106. Harrod to J. M. Keynes , 25 March 1926 [a]

[Answered by 107 ]

47 West Cromwell Road, SW5,London

25 March 1926

Dear Keynes.

I enjoyed your article on Edgeworth very much. [1]

I had seen a good deal of him lately and grown very fond of him.

He was in superb form at our Political Economy Club at a meeting last term. Joseph had read a paper trying to show that economists used the word value in no intelligible sense. This roused Edgeworth to defend the notions of total and marginal utility at considerable length. Having dismissed Joseph's difficulties, he turned in his seat and said with emotion, "I appeal to the younger generation." Then he made a wide survey tripping about with his wonted delicate step among the theories of Cournot and Walras and Cassel and introducing without a waver of hesitation his classical tags and other fantastic ornaments of speech. He ended with a rhetorical laudation of the Jevonsian economist--"vicisti, Galilei." [2]

I went to his last set of lectures, given about two years ago . They were most exciting. For a time he tumbled about, inaudible and confused, paving the air with his hands, as tho making some great effort, and then he suddenly emerged into a fascinating passage of perfect lucidity. [3]

I have instructed our librarian (Christ Church) to ask you for a copy of Mathematical Psychics. [4] I hope he will do so. Not at once perhaps, however, owing to the vacation. If you retain a copy for us you will serve the general good, as I shall then be able to release my long imprisoned London Library copy.

I am always hoping for spare time in which to try to master his more complicated things, but your article was, I am afraid, convincingly discouraging about the utility of that endeavour.

Not that I have great illumination at this moment about the utility of any possible disposition of my academic endeavours!

Yours very sincerely

Roy Harrod

  1. 1. J. M. Keynes, "Francis Ysidro Edgeworth 1845-1926", Economic Journal XXXVI, March 1926, in The Collected Writings of John Maynard Keynes, volume X, pp. 251-66.

    2. H. B. W. Joseph's paper also stimulated an exchange of correspondence with Harrod: Joseph's letters to Harrod are reproduced here as letters 95 and 96 .

    3. One of these lectures is mentioned in letter 68 to Edgeworth, [jump to page] . Harrod also described Edgeworth's lectures in "L'Université d'Oxford" ( 1937:5 ), pp. 79-80; see also letter 82 R, [jump to page] . Harrod later stressed that, contrary to Keynes's opinion that "Towards the end of his life it was not easy to carry through with him a consecutive argument viva voce--he had a certain dissatisfied relentless of body and attention which increased with age and was not good to see" (Keynes, "Francis Ysidro Edgeworth 1845-1926", p. 265), in his last years Edgeworth's attention was undiminished and that "right up to the end he was able to make detailed comments" (Harrod, retirement speech to the Sub-Faculty of Economics, 1967, cited in Young and Lee, Oxford Economics and Oxford Economists, 1993, pp. viii-ix).

    4. F. Y. Edgeworth, Mathematical Psychics. An Essay on the Application of Mathematics to the Moral Sciences, London: Kegan Paul, 1881.

    1. a. ALS, two pages on one folded sheet, in JMK EJ/6/6/53; photocopy in HP II-200.


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