Item 48 - MS notes in Nora Sidgwick's hand

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ADD.MS.c/105/48

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MS notes in Nora Sidgwick's hand

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  • 17 May 1900 (Creation)

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(1838–1900)

Biographical history

Henry Sidgwick was born in Skipton, Yorkshire in 1838, the son of the Revd William Sidgwick, headmaster of Skipton Grammar School, and Mary Crofts. He attended Rugby School, where his cousin, the future Archbishop of Canterbury, Edward White Benson was a master. Thence he entered Trinity in 1855 where he was elected to a scholarship in 1855. He gained University honours by becoming Bell Scholar in 1856 and Craven Scholar in 1857. In 1859 he was 33rd Wrangler, Senior Classic and 1st Chancellor's Medallist. He became a Fellow of Trinity in that year also.

Although Sidgwick gained a University lectureship in classics, his thoughts began to turn to philosophy, perhaps influenced by his membership of the Grote Club. At the same time he also threw himself into the cause of University and College reform, forming a powerful alliance with Henry Jackson. In the few years after the death of Whewell in 1866, the party of reform were able to achieve a number of their goals, but the religious tests on Fellowships of Trinity still remained, and Sidgwick felt duty-bound to resign his Fellowship in 1869 on grounds of conscience.

In the same year Sidgwick exchanged his lectureship in Classics for one in Moral Sciences and strove to help develop a school of philosophy in Cambridge. In 1875, Trinity appointed him Praelector in Moral and Political Philosophy and in 1885 he was elected Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy and re-elected to his Trinity Fellowship. He held the chair until 1900.

Sidgwick was a strong supporter of the education of women and served at times both on the governing bodies of Newnham and Girton; his wife Eleanor (née Balfour), whom he married in 1876, was Vice-President of Newnham. He died in 1900.

Sidgwick's major publications were Methods of Ethics (1874), Principles of Political Economy (1883), and Elements of Politics (1891)

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Includes the words that Henry would like to have said over his grave 'if it is decided not to have the Church of England service': 'Let us commend to the love of God with silent prayer the soul of a sinful man who partly tried to do his duty. It is by his wish that I say over his grave these words and no more'. Note that this was 'written down May 17 1900'.

Verses 'adopted by Henry Sidgwick. from Tennyson's Palace of Art when he left the Church of England in 1869', beginning with the lines: 'Yet pull not down my minster towers that were/So gravely gloriously wrought'. Page headed 'Henry's Texts', including [biblical] quotations.

Page headed 'Re new edition of Ethics'. Henry's desire is that, if he is not able to finish the revision, The Methods of Ethics 'be put through the press by Miss [E..E. C.] Jones without excerpts [he has] clearly indicated in the book itself or [his] MS notes of lectures that an alteration is required'. Suggests also the addition of a brief explanatory preface.

Additional notes relate to his works and the possibility of their publication. Believes that some of his philosophical works in which he attempts to define the scope of philosophy and its relation to, for example, psychology, logic, history and sociology, are most suitable for publication and study. Refers to a course of lectures on Kant, Green and Spencer 'which will be [more] easily brought out'. Refers also to a course of lectures on epistemology, which was delivered with Sigwart's Logic as a text book, and believes that part of it might be worth publishing. Suggests that [James] Ward might recommend someone who would read these works in order to select the portions he thought worth publishing. Insists, however, that Ward should not spend time on the matter that could be more profitably devoted to his own work. Discusses the difficulties that might be encountered in the publishing of his philosophical lectures, and refers to the part concerned with the relation of metaphysics and epistemology. Refers also to 'a discussion of Külpe's use of the terms and another discussion on idealism and realism, 'which will be found in the bundle relating to Külpe. List of some of Henry's works.

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