The Journal of William Stanley Jevons

  • R. D. Collison Black
  • Rosamond Könekamp


This book I believe to have been a Law Common Place Book belonging to my Uncle Henry Roscoe.1


Original Text Journal Entry Blue Mountain Introductory Lecture Page Blank 


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  1. 5.
    The Rev. John Hamilton Thorn (1808–88), the well-known Unitarian preacher, minister of Renshaw Street Chapel, Liverpool, 1831–54 and 1857–66. He was a man of unusual spiritual authority whose influence extended far beyond his congregation through his printed sermons. Both the Jevons and Roscoe families attended the Unitarian chapel in Renshaw Street (now the site of the Central Hall) for many years and William Roscoe was buried there, the funeral sermon being preached by Mr Thom. See A. M. Holt, Walking Together: A Study in Liverpool Nonconformity 1688–1938 (1938).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    St Michael’s Church, St Michael’s Hamlet, Toxteth Park. The use of iron as a structural material was pioneered in Liverpool, and between 1813 and 1816 three churches almost entirely of iron were built in the city. See R. Dickinson, ‘James Nasmyth and the Liverpool Iron Trade’, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (1956), 108, 88–9.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Heinrich Buff (Zur Physik der Erde) Familiar Letters on the Physics of the Earth, edited by A. W. Hoffman (1851). See entries for 31 October 1852 and 4 November 1855, pp. 67 and 114 below.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Augustus De Morgan, Trigonometry and Double Algebra (1849).Google Scholar
  5. 2.
    E. Smedley, Hugh V. Rose and Henry J. Rose, Encyclopaedia Metropolitana (1845) 25 vols. The article ‘Heat’, by Rev. Francis Lunn, F.R.S., appeared in Vol. iv, pp. 225–40.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    These were unpublished mathematical tracts, prepared by De Morgan for the use of students. The notebook into which Jevons copied these tracts is now in the Library of the University of Glasgow, together with two other notebooks, one containing notes made by Jevons on De Morgan’s ‘Higher Junior’ and ‘Lower Senior’ lectures of 1852–3, the other ‘Notes and Extracts, concerning Lectures on the Pure Mathematics, delivered in University College, London, by Augustus De Morgan, Professor, etc., Session 1860–61’. The three notebooks were bequeathed to Glasgow University by G. A. Gibson, Professor of Mathematics there from 1909 to 1927; there is no evidence as to how they came into his possession. For further details, see R. D. Collison Black, ‘Jevons, Bentham and De Morgan’, Economica, 39 (May 1972) pp. 119–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 2.
    H. V. Regnault, Cours élémentaire de Chimie (1849–50);Google Scholar
  8. M. J. Schleiden, Principles of Scientific Botany, translated by E. Lankester (1849);Google Scholar
  9. John Lindley, The Vegetable Kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the Natural System (1846).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 3.
    Cannon Street has been substituted here in LJ (p. 24) ; however, at the time of Jevons’s visit, Grown Street was situated between Finsbury Square and Bishopsgate Street. See S. Lewis, Atlas to the Topographical Dictionaries of England and Wales (1844).Google Scholar
  11. 1.
    By 1853, Michael Faraday (1791–1867) was nearing the end of his life’s work in the laboratory and lecture theatre of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, established in 1799 for ‘the Promotion, Extension and Diffusion of Science and Useful Knowledge’. He had been made Director of the Laboratory in 1827 and Fullerian Professor of Chemistry in 1833. His great electrical discoveries of 1831 and the electrical researches of the following decade were, after an interval, followed by a new period of discovery, starting in 1845, in the fields of magnetic action on light and of diamagnetism. See Thomas Martin: The Royal Institution (3rd edition, 1961) pp. 32–47.Google Scholar
  12. 4.
    See Journal entry for 31 October 1852, p. 68 above. Social and educational facilities were provided at the Mission, including courses of public lectures by well-known people, which attracted large audiences. At the time of Harry Roscoe’s lecture a distant relative of his, Henry Enfield, was its secretary; his brother, Edward Enfield, who was also closely associated with the Mission, later married Harry’s sister, Harriet (see Harry Roscoe’s letter of 21 February 1854 to Jevons, Vol. II, Letter 35). The annual reports of the Society’s missionaries provide valuable information about the distressed areas of London during the last century. See V. C. Davis, The London Domestic Mission Society: Record of a Hundred Years 1835–1935 (1935) pp. 1–30.Google Scholar
  13. 2.
    At this time the tunnel was virtually a ‘white elephant’. It had been opened in 1843 but only for pedestrians, as Brunel’s project for carriage ways had not been accepted. In 1865 the tunnel was bought by the East London Railway Company and adapted to railway use. See L. T. C. Rolt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1957), p. 313. An earlier visit to the Tunnel by Jevons is referred to in a letter from his father dated 19 November 1850 (see Vol. II, Letter 5).Google Scholar
  14. 1.
    Auguste de la Rive, Traité d’Electricité théorique et appliquée, etc., 3 tom. (1854–58); A treatise on Electricity, in theory and practice [translated from the French by C. V. Walker]. 3 vols. (1853–8). In LJ Mrs Jevons has substituted ‘De la Rue’ (p. 36).Google Scholar
  15. 2.
    Probably H. T. De la Beche: The Geological Observer (1851).Google Scholar
  16. 2.
    Grown Street, Liverpool, is close to Chatham Street. According to R. B. Muir, A History of Liverpool (1907) p. 334, ‘University College was opened in 1882 in a disused lunatic asylum, in the midst of a slum district’. As the original University College was in Crown Street, the asylum was presumably the one of which Roscoe Jevons was an inmate.Google Scholar
  17. 3.
    The Midland ironmasters held regular quarterly meetings in order to fix prices and regulate conditions of sale. See J. H. Clapham, An Economic History of Modern Britain : The early Railway Age, 1820–1850 (1926–38).Google Scholar
  18. 3.
    At the time of Jevons’s visit, the Hunter River district rated second only to the gold-fields in importance to the colony. The coal measures there (see below, p. 125) were being mined only on a small scale at Maitland and at Newcastle, where the river enters the sea. The port for the Hunter Valley was upstream from Newcastle, at Morpeth, where the navigable passage for steamers ended. (See below, p. 126.) See Oswald L. Ziegler, Symphony on a City, The story of the City of Newcastle, New South Wales: its birth, its development and its place in Australia (1957).Google Scholar
  19. 3.
    Reverend John Woolley, M.A., D.C.L., was Principal of Sydney University (inaugurated in 1852) and Professor of Classics. He took a prominent part in the social life of the colony and in the running of the School of Arts — of which he was Vice-President in 1856. He delivered many public lectures on education and other subjects. (H. E. Barff, A Short Account of the University of Sydney in connection with the Jubilee Celebrations, 1852–1902 (1902).)Google Scholar
  20. 1.
    These would probably have been held at Homebush, about eight miles out on the road to Parramatta. (See Birch and Macmillan, The Sydney Scene 1788–1860 (Melbourne, 1962).Google Scholar
  21. 2.
    E. C. Gaskell, Life of Charlotte Bronte, 2 vols. (1857).Google Scholar
  22. 3.
    G. Hogarth, Memoirs of the opera in Italy, France, Germany and England (1851) Vol. 11, pp. 201–2.Google Scholar
  23. 1.
    ‘Notice of a General Mathematical Theory of Political Economy’ had been read before Section F of the British Association at its meeting in Cambridge at the beginning of October, together with the second paper entitled ‘On the Study of Periodic Commercial Fluctuations, with five diagrams’. Both papers were summarised in ‘Proceedings of Sections’, pp. 157–8, Report of the Thirty-Second Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Cambridge in October, 1862 (1863). For a comment on the total lack of interest in Jevons’s ‘Notice’, see R. D. Collison Black, ‘W. S. Jevons and the Economists of his Time’, The Manchester School, xxx, No. 3 (September 1962) 205–6, in which Professor Black points out that this was the more surprising because Macleod read a paper advocating a mathematical approach to economics at this same meeting. However, as Lord Robbins has said, ‘… there can be no doubt that his great idea, the idea that the origin of the objective exchange values of the market was to be traced to the subjective valuations of individuals, was very revolutionary. However much we emphasize the continuity of analytical tradition, we must admit that the vindication of this idea has shifted the whole emphasis in such a way as to deserve the name of revolution.’ (Lionel Robbins, ‘The Place of Jevons in the History of Economic Thought’, Centenary Address to the Manchester Statistical Society, delivered 27 February 1936, p. 5). Jevons had learned to be prepared for his work being received without interest. On 14 September 1862, he wrote to Herbert: … ‘I have resolved, however, at last to let out my theory of economy, and have accordingly written a short paper entitled, “Notice of a General Mathematical Theory of Economy”…. Although I know pretty well the paper is perhaps worth all the others that will be read there put together, I cannot pretend to say how it will be received — whether it will be read at all, or whether it won’t be considered nonsense….’ (See Vol. II, Letter 165.) The paper on commercial fluctuations similarly failed to create the slightest interest and it was only printed completely posthumously as Item I in Investigations in Currency and Finance. The Theory was printed in full in the Statistical Journal, xxix (1866) p. 283 and as Appendix III to the fourth edition of Theory of Political Economy.Google Scholar
  24. 2.
    The sentence ends here as the next page of the Journal has been torn out. On the page following this entry, a press cutting and a ticket of admission have been pasted into the Journal, and on the reverse side is pasted the letter from Mr A. Macmillan mentioned by Jevons in his entry for 5 March 1866 (see p. 202 below). The press cutting is the official announcement of Jevons’s appointment in May 1865 as Professor of Logic, Moral Philosophy and Political Economy at Queen’s College, Liverpool. The ticket is for admission to his Introductory Address on the evening of Monday, 2 October, on the subject of ‘Reading and Study’. Although Jevons was in fact appointed to two distinct professorships at Queen’s College, Liverpool — Logic and Moral Philosophy in April, and Political Economy in May 1865 — his duties only required attendance at the College on one day in the week. In the session 1865–6 he had four day and eight evening students in Logic, five day students in Moral Philosophy, and two evening students in Political Economy. On 5 June 1865 the Council of Queen’s College resolved ‘that it would be well if at the opening of the next session a well-considered address were delivered by one of the Professors, and they suggest that if the Faculty have no objection Mr. Jevons be requested to undertake this office’. Jevons served as Professor at Liverpool for only one year, resigning on 7 June 1866, on his appointment to the chair at Owens College. (See Minute Book of the College Committee, Liverpool Record Office, 373/INS/1/12/2.) Queen’s College, Liverpool, was incorporated by Royal Warrant in May 1857 with two Faculties, Arts and Law, and Medicine. It was in fact a department of the Liverpool Institute: most classes were given in the evening and attendances were generally small. In 1881 the title ‘The Queen’s College’ was dropped and the classes were amalgamated with those existing in the Liverpool Institute. See H. J. Tiffen, History of the Liverpool Institute Schools (Liverpool, 1935).Google Scholar
  25. 4.
    George Boole, An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on which are founded the mathematical theories of logic and probabilities (1854).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 2.
    The Reverend Samuel Alfred Steinthal was minister at Platt Chapel in Rusholme, the district in Manchester where Jevons was living. His name is an honoured one amongst Unitarians for his work for the abolition of slavery, domestic missions and other social causes. See G. E. Evans, Vestiges of Protestant Dissent (Liverpool, 1897);Google Scholar
  27. also R. V. Holt, The Unitarian Contribution to Social Progress in England (1938).Google Scholar
  28. 3.
    Jevons possibly had in mind J. S. Mill, An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy, and of the principal philosophical questions discussed in his writings (1865). He continued this sentence, ‘… & be to the present time what — was to a past century’ but crossed it out.Google Scholar

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© R. D. Collison Black and Rosamond Könekamp 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Collison Black
  • Rosamond Könekamp

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