Item 178 - Letter from Henry Sidgwick to his mother

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ADD.MS.c/99/178

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Letter from Henry Sidgwick to his mother

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  • 9 Sep [1874] (Creation)

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[Sent from Lincoln]:- Explains that he has been putting off writing because of 'a sense of incompleteness' about his life. Considers his life 'in three aspects'; in relation to his book [The Methods of Ethics], in relation to his enquiry into Spiritualism, and in relation to 'the holiday-making which may be supposed to be the proper business of the month of August.' Reports that Macmillan has decided to take on his book, and to give him half profits. Had urged Macmillan to show a portion of the MS to Mr John Morley, the editor of the Fortnightly Review, because it is 'written in a rather obscure and technical style, intended primarily for students', he [Henry] feared that it was unfair on Macmillan to ask him to take the risk of publishing the book, but Morley said that the book ought to generate a fair amount of interest, and to pay its expenses. Reports that since then he has been correcting proof sheets.

States that he has plenty of time to spare and has been researching Spiritualism. Reports that he went to stay with Lord Rayleigh early in August to meet Mrs Jencken, 'one of the original Fox girls, in connexion with whom these singular phenomena first attracted attention in America in 1848.' Declares that they heard 'an abundance of "raps" ', but that the experiment that they were trying did not succeed. After leaving Rayleigh he spent a fortnight at Hallsteads. Reports that 'many remarkable phenomena had occurred there before [he] arrived, which were all the more interesting because there was no public medium', and gives details of these incidents. Declares that Hallsteads [home of Walter and Annie Marshall] to be a charming place, and that he enjoyed his stay there very much. Reports that all at Lincoln [new home of his sister and brother-in-law] are well, that Mary is apparently very well, and that the boys are 'in excellent spirits.' Offers his 'sincere commiserations on the matrimonial engagement', and hopes that she is bearing up against the blow.

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Publication note

Part transcription in Sidgwick, Arthur, and Sidgwick, E. M, 'Henry Sidgwick'. London: Macmillan, 1906, p 292-293.

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