James Joseph Sylvester to Barbara Leigh Bodichon

Scope and Content

Autograph letter, signed, 4pp. 8vo, Athenaeum Club letterhead, to Madame Bodichon.

'Dear Madame Bodichon, I will not delay a moment longer in writing to you, even though I should go to see you in the course of tomorrow -- for I have been designing each day to do so since receiving your note and have perpetually been prevented by some unforeseen engagement --On Wednesday I had to go out / / to dinner or I would have been very happy to have called upon you in the evening. I shall be glad to be useful to you in any way in my power and to take a part if you wish it at your meeting at Hastings. I will call upon you as soon as I am able to ascertain all particulars and think I may be able to assist you in obtaining / / the attendance of a Lord or a Bishop -- or possibly an Archbishop I have been deep in a question of Numbers -- (mathematical numbers) and believe that I have at length got out my result on getting up this very morning just as I was on the point of giving up the inquiry in despair and going to try to work at the piano yo obtain consolation under my defeat / /If the whole affair is not a delusion, it is a splendid piece of work and will ring through Mathematical Europe I have asked Mr [Arthur] Cayley [1821-1895, mathematician] to look at it to disabuse me if I am in a dream -- for such a thing has happened to me before as to have thought I had done some problem on which I had been long intent and then of a sudden to find like a man awakening from sleep that it was all a fog of the understanding or rather a delusion springing out of such a fog. Mr [Sir Francis] Galton [1822-1911, scientist] thinks highly of Ben's [Benjamin Leigh Smith] achievement. Yours ever truly JJ Sylvester.'