MATHEMATICS AND CAMBRIDGE MISSIONARIES – A HANDSOME PERSE SCHOOL PRIZE
SIGNED BY THE BIBLICAL SCHOLARS CLAYTON AND SWETE, AND THE LOGICIAN JOHN VENN
VENN, John – Harvey GOODWIN. Memoir of Bishop Mackenzie. Cambridge and London: C.J. Clay at the University Press for Deighton, Bell, and Co. and Bell and Daldy, 1864.
Octavo (185 x 124mm), pp. xii, 439. Tinted lithographic portrait frontispiece by F. Schenck, 2 tinted lithographic plates and one folding tinted lithographic plate by Schenck after C. Meller, 2 folding lithographic maps by Stanford’s Geographical Establishment, one lithographic map by Spottiswoode & Co, and wood-engraved illustrations and diagrams in the text. (Very occasional light spotting, some very light marginal damp-marking, printing flaw on p. 80, folding plate reinforced on fold and with short marginal tears, one folding map creased on fold and chipped at fore-edge.) Contemporary full purple crushed morocco gilt prize binding by J.B. Hawes, Cambridge for the Perse School, upper board with gilt arms of the Perse School, boards with borders of triple blind-ruled frames, spine gilt in 6 compartments between raised bands, directly lettered in gilt in one and with date at foot of spine, bands enclosed by triple blind rules, board-edges roll-tooled in blind, turn-ins roll-tooled in gilt, all edges gilt, cream endpapers. (Extremities lightly rubbed and bumped, very skilful old repair at head of spine.) A very good copy in a handsome prize binding. Provenance: Perse School, Cambridge (prize awarded to:) – W.J. Batchelor, 1865 (1846-1917, presentation inscription ‘Perse School, Mids[umme]r 1865 Writing Prize W.J. Batchelor’, signed by Charles Clayton (who wrote the last two lines of the inscription) as ‘Master’, and Henry Barclay Swete (who wrote the first two lines of the inscription) and John Venn (these last two identified in Swete’s hand as ‘Examiners’.)
First edition. The Perse Free School was founded in 1615 by the will of Stephen Perse MD, a Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, and was originally situated in what is now the Whipple Museum on Free School Lane, Cambridge. After falling into decline in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the school was put back on a proper footing in 1837, and suitable staff hired for the first time for many decades. Among them was Charles Clayton (1813-1883), who was temporarily appointed Master of the Perse School for just one year in 1836, after having been elected junior fellow of Gonville and Caius. Clayton, who had won various Classical prizes and taught Hebrew and Greek, was ‘[w]ell known in Cambridge by his genial character, as a preacher at [Holy] Trinity church, and as the most prominent “evangelical” in the University’ (John Venn, Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College 1349-1897 (Cambridge: 1898), II, p. 218), and he remained a member of the governing body of the school. The presentation inscription in the volume was signed by Clayton and two examiners: the classical and biblical scholar Henry Barclay Swete (1835-1917), a scholar and later fellow and dean at Gonville and Caius, and Regius Professor of divinity from 1890 onwards (cf. Venn II, p. 316), and the philosopher and logician John Venn (1834-1923).
The son of the evangelical divine and Secretary of the Church Missionary Society Henry Venn (1796-1873), John Venn graduated in mathematics from Gonville and Caius College, became a fellow of the College, and was ordained deacon at Ely in 1858 and priest in the following year. Unhappy with parochial life, Venn returned to Cambridge in 1862 (he eventually resigned from the clergy in 1883), where he taught moral sciences, and expanded his research and teaching in logic and probability studies. In 1866, the year after he signed this volume, Venn published The Logic of Chance, and in 1869 his Hulsean lectures, Some Characteristics of Belief, Scientific and Religious: ‘In The Logic of Chance Venn pioneered the frequency theory of probability, in which assertions of probability are understood as purely empirically based judgements of the recurrence of types of events over time, independent of an observer’s feelings. As with much of his work, Venn is here exploring the logic and limits of belief. As with his Hulsean lectures, his advice is to err in favour of scepticism. His originality does not lie in the theory of probability which he developed, nor in his rejection of alternative theories, especially the idea that probability deals with graduations of beliefs. It is displayed in his patient analysis of the wide variety of different and yet legitimate uses of the term probability, which makes theorizing so complex and difficult, his recognition that probability theory had application to a limited proportion of human conduct, and his application of this to the moral sciences’ (ODNB). In 1880 Venn published On the Diagrammatic and Mechanical Representation of Propositions and Reasonings, the work which created his international reputation and describes the eponymous diagrams, used to provide ‘a simple, but highly versatile and functional, visual representation of logical relations using circles in various overlapping and intersecting positions. They are still used to test the validity of a syllogism’ (loc. cit.). In tandem with his works on logic, Venn was the author of a number of works on the history of Cambridge, its university and colleges, and collegiate life, including his Biographical History of Gonville and Caius College 1349-1897 cited above and, with his wife, The Perse School, Cambridge: Notes from 1619 to 1864 from the Admission Registers of Gonville and Caius College and other Sources (Cambridge: 1890).
In this context, this biography of Charles Frederick Mackenzie (1825-1862), the bishop of Africa, was a particularly suitable prize, since it was written by Harvey Goodwin (1818-1891), the churchman and erstwhile lecturer in mathematics at Gonville and Caius College. Goodwin ‘was much concerned with the relationship between science and religion’ (ODNB), and had served at several Cambridge churches before being appointed to the deanery of Ely in November 1858 (the month that Venn was ordained deacon at the cathedral), where he wrote the Memoir of Bishop Mackenzie, which was based on Mackenzie’s letters and other materials subsequently entrusted to him by Mackenzie’s family. Like his biographer, Mackenzie enjoyed a talent for mathematics and was a graduate of Gonville and Caius College, whence he graduated BA from the mathematical tripos in 1848, MA in 1851, and he was a fellow of the college from 1848 until the end of his life. He held various offices in and around Cambridge, including those of examiner for mathematical honours and secretary to the Cambridge board of education, before embarking upon his career as a missionary to Africa in 1855, when he was appointed archdeacon to John William Colenso, the bishop of Natal. After ministering to the English settlers, soldiers and a small congregation of Africans in the Durban area, aided by his sister Alice, Mackenzie returned to England in the summer of 1859 due to illness.
In November of the same year, however, following plans begun after David Livingstone’s speeches at Oxford and Cambridge in late 1857, Mackenzie became the head of the new Universities’ Mission to Central Africa. He returned to Africa, was consecrated bishop of central Africa in Cape Town Cathedral on 1 January 1861, and shortly after met Livingstone, with whom he travelled up the Zambezi, and liberated a group of 84 slaves in the Zambezi valley. Further rescues followed, causing Mackenzie and his party to join the wars in the area – a move that was not uncontroversial: ‘[t]he bishop interpreted the wars as “tribal” and understood his own actions as giving support to the secular authority of his diocese. In practice, the whole region had passed under the control of warlords […]. In December, when three of his party were exploring a shorter route to the Shire, they were attacked under the impression that they were slavers at the village of Mangasanja and two men and some goods seized. Mackenzie engaged the help of the Makololo people, and set out on 23 October 1861 to punish those he believed to be the aggressors, burnt Mangasanja, and recovered the missing men. He then had to hasten to the confluence of the Ruo and the Shire, where Livingstone had arranged to meet him with stores on 1 January 1862’ (ODNB). Problems on the journey caused delays and Mackenzie arrived too late to meet Livingstone, dying at Malo Island of a fever on 31 January 1862, as Livingstone first reported in a letter. Goodwin’s final chapter considers Mackenzie, his deeds and controversial behaviour, from a measured point of view, emphasising the importance of continuing the mission; the verso of the title states that, ‘[t]he profits of the sale of this Work are given to the Funds of the Universities’ Mission to Central Africa’.
This prize volume was awarded to W.J. Batchelor, who ‘was a foundation scholar of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and gained a first class in the Classical Tripos and the position of second Senior Optime in Mathematics. From 1870 to 1882 he was mathematical master and head of the Modern Side at Leamington College, […] from there was appointed to the rectory of Horsleydown, S.E.’, and subsequently he was vicar of Brompton Regis and Winsford, and rector of Whitstone, Exeter, as well as, for ten years, Rural Dean of Dunster (obituary, The Times, 22 Nov 1917, p. 9).
Mendelssohn I, p. 947; Work, A Bibliography of the Negro in Africa and America, p. 211.
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