Item 14 - Letter from Henry Sidgwick to Mary "Minnie" Benson

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Letter from Henry Sidgwick to Mary "Minnie" Benson


  • [Aug-Sep 1861] (Creation)

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Remarks on the length of time it has been since they have been in contact 'except casually'. Claims that he has been waiting anxiously for the other Initial paper.' Urges her not to be lazy, and to write [it], and assures her that she will be glad of it afterwards. Mentions that he heard from their mother about the problems with the drainage, and hopes that 'the Prince is all right now: and that Edward has "repaired the semestrial losses". ' Refers to the fact that he has been offered a mastership at Rugby, and had at first accepted it. Announces that he has now refused it. Admits that he has behaved very badly, but claims that it has cost him much mental struggle to break his word. Thought it better 'not to prolong the error of a day into the mistake of a life.' States that he is going abroad to shake the whole thing off his mind.

Lists some of the reasons why he had accepted the offer in the first place, including the fact that their mother wanting to go there, his wish to live with her and his liking for Rugby, his having such an admiration for Dr Temple, his liking [A.G.] Butler so much, and explains that they all made him neglect the fact that he knows that his vocation in life 'to be not teaching, but study.' States that Edward will understand better than she, and asks her to show him the letter. States that he wishes him to know the truth of the matter, since he will probably hear of it from elsewhere.

Tells her not to send the next paper to him, but to Miss [Annette?] Kitchener in Newmarket, and that if she has anything to say to him, to address any correspondence to Post Restante Paris. Supposes that she has heard from their mother since he left her. States that she 'was quite well then at the Raikes, but she is now at Leeds.' Admits that part of the regret he feels in relation to his conduct is due to the predicted reaction of his mother to it.

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Part transcription in Sidgwick, Arthur, and Sidgwick, E. M, 'Henry Sidgwick'. London: Macmillan, 1906, p 70-71.

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