chapter  5
25 Pages

MARSHALL AND THE CAMBRIDGE ECONOMICS TRIPOS

ByAlon Kadish

The state of economic studies at Cambridge at the time of Marshall’s appointment to the chair vacated by Fawcett’s death in 1885 was not much different from that at Oxford. Papers in political economy were included in the moral sciences and the history triposes, whereas the general interest in the subject was largely due to extraneous factors. The advent of new liberalism did not bypass Cambridge, and the martyrdom of Arnold Toynbee affected young Cambridge as well as Oxford. Following the example of Sidney Ball’s Oxford Social Science Club,1 a number of Cambridge dons and young graduates with an active interest in social and economic matters founded the Society for the Study of Social Questions in late November 1883.2 The Society’s first subjects for debate were socialism and land reform.3 Its first meeting was addressed by H.S.Foxwell, who read a paper on Hyndman and Henry George followed by a general discussion. In its next issue, the Cambridge Review reported: ‘“What a very liberal speech Mr Sedley Taylor made [in the debate]”, said one enthusiastic young undergraduate to one of our best political economists with whom he was returning from the debate… “One might almost suppose he was a Socialist.” “A Socialist?” was the reply, “Of course he is a Socialist, we are all Socialists!”’4