Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/381

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British Association in 1862 his paper, illustrated by similar diagrams, ‘On the Study of Periodic Commercial Fluctuations’ (reprinted, 1884, in ‘Investigations in Currency and Finance’) was favourably received; and from cognate researches sprang his noteworthy treatise (reprinted ib.), ‘A Serious Fall in the Value of Gold ascertained, and its Social Effects set forth,’ 1863. He applied the same methods on an ampler scale in a paper ‘On the Variation of Prices and the Value of the Currency since 1782,’ read before the London Statistical Society in May 1865, and in another ‘On the Frequent Autumnal Pressure in the Money-market, and the Action of the Bank of England,’ bearing specially on the pressure of the autumn of 1865, and read before the same society on 17 April 1866 (both reprinted in ‘Investigations’).

At the Cambridge meeting of 1862 another paper of his, ‘A Notice of a General Mathematical Theory of Political Economy,’ seems to have fallen flat. Jevons about this time contributed an article or two to the ‘Spectator,’ with the view, as he confided to his ‘Journal’ (Letters and Journal, p. 170), of lightening his style by practice, having an exaggerated impression of its heaviness. Meanwhile he felt the need of some regular employment, and tried a scheme for becoming a general literary agent, undertaking to get up at the British Museum on commission any subject required. Fortunately, in the summer of 1863, the good offices of Professor Roscoe secured him a tutorship at Owens College, Manchester. Here he soon familiarised himself with the business of lecturing, to which later in his career he took a deep dislike; no kind of oral delivery was at any time much in his way.

Early in 1864 was published his ‘Pure Logic, or the Logic of Quality apart from Quantity.’ The system developed in this little volume was largely founded on the mathematical analysis of logic in Boole's ‘Investigation of the Laws of Thought,’ but was here divested of the garb of mathematical language. Among the various papers which during this year he contributed to periodicals was an article on ‘Statistics of Shakesperean Literature’ (Athenæum, 12 March 1864). In April 1865 appeared a work written by him in 1864 upon a subject which had already been for some time in his mind, ‘The Coal Question: an Enquiry concerning the Progress of the Nation and the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal Mines’ (2nd edition, revised, 1866). He argued that within a century the want of coal would seriously check our material progress, and commended to the study of all intelligent persons the problem ‘of almost religious importance.’ The lucidity, width of economical information, and the manly and patriotic tone of the essay failed to secure it immediate attention; but in the following year (17 April 1866) J. S. Mill, in the course of an argument for a systematic reduction of the national debt, referred to Jevons's book as being almost exhaustive of its subject, and as having, hitherto at least, proved unanswerable in its conclusions (Hansard, Parl. Debates, 3rd ser. clxxxii. 1526). On 3 May following Mr. Gladstone, in proposing a scheme, which came to nothing, for extinguishing within thirty-nine years nearly fifty millions of the national debt, cited the opinions of Jevons, and virtually appropriated his argument as to the prospective decline of the material prosperity of the country (ib. clxxxiii. 402). On 13 March 1868 Jevons repeated some of the arguments of his book in a lecture ‘On the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal Mines,’ delivered at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

In 1865 Jevons, who also held a small appointment at Queen's College, Liverpool, was appointed lecturer in logic and political economy at Owens College, and in May 1866 the trustees of the college were at last enabled to create him professor of these subjects and of mental and moral philosophy. The salary, with his own small private income, only made up a total of 400l. a year, but ‘what can I not do with it?’ he wrote buoyantly in his journal (Letters and Journal, p. 226). His spirits were much elated at this time, but most of all, it seems, by a call which he made on Mr. Gladstone (ib.) In the following month he wrote upon Mr. Gladstone's financial policy in ‘Macmillan's Magazine,’ but he never thought of a political career. He was no party man, and was not qualified for debate. Even at Owens College, though for a time member of the council, he took no very active part in business. He was popular both with his colleagues and with his students, though his lovable nature only revealed itself upon a close intimacy. He was passionately fond of music, devoted to the practice of the organ, and fascinated by Wagner. In London he had been an enthusiastic volunteer, in Manchester he became known as an accomplished skater. On 19 Dec. 1867 he married Miss Harriet Ann Taylor, daughter of the founder and first proprietor of the ‘Manchester Guardian,’ and the family life in his house and cherished garden in Parsonage Road, Withington, was unfailingly happy.

During the thirteen years of his residence at Manchester Jevons was, above all, engaged