648. D. H. Robertson to Harrod , 1 April 1937 [a]

[Answered by 651 ]

Trinity [College, Cambridge]

1 April 1937

My dear Roy,

These objects [1] have now come, so I send you a couple,--one to keep clear and one to scribble on in case, as I hope, you feel moved to write a note for the Canadians.

I had a great controversy with myself as to whether the oft re-written note on p. 126 was fair, & decided that it was. Now, esp[ecially]. after reading Hawtrey, [2] I think it probably is not, & that I allowed the extreme irritation generated by your pp. 67-8 to find a vent. Though I believe that even now it might be argued that you do not stick consistently to your amendment of JMK's sterile truism, & that both you & Hawtrey need to be more explicit (like the Swedes) about the unplanned saving which takes place at each phase of the expansory process (not only the unplanned disinvestment) if you are to provide a satisfactory alternative to the definitions employed by those who have preferred the so-called "guilty fallacy". [3]

But if you do write a note for the Canadians, you might say, or give me a chance of saying in an annexe, that I am not satisfied with the note.

You wrote me a delightful letter, after a week-end which I enjoyed very much. [4] And it is very kind & encouraging of you to urge me to write a book. But I somehow don't think it will happen. I feel doubtful whether there is now really much more to be said about all this in a general way: & the alternative seems to be to write statistical studies of particular industries and episodes, for which I am (a) ill-equipped, (b) too lazy. I am just off to Geneva to look at Mr. Tinbergen's figures. [5]

I have just written a long letter to Hawtrey about his book. There is much in it which I find very sympathetic, though I can't swallow his main conclusion,--& find his Theory of Machinery very odd. [6]

Ever yours


  1. 1. Robertson refers to the offprints of "The Trade Cycle. By R. F. Harrod" (1937). One of the copies was inscribed "RFH in some contrition from DHR." (HP IV/990-1069d/48). Robertson had already commented on Harrod's reaction to his review in letter 625 .

    2. Hawtrey, Capital and Employment (1937).

    3. Robertson commented as follows in the margin of his copy of The Trade Cycle (Harrod 1936:8 ): on p. 67, he marked with an exclamation mark lines 4-5. On p. 68, he underlined the words "fallacy" and "guilty fallacy" on lines 7, 11 and 22; he marked the first 11 lines with a sinuous line in the margin, and wrote above them "Idiotic rubbish!"; he underlined the words "pertinent question" on line 32, and noted: "But with these definitions there is no question!" (Robertson's copy of Harrod's book is deposited at the Marshall Library in Cambridge).

    4. This letter was not found. It is not clear whether Robertson is referring to the weekend of 14 February (see letter 625 ), or whether there had been a more recent occasion.

    5. On Robertson's role in the League of Nations' inquiry into trade cycle theories see note 1 to letter 606 .

    6. Robertson's letter to Hawtrey does not survive. However, a copy of Hawtrey's reply (in HTRY 10/78) indicates that it was written on 31 May. Hawtrey's comment on "Services of machinery" indicates that Robertson referred to passages on pp. 51-52 and 182 of Capital and Employment.

    1. a. ALS, two pages on one leaf, in HP IV-990-1069d/49.

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