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(while mainly occupied with teaching Mathematics at Cambridge), Mansel's Bampton Lectures came into my hands and caused me to think that man's own possibilities were the most important subject for his study. So I gave myself for a time to the study of Metaphysics; but soon passed to what seemed to be the more progressive study of Psychology. Its fascinating inquiries into the possibilities of the higher and more rapid development of human faculties brought me into touch with the question : how far do the conditions of life of the British (and other) working classes generally suffice for fullness of life ? Older and wiser men told me that the resources of production do not suffice for affording to the great body of the people the leisure and the opportunity for study; and they told me that I needed to study Political Economy. I followed their advice, and regarded myself as a wanderer in the land of dry facts; looking forward to a speedy return to the luxuriance of pure thought. But the more I studied economic science, the smaller appeared the knowledge which I had of it, in proportion to the knowledge that I needed; and now, at the end of nearly half a century of almost exclusive study of it, I am conscious of more ignorance of it than I was at the beginning of the study."
In 1868, when he was still in his metaphysical stage, a desire to read Kant in the original led him to Germany. "Kant my guide," he once said, “the only man I ever worshipped: but I could not get further: beyond seemed misty, and social problems came imperceptibly to the front. Are the opportunities of real life to be confined to a few?” He lived at Dresden with a German Professor who had previously coached Henry Sidgwick.1 Hegel's Philosophy of History greatly influenced him. He also came in contact with the work of the German economists, particularly Roscher. Finally Dr. Bateson, the Master of St. John's, was instrumental in giving him a career in life by persuading the College to establish for him a special lectureship in Moral Science.2 He soon settled down to Economics, though for a time he gave
1 He was again in Germany, living in Berlin, in the winter of 1870–71, during the Franco-German War.
: In a conversation I had with him a few weeks before his death he dwelt especially on Hegel's Philosophy of History and the friendly action of Dr. Bateson as finally determining the course of his life. Since J, B. Mayor, the first “ Moral Science lecturer" in Cambridge, had held a similar lectureship at St. John's for some time, whilst the Rev. J. B. Pearson was also a Johnian and a moral scientist, the appointment of another lecturer in the subject was a somewhat unusual step. Henry Sidgwick had been appointed to a lectureship in Moral Science at Trinity in the previous year, 1867; and Venn had come back to Cam. bridge as a Moral Science lecturer at Caius in 1862.
short courses on other branches of Moral Science-on Logic and on Bentham.1
His dedication to economic study-for so he always considered it, not less ordained in spirit than if he had fulfilled his father's desire—was now effected. His two years of doubt and disturbance of mind left on his imagination a deep impression, to which in later years he would often recur with pupils whom he deemed worthy of the high calling—for so he reckoned it, of studying with scientific disinterestedness the modes and principles of the daily business of life, by which human happiness and the opportunities for good life are, in great measure, determined.
Before we leave the early phase, when he was not yet an economist, we may pause a moment to consider the colour of his outlook on life, as, at that time, it was already fixed in him.
Like his two colleagues, Henry Sidgwick and James Ward, in the Chairs of the Moral Sciences at Cambridge during the last decades of the nineteenth century, Alfred Marshall belonged to the tribe of sages and pastors; yet, like them also, endowed with a double nature, he was a scientist too. As a preacher and pastor of men he was not particularly superior to other similar natures. As a scientist he was, within his own field, the greatest in the world for a hundred years. Nevertheless it was to the first side of his nature that he himself preferred to give the preeminence. This self should be master, he thought; the second self, servant. The second self sought knowledge for its own sake; the first self subordinated abstract aims to the need for practical advancement. The piercing eyes and ranging wings of an eagle were often called back to earth to do the bidding of a moraliser.
This double nature was the clue to Marshall's mingled strength and weakness; to his own conflicting purposes and waste of strength; to the two views which could always be taken about him; to the sympathies and antipathies he inspired.
In another respect the diversity of his nature was pure advantage. The study of economics does not seem to require any specialised gifts of an unusually high order. Is it not, intellectually regarded, a very easy subject compared with the higher branches of philosophy and pure science? Yet good, or even competent, economists are the rarest of birds. An easy subject,
1 Mrs. Marshall remembers how in the early seventies at Newnham, Mary Kennedy (Mrs. R. T. Wright) and she had to write for him “ a dialogue between Bentham and an Ascetic."
at which very few excel! The paradox finds its explanation, perhaps, in that the master-economist must possess a rare combination of gifts. He must reach a high standard in several different directions and must combine talents not often found together. He must be mathematician, historian, statesman, philosopher—in some degree. He must understand symbols and speak in words. He must contemplate the particular in terms of the general, and touch abstract and concrete in the same flight of thought. He must study the present in the light of the past for the purposes of the future. No part of man's nature or his institutions must lie entirely outside his regard. He must be purposeful and disinterested in a simultaneous mood; as aloof and incorruptible as an artist, yet sometimes as near the earth as a politician. Much, but not all, of this ideal many-sidedness Marshall possessed. But chiefly his mixed training and divided nature furnished him with the most essential and fundamental of the economist's necessary gifts—he was conspicuously historian and mathematician, a dealer in the particular and the general, the temporal and the eternal, at the same time.
III The task of expounding the development of Marshall's Economics is rendered difficult by the long intervals which generally separated the initial discovery and its oral communication to pupils from the final publication in a book to the world outside. Before attempting this, it will be convenient to trace briefly the outward course of his life from his appointment to a lectureship at St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1868 to his succession to the Chair of Political Economy in Cambridge in 1885.
For nine years Marshall remained Fellow and Lecturer of St. John's, laying the foundations of his subject but publishing nothing. After his introduction to the Grote Club he was particularly intimate with W. K. Clifford ? and Fletcher Moulton. Clifford was chief favourite, though "he was too fond of astonishing people.” As a member, a little later on, of the “Eranus” he was in touch with Sidgwick, Venn, Fawcett, Henry Jackson and other leaders of that first age of the emancipation of Cambridge.
1 The occasional articles belonging to this period are included in the Bibliography below.
2 Clifford, who was three years Marshall's junior, came up to Trinity in 1863, was elected to a Fellowship in 1868, and resided in Cambridge, where his rooms were “ the meeting point of a numerous body of friends” (vide Sir F. Pollock's Memoir), until 1871.