Item 61 - Letter from Henry Sidgwick to his mother

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Add. MS c/99/61

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Letter from Henry Sidgwick to his mother

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  • [29] Jan 1866 (Creation)

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Confirms that the box arrived. Regrets to hear that she is not yet recovered; he did not realise how ill she was, probably because she was doing so much, but declares that he ought to have known her better by this time. Is glad that she thinks that Martin [Benson] is like him, and hopes that he will turn out better; says he thinks a 'tide' in his own affairs, a few years ago, might have 'led [him] to greatness' had he taken it and hopes Martin may 'have as good opportunities and make more use of them'. Remarks that Martin surprised him by the extent to which he appreciated things, but thought that he had 'less character than Arthur', which may also be true of Henry himself when he is compared with either of his brothers.

Refers to Dr [Rowland] Williams, and admits to have been impressed with 'his courteous deference to the opinions of those who were arguing with him, and his candour'. Reports that Cowell has slight disease of the lungs, but states that the dangerous part of the ailment is the heart, which his father believes that he cannot get over. Of his pupil Lord Lorne, remarks that he is not very intellectual, but very charming. Reports that he did not see any more of 'the young ladies' of whom his mother speaks. Tells her to dismiss the notion that she may have had that he was 'making love to one of them.' Declares that his is studying Metaphysics, which is 'very absorbing', but bad for the digestion. Confirms that he knows Carlos Smith slightly, and states that he is a very accomplished man. Informs her that 'he plays beautifully on the piano and knows six languages.' Reports that he stayed two days with his friend Noel, who is also 'absorbed in Metaphysics'. Says he knows nothing about Ecce homo [by J. R. Seeley, published anonymously] but reports that everyone there speaks highly of it; had decided not to read it after seeing a review, but realises he will have to. Expresses his extreme regret at hearing about Tryphosa [Lace, his cousin].

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Part transcription in Sidgwick, Arthur, and Sidgwick, E. M, 'Henry Sidgwick'. London: Macmillan, 1906, p 139-140.

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