drew to an end, the intense discouragement my work often gave me was lightened. Having sent in a report and proposals which were approved by the professors, I have a reasonable prospect of better success next year. Convinced that I received great detriment from my want of sociability, I resolved to do what was possible to throw it off. It was, indeed, like resolving to throw off nature itself and become somebody else, so habituated have I long been to shyness, retirement, and consequent awkwardness in all strange society. Even now, no doubt, I must not hope to become more than in an average degree social. A long existing fault can hardly be changed by any exertions into its corresponding excellence; but I think it quite possible that the fault itself can be removed, and that is a great thing. I could hardly have hoped so much had I not in a previous instance achieved a like manner of success. I have learned to speak with some composure in public,—a thing which for many years seemed beyond the bounds of possibility. Few could form any notion of the state of agitation into which at first the mere thought of having to speak in public threw me. My heart beat wildly and strongly, my blood rushed all about my body, I seemed turned into moisture and warmth, most of all my ideas either left me altogether, or fell into confusion beyond all control. This is just what happened the first few times I ventured to speak at all, so that what I said bore no proportion whatever to what I might have had to say. But now, by taking such opportunities as present themselves, I am acquiring some composure; last evening I spoke twice at a dinner given by our students: it was the first time I had ever spoken at a dinner. Though what I said was no doubt wretchedly poor, I am satisfied to get off passably, and do better on a future occasion. And when ideas are not deficient, speaking is so much a matter of practice, that I may almost hope to become a good and fluent speaker. So may I not hope to become passably social? May I not hope by making myself better known to those around me, to use my acquirements with better advantage, and gain position, which I desire more as a means than an end? And may I not even find the society of ladies and friends generally a relaxation from my own devouring thoughts, much needed if I am to avoid all chances of a breakdown?
“The last few days I have been making some exertions towards this end. … I am looking forward to several considerable steps in my onward progress. I am on the point of getting myself proposed and perhaps elected a Fellow of the Statistical Society, as the use of the title F.S.S., the use of the library, and possible acquaintance with other statisticians, will be of high advantage to me. As my analysis of prices since 1782, too, draws towards completion, a most long and tedious piece of work indeed, I have formed the notion of reading the results at the next British Association. It will require some courage, but perhaps if I undertake it I shall get through all right.
“Lastly, I am going to spend nearly four months in London, in continuous work upon the coal subject. I shall throw my whole energy into the work, and strive to form a piece of statistical reasoning on the subject which may in some degree approach one's abstract notion of what it should be. I will do my best, and I almost hope that I may be favoured with success.
“When I look back for a year or more, I cannot deny that I have made some advance; that I have published two small works—one with a success it does not deserve, the other perhaps deserving a success greater than it has had; that I have also commenced a new profession, and earned sufficient money by it to pay my way without inroads on my capital; and, when I look back to my notions in Sydney, they seem almost ludicrous. My faint hopes of a degree, B.A. at most, M.A. being a height beyond my view, my wondering respect for whole regions of knowledge, then a blank to me, now not quite so, and especially my respect for the position and name of a statistician. Now I have already been called, by reviews of authority, a competent statistician.”
To his sister Lucy.
49 Mornington Road, 26th June 1864.
“Before going to bed this Sunday evening I must write you a few lines.
“I am getting on pretty cheerfully in London. I get a good deal of work done at the Museum during the day, with some lunch and a cup of coffee in the middle of the day. Then between 5 and 6 I go and get dinner, and generally spend the evening out somewhere. It is surprising how occupations turn up. … Last night I had a great treat at the opera, H.M. Theatre. Titiens and others singing in Fidelio. I got a good seat in the gallery for 2s. 6d.; and, having the music with me, heard it to the best advantage. Titiens' singing was altogether splendid, and the music was even finer than I expected. We could not see the acting at all properly, having a very bird's-eye view of it.
“To-morrow night I shall probably be at the Monday evening concert, which I expect will be a fine one.
“I have begun my organ again, and have, rather imprudently perhaps, engaged for two hours' instruction and two hours' practice per week for three months, at a cost of £2: 2s. It is cheap enough certainly, and I shall learn a good deal, but it takes up much time.”
To his brother Herbert.
London, 18th July 1864.
“I have now been a full month in London, working at the Museum at this subject of coal exhaustion.
“… It is not at all easy work to grind up so extensive a subject, and get it all done in three months. London, too, is getting very hot, and I sometimes feel lazy and languid; perhaps I shall be too lazy to write to you next month or two. I don't know, but may be the others will write.
“About a week ago the council of the college (University College, London) elected me a fellow, with a share of proprietorship. This is the usual thing, sooner or later, to those who get M.A. honours. It is no profit and no honour, but still I like being permanently connected with the college.”
To his sister Lucy.
49 Mornington Road, N.W., 12th August 1864.
“… I am not nearly so well here as in Manchester, or as I used to be in London. Whether it is the heat or the feeding I do not know. I am, however, getting on with my work capitally; and perhaps, by an early time in September, may have done all that is needful in London. I can then finish up by the end of the vacation, either at Manchester, Beaumaris, or elsewhere, if you could find me very quiet lodgings for a week or two.”
And again on the 16th August:—
“… As the Museum shuts for a week on the 1st of September, I propose to be down with you the night before, so as to spend my birthday in Beaumaris. I shall not be sorry to leave London. As to the lodgings, I have nothing particular to desire in it except extreme quietness, if such a thing is anywhere to be had.”
To his sister Lucy.
Rusholme, Sunday, 16th October 1864.
“… I have not much to tell you. I am, of course, busy, since I cannot wholly give up my private work, and yet have the college work to attend to. To-morrow night my evening classes begin, but I have managed so that they shall only occupy me two evenings, instead of three as last year.
“As I am receiving a few guineas now I feel far more settled, and have no doubt I can go on here as long as I am likely to wish to stay; and shall, therefore, be more free from anxiety. Eight months' work is a good deal to look forward to; but I think I shall promise myself a good holiday at the end of it—perhaps a good tour on the. Continent with Tom. No one could enjoy better than I do a thoroughly good holiday; but, for some years past, I have not been in a position to take it.”
To his sister Lucy.
Rusholme, 3d December 1864.
“I am sorry not to have answered your letter sooner; I would gladly write oftener, but that I have so much other writing and work to do, and it is by no means a light work for me to write a letter. … I hear a doubtful rumour through Aunt H. that you are moving. I hope it may be so for several reasons. If you do move before Christmas, I am convinced we shall have a most merry Christmas. If there is snow on the ground, the country will be especially beautiful. I am in much want of a holiday; for the truth certainly is that I overworked myself during the summer altogether; I have consequently to take much rest now, and to go an excursion almost every week. Last session somewhat exhausted me; and then London and Beaumaris did not set me up; so that, when I got back here, I just felt as if a good long holiday were the thing for me, rather than a session's work. My anxiety at Beaumaris, with the further anxiety of setting my college classes to work again, and the Coal Question at its most difficult and tiresome point, were certainly rather too much. But now that I know what it is to be overworked I shall take care to avoid it for the future. I am now quite well.”
In November of this year Mr. Jevons was elected a fellow of the Statistical Society, London; he also became a member of the Manchester Statistical Society, and took much interest and pleasure in its meetings, attending them as frequently as he could during his residence in Manchester.
In Mr. Jevons' note-book he has entered that, during March 1864, he contributed a notice of Kirchhoff's Second Memoir and Map of the Spectrum to the Philosophical Magazine; notices of Hearn's Plutology and Robertson's Laws of Thought to the Spectator; and an article on “Statistics of Shakespearean Literature” to the Athenæum.
Under the heading “Coal Question,” he writes:—
“First attention given to the subject in 1861 or 1862. Inquiry commenced in January 1864. Chiefly carried out at Museum library, June and July 1864. Writing completed before Christmas. Transmitted to Mr. Macmillan about 28th December. Accepted 6th January 1865. Published during the week 24th and 30th April 1865.” The complete title of the book is The Coal Question; an Inquiry concerning the Progress of the Nation and the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal Mines. The geological aspects of the question are first considered, Mr. Hull's estimate of the amount of coal still to be found in Great Britain being adopted as the most probable. Then follow chapters on the cost of coal mining, on the price of coal, on inventions in regard to the use of coal, and on the supposed substitutes for coal. But these chapters only lead up to the more important part of the book, which points out the rapid growth of the population of Great Britain during the present century; the vast expansion of the iron trade and other manufactures; and the enormous recent increase in the consumption of coal.
In the preface Mr. Jevons says that, when he began to study the question, he had little thought of some of the results which the inquiry would lead to. Before the close of the book, he shows that, “if our consumption of coal continue to multiply for one hundred and ten years, at the same rate as hitherto, the total amount of coal consumed in the interval will be one hundred thousand millions of tons.” According to Mr. Hull's estimate of the available coal in Britain, there are only eighty-three thousand millions of tons within a depth of 4000 feet From these facts Mr. Jevons draws the conclusion, “that we cannot long maintain our present rate of increase of consumption; that we can never advance to the higher amounts of consumption supposed.” But this only means “that the check to our progress must become perceptible considerably, within a century from the present time.” It may be of interest to add that during 1863, the latest year for which returns were available when Mr. Jevons wrote, the amount of coal ascertained to have been raised from our coal mines was 86,292,215 tons. In 1883—just twenty years later—the amount raised was 163,737,327 tons.
In May 1865 Mr. Jevons was appointed Professor of Logic and Political Economy in Queen's College, Liverpool. As he had to spend only one night in the week in Liverpool, this appointment did not interfere much with his work in Manchester. On May 16th he went to London to read a paper to the Statistical Society “On the variation of Prices and the value of the Currency since 1872.” The results contained in this paper were obtained by applying more extensively the method of investigation employed in his pamphlet on a Serious Fall in the Value of Gold; and, as there were also four diagrams, the labour of preparing it had been very great.
To his brother Herbert.
9 Birch Grove, Rusholme, Manchester, 25th May 1865.
“The Coal Question has been out now for a month, and notices of it are beginning to drop in, but not so quickly as one might wish. However, I will give it a year or two for its trial. The reasoning in the book is, I think, almost unanswerable, except where I have left the question open; but not one in a hundred that look into the book will read it properly; and it is irritating to find that those who notice it usually represent your statements as far as possible from the truth, and overlook all the strong points of argument. However, the subject is one that must receive attention before long.
“My appointment to the professorship at Liverpool has just been announced in various papers. I shall like having such a place in the old town and the old Mechanics', and it will no doubt repay me for all the trouble one way or another, but the pay will be small indeed.
“It is only this afternoon virtually decided by the trustees at Owens College that I am to be lecturer in political economy next session, getting £50 and the fees. I shall hold the tutorship very much as a nominal thing next year, as it does not pay in my hands proportionately to the great amount of the work.
“I have recently got over a piece of work that I was anxious about, namely, reading a paper before the Statistical Society on Prices, in continuation of the pamphlet. I got through it pretty well, half reading and half lecturing, and shall perhaps be able to send you a copy in a month or two.
“We have now only about a week more of the working session, and my college work is light, although I have other things to do. My newest job on hand is a reasoning machine, or logical abacus, adapted to show the working of Boole's Logic in a half mechanical manner. I got a rough model to work excellently the other night, and I think I can easily get it finished during the summer. It consists merely of a number of slips of wood with sets of letters or terms upon them, with little hooks by which they can be readily classified in any order. This classification represents the processes and results of reasoning; and by its means I can argue out in a minute or two problems that would be very puzzling otherwise.”
To his sister Lucy.
9 Birch Grove, Rusholme, 3d June 1865.
“I daresay you will be glad to see the enclosed notice in the Liverpool Daily Post. It ought to sell a few in Liverpool. There are other indications that the book is beginning to have some effect. Please return this slip of newspaper.
“I have been thinking much about the disposal of my vacation. I have now done with my pupils altogether. Next week, and a part of the following perhaps, I am engaged to assist in overlooking the Oxford local examinations, for which I shall be paid a little. I propose about the 19th to go up to London and stay a few weeks, on the pretext of working at the Museum; but really, I think, that I may have a little amusement Then I should like a few weeks with you if the Sportsman room can be engaged.
“I long for a little country, and rest which I seem never destined to attain.
“Your house must be a delightful retreat, what with the cheerfulness within and the scenery without. I should think you ought all to bathe frequently. I shall bathe twice a day at least on that fine beach.
“The arrangement for my becoming political economy lecturer is now partially sanctioned by the trustees, and Christie has stated his intention of resigning soon.”
Before leaving Manchester for the vacation he wrote to his friend Mr. Edmonds:—
16th June 1865.
“I find I have let nearly two months pass without answering your very pleasant letter, but it was with the full intention of doing it with more leisure in the holidays, now beginning.
“I was afflicted at the time with a statistical paper on prices, entailing constant calculation, but that is now done and probably in print (I will send you a copy presently); and now my college work is almost done. During these two years at Owens College I have had a great deal of hard uncongenial work in tutoring, and very little pay; but I have prospects of pleasanter work. Next session I am to be lecturer in political economy both day and evening, and shall also go one day a week to the Liverpool College, where they have lately made me professor of the philosophies, etc.
“I don't know whether you have seen any mention of my Coal Question yet, published by Macmillan. I hope something may come of it in the shape of reviews, etc., presently.
“We form a regular college set here, Greenwood, Clifton, Roscoe, and myself, all from U.C.L. With the other professors and other friends in the town we have the pleasantest society. Manchester is by no means so devoid of pleasures as might be supposed. Our college, though rather dirty in its habitation, is prosperous, and looking forward to better days in a grand new building, when that can be carried out. When we get it up you must come and see it, unless anything should bring you sooner, and give me the pleasure of a visit here. Whenever you come north let me know, and you must come and stay with me.
“In about a week I shall be off for a. vacation of three months, most of which I shall pass in the country, and a part, I hope, on the Continent, where I have never been since 1854.”
Instead of going to London Mr. Jevons went, towards the end of June, to visit his sister at Clynnog in Carnarvonshire, Mr. and Mrs. John Hutton having removed from Beaumaris to that neighbourhood. The beautiful scenery, a combination of mountain and sea, pleased him exceedingly; but he never could stay long in one place without being at work for at least a part of the day; and, feeling that he needed a real holiday, he went to Switzerland for a month with his brother Tom, starting towards the end of August. This, his first visit to Switzerland, he always looked back to with the greatest pleasure, and spoke of as having been a perfect holiday, with no drawbacks to spoil its enjoyment.
To his sister Lucy.
Rouen, Saturday, 25th August 1865.
“In spite of my getting no sleep on board the steamer all night we got on capitally yesterday, reaching Dieppe about 3 A.M.; we got breakfast, saw the sun rise and the town under a very pretty aspect—the people all just going to their work. Then went on to Rouen, with which we were greatly pleased. The church of St. Ouen is a splendid piece of architecture, and from the top of it we saw the town. The new streets here building are fine; but the old houses and bits of Gothic architecture remaining elsewhere are unique.
“We are in a small hotel here, the ‘Victoria,’ which English people rather like, as they speak French very slowly and distinctly. We were so tired with two days' work and no sleep that we went to bed last night at 8 P.M. and slept beautifully till 7.30 this morning, so that we are ready for anything. We go on through Paris to Strasbourg. I have got on with French speaking far better than I expected, seeing that it is twelve years since I was in Paris, where I spoke very little, and that I have hardly done anything in French since.”
To his sister Lucy.
HÂteldesBalances, Lucerne, 30th August 1865.
“… We came on to Basle yesterday in company with a good many other English people. There was nothing remarkable in the French line of railway which passes by Troyes and Mulhouse straight to Basle except its comfort for travelling. …
“To-day we have had rain following on the terrible hot weather, from which we had suffered since leaving London. We should like to start to-morrow for the Rigi, or for Mount Pilatus, in order to have a sunrise view of the Alps, but I fear we may have bad weather. One great point here is to hear the fine organs. We heard a few notes on what seemed a beautiful-toned organ in the cathedral at Troyes. To-morrow, perhaps, we shall hear one here, and I shall make a point of hearing that at Freiburg well, as it is said to be the finest in the world. Though we got here before six o'clock we have not seen the Alps at all, and little or nothing of the lake. We were greatly pleased by the first view of the Rhine at Basle. It is a grander stream than I expected, and we had a capital bathe in it. Basle is a beautiful town altogether, and the cathedral is no doubt highly interesting. As, however, we were shown over by a German woman talking French, we were hardly enlightened by her descriptions of the place.
“1st September.—I have had a very glorious birthday for the beginning of my thirty-first year (thirty years of age). We went up the Rigi yesterday, and, the day being rather overcast, easily got a good bedroom in the hotel at the top, 4500 feet above the sea-level. The sunset was a failure, and our only hope was an appearance of thinness in the clouds, which covered the sky and mountains. This morning we were up long before daybreak, and before the horn had aroused the rest of the hotel. On looking out of the window we saw darkly the whole chain of the Alps before us. We were out before all but one Frenchman, but within an hour or so as many as sixty or seventy tourists of all nations appeared, shivering on the top of the mountain Though the view might doubtless exhibit much finer effects than we saw, yet it was a most lucky chance that we saw the Alps completely clear of clouds, rising up from the lakes at our feet, and growing by steps into the snowy summits of the Oberland. A chain of mountains and snowy points 120 miles long was then seen on one side, while on the other the comparatively plain parts of Switzerland stretched away up to the Jura and Vosges mountains and the Black Forest. Almost perpendicularly under us was the lake of Zug and parts of that of Lucerne, while a multitude of less important lakes were on various sides. Yet both Tom and I noticed that there was a want of colour about the Alps and for beautiful tints the view we saw could not compare with that from Snowdon on the fortunate morning when we saw the sun rise there.
“After waiting till 9 or 10 A.M. to see the Alps under a full sun, we descended in full view of the beauties of Lake Lucerne, and returned to Lucerne by steamer. After a bathe in the lake I spent the rest of the afternoon on music, first listening to a young German playing fugues and organ sonatas of extreme difficulty on the new organ in the English Church, very fine playing in its way, but devoid of sweetness; and next, in hearing the usual afternoon performance in the cathedral. The playing was first-rate, for the purpose of showing the points of the organ. The great point was the vox humana stop of extraordinary perfection and sweetness, so beautifully played as to give the effect of a single solo singer, of a quartette of singers, or of a chorus of voices in the distance, occasionally accompanied by the organ as it seemed, but really wholly played upon pipes. At first it was impossible not to believe that there were singers in the organ gallery, and it was only by degrees that the mechanical nature of the sound could be detected by its regularity. The most extraordinary performance, however, was that of a storm. While a gentle voluntary is being continuously played distant thunder is heard gradually approaching till it seems to fill the church in loud peals, and a shower of rain is heard falling all over the church, and pattering on the roof and windows. How the latter was produced I do not know; it must have been by some stop or contrivance in the organ, as the sun was shining all the time, and there was no rain. But I only found out, half-way through, that it was not real rain, and Tom remained deluded to the end. There were other more common effects, but of great beauty, upon the flute, clarionet, and other stops, besides heavy effects upon the full organ.
“We go on to-morrow early towards Interlaken, and a variety of places that Tom has got at his fingers' ends, and which I daresay will be very fine when we get to them. I hardly think, however, that we can have a better day than this on our tour.
“Interlaken, 2d September.—We have got on here today. As we started from Lucerne at 7.30 A.M. we had no opportunity of posting letters. We got here by a beautiful sail down the Lake of Lucerne, then a diligence ride over the Brünig Pass, and a second beautiful sail over the Lake of Brienz.”
To his sister Henrietta.
Interlaken, Sunday, 9th September 1865.
“We were very glad to get letters yesterday from you and Lucy on our return to this pleasant place. We have had a splendid week in the mountains since writing last from Interlaken; we have been almost constantly in view of enormous rocks and precipices, snow-covered peaks and wonderful glaciers. Thursday was perhaps the best of all the days. We then made an excursion quite into the centre of the glacier region. Starting from the Grindelwald Valley with a guide about 6 A.M. we went by a steep winding path up precipices and along the steepest imaginable slopes till we entered a narrow gorge by which the lower Grindelwald glacier makes its way out. Then after a little refreshment at a chÂlet we climbed down into the glacier. In many parts this is more like a collection of icebergs filling up the bottom of the valley, but where we got on to it the surface was pretty even and solid. Still there were crevasses and great holes and gulfs descending 30 or 40 feet or more, which it was very desirable to avoid. It was only here and there that the ice was slippery and it was necessary for the guide to cut steps in it; generally the surface was paved over with stones left by the ice as it continually melts. We walked up the glacier for about an hour, chiefly along vast and singular heaps of rocks and stones in continuous ridges or moraines, of which there were several in the middle as well as at the sides of this glacier. We then reached a place called Zoesenberg at the head of this mer de glace, at the point where it is formed by the meeting of two other great glaciers. Here there was a hut or two belonging to a shepherd who keeps a few sheep and goats upon the summer grass, which grows even thus high. Not finding the pÂtre of Zoesenberg at home, and having both plenty of time (9 A.M.) and plenty of strength, we got the guide to show us the way up the Zoesenberg horn, a rocky mountain, which rises up almost perpendicularly. On getting to the top of it we were close to the higher parts of some of the glaciers, where stupendous masses of ice were hanging over precipices, and where we seemed to be in a world altogether different from that below. We got back about 3 or 4 P.M. rather tired. Both there and elsewhere we have heard a great many avalanches. They fell chiefly during the hottest part of the day, when the ice expands and is loosened by melting. They arise generally where a glacier moves down on to the top of a precipice, and bit by bit falls over the edge. It generally looks only like a little white dust falling over the rocks, but the crashing noise which soon follows shows how great the fall really is. Whether you hear it near or not, the sound is like a sharp kind of thunder, and, often echoed among the mountains, is peculiarly grand. When staying at the hotel on the Wengern Alp, we had the luck to see a very large fall of ice on the precipitous side of the Jungfrau just opposite. It fell many thousand feet in all, pouring over one precipice after another, making a loud roaring noise all the time, until at last it subsided into the valley, adding to a heap of snow already lying there slowly melting.
“One very curious thing here is the abundance of hotels at the top of mountains, far higher than Snowdon. Every evening after climbing a mountain and seeing the sunset we find an excellent and even a grand dinner ready, a comfortable bedroom, and in fact everything you can need. This is very strange at first to English people, but the fact is that the Swiss are quite accustomed to living up mountains many thousands of feet high, and we visited one large village called Mürren, 6000 feet high.
“Towards the end of our week we got rather knocked up. We were thus rather glad to get back to this luxurious place, and to our very quiet and pleasant Hotel Fischer here. This afternoon, however, we most probably go on to Thun, Berne, and Freiburg. Lausanne will be the next direction, and then we shall soon be home. I wish to be in Manchester by the 21st or 22d September.”
To his brother Herbert.
9 Birch Grove, Rusholme, 18th October 1865.
“My prospects here are somewhat improved. Mr. Scott has not been well enough to come back, and has asked for leave of absence for a year. I have consequently been appointed his substitute in logic, for which I shall receive nearly £70. I have already Christie's political economy class—about £60. My evening political economy class met for the first time last Monday and is very large, probably on account of the scholarship in political economy which is to be awarded soon. I am resigning the tutorship here, which is tiresome and pays little.
“I have now been three times to the Liverpool College, but the number of students are very small, and the prospect not good. I am, however, guaranteed £1 a day, which will leave me perhaps about £30 profit above cost of railway. As Uncle Timothy has asked me to sleep at the Hamlet once a week, the journey becomes a rather agreeable ‘out.’
“The introductory meeting with my address [on Reading and Study] was a stupid affair. I send you a partial report. The main point is my logical machine, on which I am working now. The one adapted to lecture-room use is now almost done, and I am thinking of a more complicated one adapted to extensive problems and arguments.”
To his sister Lucy.
9 Birch Grove, 4th November 1865.
“It is so long since I wrote last that I fear you will think I never intend to write again. But I want so much time for my work that I write none but business and indispensable letters as a general rule.
“Tom has got a fine day to start, and will probably have most of the passage fine, the barometer having risen a good deal lately. I intended to have gone to see him off, but he wrote to say that he was going on board at 9 A.M. and did not expect me, and it would have been hardly possible for me to get there. He goes off, I believe, in the best spirits, and it is no wonder, considering how fair his prospects are.1
“… I have very much improved the design for my reasoning machine in the last week or two, so that it will ultimately be a rather wonderful thing, I think. It will be played upon like a piano, and give the results of what you read to it without any trouble of thinking further.”
To his brother Herbert he writes a fortnight later:—
“… The Coal Question does not make much way, but I have plenty else to think about now. I am getting my reasoning machine into a true machine form, it having previously been an abacus or counting board, not a machine.”
In his journal he writes:—
“Birch Grove, Manchester, 10th November 1865.—At intervals success rewards me deliciously, but at other times it seems but to oppress me with a burden of duty. More and more I feel a lifelong work defined beforehand for me, and its avoidance impossible. Come what will, I cannot but feel that I have faculties which are to be cultivated and developed at any risk. To misuse or neglect them would be treason of the deepest kind. And yet the troubles are not slight which such a high and difficult work brings upon me. One duty, too, seems to clash with others. My ideal seems to involve contradictories. I would be loved and loving. But the very studies I have to cultivate absorb my thoughts so that I hardly feel able to be what I would in other ways. And, above all, poverty is sure to be my lot. I cannot aid others as I would wish. Nor in a money-making and loving world is it easy to endure the sense of meanness and want which poverty brings. And if I could endure all this myself, I could not expect nor hardly wish for a wife nor any relative to endure it. Half my feelings and affections, then, must be stifled and disappointed.
“It is when I have such feelings as these that this book serves me well. I look back to my former confessions and my former resolutions: I find I have too long pursued a straight and arduous course to think of swerving now. I must choose the greater duty, the higher work, where work or duty would seem to clash. I must cultivate indifference to other people's opinion where I cannot rightly hope to gain it. I must work like one who is a servant not a master, must execute the orders he so plainly receives, to the best of his ability, and feel no anxiety for the result—it is not in his hands nor on his responsibility.
“Sunday Evening, 3d December 1865.—My changing moods of hope and depression, of long-sighted resolution, and of present prudence, are strangely marked in these successive paragraphs. Now I am no longer inclined to brave the worst hardships of a poor author's life, and strive to earn its deserts and honours as my only reward. I have often thought, in reading or hearing of the lives of the great but unfortunate, that a little prudence, now and then a slight relaxation in the ardour of pursuit, would have yielded far greater results. It is not poverty and overwork and hopeless anxiety surely that will raise the powers of mind to their highest. It is mere asceticism to prefer the harder and more straightened life if a happier and perhaps more useful one offers.
“Have I not sufficient, or more than sufficient, ardour in the pursuit of discovery and knowledge? Have I not in the last few years seriously overstrained my head once at least, and may I not justly fear that some day my strength will prove unequal to the labour that my position may demand? I have shown how much I would risk where it must be risked. It would be foolhardiness to refuse the easier and happier life if it were in my reach. I confess I can hardly bear the thought of a solitary life of unrelieved labour. The happiness of marriage may not be the only happiness, the only good, I aspire to; but am I excluded from the one because I hope for the other?
“It is at times truly depressing to work for future appreciation only. Money, rank, manners, social position, or, at the best, brilliant talents, carry off all consideration at the moment.
“The work of the thinker and inventor may indeed prove for ever futile and mistaken; but even if it be in the true and successful path, it is not, and perhaps can hardly be, recognised at once. At least it is not. One of my chief reasons for the little love of society, is that in most company my hopes and feelings seem snuffed out.
“14th December 1865.—Yesterday I had a letter from Sir John Herschel, approving in the most complete manner of my Coal Question, which I lately had sent to him. Long periods of labour and depression have to be repaid in brief moments of such satisfaction as that letter gave me—perhaps I may say amply repaid. If the book, which was to me a work of intense interest and feeling, is read by few and understood by fewer, it has at least the endorsement of one scientific man whom I should perhaps of all in the world select as the most competent judge of the subject as a whole. I may almost say that I feel the work is not a slight one—to myself I cannot help but say it. When I set about it the subject inspired me to make exertion and treat it worthily if possible. And at least labour was not wanting. For I worked throughout one vacation at it, often writing for five or six hours at a stretch, scarcely leaving my seat. No wonder I was somewhat the worse when college work came on in addition to the work of completing the book. I may well be glad it did not destroy my powers.
“Now it is indeed pleasant to be assured that I was under no mistake.”
From Sir J. F. W. Herschel, M.A., F.R.S., etc. etc.
Collingwood, Hawkhurst, Kent, 23d November 1865.
“Dear Sir—Pray accept my warmest thanks for the very valuable and important book you have been so kind as to send me on the Coal Question. It embodies, in the most clear and luminous form of expression, and supported by the most telling statistical documents, a mass of considerations that, as I read them, seemed an echo of what I have long-thought and felt about our present commercial progress, and the necessary decline of our commercial and manufacturing supremacy, and the transfer of it to America. Longe absit. But it must come—and I think you have been merciful in giving us another century to run.
“Such a work as yours has been long wanted to dissipate completely the delusion which so large a majority of our countrymen labour under, of the ‘inexhaustibility of our mineral resources,’ etc. etc., and the ‘probability, amounting to certainty,' that science will, ere long, put us in possession of a substitute for coal. A dim perception of the truth, to be sure, has dawned here and there; but, after this, let no man plead ignorance and say, ‘Who would have thought it?’ Not that I suppose we shall take warning. In such a rush there is no pulling up.
“I have read every word of it (received yesterday) with the avidity with which one devours a new novel; and, when I laid it down, I could not help inscribing on the title-page, as a motto—
and (not without a most melancholy feeling) under the words ‘THE END,’ on page 349, Dido's parting words, viz.—
“It used to be a favourite notion of mine that the tides might be utilised to transmit power through air-tubes up the country to any extent, till I made a calculation. …Once more repeating my thanks, I beg to remain, dear sir, yours very truly,
J. F. W. Herschel.”
In his journal he writes:—
“17th December 1865.—My mother says in her diary, 7th July 1822: ‘The habit or the power of giving your attention strongly to any object of attainment is a most difficult acquisition, and childhood is the time when it can be best attained—afterwards it is a task of no common difficulty to resist every temptation around you.’
“I believe that by long practice, ever since my childhood, I have acquired no inconsiderable power of this kind. I am seldom troubled now by not being in the humour. Even in composition I can sit down at almost any time and work at what I want. I can thus give one day to one subject or work, another to another, or can portion out my work as is desirable. Or I can carry on different kinds of work from time to time, passing from one to another without the least difficulty. My danger is somewhat the other way. I can concentrate my thoughts upon a subject at almost any time, till everything else vanishes out of view. But, if I am once interested or excited about a subject, I cannot always dismiss it.
“In the autumn at Clynnog, I got involved in Boole's Probabilities, which I did not thoroughly understand. I thought and wrote about it hard for a week or two, until I found I could not dismiss the subject. The most difficult points ran in my mind, day and night, till I got quite alarmed. The result was considerable distress of head a few days later, and some signs of indigestion.
“I feel that some degree of inaction and laziness is now a virtue rather than otherwise. Ease and freedom from work is as pleasant to me, perhaps, as to any one; and it is no small privilege to enjoy the reaction from hard work.”
In the Wirral of Cheshire. They stayed afterwards at Leasowe in the same neighbourhood.
Mr. T.E. Jevons had accepted a business engagement in New York.