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CHAPTER XII.: 1880–1882. - 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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In the February number of the Contemporary Review, 1880, Mr. Jevons published an article on “Experimental Legislation and the Drink Traffic.” On the 24th February he wrote to his sister Lucy:—
“…I have got so much on my mind just at present, that I hardly feel equal to all I have to undertake—my nerves sometimes appear quite unfit for the burden of a family, many acquaintances, lectures, business, etc., in addition to two or three books, and many articles which are always in my head. …”
And again on the 12th March 1880:—
“…We all walked on the Heath yesterday, and Winn afterwards expressed her satisfaction at walking with ‘my Papa.’ … I had a pleasant tour for a few days to Rochester, Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, and Canterbury. At Rochester I stayed at the Bull Inn, where the Pickwickians began their tour, and there was much to remind me of Dickens. Broadstairs, Dickens' favourite watering-place, is a pretty little place, and I spent a quiet evening there. Canterbury I liked as much as ever, perhaps rather more.”
Mr. Jevons not unfrequently took two or three days' tour from home for the sake of a change of thought and rest from the ever-increasing burden of work, which he could not turn his mind from at home.
To E. J. Broadfield, Esq.
AthenÆum Club, Pall Mall, 6th April 1880.
“I shall be much pleased if you can meet my brother in New York, and I am sure that he too will be much pleased. …
“I congratulate you on the result of your labours in Manchester. I found evidence of your activity now and then in the Guardian. As for myself, I feel I can again be proud of the name of Englishman.
“I have just been at the declaration of the poll at the University of London. Of course Lowe was very well received, but he made an unfortunate speech, if speech it could be called. He appeared to labour under difficulties the whole time, and was excessively nervous; indeed, he appeared to be breaking down once. I fear that age is telling upon him seriously, and I think he would do well to go to the House of Lords. I hope the papers will not report what he said about the Government doing as much as possible in the first year or two, as they might soon disagree. Too true, no doubt, but not à propos. In fact, Lowe was about as happy in his probably final appearance at the University of London as I should be if I went on the stump. Sir John Lubbock, too, appears to like speechifying about as much as I do, and added nothing to the liveliness of the meeting.
“We had quite an exciting time on Saturday at Hampstead, and ‘Boy’ was delighted with the brilliant display of flags in High Street, and the continual procession of cabs and omnibuses along the Finchley Road. We did our best, but failed. It is said that the city people are too much interested in maintaining the status quo, and they live so much in the suburbs now as to make an altogether preponderating vote with the aristocrats and various other foolish people.
“All well at home. Our little one, ‘Winn,’ would please you now, I think.
“By the by, I should add that my brother is leaving New York for England towards the end of April or beginning of May, but I hope you will find him still there.”
On the 8th of April a second little daughter was born, for whom he chose the name of Lucy Cecilia.
During the spring months Mr. Jevons was not at all well, continually feeling tired and overworked. In May a summons to serve on the grand jury unfortunately kept him at home when his wife and family were away. Feeling that he must lessen his engagements, he resigned his office as one of the secretaries of the Statistical Society, and was appointed a vice-president instead.
To the July number of the Contemporary Review he contributed an article on “Postal Notes, Money Orders, and Bank Cheques.”
Early in July Mr. Jevons went to Norway with his brother for a few weeks; he had long looked forward to the pleasure of showing some of his favourite parts of Norway to his brother, and they hoped also to visit some parts of Jotunheim, which would be new to them both. They landed at Christiania.
To his Wife.
“We are now taking an easy day at this pleasant little inn, which you will remember our visiting … and intend waiting a day for better weather. From Fagernaes we made an attempt to reach Jotunheim by the valley of Östre Slidre, where we went up once or twice to get a view of the mountains. We went three long stages with horses from Fagernaes, and then put up at the small house of Gulbrand Beito of Beito. It then came on to rain, and we waited nearly three days. Beito and his family were very primitive and amusing, and used to come and sit with us and talk at great length. I could almost always understand Beito, who was a great rough-looking man, like a Viking, but his wife chattered so fast I could hardly catch a word. One morning a girl came in and played us a number of tunes on the Langeleg or ancient Norse Zither, some of which were very pretty. We fished in the river and trolled in the Öiangen Fiord near by, but caught little, and the young men who went with us were equally unsuccessful with their nets; but I learned how to fish with the otter, which has ten or more flies on the line.
“…Yesterday Beito and another man brought us here in two frightfully shaky stoldkjærres. The first part of the way was over rough stones and rocks, and the latter part right over the mountain behind Ölken. This part we walked. It was wet more or less all day, but at Nordthorp a fine old landsman gave us cognac and a good dinner, and dried our clothes, and to-day we are both very well. … To-morrow we shall probably go to Skogstad, and we may perhaps make an excursion up the Tyen Vand, but we have given up all ideas of going far into Jotunheim. Afterwards we shall probably go north among the fiords you know well.”
To his Wife.
Holdt's Hotel, Bergen, 1st August 1880.
“…After our retreat from Beito to Ölken the weather began to mend, and finally became very fine and settled. We drove up to Skogstad, and leaving most of our luggage there, set off at once for Tvindehaugen on the Tyen Vand. We had a beautiful calm row of two and a half hours over this grand lake. On reaching Tvindehaugen we fortunately found that few or no people were going to stay the night, and getting a fair dinner we determined to ascend Skineggen at once, in order to secure a clear view. There is no difficulty about this, as the height above Tvindehaugen is only 1600 feet. We enjoyed a glorious view of the Jotun Mountains close at hand on the north and west, and a distant view to the south and south-east. Tyen Vand looked very beautiful too, with its islands and snow-patched mountains. Staying up until 9 P.M. we had some fine sunset effects, and then easily reached the hut again at 10 P.M. …
“Next morning we went on to the hut at Eidsbugarden at the head of Lake Bygdin, where, however, the view was not equal to that at Tvindehaugen, although still very fine. There I was taken quite ill. … I nevertheless went out with the idea of climbing a hill to get a view, but soon found the air exceedingly chilly and had to retreat to bed. By great good fortune there were beds for us; each hut consists of three small rooms, the middle one with beds for men, and table for eating, etc. The inner room with beds only—assigned to ladies when there are any, and kitchen. … During the night two parties of students had arrived from the mountains; one party having lost themselves at 10 P.M. on the previous night, and actually slept four hours on the open fjeld at a great elevation. As the place would probably be full in the evening, and was most unsuited to me, Tom and I abandoned all other schemes about Jotunheim and resolved to retreat at once while the weather admitted of it. After some delay we got a packhorse for our luggage at noon, and reached Tvindehaugen walking at half-past one, whence, without dinner, we took the boat which was waiting, and after a slightly rough row got across the Styx again, as we called Tyen. … I managed to walk down to Opedals Sceter, where was a small bedroom with windows that would not open, and beds, etc., just painted; as it was impossible to stay here, we got a little open cart, with a packing-case in it as a seat, and drove down to Skogstad, where I went to bed thoroughly knocked up. We had to stay here two or three days while I recovered. … The landlord was very kind and attentive, and then sent us on in his best carioles to Nystuen.
Monday, 2d August, s.s. Olaf Trygvesson, off Holmen.—We are now making for the Romsdal on board this new steamboat. … After two days' stay in Bergen we are both quite well. I am very homesick and long to be back with you again.”
He returned from Norway in the middle of August, and on the 1st September he went with his family to the seaside for a month, and the following day wrote to his sister Lucy:—
“We have now settled down in our new house. … Littlehampton is a very little place, but the sands are very good, and there are plenty of places for excursions; the whole country round is new. … I am sorry to say I have discovered there is a parrot in the next house, which I did not hear when I took the house, and I have spent a large part of the morning hunting blue-bottle flies. Yesterday afternoon there was a fearfully loud grinding organ which could be heard all over Littlehampton; nevertheless I hope to get on pretty well with the proofs and other work at present rather pressing on me.”
To H. S. Foxwell, Esq.
Littlehampton, 9th September 1880.
“…I am now near the end of my arduous Studies in Deductive Logic, having sent off the preface and frontispiece. The printers have been very tedious over it, but I hope the proofs will be done in a couple of weeks now. I shall be curious to know what you think of it.
“I wish you would get on with your Adam Smith. Macmillan, as you have perhaps noticed, is bringing out a translation of Cossa's Guide to Political Economy, and I have been reading some of the proofs. Cossa remarks on the absence of any really good edition of A. Smith, or any real attempt to treat his life and works as a whole.
“You are quite right in thinking that I hate examinations, but I hate lecturing even more.”
To this translation from the Italian of Professor Cossa's Guide to Political Economy, Mr Jevons, besides reading the proofs, contributed a preface.
To his brother Tom.
Littlehampton, 21st September 1880.
“We have now got only a week of our stay here left, and the weather has turned so uncertain that we shall not be sorry to go home. We are, however, well satisfied with the place, which, though apparently dull, is not nearly so dull as most seaside watering-places. Yesterday Harriet and I visited Chichester for the first time, and were fairly pleased with the cathedral, marketcross, and a curious old hospital for women, which has existed since 1100 or 1200. One afternoon I took a walk through five parishes, most of the churches very picturesque and antique—Norman and early English. The walk to Arundel again is beautiful, and the Catholic Cathedral there a grand piece of modern architecture, seen from every part of the plain around.
“I have just finished the final revises of the text of my Logical Studies, but it still remains to put the final touch to the preface, etc. Then I shall feel relieved of a burden, and more fit to set to the Principles of Economics. I have been working so much less, and walking so much more, than at this time last year, that I daresay I shall feel better for it during the winter.”
To John Mills, Esq.
Camden Lodge, Littlehampton, 21st September 1880.
“It was with much regret that I heard of our friend Dr. Hodgson's sudden death at Brussels, He was so intimate a friend of yours that I feel sure you must have suffered from the loss. My acquaintance with and memory of him was disjointed and occasional, but began a long time ago, when he was head-master of the Liverpool Mechanics' School, and I was a little boy there about ten or twelve years old; but his teaching made a great impression upon me, and I have never forgotten it.
“We have been spending three weeks in this quiet but in some respects very agreeable watering-place. There is a good sea-beach for the children, who are in terribly good health, and capital excursions to Arundel, Chichester, and other places of interest and beauty.
“The state of trade now interests me very much. I believe we are on the eve of a great though, I hope, a gradual revival. The iron and consequently the coal trade must have a great expansion soon. … The coal trade is said to be very much depressed in Yorkshire and elsewhere; but between ourselves I believe that this is just the last of the ebb, and that a few months will see a different state of things begin. My only fear is of too violent an expansion, as in 1871–73, leading too soon to reaction.
“Have you ever read Thomas Corbet's book, An Inquiry into the Causes and Modes of the Wealth of Individuals in the Principles of Trade and Speculation Explained (London, 1841; Smith and Elder)? Though badly written, it shows a greater insight into the conditions of safe speculation than any book I ever met with, though he was not aware of the decennial variation of trade. His advice is, buy before a rise and sell before a fall. He also points out that a successful speculator must act contrary to the general opinion, as, if he buys that which people are generally buying, it will be already above the chance of safe profit. Sir I. Newton bought South Sea stock when it was nearly at the highest point!
“I hope to set fairly to work on my Principles of Economics in a week or two, having just completed my laborious Logical Exercises.”
To John Mills, Esq.
Littlehampton, 23d September 1880.
“My previous letter, which crossed yours of the 20th, will have told you that I sympathise with you in your loss of so old a friend as Dr. Hodgson. I regret that I had not more frequent opportunity of meeting him, but I remember with much pleasure my visit to his house when I went to Edinburgh for my LL.D. degree. My impression is that Hodgson had great powers, and that his failing was in not making an adequate use of them. I know probably all his acknowledged writings, and they are all good, but sadly too few and limited.
“…I am not a candidate for anything, except for a study where organ-grinders and other nuisances are inaudible. I wish Bell, instead of making such wonderful discoveries as to the conveyance of sound, would turn his attention to the production of sound-proof houses.”
On the 27th September he wrote to his brother:—
“…On Saturday I had an interesting walk, going to Worthing by train and walking thence to Sompting, where the church, having a real Saxon tower, gave me a new sensation. I never saw anything like it before. Then I walked to New Shoreham, where I also inspected the church, celebrated for its peculiar Norman and early English architecture. I also saw a third fine church at Broadwater, finishing up at the Swiss Gardens, a place of recreation originally started at Shoreham in 1838, and lately resuscitated; but there was hardly any one there.”
To John Mills, Esq.
Hampstead Heath, 3d October 1880.
“I return the extract made in Hodgson's hand. It is interesting as showing what he was thinking of, but I have no great opinion of Baden Powell's understanding of any such subject.
“Our removal from Littlehampton and work for examinations, etc., have prevented my answering your last letter sooner, and the reasons for a rise in coal and iron are too numerous to be easily stated in a letter. The considerable fall which has taken place since I bought a few weeks since is no doubt disagreeable, but they say it is always darkest before the dawn.
“I should have liked you to hear our boy Herbert's singing. He has a sweet voice, and sings all kinds of little songs of his own composition, sometimes quite musical and in form, but hitherto we have not been able to get him to learn a note of the piano or of any regular song. He has even no idea yet of singing with the piano, yet I cannot help thinking he has considerable musical tendency; and the question is whether to leave him to educate himself at present.”
In October the Studies in Deductive Logic, a Manual for Students, was published. The book was intended for the use of those students who, having gone through the Elementary Lessons in Logic, desired facilities for a more thorough course of logical training. In the answers supplied to many of the questions it contains much original matter; but a large part of it consists of exercises and examples requiring answers. In the preface Mr. Jevons explains why he adopted this plan. “The great point in education,” he says, “is to throw the mind of the learner into an active instead of a passive state. It is of no use to listen to a lecture or to read a lesson unless the mind appropriates and digests the ideas and principles put before it. The working of problems and the answering of definite questions is the best if not almost the only means of ensuring this active exercise of thought. … In spite of much popular clamour against examinations, I maintain that to give a clear, concise, and complete written answer to a definite question or problem is not only the best exercise of mind, but also the best test of ability and training which can be generally applied.”
Mr. Jevons had not returned from the seaside as much improved in health as he expected to be, and this was the more disappointing because he had derived less benefit from his tour in Norway than in previous years. After resuming his full work for a week or two, it was plain that he could not continue it through the winter, and this led him reluctantly to decide to resign his professorship at University College, and also to ask leave from the Council to find a substitute to lecture for him during the current session. Only those, perhaps, whose nerves are exhausted from overwork as his were, can understand the burden that a fixed engagement was to him—a burden which to others would appear quite disproportionate to the amount of work involved. But his health was so variable that whilst he could get through a fair amount of work in the quiet of his own study, working at the times which suited him best, he often felt quite unfit to meet his class at the appointed hour. The subject, too, upon which he happened to be writing engrossed his thoughts so much that he felt it an effort to turn his mind to his lectures; he could not, he said, pass from one subject to another with the same facility as in his younger days.
He wrote to his brother Tom, who was on the point of returning to New York with his family:—
“…I have been a good deal upset the last few days about the professorship. It is impossible to relinquish the employment of eighteen years without some perturbation of spirits, and when I introduced my deputy to a well-filled classroom I had some pangs of regret. But I am nevertheless sure that the step was not only wise but indispensable. It is quite impossible for me to go on with trying fixed duties when I have so much literary work on my mind. People in general are probably quite unaware that you cannot control or moderate work on a large book, because the contents are in your head, and cannot be got rid of except by writing them out Thus every obstruction to the delivery aggravates the burden. However, in the course of two or three years I hope to have ready a very novel and complete treatise on Political Economy, which will elucidate most of the ins and outs of trade and industry.
“As my London examinership terminates practically in six weeks' time, I hope to be vastly more free for the future. … I fully intend to go about a good deal, and shall often go to the Crystal Palace for the Saturday afternoon concerts.”
To the Rev. Robert Harley.
Hampstead, 15th November 1880.
“Thanks for your suggestion about the possible infinite number of exceptions. You are obviously correct, and I will introduce your remarks if we ever come to a second edition, which I fancy we shall do in a little time.
“I am very sorry to hear that M'Coll is so ill. I fear his lot is not a prosperous one. As regards my resignation, you will perhaps feel it difficult to understand what a millstone upon my health and spirits the work of lecturing has been. Sometimes I have enjoyed lecturing, especially on logic, but for years past I have never entered the lecture-room without a feeling probably like that of going to the pillory. Now that I have been able to get rid of the burden I shall probably be much better. I shall never lecture, speechify, or do anything of that sort again if I can possibly help it. Apart from special reasons, too, I find that the pressure of literary work leaves me no spare energy whatever. Besides the Logical Exercises just finished, I have a large treatise in political economy in full progress, a bibliography of logic in hand, the analysis of Mill's Philosophy on my mind, a student's edition of the Wealth of Nations in preparation, besides a new edition or two, and various minor articles and things of that sort. It may seem impossible and absurd to attempt so much at a time with any advantage, but the fact is, it is difficult if not impossible to help it. You will easily see that under the circumstances it is much the most wise thing to throw up all interfering engagements as far as possible. Of course I suffer a loss of income, though less than might be supposed, as the professorship only yielded about £70 a year. This will perhaps, too, be made up to me in time, as my books occasionally pay some profit, though little compared with the labour they cost.
“By the by, I had intended to introduce, with your permission [in the Studies in Deductive Logic], Stanhope's syllogistic table as a kind of logical puzzle, but it was eventually crowded out with other matter, which I am keeping either for a future new edition or for the bibliography. I intend the latter to form a kind of guide to the materials for a history of logic in recent times.”
To H. S. Foxwell, Esq.
AthenÆum Club, 30th November 1880.
“I ought to have answered your previous interesting letter, but unfortunately I have not yet overcome the pressure of examinations and other matters, and I find I cannot undertake anything like prompt and regular correspondence; my health has been so distinctly worse during the summer and autumn that I thought it best to take a decided step about the professorship. With the doctor's help, and freedom from harassing engagements, I hope soon to be more up to par, though I can never again be really strong as I was ten or twelve years ago.
“…I am glad to hear you are getting on with the Adam Smith. I have just got rather over head and ears in the history of Political Economy in the eighteenth century, and hope to have an article soon ready, which may interest you, upon the Mr. Cantillon who is quoted by Smith.”
To his brother Tom.
Hampstead, 5th December 1880.
“It is excessively kind of you to have rushed in at the right moment and bought me those interesting old notes, which are a most important addition to my collection. They must be an almost if not quite unique lot, and added to the previous American and other notes make such a collection as probably hardly any one else has. I was much pleased also to hear that you were comfortably and prosperously settled.
“I have not been very happily engaged of late; my resignation of my long-accustomed work of lecturing being a thing which could not be effected without some regret and dejection of spirits. Moreover, I have come unwillingly to the conclusion that my health is really suffering. … I am now quite up to the writing point, and I have nearly completed the series of heavy examinations which oppress me at this time of year.
“My Deductive Logic has been decidedly successful, I think, 572 copies having been sold in the first month, whereas only 800 or 900 copies of the Elementary Lessons were sold in the first two months, though at nearly half the price. The book has been rather favourably reviewed by the Athenæum, but I have not yet seen any other notice of importance. However, I find myself pretty well independent of Reviews.
“Of late I have been completing an article for the Contemporary of January, on a curious point in the history of Political Economy. Now that I am fairly launched on a purely literary life, I hope I shall get into a method of steady but moderate work. I fancy that the excitement and pressure of lecturing and other engagements often did me great harm.
“Our children are very well and happy. We had a fine run on the Heath this afternoon.”
Now that Mr. Jevons had fewer engagements in town he was able more frequently to indulge in country walks, in which his little son was his constant companion. There never was a stronger friendship between father and son. The boy loved nothing so much as to be with his father, who had been his kindest playfellow in infancy, and was now the wisest and best of teachers. He gave no set lessons, but during their walks he was always ready to answer his boy's questions, and by pointing out to him anything of interest on the road that the child could understand he greatly quickened his powers of observation.
To H. S. Foxwell, Esq.
Hampstead, 5th December 1880.
“Would it be giving you too much trouble if I were to ask you to look into the Cambridge University Library and examine whether they have got the following books:—Philip Cantillon, Analysis of Trade, London, 1759, 8vo; Essai sur la Nature du Commerce en Général, Traduit de l'Anglais, London (Paris), 1755, 12mo (ascribed to Cantillon)?
“I am writing an article on them for the Contemporary, which will, I hope, give you a high idea of their interest, and as Cantillon is one of the few quoted by A. Smith, the search will probably be well worth making with regard to your own literary work.
“I have copies of the books, but so far do not know of any other copies in the country; and if they are in Cambridge I should like to mention the fact. … If there are any other entries in the catalogue connected with the name of Cantillon, or Philippe de Cantillon, they might be of interest; but I have already searched out almost every available item referring to him.”
To his brother Tom.
AthenÆum Club, 8th January 1881.
“Thanks for your letter recommending me to read the article of Dr. Brunton, which I will do as soon as I have found the periodical. I believe it is in the London Library.
“We are pretty straight now at home, baby having quite recovered from a rather sharp attack, which made us uneasy for a day or two.
“In the January number of the Contemporary you will find a rather long article of mine on a point in the history of Political Economy. I am now hard at work on an article on ‘Free Libraries’ for the next Contemporary.
“About 800 copies of my Studies in Deductive Logic were sold to the end of the year, which is more than half the edition of 1500. About 260 of these went to America.
“…I had a very pleasant run about the Heath with Herbert and Winn for about an hour this afternoon, and then came to dine here and go to the Damnation of Faust, which Halle is giving over and over again at St. James' Hall with much success. Dinner ready!”
To E. J. Broadfield, Esq.
Hampstead, 27th February 1881.
“Just a few words to say that my wife and I went last night to hear Halle's performance of Berlioz's Childhood of Jesus, and were much charmed with it. The shepherds' hymn is one of the most exquisite things I have heard for a long time, and all through the work there are marvellous touches of musical fancy and skill. I heard the Faust some weeks since, and was much excited and surprised by it—much more so than by any music I had previously heard. His music is evidently somewhat inspired by such works as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, the Engedi, and other early programme music; but for my part I never felt any objection to programme music. The Pastoral Symphony especially, has been a source of ever new pleasure to me for a quarter of a century, so old are we now growing. The Faust is certainly a daring composition; but still I venture to think it is music, and the melody is every now and then delicious. I hope to hear more of Berlioz's music by degrees. I am now so comparatively free that I hope to hear a large part of the novelties in the way of music.
“We should be much pleased if you would visit us on your next journey to town and stay a few nights. ‘Boy’ is constantly pleased with your book, as he calls it; and I should like you to see our bonny little ones, the third quite promising as well as the other two.
“Mrs. Jeyons and I are probably going away for the next ten days for a little relaxation after the fatigues of the winter, and before the coming exertions of the spring.
“I am deep in my large treatise and various other inquiries.”
To his brother Tom.
AthenÆum Club, 17th March 1881.
“I was much pleased to get your recent letter, and learn that you were so cheerfully and pleasantly employed.
“It was a mistake not to tell you that I had heard Berlioz's Damnation de Faust. It not simply pleased me, but surprised and excited me more than any music I had previously heard. It was a complete revelation of new musical power. The Sylph's ballad I had previously heard at the Crystal Palace, and I considered it to be, especially in the few last notes, almost magical. The Amatory duet is the most intensely-feeling piece of vocal music I know. Lately Hallé brought out the Childhood of Christ at St. James' Hall, and I took Harriet to hear it. Though not nearly so striking as Faust, it has passages of great beauty, and the ‘Adieu des Bergers’ is permanently running in my head.
“Two nights ago I went to a concert of Lamoureux, the late conductor of the Grand Opera, Paris. We had three hours of almost entirely new music, some of it fine and delightful. A duet of Berlioz, a nocturn, struck me as exquisite and original in a high degree; the orchestra keeping up a low humming and chirping to represent the sound in the woods at night, in apparent independence of the melody. A man who could strike out such original ideas must have been a great musical and poetical genius; but his history was a sad one on the whole. I am thinking of getting some of his books to read. …
“We are in a state of prolonged crisis in England and Europe at present To-day it is reported that an attempt was made to blow up the Mansion House last night, and the nerves of the old gentlemen of the Athenæum seem to be slightly shaken by the news. I am busily engaged in various inquiries. This morning I went to Somerset House and finished my search for the wills of the Cantillon family. I have found those of both Richard and Philip. I have an article on hand about ‘Museums’ for the Contemporary, and am thinking of printing a volume of collected essays before the end of the year. I have also engaged to write a book on Trades Unions for a series of Macmillan's.
“Harriet and I recently took a week's tour to Brighton, Lewes, Canterbury, and Tunbridge Wells. I think Harriet enjoyed it much, especially Canterbury; but the weather was very unfortunate, and I was not very well. While we were away, John and Lucy came to Hampstead and took care of the children. They like the opportunity of seeing them by themselves, I think, and ‘Boy’ and Winn took to them greatly. The children are getting on very well, and ‘Boy’ is much engaged in making boxes.”
To his brother Tom.
Hampstead, 18th April 1881.
“I was much pleased to get your letter a few days ago, and to learn that all was well with you. We are getting on fairly well. … I am myself, indeed, far from being so well as I could wish, but I propose to take life very quietly for the future, and with care in diet hope to improve. I have just written this morning the first few pages of the finished draft of my treatise on Economics, but the main part of the book is hardly more than sketched out, and I hardly like to think of the years of work it must yet take before being completed.
“On Saturday I am going to take Harriet to hear Berlioz's Faust—her first visit I shall be curious to know whether it strikes me as much as at first. About a week ago we went to hear his Romeo and Juliet, and there was much beauty in it, as well as in the rest of the very long concert But neither Romeo nor the Childhood of Christ have the startling power of Faust. I hope to hear a good deal of Wagner this spring under Richter's conducting. …
“Many bubbles are now being put forth in England, and they will probably increase very much in the next few months, but I do not think there is any ground for a crisis just yet It will take a year or two for the investment in their companies to tell upon the abundant free capital of the country.
“We have now apparently got safely through the Fenian plots and other difficulties, and I hope that Gladstone has succeeded in steering into smoother waters. His spirit in making peace with the Boers was wonderful.”
To J. L. Shadwell, Esq.
Hampstead, 26th April 1881.
“I have read your impressions of Italy with much interest. It is curious how much you were able to understand and appreciate of what you could not see. It is a matter of regret, however, that you do not appreciate music. To speak of instrumental music as noise is extraordinary to me. The world of sound is almost more enjoyable to me than the world of sight, and the loudest orchestra, if only it be harmonious and play good music, has a kind of constant organic pleasurable effect. The only drawback with music to me is that, when very good, it produces so much interest and excitement as to pass from a recreation to a cause of exhaustion. I wonder what you would think of Berlioz's Faust?—a wonderful work.”
To J. L. Shadwell, Esq.
Hampstead, 6th May 1881.
“…I cannot think Bach's Passion Music well adapted for pleasing a person supposed to be non-musical. It contains, no doubt, music of a very high type, but such as only recently has begun to be appreciated. La Favorita is at the other end of the scale, at least so I should suppose, never having heard it (nor having any intention of hearing it). I should fancy that ballad-concerts, or miscellaneous concerts, would suit you best, and I can hardly doubt that if you frequently attended such concerts for a year or two, you would eventually derive great pleasure from them. The love of music is a thing which can be cultivated and indefinitely increased from a very small germ, and though I suppose there really are people devoid of that germ, I can hardly believe that you are one of them.”
To his sister Lucy.
Hampstead, 14th May 1881.
“I must write a few lines to wish you many happy returns of to-morrow. My memory for birthdays is indeed so bad that I should hardly have been likely to remember it had not the children been so very busy preparing you surprises. I hope that Herbert's remarkable letter will reach you safely. It has been the result of very anxious care on his part and of some little trouble on my part.
“I have been on duty now with the children for three days, while Harriet was away, but am thinking of dissipating a little in town now. I have not even seen the Academy. I sent you a day or two ago a copy of the Contemporary, with my article on ‘Bimetallism.’ After you have quite done with it I shall be glad if you will post it back, as I like to have a spare copy of articles. I also sent you a copy of the Biograph, with my ‘Life’ in it. The article is little more than a reprint of what appeared in the Owens College Magazine shortly after I left Manchester, having been written, I believe, by my successor Adamson. Please keep this. I am writing pretty steadily at my large book on Political Economy, and it absorbs all my strength and almost all my thoughts just at present. …”
To H. S. Foxwell, Esq.
Hampstead, 17th May 1881.
“I only heard yesterday at college that the Council had finally appointed you my successor. … I have now the pleasure to hand you the key of office, being the key of a drawer in the professor's room, marked No. 6, where you may keep any papers or other articles you need. … There is in the professor's room a large roll of diagrams, chiefly consisting of illustrations of my statistical papers. They are of no further use to me, and if not preserved by you must go as ‘waste.’ Before they are destroyed you may as well look at them and see if they are ever likely to be of use to you. Considerable use might be made of diagrams in political economy, but I never had energy enough to carry the use far. Now lecturing is a thing of the past with me, I regret in some ways the laborious and sometimes exciting and pleasing hours I have had; but my nervous framework was not made for the platform.
“I am making nice progress with my large work on Political Economy, as far as my health will allow. I was sorry not to be at home when you called. I hear of you at the booksellers' occasionally, and fancy you must be getting a good collection of economic books.
“I have given up all hope of cataloguing my books, and trust to my memory and sight, but if I could work for longer hours I should much like to make a card catalogue.”
By “the booksellers” referred to in the preceding letter Mr. Jevons meant two or three second-hand book shops which he often visited, for the improvement of his library was one of his greatest pleasures. When he removed from Manchester he took with him a great many books; but, with the increased facilities for procuring them in London, they rapidly increased in number until they amounted to several thousand volumes, including some very rare and curious old works on economic and other subjects. On a leisure afternoon he thoroughly enjoyed making a round of several old book shops, and his kindly, courteous manners—as courteous always to his inferiors in position as to those of his own station—were fully appreciated by the owners. At two at least of the shops which he most frequented he was regarded as a friend, and the booksellers took a pleasure in looking out at the sales they attended for the books they thought might suit him, reserving them from their other customers until he had seen them.
To John Mills, Esq.
Hampstead, 19th May 1881.
“Thanks for the copy of your letter on Bimetallism, which I have read with much interest. It is a strong and pointed argument against Cernuschi and his school. I had not seen the letter before, and if you sent me an Examiner I must have accidentally failed to notice the letter.
“Grenfell's extract is probably quoted from Giffen's paper in the Statistical Journal, March 1879, vol. xiii. pp. 36–68, an important paper, but I have not found the precise passage.
“I do not think the subject of Bimetallism is worth much powder and shot. The whole thing will collapse at the next meeting of a conference. My own impression is, that the French Government are heartily sick of their double standard, and are putting up Cernuschi that they may conveniently recede under cover of his absurdities.
“As to coal, I certainly made a mistake of six months, and I have had some unhappy half-hours over some of my shares, but I do not plead guilty to more than six months' error as yet. There is a great future coming. Moreover, the Coal Question is going to be verified in a manner which no one would have believed. With coal so cheap, and pits working half time, the output is only some twelve millions behind the calculated amounts, or about 8 per cent, which will readily be made up in a single brisk year!”
During this year Mr. Jevons had contributed three articles to the Contemporary Review. To the January number, “Richard Cantillon and the Nationality of Political Economy.” To the March number, “The Rationale of Free Public Libraries.” To the May number, “Bimetallism.”
In July he also contributed an article on “Symbolic Logic” to Nature.
Feeling more than ever that his private work was as much as his strength could bear, he had resigned his post as vice-president of the Statistical Society during this spring.
To his brother Tom.
Bulverhythe, Hastings, 8th July 1881.
“I was pleased to get your cheerful letter some weeks since. I was so much below par, and so occupied with examinations and other matters, that I could not well answer before. We are having a quiet holiday here, and for the first four days of pur visit enjoyed delightful weather. Then came a heavy thunder-storm, lasting the greater part of the night, and now we have cool winds. The children are very well, and enjoy grubbing about the shore very much. Harriet is also enjoying herself fairly, but seems to feel maternal cares. I am in an extraordinary weak state, and was quite knocked up the other day by walking to St. Leonards and back, two miles each way. I sleep quite twelve hours out of the twenty-four, which seems to do me more good than anything else at present. I have now written to take passage by the Domino to Bergen on the 26th July. Will will be my companion for a part of the trip. …
“After my holidays I have to write a brief popular book on Labour for Macmillan, and then I hope to have a clear fling at my large Political Economy. The attempted assassination of the President created a great sensation in England. We have, of course, all particulars here in the papers, besides telegrams in the St. Leonards News-room when I can get there. One can imagine the Emperor of Russia saying to himself, ‘Ah, it is not only we autocrats that get shot! …’
“The census reports in England, together with the coal statistics, are wonderfully bearing out my Coal Question, and my opponent, Price Williams, finds the ground entirely cut from under him. Possibly I may next write to you from some retreat in Norway.”
On the 20th July he wrote to his sister Lucy:—
“We leave here early on Friday morning, so that our address will now be Hampstead.
“I have taken a passage for Norway in a boat leaving on Tuesday 26th. Will accompanies me a part of the time, and I shall probably go and stay with Arthur and Kate, but have formed no definite plans.
“We have enjoyed our visit here very much, the weather being so splendid and the long evenings enjoyable. The children are in a high state of health, especially Herbert, who is the picture of health. Winefrid was a little upset with the heat one day, but is quite well now, and looks very pretty running about the sands with her bare feet. Everybody has bathed more or less, but the children have very peculiar ideas on the subject.
“I think I am a good deal better, but need plenty of rest yet before I am really well.”
To Professor Lèon Walras.
20th July 1881.
“I have received with much pleasure the copies of your two memoirs which you have been so kind as to send me. They both treat of subjects interesting to me, and I hope in a little time to study them carefully. I am at present, however, taking relaxation for the improvement of my health, and in a few days I leave home for Norway, to spend five or six weeks there perhaps. My recent application to study has a good deal injured my health, and I have on this account resigned my professorship of political economy at University College. …
“I have been making considerable progress with my large treatise on Economics, which will go over the whole field of the subject. I have also promised to write a small popular treatise on the subject of Labour.
“In a former letter you told me you had learned some particulars of the life of Gossen. I wish that you would either publish these yourself, or send me the facts that I may publish them, in your name, in some English journal.
“I regret that I am so bad a correspondent, but my strength is over-taxed by the work I have on hand.
“I am glad to say I think the mathematical view of economics is making much progress in England, and is fully recognised by those competent to judge.”
To his Wife.
Sweby's Hotel, Bergen, Sunday Morning, 31st July.
“…We have not been very lucky since leaving London. The delay of the steamer for twelve hours was not only vexatious in itself, but has caused us to stay forty-eight hours in Bergen, where the pressure of travellers obliged us to go to a hotel which I should call very second-rate, were it not that it is about as comfortable as the supposed first-rate ones. It is kept by an intelligent Norse captain of a steamer. Then the passage itself was a miserable one. Everybody agreed about that; although the sea was not very rough, the ship pitched so that every passenger, with a single exception, was seasick, and many of them dreadfully so. …
“We got into Stavanger about 12 at night, and stayed there seven hours. I landed with Will and walked about the town for a time, and then slept as well as I could with the steam crane going. …
“It seems that this is a rainy season in Bergen and the west coast. It has been raining for some six weeks here, and still continues to do so at intervals in a sort of steady dreary way which does not suggest leaving off. However, we go aboard the Kong Karl for Molde this evening. …
“Yesterday was a very busy day in Bergen, and I never saw the fish market so full or the Strand Gade so lively.
“I have been in four of the churches of Bergen this morning, including the Roman Catholic and the Baptist. I do not think the Lutheran Church need be afraid of the Dissenters. I have also been to the band in the park, which played in spite of the steady rain. Tell Herbert and Winn that there were a great many little boys and girls listening to the band all in the rain, without umbrellas, and the girls without hats or bonnets. They listened very quietly, and not like the children at the Hampstead band.”
On the 2d August he wrote again to his wife from Molde:—
“We have now got on a stage since I posted my last. The voyage from Bergen, however, has been a dreadfully wet one—almost continual rain—sometimes pouring, and in the latter part a gale of wind. … I had hoped to get into Molde at 2 A.M. this morning, but we were rather late in reaching Aalesund, and when the ship was ready to proceed, in the middle of the night, it was blowing and raining so hard that the captain seems to have delayed departure, and we did not finally get to this hotel till between 7 and 8 A.M.
“…Will continues to be ‘creditably jolly,’ but so far I can hardly claim the like.
“I hope to hear this evening that you and the children are quite well. I want sadly to be back with you again, and though, I suppose, I must undergo three or four weeks more of this travelling, I cannot pretend to enjoy it as I formerly did when travelling with you.
“…Hearing that two Englishmen had been drowned at Molde, I thought you might possibly meet the statement in an English paper and be alarmed lest it should be Will and I, as the time nearly corresponded, I therefore telegraphed from Naes instead of Bergen as I had intended.”
After writing the preceding letter Mr. Jevons went on to Stueflaaten in the Romsdal to join his cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Jevons; he spent about a week with them, and then took the Gudbransdal route to Christiania by himself, returning home somewhat sooner than he had intended. Norway had by this time lost its novelty for him, and the weather having been so bad during the first part of his tour, and his health having made him unfit for much exertion, he had not enjoyed his holiday there as he formerly did. After a few weeks at home he took his wife and family to Malvern Wells.
To his sister Lucy.
Stoneleigh, Malvern Wells, Monday, 26th September 1881.
“We got here in pouring rain on Saturday, but yesterday it turned out fine, and we had a beautiful view from part of the hills, which we all, excepting baby, ascended without difficulty.
“…A curious discovery which I recently made among my books will perhaps interest you. In looking over a series of volumes of pamphlets which I bought a year or two ago, I discovered that the first few volumes were collected by my grandfather Roscoe, and had lists in his handwriting; two or more subsequent owners had continued the series, and one had made a note about ‘Roscoe,’ which first drew my attention to the fact. I have only, however, got a portion of the series, other volumes having been sold before I met with the set. The volumes include copies of some of W. Roscoe's own pamphlets. One of the subsequent owners was named Benson.
“…Yesterday we saw some of the Welsh mountains in the extreme distance, and I fancy we could almost see as far as Rhayader. The Clee hills were quite plain.”
To his brother Tom.
Malvern Wells, 2d October 1881.
“It is quite time I wrote an answer to your and Isabel's pleasant letter of 28th August Please thank Isabel very much for her addition to your letter.
“We have got moderately pleasant lodgings here, and the strolls over the hills in fine weather are very enjoyable. The children are in high feather, and find endless amusement with blackberries, wells, streams, and other peculiarities of the place. ‘Boy’ has walked with me to the top both of the Worcestershire and Herefordshire Beacons, which are at nearly equal distance, without showing signs of fatigue. …
“My health is, I hope, steadily improving after its long depression, and I have been able to write steadily for a few days at my new book on Labour, but I have to bear up as well as I can against depressing influences.
“…In England there is no fear of a real crisis for many years to come. There will probably be ups and downs, but for the present a decided up is in progress. It is possible that, as in 1873, there may be an intermediate check rather than real collapse in 1883 or 1884, but there is no present prospect of any such thing. If peace be maintained there will probably be an unprecedented period of prosperity for the next seven years. I do not say that the same will be the course of events in the United States, for you move so fast that there may be an earlier check. But remember that the same causes which acted in 1873–74, namely, a breakdown of prices and rents inflated by the previous influence of paper money, does not now exist. I do not like the excited and violent tone of American politics, and the prevalence of ‘corner’ and extravagant speculation.”
To his brother Tom.
HôteldeNormandie, Rue St. Honore, Paris, 30th October 1881.
“You will perhaps like to hear a little about the visit which Harriet and I have managed to pay here, leaving the children in the care of John and Lucy, who have kindly taken our places at home. We have now been here nearly two weeks, staying one night in Boulogne—where I wished to see a brother logician, an English tutor there resident—and another night in Amiens. We were very much pleased with the cathedral at the latter town. It is a charming work of architecture—perhaps the most beautiful church, on the whole, that I ever saw.
“Then after buying a few very cheap and valuable French books we came on to Paris, where we have enjoyed ourselves ever since. We have not been to the theatre at all, as I never succeed in finding the way into a French theatre, but we have had concerts, grand dinners, and above all, the Electric Exhibition. The latter alone was worth coming from London to see, being indeed the most beautiful and enjoyable exhibition I have ever seen—and I have seen nearly all the great exhibitions in London and Paris in and since 1851. The various rooms, lighted by different species of electric light, and the innumerable applications of electricity in all modes, are most interesting. We have spent four evenings in the building (the Palais de 1'Industrie), and have by no means exhausted it. Yet it is an exhibition of moderate dimensions, and does not exhaust the visitors. They are going to try to repeat it at the Crystal Palace, but I do not think they can equal what the French have had the genius to originate. On three evenings we have dined at the Grand Hotel, which you probably know. It is rather expensive work, but they are the most enjoyable dinners I have ever had, resembling first-class banquets, without any of the worry of speechifying or the ridiculous twaddle and etiquette of dinner parties. Properly speaking, I believe we ought (that is to say, musical people) always to dine to the sound of music; it produces a placid and exhilarated tone of body and mind, highly conducive to digestion and general wellbeing.
“A large part of my time has been taken up in book-hunting on the banks of the Seine. I have secured almost a trunk full of books on economics, of much scientific and historic value, but often at ridiculously low prices. I am going, by degrees, rather fully into the history of Political Economy in France during the eighteenth century, and book-hunting is in the end the easiest and cheapest way of acquiring the means. We return home on 1st November. Do you remember our changing money at Piccadilly Circus at the rate of 24 fr. = £1? I went there and changed some at 25.20—the full rate!”
On the 3d November he wrote to his friend Mr. Fox-well:—
“I have just been on a book-hunting visit to Paris, and have returned with more than a hundred French economic works. I have met with the original editions of Vauban's Dixme Royale, Boisguillebert's Detail de la France, Le Trosne's works, and a few others, besides plenty of recent economic publications.”
To Rev. Harold Rylett.
Hampstead, 6th November 1881.
“…Though there may have been much to sympathise with in the earlier efforts of the League, all my sympathy with the League ceased as soon as they began to work against the new Land Act. I look upon that Act as the greatest concession that could be made, and one which is a sufficient step towards setting Irish affairs right. Every real friend of Ireland will be found as a supporter of the action of that Act, and the new Court created by it. I do not mean to say that no further reforms are needed. There may be plenty to be subsequently done—the repeal of the Whiteboy Acts, the Consolidation of the Irish Railways, and a good many minor reforms. But these will follow, and they will not be hastened by the intense ingratitude to Mr. Gladstone shown by those who ought to have been his truest followers.
“There can be no doubt that for many years past the fondest hope of Mr. Gladstone has been to redress the wrongs of Ireland, and to restore her to all possible prosperity. If he has made any mistake, it was in the decision of his Cabinet to endeavour to govern Ireland without any extraordinary powers. If I recollect aright, he allowed the Coercion Act of the Tory Government to lapse when he might have insisted on its re-enactment.
“The milder policy would probably have succeeded had good harvests occurred in the subsequent years. But the failure of harvests, and the rejection of the Eviction Bill, frustrated his efforts to maintain the milder course.
“I am sure that no one can possibly regret more than Mr. Gladstone the necessity of reverting to coercion; but coupled as it is with such a noble gift as the new Land Act (not to speak of earlier reform, such as the disestablishment of the Irish Church), I am quite unable to understand how you can be found among his opponents.
“Thanks for the copy of Henry George's pamphlet on the ‘Irish Land Question.’
“I have already got his book on Poverty”
To his brother Tom.
Hampstead, 12th December 1881.
“I was much pleased with your last letter, written soon after your return home. It showed you to be well and happy, with plenty to do. The geological discovery was well worth making, and in America there must be much more field for such things than in this well-scanned country.
“…Our little ones are all quite well at present, I am glad to say, and ‘Lucy Cecilia’ has just begun to walk about the room. She is a cheerful, happy little thing, and completes the trio nicely.
“…I have been working under pressure for a week past, to finish an article for the Contemporary on ‘Married Women in Factories.’ It treats of infant mortality, and I hope you will like the view it takes.
“I am getting towards the end of my book on the State in Relation to Labour, but it involves a great deal of reading and thinking.
“…I want to get on with my large book on Economics, which will never be finished if I take up every task offered.
“I am also intending to bring out a reprint of all my principal articles and papers on Money, etc., under the title, Investigations Concerning Currency and Finance. I hope that it will make a nice volume. You see that I have plenty on hand, but I often feel very unequal to it.
“…I am just going to buy a new piano, but am much perplexed between the makers, who are all so good.”
Mr. Foxwell having expressed a wish that Mr. Jevons would visit him at Cambridge, he had thus written on the 4th December:—
“As far as I can possibly tell at present, I think I could be with you for one night, namely, that of the 19th December, which, I understand, would suit you; but please do not put yourself out of the way; a few hours' quiet chat with one or two fellows is all my nerves can stand just now. I hope they will some time or other be better.”
Before his visit to Cambridge Mr. Jevons spent two nights at Ely, and afterwards went on to Yarmouth to visit Mr. Inglis Palgrave.
To his Wife.
Lamb Hotel, Ely, 18th December 1881.
“I had an easy journey down yesterday, and find everything here comfortable and quiet I wish I could get you to come here. It is in many ways the most striking of all the cathedrals. The weird-looking western tower and the long solemn Norman nave contrast so finely with the central octagon dome and the lovely chancel. However, it is no good attempting to describe such things, and you must come and see them.
“This morning they had an ordination service, beginning with a sermon and ending—so far as I was present—with the laying on of hands by the bishop. There was not much music, excepting a nice introductory from Mendelssohn. But I was interested in the ceremony of ordination until the bishop began a long address, which I understood would last till 2 P.M. Then I went to dinner, nearly all the congregation having gone previously.
“This evening at 4 P.M. we had a very pleasing introductory voluntary, probably by Handel, an anthem by Purcell, as enclosed, which was exceedingly sweet in parts, with symphony interspersed, and then, after an altogether sweetly-sounding service, the organist played the most beautiful piece of Wagner, I rather think a part of the March from Tännhäuser, which produced the best possible effect on the organ.
“…There is an air of repose about these old places which suits me exactly.”
To F. Y. Edgeworth, Esq.
Hampstead, 26th December 1881.
“…I have read your remarks on capital with care and interest; you will excuse my saying that you seem to be still deep in the fallacies of Mill. I fear you have not yet approached to a comprehension of my theory of capital as involving solely the element of time. I now see that the whole theory of the matter is implied in the expression for the rate of interest as given on p. 266 of my 2d edition [Theory of Political Economy]. Some of my other expressions may be misleading. Indeed, as long as you speak of ‘capital' instead of ‘capitalisation,’ I think you are pretty sure to go wrong. However, the matter is too difficult to discuss in a letter, and I hope in a short time to try and write it out more fully and satisfactorily.”
To H. S. Foxwell, Esq.
Hampstead Heath, 1st January 1882.
“I find that I have Playfair's book On the Decline of Nations—a good copy, also the Essai sur les Causes du Declin du Commerce, 1757. Entirely at your convenience you can send the other books. …
“I enjoyed my visit to Cambridge as much as my weak state of health will allow. Unfortunately I suffer from neuralgic pains in the back, which generally come on when they are least wanted. I am getting my book on Labour nearly done. Then I have a collection of papers on Money on hand, and my large Political Economy looming faintly in the distance.”
To the Contemporary Review for this month Mr. Jevons contributed an article, “Married Women in Factories,” his attention having been much drawn to the subject during the preparation of his book, The State in relation to Labour.
To William Crookes, Esq.
Hampstead, 24th January 1882.
“I thank you much for sending me a copy of your beautiful memoir on the viscosity of gases at high exhaustions. I am glad to be able to add it to my collection of your previous memoirs.
“You appear to make perfectly good your theory of the ultra-gaseous state of matter. Although there seems to be no absolute breach of continuity of the properties, yet ultimately the ultra-gas is as widely different from gas, as is that from solid.
“I am also interested in your logarithmic diagram.”
To George Gore, Esq.
Hampstead, 11th April 1882.
“I thank you very much for the copy of your new book on the Scientific Basis of National Progress, which you have been so good as to send me. I have read it with much interest. It develops, very conclusively, the view which you had previously put forth more briefly, and it is impossible not to agree with you for the most part.
“I have, however, never quite made up my mind how far it would be practicable to extend direct endowment of research. That it is desirable and successful, with certain persons and in certain cases, there can be no doubt. But it is a question how far it could be provided for, incidentally as it were. However, it is too large a subject to discuss by letter, and I certainly agree with you on the whole.”
To his brother Tom.
Hampstead, 19th March 1882.
“I have now received the two little clocks, which I found a few days ago at the Athenæum Club. They keep their rooms so hot in the winter that it does not suit my weakened health, and I have been seldom going there of late. I will give Josephine her clock the next time we go to Epsom, probably in a week or ten days.
“Almost worse than the clocks was the fact that I found a letter from the Prince of Wales, signed propriÂ manu, inviting me to the meeting at St James's Palace about the Royal College of Music. Not having known of the letter, I had neither gone nor returned the card nor sent any answer. However, I have now sent a polite explanation to the secretary, and a subscription of five guineas.
“I am just finishing the proofs of my book on Labour for the English Citizen Series. … The reprint of my papers on Money is also proceeding satisfactorily; but a great deal of work is yet needed to complete the book and introduction. I hope you will find it interesting when done.
“I think the Bimetallists have received a final blow in the sudden flood of gold from America In fact almost all the commercial writers have their theories shattered by the sudden return of ease to the money market. I have never had any fear of a real pressure for the present. In England at least there is really no bad business worth speaking of, and where prices of stocks are high it is from excess of caution—people not knowing what to invest in, and therefore buying any safe railway stocks at whatever price they have to pay. The coal trade is rather disappointing at present, but it must mend by waiting; and I am getting five per cent on most of my investments. The iron trade promises well.
“I am almost in despair about Ireland, and I fear that coercion is a mistake. I told a member of the Government last September that the Government ought to grant an amnesty to the suspects on the day the Land Act came into operation (1st October). I believe that if they had taken some such course things would have gone very differently. Although the passing of the Land Act was a great feat of power, the management of Irish affairs has otherwise been unfortunate, and with all his good intentions I fear that Forster is hardly the kind of man to govern Ireland. Lord Dufferin or some man of that kind, with tact and geniality, is needed to influence the Irish.”
To his brother-in-law John Hutton.
Hampstead, 19th March 1882.
“…A few days ago we took both ‘Boy’ and Winn to the Tower, where they were much pleased with the armour, jewels, etc. They were pleased also with the beheading axe, which did not seem to possess any disagreeable ideas for them. I have come to the conclusion that horrors of that sort have no existence for children.”
To his brother Tom.
Hampstead, 30th March 1882.
“…I am feeling a little more free from work, having finished the proofs of my book on the State in Relation to Labour, and also sent to the printer the main part of the copy of Investigations in Currency and Finance. I am now going to make a new start with the large book on Political Economy. I find that gentle work agrees with me better than anything else, especially such interesting work as that of the large book.
“I have just had an offer of an examinership under the Civil Service Commissioners, worth £130 a year. I was also asked to examine at Oxford, but declined that and one or two other examinerships making nearly £200 for the year. My health will not stand the wear and worry of such work, and it does not even pay in the long run.”
To his brother Tom.
Hampstead, 7th May 1882.
“I have just heard to-day (Sunday), by rumour, of the dreadful murder of Lord F. Cavendish and another in Dublin. I fear it will immensely complicate a situation already nearly hopeless. I confess I doubt the wisdom of the course of the Government for some time back. I believe that conciliation should have been tried on the passing of the Land Act. Forster's speech of explanation on his resignation is generally blamed. …
“We have been for three weeks at our seaside retreat, ‘Galley Hill,’ where, however, we had unsettled weather and two severe storms. On the second occasion the sea was nothing but wild surf as far as we could see.
“…I have completed the proofs of my small book on Labour, which is now left entirely in the hands of the printer and publisher. I am nearly half through the proofs of my reprint of papers on Money, but the amount of new work acquired will take six months to accomplish.”
In spite of the stormy weather the spring wild-flowers were in their full beauty about Bulverhythe, and Mr. Jevons during his stay there began to teach his little son the elements of botany. Though want of time had prevented his making a study of botany in his mature years, he had always taken a pleasure in finding out the name of any flower new to him that he met with in his holiday rambles, and he now gave such clear and simple lessons as to excite his boy's interest in the subject at once.
To W. R. Grenfell, Esq.
Hampstead, 7th May 1882.
“I should like to say how sorry I was not to be able to attend the meeting of the Political Econony Club when you brought the subject of Bimetallism forward. I have been far from well of late, and not able to go about to debates. For the same reason I should not feel able to avail myself of an invitation, even if you were to act upon the suggestion you threw out on Friday evening.
“I have been following the controversies on the subject with much interest, and am in fact busily engaged upon a volume, partly consisting of reprints of former papers, with a good deal of new matter, more or less bearing upon Bimetallism. So much labour is, however, required in completing the volume in the way I wish, and in seeing it through the press, that I cannot undertake to answer the numerous arguments put forward in the Bullionist and other publications. My own impression is that this question cannot be wholly ‘laid,’ and that it will recur from time to time in the future as it has in the past. But it seems to me requisite to draw a clear distinction between the speculative aspects of Bimetallism and the practical conclusion applying to us here and' now in England.”1
At the beginning of June The State in Relation to Labour was published as a volume of Macmillan's series, “The English Citizen—his Rights and Responsibilities.” This little book was the result of his maturest thoughts upon the subject; and the conclusion to which he came was, that no hard and fast rules could be laid down for the interference or noninterference of the State with labour; each case must be treated in detail on its merits. “Specific experience is our best guide, or even express experiment where possible, but the real difficulty often consists in the interpretation of experience. We are reduced to balance conflicting probabilities of good and evil.”
To the Rev. Harold Rylett.
Hampstead, N.W., 2d July 1882.
“Not having read Davitt's speech in detail I cannot speak of it, but I do not believe in nationalisation of the land. I am strongly in favour of any scheme tending towards peasant proprietorship, and would like to see the State risk a good deal of money on the enterprise. But the Government must not be the landlords. The people must be their own landlords as soon and in proportion as they can be made to be so; but of course I am aware of the great difficulties in the way. Anything is better than the present state of things. I do not think you need trouble yourself much about Bastiat's opinions in regard to land. They are not, in my opinion, well founded. I have not read George's pamphlet nor his book; but from glancing over the latter I am not inclined to take it up while so many better books are available.
“The remarks in the Economist on your letter were not written by me. Having shown your letter to the Editor in the course of discussion, he wished to print it as a text—and omitting your name I saw no reason to refuse.
“Being an economist and not a politician, I hardly like to venture upon the wide and stormy field of the Irish Question. There can, however, be little doubt that the progress of events tends to justify your position more than it was formerly easy to foresee. I never, indeed, believed in Forster's coercion policy, which struck at the wrong parties, and was calculated rather to irritate than suppress or amend what was wrong.
“I may also add, that though I was formerly of the opposite opinion, both the course of events and the course of my studies have tended to suggest grave doubts as to whether the whole tendency of English agrarian law, policy, and practice is not radically wrong.
“In England the immense wealth and social power of the landowners has disguised the question, but it has broken out in Ireland, and it will break out sooner or later elsewhere. I have quite satisfied myself that whatever may be the economic results, the social and political results of an opposite agrarian policy are infinitely superior to what we experience. Some day I may perhaps try to write out these opinions and support them, but it is too heavy a subject to venture upon in a hurry.”
To M. Luigi Bodio.
Hampstead, N.W., 4th July 1882.
“I return my warm thanks for the beautiful volumes and atlas of the Monograph of Rome and the Campagna, which arrived safely a day or two ago. They will have a place of honour in my library, and are full of interest for me. Since the visit which I had the pleasure of paying to Rome and Italy about ten years ago, I have not ceased to feel a peculiar interest in everything relating to the places visited.
“I thank you also for the Archivio di Statistica and other publications safely received. I have found them very valuable of late, in connection with a work on Money which I am preparing, and of which I shall hope in a few months to forward you a copy.
“I welcome especially the contributions to a history of prices which I find in several places, including the article in the Monograph.
“I had the honour to forward you, a few days ago, a copy of my small book on The State in relation to Labour, which, though small, has been the object of much thought to me.”
To his brother Tom.
Galley Hill, Bulverhythe, Near Hastings, 19th July 1882.
“I am very sorry indeed that so long a time has elapsed since I wrote to you. The last two months, however, form the most busy and distracting time of year to me, and letter-writing is too much like my ordinary occupation to be relaxation.
“You will be pleased to hear perhaps that one of the distractions which took up much time this season was a full course of Wagner's music, which both Harriet and I enjoyed in a degree which we could not have anticipated. We subscribed both for the German opera season and the Richter concerts, and went out about three times a week. The concerts were good enough indeed. It was impossible that a hundred of the best German musicians, led by such an incomparably skilful conductor as Richter, could produce anything but the best music.
“Wagner's newer operas, however, produced as they were at Drury Lane, produced a wholly new impression, such as one will never forget. Having heard the Flying Dutchman much praised, I was a good deal disappointed with it, and even Lohengrin became thin and weak compared with what was to follow. TÄnnhÄuser, however, which we heard twice, and would willingly hear a few times more, stands out as an altogether striking and perfect composition. It is impossible to forget either the ‘Pilgrim'’s March' or the ‘Siren Voices.’ The Meistersinger proved to be a work of a totally different character, and having never before been performed in London, took the musical world there quite by surprise. On the first time of hearing, I was rather wearied by parts which are certainly long, however beautiful, but on a second and third hearing I became reconciled to the whole. The third act especially, in which the Guilds of Nürnberg assemble for the prize song contest, is a beautiful sight, sustained as it is by a continuous stream of music, such as Wagner only could write.
“We also heard Tristan and Isolde once, a work of an entirely different character again, being a kind of musical tragedy, more, in fact, a kind of musical picture of the Arthurian knight and the unfortunate bride whom he was sent to fetch to the king. There are only some half-dozen characters in the whole, and hardly any chorus; but the manner in which Madame Sucher and Herr Winkelmann riveted your attention throughout a long evening was again a wholly new thing. The music was in the highest degree Wagnerian, and I have not retained a scrap of it in my head; nevertheless it was music which seemed to bind the whole story together into one absorbing and beautiful whole. Harriet says that she shall never forget the picture of the noble and faithful knight, and I shall not forget the picture of the love-torn maiden Isolde, as she sat upon the deck of the ship.
“Madame Sucher is in fact an incomparable actress, singer, and musician—all three combined in an almost unique manner. In the concert room she disappointed me, being stiff and almost harsh in the power of her voice. But in the theatre she was all life, and grace, and music such as one will not perhaps hear again.
“These performances made a great sensation in London, and I was glad to assist, at least by being present, at what I consider the complete triumph of true music and art over the wretched Italian opera. No doubt the English and Italian opera will die hard; and Tristan and Isolde was clearly above the comprehension of the London public as a general rule. But Tännhäuser and the Meistersinger charmed every hearer, and I think you may consider that the ‘music of the future’ has established its hold in England.
“…We have now got down to our quiet seaside retreat, where we have a beautiful stretch of shore yet almost our own, and pleasant quiet lanes, and fields and bits of wood, where we can do as we like. At Hampstead you are summoned if you touch a wild-flower.
“Unfortunately Winn caught cold in one eye at Hampstead and has yet to be kept in the house, and the weather is unsettled and windy. But we hope that the children will be all as well as ‘Boy,’ who is in high spirits racing about the sands and constructing all kinds of edifices on the shore.
“I hope you got a copy of my State in Relation to Labour. I have as usual much on hand, but intend to take things as easily as possible for the future.
“We have the Times daily, and I am following the tragic events in Egypt with horror combined with interest. The Arab race are evidently preparing the way for their own complete downfall and eventual extermination, and we can only console ourselves that they are opening the way to a better civilisation.
“…I am going to overthrow my critics on the Employment-of-Married-women question, having pretty surely ascertained, by a comparison of the census and Register-General's reports, that the mortality of children under five years of age is proportional to the percentage of women over twenty years employed in industrial occupations.”
During the first week of his stay at Galley Hill Mr. Jevons wrote a little paper on “Reflected Rainbows” for the August number of the Field Naturalist, a small scientific journal published in Manchester; but the last paragraph of the preceding letter points out the subject upon which he was chiefly engaged. He was preparing a paper for the meeting of the Social Science Association, upon the “Employment of Married Women in Factories,” and every morning, whilst at Galley Hill, he spent two or three hours in examining with laborious care the statistics of infant mortality in every county, and comparing them with the statistics of women employed in work from home. The results obtained for several towns of each county in England and Wales he copied out to be exhibited to the Association. His opinion, as expressed in the above letter to his brother, was “that the mortality of children under five years of age is proportional to the percentage of women over twenty years employed in industrial occupations,” and he hoped to prove that his judgment had not been lightly formed, but was the result of a thorough investigation of the subject.
The sight of his own tenderly cared for little ones, whose health and happiness he watched over with almost too much anxiety, made him realise what the sufferings of these, neglected infants must be; as he himself said that he never could have done if he had not had children of his own; and he had their cause warmly at heart, but the very thoroughness of his statistical inquiries entailed an amount of labour which deferred the actual writing of the paper, so that it was unable to be made use of at the meeting of the Social Science Association.
Until this visit Mr. Jevons had always been particularly fond of Galley Hill, the perfect quiet of the place giving him that feeling of rest which he so much needed. But day after day the wind blew direct from the sea, and this did not suit his health. In little more than a week after the last letter was written he returned home with his wife, partly to see his doctor, and also to make arrangements for a tour in Switzerland which they contemplated taking together as soon as the children's stay by the sea was over. At the end of a week he felt better again, and home was so dull to him, and so unlike itself without his children, that he preferred to return to them. But after a few days the sea air seemed to have the same bad effect upon him; he looked far from well, and said that he was not equal to work,—an admission which he seldom made.
In preceding summers Mr. Jevons had bathed frequently whilst staying at Galley Hill; he was a good swimmer, but he was always cautious about venturing out of his depth. This year he had refrained from bathing on account of his health, but he was so fond of it that this was a great deprivation to him. On the morning of the 12th August, two or three days before the time fixed for their return home, he said to his wife, when they were on the shore, that he thought he might have one bathe before he left. Not thinking him well enough she dissuaded him, especially as the temperature of the water seemed unusually cold for summer, and he did not speak of it again. That afternoon he had a walk with his wife and two elder children along the shore towards Bexhill, returning by the fields, where he gathered bunches of honeysuckle to please his little girl. In the evening, in answer to his boy's questions, he talked to him for. some time about the stars, explaining to him some of those wonders of the heavens that are within a child's comprehension. The next morning, which was Sunday the 13th, he joined his wife and children on the shore for some little time after breakfast, and then returned to the house alone, not speaking of what he intended to do. Galley Hill is a cliff which stands out between two stretches of shore, and after being in. the house a short time he went down to the beach on the side towards Bexhill, his family being on the opposite side of the cliff. A man at a neighbouring cottage saw him going down the cliff with a towel in his hand, and nothing more was known until some little boys saw him floating apparently lifeless on the water, and raised an alarm. A young man bravely tried to reach him but failed, being unable to swim, and a boat had to be procured. There seems no doubt that the shock of the cold water was too severe for his enfeebled health, and that it produced such an effect upon the weak action of his heart as to cause syncope and render him, after the first plunge, quite unconscious and powerless to help himself.
Of his loss to science and the world at large it is not for his wife to speak; of his loss to herself and to his children she cannot speak.
“Jevons,” writes the Rev. Robert Harley,1 “was a man as remarkable for modesty of character and generous appreciation of the labours of others as for unwearied industry, devotion to work of the highest and purest kind, and thorough independence and originality of thought The bequest which he has left to the world is not represented solely by the results of his intellectual toil, widely as these are appreciated, not only in England but also in America and on the Continent of Europe. A pure and lofty character is more precious than any achievements in the field of knowledge; and though its influences are not so easy to trace, it is often more powerful in the inspiration which it breathes than the literary or scientific productions of the man.”
“That Professor Jevons will be missed,” writes the editor of the Spectator “as one of the profoundest thinkers of our time on the philosophy of science, no one who knows anything of his writings will doubt. Yet he had other qualities, not always found in men of science, which make his character as unique as his intellect. At once shy and genial, and full of the appreciation of the humour of human life, eager as he was in his solitary studies, he enjoyed nothing so much as to find himself thawing in the lively companionship of intimate friends. Something of a recluse in temperament, his generous and tender nature rebelled against the seclusion into which his studies and his not unfrequent dyspepsia drove him. His hearty laugh was something unique in itself, and made every one the happier who heard it. His humble estimate of himself and his doubts of his power of inspiring affection, or even strong friendship were singularly remarkable, when contrasted with the great courage which he had of his opinions; nevertheless, his dependence on human ties for his happiness was as complete as the love he felt for his chosen friends was strong and faithful. Moreover, there was a deep religious feeling at the bottom of his nature, which made the materialistic tone of the day as alien to him as all true science, whether on material, or on intellectual, or on spiritual themes, was unaffectedly dear to him.”
The published writings of Mr. Jevons, large as the number is compared with the number of years in which they were written, represent only a part of his work. He had intended to publish a student's edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, omitting some portions of the book, but giving explanatory notes, and commencing with a long introduction on the history of Political Economy, for which he had collected notes. He had also notes prepared for at least three other books, which were only laid aside until his large treatise on Political Economy should be completed. One was the Examination of Mill's Philosophy, previously mentioned; another was to be a further development of his theory of the influence of the sun-spots on commercial crises; and the third he proposed to name the Tenth Bridge-water Treatise. As those acquainted with the Ninth Bridge-water Treatise of Charles Babbage would naturally suppose, he intended to show in this work the perfect compatibility of the teachings of modern science with religion. No one ever thought out this question more thoroughly for himself.
In the Tenth Bridgewater Treatise he would have followed out the lines of thought indicated at the close of the Principles of Science. The materials are in too unfinished a state to make publication possible; but a few brief notes are given here as the best means of showing the religious opinions of his mature life.
“The very wish for immortality, the very protest which the mind makes against its own extinction, gives a presumption that all accounts are not here closed. Whence come these feelings of hope, of confidence in deepest despair, if they are not God-inspired? All else in nature is fairly and reasonably adapted to its end, and must be so adapted, and are the highest products of the course of time mere deceptions?”
“There has been mooted this serious question, Is not any prayer, is not any petition, tendered by the soul to its Creator, vain and useless when the course of events is-irrevocably bound by causes and effects? Can any reasonable man ask that a mountain shall come to him? and is it not equally absurd that in a drought we should meet to pray for rain, and in times of over-abundant rain should pray for sunshine? A single ounce of air or water cannot be diverted from its appointed course without breaking through the framework of nature. The universe might be destroyed and recreated as easily as a leaf be made to fall otherwise than as predetermined causes make it I must confess for my own part that to ask the Creator distinctly for any concrete object or service is not only vain and useless, but it is more—it borders on impiety. It implies an impeachment of His goodness and His wisdom. It is as much as to say that God has ordered things in one way and we think they should be otherwise. But are there no other petitions which we can make? Cannot we ask that God, instead of bending His course to ours, will bend our course to His?”
“A prayer should be no petition at all. It should express but the resolution of the mind to carry out—”
“It is the effusion of feelings which come we know not how, but which as they are, are not less certain than the blazing of a meteor.”
“The human mind is the inexplicable spring of new thoughts, desires, hopes, and fixed determinations in which the Creator works his latest Will. Why do we ever err? Why are not all as good as the best—nay, a hundredfold better? Who can avoid asking such questions in his heart? What theory, what doctrine, can give a sound and final answer? I do not believe that in our present state these questions can be answered. But is it necessary? Does the private soldier enter into all the designs of his leader? Does the dog know his master's thoughts and comprehend that he is rightly checked?”
“There have been writers who, however industrious, were shallow, for they thought that science could account for the course of history. They utterly failed to see that a nation as a whole is the most complicated of phenomena, because not only is each individual different from each other, but any one may act upon the whole in a manner wholly incalculable. Genius or ingenium means inborn powers, of which no one can give a further account. Every symphony of Beethoven was literally a new creation. It was not a mere discovery. It was not the mere discovery of that which was in nature before, and only needed examination. It was a product of man's thoughts and feelings without parallel in anything previously existing, and which, therefore, could not have been predicted by any science.”
“The doctrine that we have descended from apes or higher mammals is only at first sight repulsive. On further reflection, does it not offer boundless hopes of future progress? Among the lower animals, indeed, is the bounded variety—that sameness that is truly hopeless. But man may possess genius. We know not whence it comes, but from the mysterious working of the Primary Cause. Nevertheless, there may arise among the tender nervous cords the thoughts which have not existed before. Where do we find an antecedent for the grand yet tender feelings of the Homeric poems, the mysterious insight of a Pythagoras, a Socrates, or a Plato, the science weaving powers of Archimedes, of Galileo, or of Newton, the high thoughts and beauty of a Raphael, and last, though far from least, the inspired melodies of Beethoven? Surely these are new revelations of existence. It is all very well for poets to speak of history as repeating itself. But it is only a parody of science to attempt by a few rude generalisations to trace out regular laws for the development of so complicated an existence as a nation. Buckle referred the character of a nation to the climate and the soil of its abode. Comte held that nations advance through three distinct phases of intellectual conditions, and was enabled to predict that in the hierarchy of European nations, Spain would necessarily hold the highest place.”
“Truly it becomes impossible any longer to suppose that the human race, which we only know, and still more any special fraction of the human race, are the sole care of Heaven. Those who know the limitless magnitude of the universe, as displayed to us in the heavens, cannot believe that all sentient life is restricted to this planet. Among the stars and nebulæ are extreme differences of constitution and condition, yet the general composition of the matter is similar to that which we can touch and handle on the earth. Elsewhere there exist the very same elements—-carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen—of which our bodies are composed. Among countless millions of worlds, where the elements of life exist, is it to be believed that nowhere but on this earth has life itself been created? It may be so, but in the total absence of evidence to that effect the probabilities tend vastly towards the other conclusion. Assuming that beyond doubt we are the creatures of a tender Providence, it would be a narrow and a selfish feeling that would prompt us to desire that there were not others who should share that care. While there may be lower creatures like those remote ancestors from whom we have doubtless descended, what forbids us also to believe that elsewhere life may have progressed, and individuals may have attained to an intellectual and moral perfection of which we can now form but a dim and solemn notion?”
“For my own part, I believe in more revelation than any narrow Christian doctrinaire.”
“My veneration for Jesus is wholly founded on the heartfelt beauty of His teachings, and the manifest workings of a Divine Spirit in His life and works. The miracles I would believe if they were attested by evidence worthy of the attention of the scientific mind.”
“Jesus had no need of signs but the deep sign of His own pure nature.”
“So far should I be from denying the inspiration of a human mind that I should deny its exclusive occurrence in any age or country. Are not all high thoughts, all pure desires, the gift of God? Are not all hearts moved in more or less degree towards the good they would not otherwise have conceived?”
“I do believe that there spring forth from the human mind and heart—the feelings which science will never analyse—hope and trust and self-devotion.”
See Appendix A.
Obituary notice in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.