The Papers of George Boole, F.R.S. (1815-1864)

Section 1

A. Letters of George Boole

II. Letters from George Boole to his mother and brothers

i. To his mother


1 pages
25 June 1849

Typed copy from Boole in London to his mother describing his stay there (he is working there as an examiner). He has been to many of the famous attractions including the Panorama of the Mississippi. His health is good but he gets nervous when walking crowded streets. He mentions a dinner he attended which was 'a dull piece of magnificence like most London dinners I suppose', and adds the noise of waiters constantly bringing and removing dishes was very disagreeable. Sends best wishes to neighbours.


2 items
23 Oct 1849

Original plus typescr1pt copy from Boole in Dublin to his mother from where he is leaving for Cork in the morning. He describes his stay in Dublin where he met some 'very pleasant people' who all knew Cork and assured him he would be very happy there. He also met some of his future colleagues including Sir Robert Kane who 'is I think from all that I see of him a very kindhearted man.' Mentions that he was well received by the Fellows in Trinity College.


4 pages
30 Oct 1849

From Boole in Cork to his mother discussing his new position. Examinations have begun and he expects a large number to apply for them. The students he has seen appear to be very intelligent. Their number is supposed to increase in the coming year, with Dr. Bullen hoping 200 - 300 will enrol. Boole though doubts that figure. His lectures begin on the 10th or 12th and he has been given a free hand 'to form my own school of Mathematics' by Dr. Ryall, the Vice-President. The official opening is to be on the 7th. He talks of a walk he took by the Lee which he felt was as beautiful as Derbyshire. He mentions his landlord Mr. O'Brien, as being 'a farmer on a rather large scale.'


4 pages
1 Nov 1849

From Boole in Cork to his mother describing his new life. The exams finished but as a smaller number of students then expected entered there is to be another in January, he also describes his lecturing duties. He finds Cork very hospitable but mentions being at a dinner which started with truffles and champagne which he felt to be in bad taste considering the state of the country. He has decided to limit himself to accepting one invitation per week. He finds Cork very pleasant for walking, although the air is damp it is pure, his colleagues he finds very likeable especially the President and Vice-President but adds 'these of course are first impressions.' He expects his expenses to be few and mentions he is involved in a scheme to open a school masters club in the college.

BP/1/143 (See Also BP/1/135)

4 pages
21 Nov 1849

From Boole in Cork to his mother giving her general news. He is getting on well with his students who are quiet and attentive. The weather is very wet so he uses a hot water bottle to keep his sheets dry adding: 'I have a dry bed and that is almost the only dry thing about me.' The roads also are all flooded but he has heard it is unusually wet. At his lodgings he is allowed have guests to dinner and Dr. Ryall and Mr. Logan are both coming. Mentions there are 15,000 Protestants in Cork and that so far he has liked all the preachers he has heard. He went on Sunday to Mr. Logan's chapel and then to his country home which reminded Boole very much of England.

BP/1/144 (See Also BP/1/135)

4 pages
29 Nov 1849

From Boole in Cork to his mother giving her news of his new life. He is getting on well with his classes and likes them more and more. He describes his lodgings which cost £6 per month and consist of a bedroom, a sitting room and a third little room. He takes his meals with Albani and De Vericour in Albani's large room. Of Albani he says he is a 'very amiable and clever man, a good logician and mathematician' and state they get on well. He also mentions Mr. Logan 'a most estimable man actively engaged in all the benevolent societies of the place .... but holding himself apart from those which are exclusive.' He sends his regards to their neighbours and mentions receiving a letter from Mr. Brooke which he enjoyed 'the gloomy prophecies excepted.'


4 pages
Nov 1849

From Boole in Cork to his mother giving news of Cork. He requests her to forward to Mr. Wilson the copy of the Southern Reporter sent to Maryann by De Vericour. It is raining constantly but is not cold; he has his sheet aired every day. He usually takes a walk before breakfast each morning when it is fine before the rain sets in for the rest of the day. He feels the dampness is affecting his health. He sends his best wishes to neighbours and requests Mr. Collins to post over some manuscripts work of Boole's.


7 pages
9 Dec 1849

From Boole in Cork to his mother mainly discussing the people he met in Cork, including Mr. Logan who invited him to stay at his country house which he did and remarks it reminded him greatly of England. Logan has three sons and three daughters, 'amicable and sensible young people'. He invited one of the sons who is delicate to England for a change of air. He adds, 'I have my short stay in the county established besides many pleasant acquaintanceships at least one valuable friendship.' Today the weather was fine, 'an uncommon event' and he heard an eloquent and sensible sermon by Mr. [Millaren] and comments the churches in Cork are better attended than those in Lincoln. He states he shuns society as he has no wish to make acquaintancesh1ps which are more easily begun than broken off. Mentions Edward Larken who is well but not working too hard, and adds he would like to find him a position in Lincoln.


4 pages
9 Jan 1850

From Boole to his mother letting her know he arrived safely in Cork. A fellow traveller was the Archbishop of Dublin whom Boole found amusing and instructive. The college is expecting 25 new students, and he states all his friends are well. He requests her to preserve his letters as he wants to record his impressions of Ireland. Sends regards to neighbours.


6 pages
9 Feb 1850

From Boole in Cork to his mother mainly discussing family matters. He mentions her move back to their house after leaving the Mechanics Institute rooms. He also refers to his family being free from the 'struggles and anxieties which they had in the past.' He mentions the slow progress of Maryann's school but comments: 'even a little employment with something to hope for is better than sitting down to do nothing enjoying life as some people call it.' He inquires after other family members and requests Maryann to send him some sheet music.


8 pages
7 Mar 1850

From Boole in Cork to his mother congratulating her on becoming a grandmother and hopes the baby (John George Boole) will be 'a blessing to all with whom it may hereafter to do in the world.' He has heard from Mr. Dickson how well she is looking and adds he longs to hear news from home. He inquires after the Atkinsons and suggests Maryann should raise some money for them. He speaks also of his life in Cork where he has met many 'estimable persons whose acquaintance is not readily found but who are worth a host of ordinary acquaintances'. However, he complains his evenings are full with socialising and he has little time for study. Mentions a trip he took to Leemount with Lady Kane and describes the plant life they saw. Sends regards to neighbours.


12 pages
20-25 Mar 1850

From Boole in Cork to his mother. He is lonely and wishes her and Maryann were with him but resolves 'why wish for what cannot be.' He is, however, thankful for the friendships he has made in Cork. He describes his lodgings which are 'scrupulously clean' and his landladies who are very kind and attentive and very English in their ways. Even the air and water there are more pleasant than in his old lodgings. He has decided never again to give or accept dinner invitations but visit the tea table instead: 'this is by far the most rational ways for those who want to talk and not to eat.' On 25 March he describes an enjoyable walk he had and a less enjoyable visit to the house of a government official. The other guests were 'full of grumbling against England and our government a thing which I am not disposed to hear without making some effort to defend them.' He feels many Irish people have preposterous notions about the English government and people, 'that England delights to see Ireland miserable', but he puts a lot of the belief down to 'an exaggerated way of talking.' His social life in Cork is much more active than it was in Britain, but he resolves not to let it interfere with his studies. Mentions he is thinking of going to London soon (the fare via Bristol first class is £2.5s.Od., and hopes Maryann will write as it is over a fortnight since he heard from her.


4 pages
7 Oct 1850

From Boole in London to his mother, describing the warm reception he got from Mrs. Coolney. He has decided to visit Mr. Haczynshil, sends his regards to Maryann.


10 pages
27 Feb 1851

From Boole in Cork to his mother. He is suffering from boils and lameness due to over-tight shoes, but has escaped the influenza which is prevalent in Cork. He briefly mentions the death of Eliza [his sister-in-law]. His classes are keeping him very busy and require a lot of attention. He mentions a competition for a gold watch for the best conundrum organised by the 'wizard of the north.' Says he has not much to tell her as emigration is the only newsworthy item in Cork. Mentions he was very upset to hear of Miss Brooke's illness, and that he put five shillings into an account for the son of a friend who was named after him. He did the same for each of his friends other children.


4 pages
20 July 1852

From Boole in Wichner to his mother telling her how much he is enjoying his visit with the Everests. He is teaching their son - 'a fine youth' - during the vacation. Mentions he expects to hear soon the result of his application for an examinersh1p in the Queen's University.

BP/1/154 (See Also BP/1/106)

6 pages
Nov 1853

From Boole in Cork to his mother describing the terrible effects on the city of the Great Flood. He himself was trapped upstairs in his lodgings 'the lower rooms being filled with water and the flood rushing by like the sea.' A lot of damage was caused with one bridge being almost destroyed and four people killed. His own landlord Mr. Unkles suffered losses when the water flooded his warehouse ruining 50 tons of flour and Indian meal.

ii. To his Brothers

(1) to Charles Boole

7 pages
25 Nov 1849

From Boole in Cork to his brother Charles describing his new life. He hopes Charles does not feel he has been neglecting him as he has had to write to so many others but he thinks often of him and William and wishes they both could be with him. He is occupied daily from 1 - 3 o'clock in lecturing and examining 'in fact teaching' and then works himself for three or four hours on an introductory treatise on logic for his class. He is not totally happy with his new home, 'I cannot say that I like Cork or its climate'. He describes the city as 'dirty', but acknowledges it has some pretty suburbs and wishes Charles could join him in the area for springtime. He also noticed the singing in the churches is of an unusually high standard. Mentions during the week he intends to inspect some schools for poor children run by the Christian Brothers, and describes a channel of the Lee flowing by Castle White which reminded him of a similar stream at home. He inquires after Lincoln neighbours, from whom he would be glad to hear but hopes to see them all at Christmas when he has 18 days off. Mentions he finds the President and Vice President of Q.C.C. 'models of gentleness and kindness', the Vice President Dr. Ryall is to dine at Castle White the next week. He jokingly compares the residents of Castle White with a religious community with himself as a lay brother.


3 pages
14 June 1853

From Boole in Llangollen, Wales to Charles first describing his holiday and then congratulating him on becoming engaged and assuring him he will be present at the wedding: 'I need scarcely say that it will give me most sincere pleasure to be present at an occasion so intimately connected with your future happiness'. Adds he is looking forward to meeting his future sister-in-law. His book is developing well and the first sheet has been returned to him for correction.

(2) to William Boole

3 pages
30 Nov 1849

From Boole in Cork to William enclosing an [account] (not in collection). In reply to a letter from William he says he is very pleased with William's account of his situation and hopes he is now 'in that sphere of life for which you are best suited.' Adds he hopes to see himself and Eliza in London. In a postscript he asks him not to write 'Prof' when addressing a letter to him but Professor or else nothing: 'I mention this because it was noticed by a gentleman who was present when your letter was delivered and it is you know better to avoid singularity.'