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

Section 1

A. Letters of George Boole

III. Letters from George Boole to Friends and Associates

i. letters from George Boole to Francis Albani, Registrar, QCC


1 pages
6 Aug 1850

Incomplete letter from Boole in Lincoln to Albani, missing out on home life: 'I hope that you enjoy the delights of home there are none like them.' The complete letter as given in Des MacHale's George Boole: his life and work Dublin,(1985) deals with the choice of subjects for the second year exams (algebra and spherical trigonometry).


1 pages
2 Nov 1852

Photocopy of part of letter from Boole to Albani containing a request by Boole to transfer from the library to the Museum Committee (Complete letter p.l03 George Boole: his life and work Dublin,(1985).

ii. letters to and from George Boole to William Brooke


2 items
[ ]

Incomplete rambling letter with typescript copy from Brooke to Boole humorously lamenting Boole's move from Britain to Ireland: 'Oh Boole, what has that Hibernican done, thus to steal my favourite son.' Then relapses in prose to describe a visit to Northampton to see old friends but never again to poetry 'but Elack, I can't keep it up - though our poor sister be in rags, God bless her, She and her ragged school, Shall line the shore and greet the young Professor and shout A Boole A Boole!' An added paragraph in the typed copy states the poem is given to preserve Brooke's name as a dear friend of Boole's, and also in a fit of depression thinking he was dying Brooke destroyed all Boole's letters as he did not know into whose hands they would fall.


2 pages

Typescript copies of letters from Boole to William Brooke. (a) 18 June 1855 Boole in Cork to Brooke discussing college affairs. He feels Dr. Ryall would have made a better president than Kane 'Had he been placed at the head of this college if would have flourished'. He is stinging in his criticism of Kane: 'when a President systematically neglects his duties, spends here one month in the year, yet holds powers which are essential to the well government of the college .... when the most reasonable and temperate efforts to bring about a better state of things exposes a man to the charge of faction and subjects them to the frown of power I do not see what but none can be expected.' He is debating with himself whether or not to make public the affairs of the college. He implores Brooke to visit him, not to see the country but 'to come over and cheer the lonely hours of captivity.' Adds humorously that Brooke might leave singing 'The Bells of Shandon,' which he quotes. He does add that Cork 'is I firmly believe the best place in Ireland.' Mentions the local protestants are angry over the bishop inviting the Catholic Bishop to dinner when the lord lieutenant was also present. He closes with good wishes and adds: 'The Indian Examinership has passed me by as I expected it would.' (b) Incomplete letter 3 Oct 1855 from Boole in Tenby, thanking Brooke for cashing a draft for 15s.0d. and promising to send him a balance of an account. His wife Mary urged him to write anything except poetry to Brooke having a theory that the poetry which is in a man ought to be for home consumption and ought not to evaporate in words. Here she says that 'professed poets are dull and prosaic people in common life. I am disposed to think that she is right.' He also describes a recent visit to Tintern and invites Brooke to Cork.

iii. letters from George Boole to Dr. J Bury


8 pages
11 Feb 1850

From Boole in Cork to Bury excitedly telling him how pleased he was to hear from him, eagerly inquiring how life is treating him and expressing his hope that Bury will some day have a practise large enough to support him and his family. He advises him against going to Germany but rather to stay home and build up his practise. He also describes his life in Cork to him; he likes his situation and feels his work there is of use. Out of the 98 students who attend the college 61 or 62 go to his lectures. He gets on well with all his colleagues and names Dr. Fleming as the most distinguished member of the science faculty adding 'he appears to me to be a very acute and clever man.' He mentions a paper he is writing for the 'Journal' and states his two previous essays were premature - 'I am still working on the same subject and with great success.' He hopes to see him in Chester on his next visit home.


2 pages
6 Mar 1850

Brief letter from Boole in Cork to Bury thanking him for sending over a copy of Mr. Green's paper.


4 pages
5 June 1850

From Boole in Cork to Bury requesting him to ask Mr. Green if he has any duplicates of his father's papers and if so could he send him some. He will pay the expenses in way that would not hurt his feelings of delicacy.' He tells Bury he will be coming to visit him soon but warns 'make no preparation for me. You know my simple tastes and habits.' He promises to discuss logic when they meet, then sympathises on the death of one of Bury's children, and adds he is glad to hear Bury's medical practise is going well.


2 pages
9 June 1850

From Boole in Cork to Dr. Bury, a brief letter telling him he will see him in one week's time after he visits Connemara with Dr. Ryall.


3 pages
26 Aug 1850

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury enclosing some sheets of his work (not in collection). He also invites him and Mrs. Bury to visit him in Lincoln. He adds Tom is also invited but he will have to share Boole's bed as his house is small.


2 pages
19 Dec 1850

From Boole in Cork to Bury enclosing a postal order for £12 and requesting him to acknowledge its receipt by a brief statement.


2 pages

From Boole to Bury thanking him for the trouble he took over a hamper and berating him for not taking a pork pie. Encloses a post office order for five shillings, and sends his regards to Bury's family.


2 items
24 Mar 1851

Original plus typed copy from Boole in Cork to Bury acknowledging receipt of papers by Mr. Green which Bury sent. He comments 'anything of Mr. Green's is valuable. Cambridge has had in my opinion no other mathematician of equal powers since Newton.' Mentions he is busy writing maths papers for the Cambridge Journal, although he would prefer to be working on logic. Enquires for news of Bury's circumstances and adds he is reading Hart and can understand [the German] quite well.


2 pages
9 June 1851

From Boole in Cork to Dr. Bury, writing to explain he will not be able to visit him on his outward journey from Ireland to England, but hopes to do so on the return trip. Sends his sympathy to Mrs. Bury who is ill.


2 pages
10 Oct 1851

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury informing him of the date of his and Maryann's visit to Chester. Also requests him to inquire about travel bookings from Chester to Cork for them.


2 pages
Oct 1851

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury explaining he will book his return journey to Cork from Manchester so Bury need not make any enquiries for him. Mentions he asked his brother William to meet him at Chester.


2 pages
6 Nov 1851

From Boole in Cork to Bury letting him know he and Maryann reached Cork safely, although they were both very ill on the crossing, and Maryann has not yet recovered.


4 pages
23 Mar 1852

From Boole in Cork to Bury, complaining good humouredly that Bury's letter to him was too short and 'I hope that you will soon make up for it by a letter of real gossipfull of little things about yourself and your family.' He is writing every day on logic and probabilities which he greatly enjoys 'the subject loses nothing of its interest in my eyes.' He hopes to publish his work soon. Mentions Maryann is at Blarney.


1 pages
9 Oct 1852

Brief note from Boole in Lincoln to Bury concerning the date and length of his proposed visit to Chester.


4 pages
4 Jan 1853

From Boole in Cork to Bury explaining he is unable to give Mr. Giles (a friend of Bury's) a testimonial as he feels he does not know him well enough to do so. Mentions he hopes to visit Bury in a few days time.


1 pages
7 Jan 1853

From Boole in Wichner to Bury informing him of the probable time of his arrival in Chester the following evening.


3 pages
30 May 1853

From Boole in Cork to Bury making arrangements for his visit to Chester. He is looking forward to the visit which he feels will do them both good. He has planned first to visit Dr. Graves in Howth but he is determined to reach Lincoln by 20 June for his brother Charles' wedding. He muses humorously on how helpless women feel bachelors are. Mentions he is very busy with exam papers.


1 pages
10 June 1853

From Boole in Howth to Bury informing him he intends to be in Chester the following day.


2 pages
[June 1853]

From Boole in Howth to Bury discussing his travel plans for a proposed trip to Wales. He was recommended by a lady artist definitely to visit Betiasy Coed.


2 pages
11 July 1853

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury discussing mainly his book which he encloses the first chapter of (not in collection) and believes Bury will 'like the style in which it is got up.' He will be busy during his holiday working on his book but he would enjoy a short visit from the Bury's and mentions how much he enjoyed his visit to them: 'It is always most pleasant to me to visit old Chester and old friends at the same time.'


2 pages
29 July 1853

Letter from Boole in Lincoln to Bury enclosing some sheets of his book (Laws of Thought not in collection). He inquiries if Bury could accompany Maryann on a visit to Mrs. Bury.


1 pages
4 Sept 1853

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury writing to request him to acknowledge receipt of the three sheets of his book he sent, and inquiring if he and Mrs. Bury would like to come to Hull for a visit. Encloses three more chapters of his book (not in collection).


1 pages
29 Sept 1853

From Boole in Cork to Dr. Bury, enclosing nine sheets of his book (not in collection) and expressing his disappointment at the Burys being unable to visit Cork stating: 'if I were even moderately well off expense should not stand in my way.'


1 pages
13 Oct 1853

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury informing him of his proposed time of arrival in Chester the following day.


1 pages
14 Oct 1853

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury discussing the time and date of his proposed visit to Chester.


3 pages
24 Oct 1853

From Boole in Cork to Bury thanking him for his comments on Boole's work. He adds that he is becoming less affected by the dampness of Cork.


2 pages
2 Apr 1854

From Boole in Cork to Bury requesting acknowledgement of a postal delivery of his book, as he is worried not all he sent out were delivered.


2 pages
7 Apr 1854

From Boole in Cork to Bury relating mainly to his book The Laws of Thought. He enclosed Dr. Ryall's review of the work (which he wishes returned) and mentions he agrees with Bury's condemnation of the review in the Athenaeum: 'It was evidently written by one who did not understand the subject.' Mentions he was glad to hear a number of copies were sold in Chester.


1 pages
9 June 1854

From Boole in Cork to Bury explaining that because of a change in his travel plans he will be unable to visit him on his journey over to Lincoln, but hopes to meet him over the summer vacation.


1 pages
20 June 1854

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury. Maryann is unwell and is going to stay with William, he wonders if she travelled by way of Chester could she spend a few days with the Burys.


2 pages
21 Aug 1854

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury briefly informing him of the peaceful death of his (Boole's) mother. He gives her cause of death as being 'cardiac dropsy'.


1 pages
11 Oct 1854

Typed copy of a letter from Boole in Lincoln to Bury, confirming he is sending the money requested and instructing him in strong terms to be more stringent in collecting his debts: 'You will not be offended with me for saying that I think this is really a weakness and under your actual circumstances a reprehensible one on your part.' Adds 'no one whose good opinion is worth a stain would feel the slightest anger or disapprobation at one's telling him that necessity requires that he should be asked to discharge a just debt.'


3 pages
18 Mar 1856

From Boole in Cork to Bury thanking him for his letter, 'with its enclosure which I threw into the fire.' He hopes Bury's practise will now prosper and urges him to visit. He asks for Bury's professional medical opinion on whether Mary, his wife, should wear a corset ('stays') while pregnant. She has been advised to do by female friends, but Boole feels this was for cosmetic purposes only and both he and she feel it could be harmful to the child.


4 pages
21 Sept 1856

From Boole in Dublin to Bury letting him know he reached there safely while Mary 'an admirable sailor' went on to Cork. He did hear news of a serious accident on the C & H line the day after he travelled. Mentions he enjoyed his stay in Chester and invites Bury to Cork advising him to go by way of Liverpool as that costs 17s.6d. compared to 38s.0d. (1st class) from Chester. Adds Dublin is growing very quickly.


4 pages
2 Dec 1856

From Boole in Cork to Bury. He has heard Mrs. Bury wants to refurbish a room for a lodger and he wishes to lend £10-15 for that purpose: 'But I must make it an express condition with you that the money shall really be devoted to this purpose.' He assures him that taking in lodgers would in no way lessen his social standing or diminish his chances of professional success. Adds he is writing steadily and promises to send Bury a fair copy of his work's introduction.


3 pages
21 Jan 1860

From Boole in Cork to Bury requesting that if he cannot come over himself would he send over some small pox vaccine for the children. His wife is especially keen to have the children vaccinated. Adds that he himself is getting a lot of pain in his right arm which makes it difficult for him to write.


1 pages
12 Sept 1860

From Boole in Lincoln to Bury. He hopes to visit Chester and then go to the lakes, so he requests Bury to inquire if tickets for such a journey could be bought in Chester and the price, he asks him to send the reply c/o Charles Boole, Sleaford, Lincolnshire.


2 pages
21 Sept 1860

From Boole in Cork to Bury, telling him of his safe arrival in Cork although he had to travel on a very old, small, steamer. He also thanks Mrs. Bury for forwarding 'The Ladies Companion' to his wife.


3 pages
9 Oct 1860

From Boole in Dublin (where he is acting as examiner to Q.C.C.) to Bury telling him he would like him to visit but explaining his duties as examiner means he would only have three free days in Dublin. Adds the cost of a second class return fare is 26s.6d.


1 pages
15 Oct 1860

From Boole in Cork to Bury acknowledging receipt of money from Bury which closes his debt adding he was happy to have been of help. Also refers to a mutual wish for them to see together 'the western mountains of Ireland and the Atlantic waves.'


3 pages
21 June 1861

From Boole in Cork to Bury as he and Mary are thinking of visiting Bonn to see if the change of air would improve Mary's health. He inquires if Mrs. Bury (who has been to Bonn) would write and give her impressions of the city and send on any tips she might have on accommodation. He sends his best wishes and adds. 'I often think of you.'


2 pages
18 Sept 1861

From Boole in Cork to Bury telling him of the improvement in Mary's health: 'She is really growing flesh and begins almost to like the cod liver oil.' He urges Bury and his family to come visit when the Boole's are settled into their new house.


3 pages
9 Dec 1861

From Boole in Cork to Bury inviting him and his family to visit. He'd appreciate it though if they could come as soon as possible as he has advertised for pupils to come to his house. Adds all his family are well except his wife who has toothache and neuralgic pains.


1 pages
17 Dec 1861

From Boole in Cork to Bury requesting him to reply to Boole's invitation to spend Christmas in Cork and adds: 'never mind the private matter about which I also wrote.'


4 pages
19 Dec 1861

From Boole in Cork to Bury telling him he reluctantly accepts Bury's reasons for not being able to visit, but wonders if his wife and son would like to come. Mentions also he is very glad to hear Bury's practise is growing. Refers to a letter he had from a German Professor saying the weather in Germany was excellent: 'what a contrast to this wretched climate.' Also refers to a job advertisement Bury mentioned in his letter.


2 pages
7 May 1862

From Boole in Cork to Bury, sympathising on the illness of his son Charles. He urges Bury to send his wife and Charles to Cork for a few months promising: 'They will have their own sittingroom and we will have a piano moved into it for Charles.' Mentions his wife is due in two months time.


2 pages
26 May 1862

From Boole in Cork to Bury discussing the proposed visit of Mrs. Bury and her son Charles. One paragraph however is in German he concludes: 'we guessed from Mrs. Bury's letter what was the threatened danger to Charles, I hope it may be averted.'


2 items
13 July 1862

Original and typed extract from Boole in Cork to Bury expressing his delight Charles Bury is doing better. He mentions two papers he sent to the Royal Society are to be published. Of one discussing the theory of Probabilities (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 1867 Vol. 152) he says, 'I think it will be considered as putting the theory of the subject contained in the 'Laws of Thought' in an established position.'


1 pages
25 July 1862

From Boole in London to Bury informing him of the date of his proposed visit.


2 pages
6 Aug 1862

From Boole in Cork to Bury informing him of the birth of his fourth daughter (Lucy Everest Boole) adding: 'little Alice is as saucy as ever' and her vaccination 'is reserved for your friendship and skill.'


1 pages
11 Dec 1862

From Boole in Cork to Bury inquiring if he will be able to visit Cork in time for Christmas. Maryann has also been invited and is coming.


2 pages
18 Aug 1863

From Boole in Cork to Bury thanking him for sending 'the vaccine lymph' for his daughter. He also enquires about excursion tickets to Yorkshire in preparation for a future visit. Mentions they moved house to be nearer to Cork.


4 pages
13 Oct 1863

From Boole in Cork to Bury discussing his recent visit to England and apologising for not visiting him. He invites him to Cork instead. He also refers to the death of his old friend Rev George Stephens Dickson of St. Swithin's, Lincoln.


2 pages
28 Mar 1864

From Boole in Cork to Bury sympathising on the death of Bury's uncle. He invites him to write or visit adding it was so long since they had contact: 'one would suppose I had given you offense in some mysterious way.'


2 pages
[ ]

From Boole in Cork [to Bury] giving directions how to reach his house as he will be unable to meet him at the train. He instructs him to ask for a car to Blackrock and get off near the Castle.

iv. letters from George Boole to Miss Davis


2 items
2 Oct 1849

From Boole to Miss Davis original and typed copy responding to her request for advice. He advises her about [the Misses] to take no notice of them 'not even to think of them' and to avoid all appearance of resentment. He also counsels her that the esteem of factions or parties is not always worth gaining. Promises to visit if he goes to London.


2 items
13 Aug 1849

Original plus typescript copy from Boole in Lincoln to Miss Davis informing her of his appointment to Q.C.C.. His friend De Vericour was appointed Professor of Modern languages. His family are pleased for him: 'my mother bears it very well and I am quite of the opinion that for her and Maryann the change from busy to quiet life will be a very beautiful one.' He hopes to be able to spend five months a year at home with them. Adds he is quite busy putting his affairs in order and has little time for letter writing. Closes by offering his esteem. Typed copy annotated by [Maryann].


2 pages
21 Aug 1854

Original plus typed copy from Boole in Lincoln to Miss Davis informing her of the death of his mother from dropsy after a month's illness.

v. letter from George Boole to Sir William Hamilton


7 pages

Copy of a letter from Boole in Cork to Sir William Hamilton in which he refutes Hamilton's dismissal of Mathematics as not being a science. He thanks Hamilton cordially for sending him copies of his work which he enjoyed and admired, but he does find some fault with them: 'will you forgive me for adding that I do not think that upon all points you have manifested that freedom from prejudice which is essential to the formation of right judgement?' After arguing that all subjects can suffer from one-sidedness he proceeds to argue against Hamilton's view of maths: 'Now while I admit to be true that many minds have been absorbed to a very injurious extent in Mathematical pursuits, I cannot judging from the nature of the case and from individual experience believe that such is a necessary or a proper result'. He explains that in his case maths spurred on his interest in other subjects. He also brings Hamilton to task for being too severe on De Morgan. He closes in a conciliatory tone: 'I hope that it is not needful to offer any apology for the freedom of some of my observations, and merely to have thanked you for your very valuable work would not have conveyed my real feelings or convictions as to its great merit?'

vi. letter-book from George Boole to Joseph Hill (1830-1852)


1 items

All letters and extracts described here are taken from a letter-book of Boole's letters to Hill, and are given in the order they appear in the letter-book.

  1. [1 page] Extract from a letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill explaining he has left Doncaster to take up a superior position in Liverpool under a Mr. Marrat. Mentions he has been studying work on mechanics for the past year. [26 Dec 1832]
  2. [1 page] Extract from a letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill, telling him the city is excited by the opening of the Mechanics Institute and discussion on its organisation is widespread. It has 500 members but Boole feels it will return only two thirds of that number. [23 Dec 1833]
  3. [1 page] Extract from a letter by Boole to Hill. He feels this letter breaks their agreement to correspond on profound matters, and adds he hopes one day to be as profound and solemn as Hill. 'He has begun to study Italian and finds it quite easy, Greek was becoming very dry and dusty for him, but he wonders if he should not have mastered it before moving on to Italian. Mentions he completed the prize question in 'Ladies Diary' and promises if he wins to send Hill a diary. [22 Feb 1834]
  4. [1 page] Letter from Boole to Hill written in Latin. [17 Jun 1834]
  1. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill apologising profusely for not writing. He is busy writing on composition and grammar for his school and inquires if Hill would have any copies of rules or regulations for punctuation. He is studying German, but is reading very little Latin and has given up all thoughts of learning Hebrew. Mentions his father constructed a very good telescope stand. [11 Feb 1837]
  2. [4 pages] Copy letter from Boole to Hill apologising for not responding in equal length to Hill's letters. Mentions he chooses to write in English as he had not done so lately, and that his father is constructing a telescope. He discusses Hebrew which he feels is a very pure language and quotes Bible passages in Greek and English discussing their grammar and tenses. [30 May 1837]
  3. [2 items] Handwritten and typed copies of letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill dealing mainly with educational matters and explaining his move from Waddington to Lincoln. His expectations were not being realised in Waddington so he relinquished his lease at unfavourable terms but which 'I am able to make without putting myself under obligations and willing to make in order to get out of the business with honour and an unstained character.' He thanks him for sending an analysis of Galls system and would like his opinion of it. His own opinions on educational matters 'is as yet by no means made up, perhaps in all points never will be.' He advises Hill to extend his studies beyond the exact sciences and warns maths can 'deaden the imagination and destroy the relish for elegant literature and indispose the mind for everything but the bare pursuit of abstract truth.' He hopes that in the future knowledge of mathematics could be obtained without any waste of exertion, and discusses at length the place of maths in education. Adds he would enjoy a more varied correspondence on some of the subjects raised in the letter. [5 May 1840]
  4. [2 pages] Handwritten and typed copies of letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill discussing education and biography. He compliments and discusses Hill's 'ingenious and just' comments on the nature and operation of systems in education. He also discusses the purpose of a biography which he feels should primarily relate what the 'individual subject was, under what circumstances he was placed, by what events his life was characterised, and in what relation he stood to his associates and contemporaries.' He feels religious biographies are the worst constructed. [9 May 1840]

2 pages
27 May 1840

Handwritten and typed copies of letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill on the subject of biography. He argues against Hill's assertion that the mass of biographies record trivial events and outlines his own views on the content of biographies citing Boswell's Life of Johnson as being especially commendable. He feels his view is the correct one and hopes Hill will change his opinions.

  1. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill telling him about the recently formed 'Lincolnshire Topographical Society'. Boole is to assist in the drawing up of the rules of the society and inquires if Hill could send him a copy of the laws and regulations of the Hull Philosophical Society. Adds he hopes Hill is continuing with his reading. [19 Jan 1841]
  2. [3 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill thanking him for sending the rules of the Hull Philosophical Society to him (See BP/1/221/10). The Lincoln Topographical Society is to begin with an address on electrotypes. He comments on the various literary schemes of reading Hill devised wryly, commenting that Hill will hardly carry them out himself, and the time he took to draw up his analysis could have been used to read the books. He again urges Hill to broaden his studies warning 'Every station of life has perhaps a tendency to produce its peculiar habits in the mind as well as its bias on the feelings.' Adds he hopes Hill will not be offended by his remarks. He is reading Neal's History of the Puntas. His school is going very well and he is pleased. [22 Feb 1841]
  3. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill. He offers to send Hill a paper on Mythology he read before the Philosophical Society. He moves on to the subject of politics, which he admits to having little interest in due 'probably from the situation in which I am placed and the habits of life to which I have grown accustomed.' Mentions he is writing a paper on the subject of light which he may follow up with one on physical astronomy. He is also analyzing Butler's Analogy and recommends it to Hill. [29 Dec 1841]
  4. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill inquiring as to what books Hill would recommend for religious instruction in Sunday schools. He names the books he is using. [17 Feb 1844]
  5. [1 page] From Boole in Hornsea to Hill, describing his holiday. He is enjoying Hornsea and remarks on the many pretty villages in the district and the picturesque coastline. [13 July 1844]
  1. [2 items] Handwritten and typed copies of a letter from Boole to Hill enclosing a tract by Pulford he accidentally took with him after his recent visit. He thanks Hill for inviting him and hopes 'our friendship may continue to increase and that it may be more and more founded on esteem, to the end of our lives.' He is reading Wardlaw and Sir James Mackintosh on Ethics, a subject which gives him more 'solid gratification than maths.' He prefers morals over maths as they appeal both to emotion and reason. [16 July 1846]
  2. [1 page] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill inquiring after him. His school is prospering but he has heard no news of the Irish Professorship and remarks no news comes from Ireland 'but the melancholy detail of starvation and wretchedness.' [2 Feb 1847]
  3. [1 page] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill. He still has heard no news of the Irish professorship but states he is so content with what he is doing that he might not accept it if offered. However he is worried that his health as he ages would prevent him being a good schoolmaster. [15 Feb 1847]
  1. [1 page] Copy letter from Boole to Hill inviting him to join himself Maryann and Mr. Lilly on an excursion through Yorkshire, after which he will take the steamer from Hull, but doubts he would have time to visit Hill there. [14 July 1847]
  2. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Burlington to Hill inviting him to visit there. He has rented lodgings with three bedrooms, one of which is to be at Hill's disposal. [15 July 1847]
  3. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Sainsboro to Hill inviting him to join him on a country excursion. [19 June 1848]
  4. [1 page] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill informing him of his appointment as Professor of Mathematics at QCC. [13 Aug 1849]
  5. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill inquiring if they could meet when he visit Hull on his way to Hornsea with Maryann. [30 July 1850]
  6. [3 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Cork expressing his pleasure at receiving a letter from Hill and explaining he is slow to reply to letters as writing for him is an extension of his daily duties. Remarks that while England may be disturbed Ireland is not as there are many moderate men Catholic and Protestant in Ireland who abhor violence, and because there is not as much dissension between Protestants in Ireland as there is in England. [11 Dec 1850]
  7. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Cork to Hill explaining he has not written as he was unwell and found writing troublesome. He commiserates on the death of Hill's aunt whom he held in high regard. Mentions Maryann is at Blarney and is deriving great benefit from the baths there. [9 Feb 1852]

5 pages
30 Nov 1840

Copy letter from Boole in Waddington to Hill, good humouredly complaining that Hill did not visit him on a recent trip to Lincoln, but promises to forgive him if he writes a long letter on a interesting subject (he suggests Gill's system and method of Sunday School teaching). He recommends Hill to study Joachim's Life of Erasmus which he gives a brief sketch of the content and arrangement of. He also mentions he sent a number of maths papers to Cambridge where they were well received. Refers to a new Baptist Chapel which is about to be opened in Waddington followed by a social tea evening and comments: 'The religious world is growing very social and very fond of tea which are two good signs.' Then with a long rambling prologue laden with historical and mythological references he states he can at last reveal part of a mystery he has known for many years. 'For 70 mornings then at the hour of six, visit the second milestone on the eastern bank of the Humber and for 3 and 4 1/2 minutes direct your face to the eastern horizon. On the 71st visit at the_ [expiration] of your watch you will perceive ... but I anticipate the mystery' but promises it is worth seeing.


1 pages
30 July 1847

Copy letter from Boole in London to Hill inquiring if he left a dressing case in Hill's house and requesting him to keep it until they meet next. He mentions Subthorpe and Seely being returned at the election.


1 pages
21 June 1849

Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill, inquiring if Hill would like to accompany him on a tr1pto London for a few days, as he has an order for admission to the great works at the Grimsby Docks. He includes details of train times.


2 pages
[ ]

Incomplete copy of a letter from Boole to Hill recommending an introductory discourse by Sir James Mackintosh on the Law of Nature and Nations, however he faults the work for being too elaborate in style. Mentions he regards [Wherwell's] Elements of morality and Polity as 'a very partial and one side performance' arising from the author's high opinion of Church authority and discusses some of his ideas.


1 pages
4 June 1846

Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill refusing his invitation to go to Wales. Rather he would prefer them to spend a fortnight by the sea, 'provided that is far enough from the resorts of fashion and the noise of the great world.' He is in a need of a rest, but feels swimming would do him good, but he urges Hill to go to Wales if that's what he wants.

  1. [1 page] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Hill, enclosing a sermon on toleration which Mr. Larken preached before the University of Oxford (not in collection). Inquires if Hill has any thoughts on the University question. [10 Mar 1849]
  2. [1 page] Copy letter from Boole to Hill explaining he has to cancel their meeting as his assistant Mr. Marshall is ill and so he cannot leave. [11 Mar 1847]

1 pages
[ ]

Mathematical jottings of algebraic equations.

vii. letter-book from George Boole to Charles Kirk (1845-1849)


1 items

All letters described here are taken from a letter-book of Boole's letters to Kirk, and are given in the order they appear in the letter-book.


2 pages
14 Oct 1845

Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Charles Kirk St. John's College, Cambridge written in Latin.

  1. [2 items] Copy letter (with typed copy) from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk congratulating him on his 21st birthday. He regrets he won't see him on the day but adds 'I doubt not love will write with friendsh1pand mirth with wisdom, to strew flowers beneath the dusty wheels of time.' He wants him to imagine him (Boole) sitting in an empty chair at the festivities enjoying himself 'and never once indulging in those philosophical but unsocial mutterings, which by a too severe judgment, have been charged upon me.' [10 Aug 1846]
  2. [3 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk mainly discussing university. First he inquires if his note of introduction to Chessman (whom he finds a' very pleasant agreeable fellow) was of use. In a section marked confidential, he tells him he believes his father is dying and he is urging Boole to enter Cambridge, his sister and brothers second this. He has not yet decided to go or not, but if he did he would attend one of the smaller colleges and would not make mathematics his principal pursuit. He could afford to spend £80 - £100 per annum, asks Kirks opinion on the matter. He adds he feels he has a duty to society to use his talents, and is disillusioned with teaching as 'the amount of evil that grows up spontaneously among boys shut up together in a boarding school is almost greater than the good you can impart.' [30 Apr 1847]
  3. [3 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk enthusing about Cambridge. He declares if he had to choose a city (Lincoln excepted) to live in it would be Cambridge, so that he could breakfast with Kirk. He speaks excitedly about his visit there, describing in prosaic terms the joys of being a student at Cambridge. He also directs Charles to abandon his books for the day and enjoy his birthday. He mentions the Parrys and the additions to Lincoln Cathedral. [9 Aug 1847]
  1. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk enquiring how he is getting on at Cambridge especially with Griffith. He urges him not to think too much about home, but to keep his mind on his duty and 'how you are fulfilling your father's interests.' His own father is growing weaker and has lost interest in people. He is teaching a class three times a week in his own home and has two private pupils so he is busy but happy. Adds he hopes they see each other over Christmas. [15 Nov 1847]
  2. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk. He is doubtful whether or not he will see Kirk as planned as he is not now going to London; the College of Preceptors cannot afford to pay the expenses owed to him, and are treating them as advance subscriptions. He shows a marked change in attitude to Cambridge: 'I detest from the bottom of my heart the cold pride of useless scholarship' but asks Kirk not to show anyone the letter as people will label him a grumbler against 'our glorious constitution in Church and State', but explains it's just that he prefers quiet and simplicity. [3 Jan 1848]
  3. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk responding to an earlier letter of Kirk's. He is not feeling well but was pleased to hear Kirk is studying German - 'a noble language' - and key to a noble literature. He adds he hopes Kirk is still not disillusioned with maths as he was in his last letter. Mentions all in Lincoln are taking great interest in the events in France, Germany and Italy, and he presumes news of the revolts have penetrated even Cambridge 'where pale young men intent upon Greek accounts and double integrals lift up their heads and speculate upon the world whose existence they had almost forgotten.' [21 Mar 1848]
  1. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk apologising for having to cancel his visit due to bad weather. He would have greatly enjoyed listening to Kirk read some of their old favourites. [24 Apr 1848]
  2. [2 pages] Copy letter from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk discussing recollections of a very enjoyable visit to Sleaford. Mentions William Brooke is doing some research on inscriptions in St. Benedict’s Church and quotes one to see if Kirk could shed some light on it. He has been on a trip to [Stringfield] manor house which he found very picturesque and beautiful. Requests him to forward some copies of a lecture on logic by Boole published in Cambridge when they are printed and instructs him to keep a copy for himself and one for a friend. [26 May 1848]
  3. [2 pages] Copy letter (with typed copy) from Boole in Lincoln to Kirk discussing his book. He requests him to call on Macmillans and ask for an account of the book sales. He is himself pleased with the method of logic he laid out and has had favourable comments on it. The lack of widespread acknowledgement of the book does not bother him as he says, 'I hope to accomplish something so much better.' He finds logic fascinating but understands the wider public doesn't and states for him, 'Oh the pursuit of truth is enough of itself.' [24 Jan 1849]

viii. letters from George Boole to the Larken family (1845-1862)


1 items

All letters described here are taken from a letter-book and are given in the order they appear in the letter book. All letters are to the Rev. E. Larken unless otherwise stated.


3 pages
23 Dec 1845

From Boole in Lincoln to Rev. E. Larken discussing ways to improve the Lincoln Mechanics Institute. He drew up a number of propositions to put before the committee but tells Larken of them, 'in order that you may be able to form a matured judgement upon them before you are called upon to consider them as a member of the Committee.' He hopes Larken will give him support and advice. He also requests him to return the proposals as he wishes to show them to others (proposals not in collection).


3 pages
29 Sept 1846

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken discussing matters relating to the Mechanics Institute and his application for a professorship at a college in Ireland (see BP/1/219 for typescript copy). He is busy writing letters in connection with his application and has been invited by Thompson to visit Dublin to experience Irish University life. Thompson's father has also promised to use his influence with Mr. Crow the Secretary of the Irish Education Board to aid him, however Boole is unsure: 'I cannot leave a certain for an uncertain duty.' Inquires if the Institute would like him to give some lectures on Natural Moral Philosophy. Closes by thanking him profusely for the testimonial he gave him.


2 pages
6 Jan 1847

From Boole in London, (where he is posted as an examiner) to Larken, detailing his stay. He visited Mr. Gill of the People's College who received him well even though Boole had lost Larken's letter of introduction. He was very impressed by the college and would have applied for the vacant post of principal there 'if it were not for my Irish prospects.' He complains about the conditions under which he is examining and declares: 'Had I surmised that there would have been so entire a want of system and forethought I should not have come up.' He promises also to do 'your little commissions.'


5 pages
[Jan 1847]

From Boole in London to Larken sending the receipt for the twenty-two sovereigns Larken entrusted to him and telling of the people he has met, including Mr. De Vericour whom he liked, and who sends advice to Larken to send his boy to school. He also met Mr. Lantham and Mr. De Morgan who is ill, and also many young men who would make fine teachers. He is thinking of letting his school and instead taking in about 12 pupils at £50 per annum and wonders if Larken would act as a referee to him. He is not happy with his present situation: 'I can hardly see how I am turning to account the little learning or talent that I have ... on the whole I am in a painfully unsettled form of mind.' He closes with a discussion on different news of the Purgatory [a poem].


4 pages
15 Jan 1847

Boole in London to Larken describing his stay and replying to comments Larken made about Cooper. Boole has a higher opinion of him than Larken '... he is vain and perhaps pedantic but after all he has a great deal that might justify vanity if anything could in such creatures as we are'. He also mentions Cooper's honesty and sincerity and hopes Larken has not formed an overly bad impression of him. He visited Mr. Chapman who lent him a volume of Emerson's poetry, and Mr. De. Morgan who gave him a reader's ticket for the British Museum valid for six months and declares: 'It will scarcely be possible to feel dull in London after this.' He mentions De Vericour bought Larken a very fine copy of Lamiennons Evangiles which is a more expensive illustrated copy than the one Larken had previously.


3 pages
23 Jan 1847

From Boole in Sleaford to Larken thanking him sincerely for the recommendation from Boole which he gave to a gentleman applying to be his assistant. Mentions he has a speech prepared to give any day the following week for the young men of Lincoln. Adds he is reading Whately on the Errors of Romanism and says: 'It deserves not only to be read but to be studied.'


2 pages
29 Apr 1847

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken inviting him to meet E.J. Willson and Rev. James Simhiss at his home that evening. He jokingly remarks that as his two guests are Roman Catholic Larken should join him in the 'Protestant interest'. Of Simhiss he remarks 'he has as much of the Catholic and as little of the Roman about him as any man that I ever met within whom the two terms were united.' Mentions he hopes to get to the Mechanics Institute meeting also that evening.


4 pages
31 May 1847

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken discussing Rules for the conversion and general transformation of propositions in which Larken had voiced interest. Mentions he invited Dickson on a walk to Burton and adds: 'I hope this will redeem me from the stigma of unfaithfulness.'


2 pages
12 Aug 1847

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken discussing a poem Purgatorial written by a Mr. Cooper (a Chartist) whose wife is a relative of Boole's. Boole suggested to Mrs. Cooper that some units in the dialogue should be made, but he wishes first to discuss the proposed changes with Larken. He is not overly fond of the poem as it 'is an unhealthy one' but 'there is stuff and matter in it.'


3 pages
13 Sept 1847

From Boole to Larken discussing the forthcoming publication of his manuscript. It is ready for printing in Cambridge and both Prof. Graves and Charles Kirk, 'a very competent judge so far as the mathematics are concerned' feel it should sell well. He requests Larken to inquire if Bishop Thaye would mind him dedicating the book to him. He wishes to do so because Thaye is a mathematician and a scholar and also 'because his character is such as behoves his station and attainments.' Mentions he encloses his friend Cheriman's letter (not in collection) and that he also hopes to publish a small volume of poems and translations which he would like to dedicate to Larken.


1 pages
7 Oct 1847

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken. He was induced by an old "friend" to buy two copies of George Rose's Journal, and inquires if Larken would like one. His friend has sold many to the clergy and had intended calling on Larken and the bishop but had not the time.


4 pages
15 Dec 1847

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken requesting Larken to enquire at the Athenaeum in 'Babylon' [London] if they stock copies of his book as he's heard they don't. Mentions he went with William Brooke to a meeting of 'Seely's friends' in Newmarket but the crush of the crowds 'that wild beast - the people' was too much for him and he left early. He has had a letter from Prof. Graves (who is ill) setting up a meeting with Whately to discuss Boole's system [of logic]. Graves 'writes with a mixture of gloom and hope about Ireland that is to me very touching' and he quotes lengthily from the letter describing the gloom and despondency caused by the famine.


2 pages
14 Jan 1848

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken. He is sending him his mathematical books to keep for two years and gives strict instructions that Larken is not to give them back to him before that time. If he repeatedly asks for their return Larken is to 'ban them even as the books of those which used magical arts were burned.'


5 pages
7 July 1848

From Boole in Bamsgate to Larken, informing him he will be back in Lincoln in time to attend the meeting Larken spoke of. He remarks on the political situation in Europe stating 'it is sad that it takes trouble abroad to make Christians do their duty,' but he doesn't think things are likely to change: 'I suppose that we are not to look for this before the millennium.' He describes in rapturous tones his visits to the British Museum and the cliffs of Dover. He is reading Montfarcois 'Antiquities of Italy' and Carlyle's Letters and speeches of Oliver Cromwell, which has 'a certain massive and rugged grandeur whatever one may think of its philosophy.' Closes as Maryann has returned to accompany him on a walk.


3 pages
24 Sept 1849

From Boole in Lincoln to Larken discussing the arrangements for the presentation of public gifts to him to celebrate his appointment at Q.C.C.. He is conferring with William Brooke as to what books he will choose and says he would be delighted to receive a silver inkstand as proposed: 'To this I should have no objection and as it would gratify my mother and sister and others. I should be glad if it could be so arranged.' He also agrees to a public presentation at which he could thank everyone for their kindness. Also sends sympathy to Larken who is ill.


3 pages
May 1851

From Boole in Cork to Larken. Friends of his in Cork wish to improve the Penitents Home there and he inquires if Larken who is involved with the Lincoln home could send him some details about it. He also promises to ensure all arrears of subscriptions are dealt with on his return to Lincoln.


2 items
27 Feb 1861

Handwritten plus typed copy from Boole in Cork to John Larken thanking him for his letter containing news of Lincoln, and expressing his happiness to hear Larken's family are getting on well, adding: 'I believe that among young ladies getting married may be considered as a kind of success in life.' He hopes Larken will do well but cautions him against working too hard and prospering too much. He is fine and hoping to build a house. He adds: 'If I had my present lot in England I think I should have no earthly wish ungratified.' Also thanks him for the unusually neat way in which he returned a book.


2 items
13 Apr 1861

Handwritten plus typed copy from Boole in Cork to John Larken, thanking him for his house design and promising that if he is ever going to build a house he will hire him as architect. Mentions he likes Gothic Architecture but finds 'convenience and utility are not sufficiently thought of by Gothic designers generally', and mentions Q.C.C. as a case in point. He invites him to visit as soon as renovations to his house finish; at the moment stars are visible through the roof in the attic.


5 pages
22 May 1862

From Boole to John Larken telling him about the fire at Q.C.C.. The damage was calculated at £6,000 with £2,000 worth of equipment lost. He also discusses the building of a Cathedral in Cork, to be constructed of limestone and bathstone. He remarks in Ireland labourers work for 6d. a day less than they do in England where they receive Is.6d or Is.8d. per day. However they get less work done in a day than an English labourer. If Larken wishes to tender for the contract he advises him to come and view the site but warns he may have problems: 'I should think Irish workmen very difficult from an Englishman to deal with. They are very much given to striking.' He adds if he has room he would be glad to put Larken up.


1 pages
[ ]

Scrap of a letter from Edmund Larken to Boole giving news of Fanny Bullen's health.

ix. letter from George Boole to his pupils


4 pages
6 Nov 1849

From Boole in Cork to his old pupils telling them about his new situation. He mentions he often thinks of them and their welfare and happiness. He describes the countryside around Cork and the college, he mentions the steady rainfall and that he has heard Cork referred to as the rain basin of Ireland. He refers to a report on the opening of the college which is to be featured in the next edition of the Illustrated London News. He adds he would be delighted to find on his return that they all had been good boys 'steady to your labours faithful and obedient to your teachers, kind an courteous to each other, obliging to all with whom you have to do,' and states he would be proud to hear from any of them.

x. letters from George Boole to M.C. Taylor

BP/1/225 (See Also BP/1/337)

3 pages
27 May 1840

From Boole to Taylor in Leeds, opens with a friendly reprimand to Taylor for not writing and goes on to discuss his work. He tells him he has moved to Pottergate in Lincoln, and is so busy teaching and writing maths papers he has neglected general literature. He reveals he has some ideas for discussion which would make their correspondence 'useful' but he wishes to develop them further before airing them. He was upset to hear Leed's Cathedral burnt down and hopes Taylor was not one of those who dismissed its monuments as archaic, as they were, Boole feels, symbols of medieval faith that have only recently come to look out of place.

BP/1/226 (See Also BP/1/230)

2 items
Apr 1840

Letter from Boole to Taylor plus typed copy discussing studies and religious matters. He recommends lectures on physical science by Roget published in the library of Useful Knowledge, mentions he finds writing a great aid to study, and he has done away with slates in his school and is using pens instead. He then discusses various academic matters, the works of Brown, the study of mental philosophy and how it leads to a growth of genuine poetry and the reception of religious belief. On this last subject he states: 'I hesitate not to avow myself in belief a Christian,' although he places his 'hopes of future happiness on the great propitiatory sacrifice and atonements of the saviour.' On other issues such as the freedom of human will (which he sees as minor point) he has ceased to think and adds: 'I doubt whether I am a Christian at all except in mere speculation.' He says he has expressed his feelings more fully than ever before but he does not want Taylor to enter into correspondence on personal religion as he feels this would lead to hypocrisy on his part. Rather he hopes their correspondence will continue to stimulate them both.


4 pages
8 June 1840

From Boole in Lincoln to Taylor, he apologises for not having enough time to write a long letter but instead resolves to 'offer a few remarks on a subject alluded to in your last and briefly propose a plan of correspondence from which you may probably derive much benefit.' The discussion revolves around Brown's thoughts on will and ideas, with which Boole disagrees. He suggests Taylor should study mental and natural philosophy, and draw up at intervals an abstract of such principles and theories of a particular issue and send this to Boole with his own thoughts. Boole then might be able to add some helpful comments, but· he states the writing of the work alone would be most useful. Mentions he had advertised in the Leeds 'Mercury' for an assistant.


4 pages
22 Sept/8 Oct 1840

From Boole to Taylor, opening with profuse apologies for not writing earlier. Also he has lost Taylor's last letter so his responses to the questions might not be too comprehensive. As Taylor requested he discussed the identity of memory, conception and imagination, he sees the main difference between memory and imagination as being conception. He then switches to address a second letter from Taylor asking for his advice. He is seemingly depressed but Boole assures him all students become apathetic and despondent at some time, as all humans have periods of low energy, and he gives him study advice. Mentions he has also had a letter from Dyson whom he feels is an enterprising student.


4 pages
17 July 1844

From Boole in Hornsea to Taylor apologising profusely for letting their correspondence lapse. He declares he cannot hope Taylor would resume their correspondence, but he would write if only to let him know that he has not been forgotten and adds: 'Although I have said that I would not attempt to apologise for my long silence the fear of losing altogether your good opinion compels me to say it has not been the result of idleness.' He then fills Taylor in briefly on his situation, saying school work takes up most of his time with the rest going to preparing a manuscript for publication. He mentions Dyson has settled at [Guinsboro] and is doing well and asks for Taylor's news.

BP/1/230 (See Also BP/1/226)

4 pages
28 Feb 1845

From Boole in Lincoln to Taylor explaining he doesn't have a spare copy of his recent lecture to send him, and he hopes Taylor understands. If he wants to read the paper he can find it in Philosophical Transactions 1844 PL11, but doesn't think it would interest him. He recommends Dr. Arnold's Life and Correspondence which he read and enjoyed, and mentions again his religious affiliations: 'I should not hesitate to avow myself in principle and in profession a churchman. More than this I can scarcely say.' He also is determined to avoid taking sides on religious questions which divide Christians.


4 pages
20 June 1846

From Boole in Lincoln to Taylor inviting him to visit if he is ever in Lincoln; he presumes someone in Taylor's business must travel a lot and assures him there is always welcome for him in Lincoln. Adds he is off to the seaside at Hornsea soon for a short break.

xi. letters from George Boole to A. T. Turner


4 pages
26 Jan 1860

Copy of a letter from Boole in Cork to Turner discussing general and political news. He apologises for not writing earlier, but he has just had one book printed and another still in the press and finds letter-writing a continuation of work, so he avoids it. He gives some family news; Maryann, recently returned from Germany, is now living in Cork as governess to the bishop's children, and is very happy with her position. As for himself although he is happy in Cork he is 'looking forward to settling in England in some way before long.' He gives a brief description of his children and concludes, 'on the whole life passes pleasantly on though in a country in which I can never feel at home.' He then turns to discuss the prospects of peace between England and France saying he has heard many conflicting statements about the French. He recognises the Commercial Treaty as fact and presumes Free Trade will be the future. He mentions no volunteer rifle corps formed in Ireland as: 'The Roman Catholic Priesthood seem to have been doing all they can to preach disloyalty' and declares: 'This is a country which does not on the whole present the most favourable picture of Christianity.'