Item 50 - Letter from Frederick Pollock to Nora Sidgwick

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Add. MS c/104/50


Letter from Frederick Pollock to Nora Sidgwick


  • 4 Apr. 1904 (Creation)

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Is 'out of reach of the bulk of [his] books, not to mention the Athenaeum and the London Library' but says there is 'a good deal about the Metaphysical Society up and down various recent memoirs': mentions Leslie Stephen's life of James Fitzjames Stephen and Wilfrid Ward's book about his father W.G. Ward. Sees no reason why Sir James Knowles, who has the minute book of the society, should not be willing to let Nora see it. States that Shadworth Hodgson is about the only living person who was an active member before he [Pollock] joined the society. Does not think that there is much relevant information on it in Huxley's biography, but suggests that it would be worthwhile to look. States that Dr Martineau was the last chairman of the society.

Remarks that it was surprising that its members stayed together for so long, and states that the Synthetic Society is 'a kind of modified revival of it.' Does not believe that Henry Sidgwick came to the society's meetings often during Pollock's time, but states that he had many better opportunities for discussion with him outside the society. Relates that at one time Knowles 'thought or preferred to think the [society] was going to define the fundamental terms of philosophy and prepare the way for a general agreement', and states that the members certainly were not up to such a task. Refers also to a plan that he and Henry had around 1897 to set up 'a smaller speculative club or brother-hood with enough common tendency to hold it together but no dogmas', but it came to nothing. Is glad that Nora liked his review [of Henry's The Development of European Polity]; states that he was especially impressed by 'the excellence of the medieval part.' Adds that 'the Society was intended to satisfy Tennyson concerning the immortality of the soul', and states that he believes that the latter attended one meeting.

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