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Letter from A.V. Dicey to Nora Sidgwick

Discusses Henry Sidgwick's work The Development of European Polity, the proofs of which he has just finished reading; finds it more complete than he had though possible. There are many points in it that he would have liked to have discussed with Henry; for example, that he attaches far less weight to 'Seeley's speculations about the Government of England during the XVIIIth century' than Henry appears to do. Refers to Henry's thoughts about Switzerland; is certain that had he lived to complete the book he would have dealt with the issue of how 'in the Swiss cantons there never arose a tyrant....'

Now, since the substance of the book cannot be changed, he has little or nothing, as a critic, to say about it; says, however, how deeply the book impressed him with its value, and praises it as a work of historical speculation. It has been of real help to him in his attempt 'to trace the connection between Law and Opinion during the XIXth century'; gives further details, with reference to collectivism, individualism, socialism, Benthamism, despotism, the relations between Church and State, the development of constitutionalism in England and the emergence of the modern state, as well as the 'Factory Acts', the 'Tory Philanthropists', [J.S.] Mill, and [F.D.] Maurice. Is certain that there are many other people to whom the book will be helpful 'by the direction it gives to their thought and by the mode of thinking, which it encourages.'

Remarks on how sad it must be for Nora to have before her the constant feeling of how much more Henry could have done had he lived longer, but hopes that she can understand what a pleasure and comfort it is to his friends to have the book 'as such an exquisite memorial of him.' Is sending back the proofs separately. Will visit his cousin [Caroline Stephen] at 'The Porch' on Saturday 29 November, and is to spend Sunday there; asks Nora if she will be in Cambridge, as it would be a great pleasure for him if she could see him. Referring back to The Development of European Polity, remarks that he noticed that 'every now and then there were passages where the expression "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" seemed to [him] to have got a little confused', and suggests that 'two pieces from different lectures might have been joined together'. Regrets to say that his wife, who is at Tunbridge Wells, is not very well. Asks for Miss Fawcett's address in South Africa, as he wishes to send her a copy of the sixth edition of his book The Law of the Constitution, which is just coming out.

Dicey, Albert Venn (1835-1922) jurist

Letter from A.V. Dicey to Nora Sidgwick

Has read seventeen chapters of [Henry Sidgwick's] The Development of European Polity, and is certain that it ought to be published. The idea of the book 'as a sort of comment upon the results of history' strikes him as 'extremely original'; praises the skill with which it is executed. His own series of lectures on the comparative study of constitutions has made him realise the difficulty of the task that Henry had undertaken. Refers to his own effort 'to give some account of the connection between Law and Opinion in England during the Nineteenth Century', and to the difficulties he has met. Declares what an immense impression the book has so far made on him, and predicts that it will add greatly to Henry's reputation. Expresses his surprise that the work was not in a more fragmentary condition that it is.

His wife Elinor is away for the winter and at Tunbridge Wells at the present, and is unlikely to return to Oxford until the end of the season. Expresses the wish that it were now possible 'either to admit women to seats on County Councils or to make it to a certain extent compulsory that there should be women on the Committees for managing schools', but observes that the Opposition 'seem to occupy so much time in attempts to injure the Government, that they make it impossible to consider and debate changes [which] might be real improvements. Adds that he believes that he should be equally unwilling either to assail or defend the Bill. Tells her to let her know if she is ever in Oxford.

Dicey, Albert Venn (1835-1922) jurist

Letter from Albert Venn Dicey to Nora Sidgwick

Reports that he has just received a 'cheering account' of Henry Sidgwick's progress from H. Jackson, and so ventures to write to her. Assures her of how grieved he has been 'in common with so many other friends...at Sidgwick's illness and the consequent resignation of his professorship, and of the value he and others place on Henry's friendship. Thanks her for her letter to his wife, in which she refers to his having undergone the operation successfully. Refers to the Sunday that the Sidgwicks spent with them as one of two or three days in his life which he would not have missed for anything, but fears that it must have been 'a day of fearful anxiety and depression' for them. Sends Henry his love, and asks her to tell him that all his friends are thinking of him and hoping to see him again. Apologises for having typed the letter, claiming that his writing is illegible.

Dicey, Albert Venn (1835-1922) jurist

Letter from Albert Venn Dicey to Nora Sidgwick

Writes on the death of Henry Sidgwick. Assures her what a terrible loss it is to him, and of how great a value to him Henry's friendship and advice have been over the years. Claims that he was 'the most truthful, the most searching and the most sympathetic of critics', and then when he was last at Cambridge he read through Henry's article on Bentham in the Fortnightly [Review], and looked forward to discuss it with him. Claims that he was 'all a professor ought to be and can be in England', and how he himself, and many others, have profited from Henry's example, and trusts it may continue to help him while he teaches at Oxford. Claims that he owes thanks mainly to Henry for 'the Cambridge L. L. D.', and that the latter gave him [Dicey] encouragement when he was out of heart about his work. Also expresses his thanks to Nora and Henry for their having come to him [and his wife] for the previous Ad. Eundem meeting, and realises now that that visit to Oxford 'must have been a fearful strain and effort'. Mentions with fondness 'the Sunday with Sidgwick and...the bright meeting to hear his essay on Green.' Claims that these memories, and his last few minutes of conversation with him in London will now remain with him as cherished memories. Concludes that Henry's life 'has been a joy as well as a blessing' to all who knew him.

Dicey, Albert Venn (1835-1922) jurist

Letter from Albert Venn Dicey to Nora Sidgwick

Thanks her for the copy of Henry Sidgwick: a Memoir, which he has just received. Is sure that it will 'be of such intense interest to any one who cares for originality and beauty of character....' Does not believe, however, that any writing 'can convey all that made [Henry's] conversation so delightful to his friends.' Asks her to send him the letters from him to Henry, to which Nora refers, and states that he shall probably destroy them. Presumes that they are mainly about Home Rule, and remarks that he doubts that the Union will now be maintained. States that he will probably be in Cambridge the following term, and hopes to meet her.

Dicey, Albert Venn (1835-1922) jurist

Letter from A.V. Dicey to Nora Sidgwick

Reports that he finished reading Henry Sidgwick: a Memoir that day, and remarks on the perfect way in which Henry's life 'is told in his own words.' Declares that the book 'revives the sense and memory of his charm', which, he claims 'can only very imperfectly be conveyed to strangers.' States that the three 'most brilliant talkers' he has known were Henry Smith, Henry Sidgwick and Cotter Morison. Refers to Henry's 'passionate love of truth' and to the 'immense amount of good work' that he achieved.

States that 'the only depressing thing in the Memoir is the 'terrible sense it brings upon [him] of the way ones [sic] true failure to achieve much in life is due to selfishness producing indolent aimlessness', and refers to Henry's resolve and desire to pursue what was right. Refers to his own works The Law of the Constitution, and Law and Public Opinion in England, and to the positive references made by Henry to the former, and states that as he reads his letters he longs to talk over his book with him. Thanks Nora for reviving in her book 'so many good and helpful memories of one of the best and kindest of friends'. Adds a reference in pencil to a particular memory of Henry he had.

Dicey, Albert Venn (1835-1922) jurist

Letter from A.V. Dicey to Nora Sidgwick

Encloses a note written by Henry Sidgwick relating to a lecture of Dicey's 'on Party Government', which he also encloses [neither included]. Would like to have the note back, as it is the only piece of Henry's handwriting which he possesses. Refers to the election at Woolwich as 'a very formidable sign of the times', but claims not to care for it very much as a Unionist defeat. Believes that collectivism is becoming stronger and stronger, and that if every one who 'looked with suspicion on Collectivist or Socialist ideas were likely to oppose them...perhaps some good might...be done by a movement which at any rate brings into view the wants, wishes and even the delusions of the wage earning classes.' Remarks that the idea that the opposition ought to support the Government on matters where their principles coincide has died out....' Refers to 'Mr Crooks's triumph', and the destruction, as he sees it, of 'Individualistic Liberalism'. Predicts that the moderate Liberals will vanish in England 'as they have done in Belgium'. Also encloses a note on Allen vs. Flood [not included].

Dicey, Albert Venn (1835-1922) jurist