Item 53 - Letter from Arthur J. Balfour to his sister Nora Sidgwick, with notes on Henry Sidgwick

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ADD.MS.b/71/53

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Letter from Arthur J. Balfour to his sister Nora Sidgwick, with notes on Henry Sidgwick

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  • 23 Sep 1904 (Produção)

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1 letter plus notes.

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[Dictated to W. Berwick] Sends her his 'contribution to the Biography', i.e., notes about Henry Sidgwick [included]. States that he is not quite satisfied with it, but does not intend to make any further alterations until he sees it in type. States that he is very glad she was 'able to stay so long, and had such good weather.' Urges her not to overwork herself if she can help it, and adds that they shall probably meet in the late autumn.

Prefaces the account by explaining that his sister Nora has asked him, as one of the earliest of Henry Sidgwick's pupils in philosophy, to supplement, from his personal recollection, 'what has been so excellently said by Professor Maitland and others who came somewhat later...', but claims that he has, in fact, little to add to their statements, and nothing to correct in them. States that he was, as an undergraduate, a fellow commoner, which gave him more privileges than many of his contemporaries. Relates that he [Balfour] came up from Eton to Cambridge in 1866, 'with no academic ambitions, but with the highest expectations as to the gratifications which academic life had to offer...', and claims that Sidgwick was very instrumental in insuring that these expectations were not disappointed.

Declares that Sidgwick offered, in addition to his ordinary lectures, 'a small class for those specially interested in the metaphysical side of the "Moral Science" Tripos...', which consisted, he believes, of only one other student besides himself. Describes these classes, which took place in Sidgwick's room and consisted mainly of conversation and discussion. Refers favourably to Sidgwick's method of teaching, and states that they were 'allowed to forget that [they] were preparing for an examination...', which added to the pleasure of learning. Adds that Sidgwick did not force upon his students the historic method of studying philosophy, and states that altough the study of the history of is important, its importance is 'secondary and derivative', and is not likely to be appreciated by the 'youthful student'. States that he never drove his pupils 'into the arid regions of speculation....' Regrets that he is unable to recall the precise details of his method of teaching.

Claims that the relation between Sidgwick and himself of tutor and pupil 'rapidly ripened into a warm personal friendship....' Relates how Sidgwick was adept at encouraging students. Claims that of all the men he has known Sidgwick was the readiest to consider every controversy and every controversialist on them; that he never claimed authority, never sought to impose his views, never argued for victory, and never evaded an issue. Remarks on the influence HS had over the intellectual development of any who had 'the good fortune to be associated with him, whether as pupil or as friend', and claims that he [Balfour] was 'doubly happy' in that he was both. With amendments and emendations.

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