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Title: Autobiography of Sir George Biddell Airy
Author: Airy, George Biddell, 1801-1892
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Autobiography of Sir George Biddell Airy" ***



                   SIR GEORGE BIDDELL AIRY, K.C.B.,

                M.A., LL.D., D.C.L., F.R.S., F.R.A.S.,

                 ASTRONOMER ROYAL FROM 1836 TO 1881.

                              EDITED BY

                   WILFRID AIRY, B.A., M.Inst.C.E.



The life of Airy was essentially that of a hard-working, business man,
and differed from that of other hard-working people only in the
quality and variety of his work. It was not an exciting life, but it
was full of interest, and his work brought him into close relations
with many scientific men, and with many men high in the State. His
real business life commenced after he became Astronomer Royal, and
from that time forward, during the 46 years that he remained in
office, he was so entirely wrapped up in the duties of his post that
the history of the Observatory is the history of his life. For writing
his business life there is abundant material, for he preserved all his
correspondence, and the chief sources of information are as follows:

    (1) His Autobiography.
    (2) His Annual Reports to the Board of Visitors.
    (3) His printed Papers entitled "Papers by G.B. Airy."
    (4) His miscellaneous private correspondence.
    (5) His letters to his wife.
    (6) His business correspondence.

(1) His Autobiography, after the time that he became Astronomer Royal,
is, as might be expected, mainly a record of the scientific work
carried on at the Greenwich Observatory: but by no means exclusively
so. About the time when he took charge of the Observatory there was an
immense development of astronomical enterprise: observatories were
springing up in all directions, and the Astronomer Royal was expected
to advise upon all of the British and Colonial Observatories. It was
necessary also for him to keep in touch with the Continental
Observatories and their work, and this he did very diligently and
successfully, both by correspondence and personal intercourse with the
foreign astronomers. There was also much work on important subjects
more or less connected with his official duties--such as geodetical
survey work, the establishment of time-balls at different places,
longitude determinations, observation of eclipses, and the
determination of the density of the Earth. Lastly, there was a great
deal of time and work given to questions not very immediately
connected with his office, but on which the Government asked his
assistance in the capacity of general scientific adviser: such were
the Correction of the Compass in iron ships, the Railway Gauge
Commission, the Commission for the Restoration of the Standards of
Length and Weight, the Maine Boundary, Lighthouses, the Westminster
Clock, the London University, and many other questions.

Besides those above-mentioned there were a great many subjects which
he took up out of sheer interest in the investigations. For it may
fairly be said that every subject of a distinctly practical nature,
which could be advanced by mathematical knowledge, had an interest for
him: and his incessant industry enabled him to find time for many of
them. Amongst such subjects were Tides and Tidal Observations,
Clockwork, and the Strains in Beams and Bridges. A certain portion of
his time was also given to Lectures, generally on current astronomical
questions, for he held it as his duty to popularize the science as far
as lay in his power. And he attended the meetings of the Royal
Astronomical Society with great regularity, and took a very active
part in the discussions and business of the Society. He also did much
work for the Royal Society, and (up to a certain date) for the British

All of the foregoing matters are recorded pretty fully in his
Autobiography up to the year 1861. After that date the Autobiography
is given in a much more abbreviated form, and might rather be regarded
as a collection of notes for his Biography. His private history is
given very fully for the first part of his life, but is very lightly
touched upon during his residence at Greenwich. A great part of the
Autobiography is in a somewhat disjointed state, and appears to have
been formed by extracts from a number of different sources, such as
Official Journals, Official Correspondence, and Reports. In editing
the Autobiography it has been thought advisable to omit a large number
of short notes relating to the routine work of the Observatory, to
technical and scientific correspondence, to Papers communicated to
various Societies and official business connected with them, and to
miscellaneous matters of minor importance. These in the aggregate
occupied a great deal of time and attention. But, from their detached
nature, they would have but little general interest. At various places
will be found short Memoirs and other matter by the Editor.

(2) All of his Annual Reports to the Board of Visitors are attached to
his Autobiography and were evidently intended to be read with it and
to form part of it. These Reports are so carefully compiled and are so
copious that they form a very complete history of the Greenwich
Observatory and of the work carried on there during the time that he
was Astronomer Royal. The first Report contained only four pages, but
with the constantly increasing amount and range of work the Reports
constantly increased in volume till the later Reports contained 21
pages. Extracts from these Reports relating to matters of novelty and
importance, and illustrating the principles which guided him in his
conduct of the Observatory, have been incorporated with the

(3) The printed "Papers by G.B. Airy" are bound in 14 large quarto
volumes. There are 518 of these Papers, on a great variety of
subjects: a list of them is appended to this history, as also is a
list of the books that he wrote, and one or two of the Papers which
were separately printed. They form a very important part of his
life's work, and are frequently referred to in the present
history. They are almost all to be found in the Transactions of
Societies or in newspapers, and extend over a period of 63 years (1822
to 1885). The progress made in certain branches of science during this
long period can very fairly be traced by these Papers.

(4) His private correspondence was large, and like his other papers it
was carefully arranged. No business letters of any kind are included
under this head. In this correspondence letters are occasionally found
either dealing with matters of importance or in some way
characteristic, and these have been inserted in this biography. As
already stated the Autobiography left by Airy is confined almost
entirely to science and business, and touches very lightly on private
matters or correspondence.

(5) The letters to his wife are very numerous. They were written
during his occasional absences from home on business or for
relaxation. On these occasions he rarely let a day pass without
writing to his wife, and sometimes he wrote twice on the same
day. They are full of energy and interest and many extracts from them
are inserted in this history. A great deal of the personal history is
taken from them.

(6) All correspondence in any way connected with business during the
time that he was Astronomer Royal is to be found at the Royal
Observatory. It is all bound and arranged in the most perfect order,
and any letter throughout this time can be found with the greatest
ease. It is very bulky, and much of it is, in a historical sense,
very interesting. It was no doubt mainly from this correspondence that
the Autobiography, which so far as related to the Greenwich part of it
was almost entirely a business history, was compiled.

The history of the early part of his life was written in great detail
and contained a large quantity of family matter which was evidently
not intended for publication. This part of the Autobiography has been
compressed. The history of the latter part of his life was not written
by himself at all, and has been compiled from his Journal and other
sources. In both these cases, and occasionally in short paragraphs
throughout the narrative, it has been found convenient to write the
history in the third person.

    2, THE CIRCUS,


The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press desire to express their
thanks to Messrs Macmillan & Co. for their courteous permission to use
in this work the steel engraving of Sir George Biddell Airy published
in _Nature_ on October 31, 1878.

                          TABLE OF CONTENTS.

                              CHAPTER I.

Personal Sketch of George Biddell Airy

                             CHAPTER II.

From his birth to his taking his B.A. Degree at Cambridge

                             CHAPTER III.

At Trinity College, Cambridge, from his taking his B.A.  Degree to his
taking charge of the Cambridge Observatory as Plumian Professor

                             CHAPTER IV.

At Cambridge Observatory, from his taking charge of the Cambridge
Observatory to his residence at Greenwich Observatory as Astronomer

                              CHAPTER V.

At Greenwich Observatory, 1836-1846

                             CHAPTER VI.

At Greenwich Observatory, 1846-1856

                             CHAPTER VII.

At Greenwich Observatory, 1856-1866

                            CHAPTER VIII.

At Greenwich Observatory, 1866-1876

                             CHAPTER IX.

At Greenwich Observatory, from January 1st, 1876, to his resignation
of office on August 15th, 1881

                              CHAPTER X.

At the White House, Greenwich, from his resignation of office on
August 15th, 1881, to his death on January 2nd, 1892


List of Printed Papers by G.B. Airy, and List of Books written by
G.B. Airy


                              CHAPTER I.


The history of Airy's life, and especially the history of his life's
work, is given in the chapters that follow. But it is felt that the
present Memoir would be incomplete without a reference to those
personal characteristics upon which the work of his life hinged and
which can only be very faintly gathered from his Autobiography.

He was of medium stature and not powerfully built: as he advanced in
years he stooped a good deal. His hands were large-boned and
well-formed. His constitution was remarkably sound. At no period in
his life does he seem to have taken the least interest in athletic
sports or competitions, but he was a very active pedestrian and could
endure a great deal of fatigue. He was by no means wanting in physical
courage, and on various occasions, especially in boating expeditions,
he ran considerable risks. In debate and controversy he had great
self-reliance, and was absolutely fearless. His eye-sight was
peculiar, and required correction by spectacles the lenses of which
were ground to peculiar curves according to formulae which he himself
investigated: with these spectacles he saw extremely well, and he
commonly carried three pairs, adapted to different distances: he took
great interest in the changes that took place in his eye-sight, and
wrote several Papers on the subject. In his later years he became
somewhat deaf, but not to the extent of serious personal

The ruling feature of his character was undoubtedly Order. From the
time that he went up to Cambridge to the end of his life his system of
order was strictly maintained. He wrote his autobiography up to date
soon after he had taken his degree, and made his first will as soon as
he had any money to leave. His accounts were perfectly kept by double
entry throughout his life, and he valued extremely the order of
book-keeping: this facility of keeping accounts was very useful to
him. He seems not to have destroyed a document of any kind whatever:
counterfoils of old cheque-books, notes for tradesmen, circulars,
bills, and correspondence of all sorts were carefully preserved in the
most complete order from the time that he went to Cambridge; and a
huge mass they formed. To a high appreciation of order he attributed
in a great degree his command of mathematics, and sometimes spoke of
mathematics as nothing more than a system of order carried to a
considerable extent. In everything he was methodical and orderly, and
he had the greatest dread of disorder creeping into the routine work
of the Observatory, even in the smallest matters. As an example, he
spent a whole afternoon in writing the word "Empty" on large cards, to
be nailed upon a great number of empty packing boxes, because he
noticed a little confusion arising from their getting mixed with other
boxes containing different articles; and an assistant could not be
spared for this work without withdrawing him from his appointed
duties. His arrangement of the Observatory correspondence was
excellent and elaborate: probably no papers are more easy of reference
than those arranged on his system. His strict habits of order made him
insist very much upon detail in his business with others, and the
rigid discipline arising out of his system of order made his rule
irksome to such of his subordinates as did not conform readily to it:
but the efficiency of the Observatory unquestionably depended mainly
upon it. As his powers failed with age the ruling passion for order
assumed a greater prominence; and in his last days he seemed to be
more anxious to put letters which he received into their proper place
for reference than even to master their contents.

His nature was eminently practical, and any subject which had a
distinctly practical object, and could be advanced by mathematical
investigation, possessed interest for him. And his dislike of mere
theoretical problems and investigations was proportionately great. He
was continually at war with some of the resident Cambridge
mathematicians on this subject. Year after year he criticised the
Senate House Papers and the Smith's Prize Papers question by question
very severely: and conducted an interesting and acrimonious private
correspondence with Professor Cayley on the same subject. His great
mathematical powers and his command of mathematics are sufficiently
evidenced by the numerous mathematical treatises of the highest order
which he published, a list of which is appended to this biography. But
a very important feature of his investigations was the thoroughness of
them. He was never satisfied with leaving a result as a barren
mathematical expression. He would reduce it, if possible, to a
practical and numerical form, at any cost of labour: and would use any
approximations which would conduce to this result, rather than leave
the result in an unfruitful condition. He never shirked arithmetical
work: the longest and most laborious reductions had no terrors for
him, and he was remarkably skilful with the various mathematical
expedients for shortening and facilitating arithmetical work of a
complex character. This power of handling arithmetic was of great
value to him in the Observatory reductions and in the Observatory work
generally. He regarded it as a duty to finish off his work, whatever
it was, and the writer well remembers his comment on the mathematics
of one of his old friends, to the effect that "he was too fond of
leaving a result in the form of three complex equations with three
unknown quantities." To one who had known, in some degree, of the
enormous quantity of arithmetical work which he had turned out, and
the unsparing manner in which he had devoted himself to it, there was
something very pathetic in his discovery, towards the close of his
long life, "that the figures would not add up."

His energy and business capacity were remarkable. He was made for work
and could not long be happy without it. Whatever subject he was
engaged upon, he kept his object clearly in view, and made straight
for it, aiming far more at clearness and directness than at elegance
of periods or symmetry of arrangement. He wrote his letters with great
ease and rapidity: and having written them he very rarely had occasion
to re-write them, though he often added insertions and
interlineations, even in the most important official letters. Without
this it would have been impossible for him to have turned out the
enormous quantity of correspondence that he did. He never dictated
letters, and only availed himself of clerical assistance in matters of
the most ordinary routine. In his excursions, as in his work, he was
always energetic, and could not endure inaction. Whatever there was of
interest in the places that he visited he examined thoroughly and
without delay, and then passed on. And he thus accomplished a great
deal in a short vacation. His letters written to his wife, while he
was on his excursions, are very numerous and characteristic, and
afford ample proofs of his incessant energy and activity both of body
and mind. They are not brilliantly written, for it was not in his
nature to write for effect, and he would never give himself the
trouble to study the composition of his letters, but they are
straight-forward, clear, and concise, and he was never at a loss for
suitable language to express his ideas. He had a wonderful capacity
for enjoyment: the subjects that chiefly interested him were scenery,
architecture, and antiquities, but everything novel or curious had an
interest for him. He made several journeys to the Continent, but by
far the greater number of his excursions were made in England and
Scotland, and there were few parts of the country which he had not
visited. He was very fond of the Lake District of Cumberland, and
visited it very frequently, and each time that he went there the same
set of views had an eternal freshness for him, and he wrote long
descriptions of the scenery and effects with the same raptures as if
he had seen it for the first time. Many of his letters were written
from Playford, a village in a beautiful part of Suffolk, a few miles
from Ipswich. Here he had a small property, and generally stayed there
for a short time once or twice a year. He was extremely fond of this
country, and was never tired of repeating his walks by the well-known
lanes and footpaths. And, as in Cumberland, the Suffolk country had
an eternal freshness and novelty for him. Wherever he went he was
indefatigable in keeping up his acquaintance with his numerous friends
and his letters abound in social reminiscences.

His memory was singularly retentive. It was much remarked at school in
his early days, and in the course of his life he had stored up in his
memory an incredible quantity of poetry, ballads, and miscellaneous
facts and information of all sorts, which was all constantly ready and
at his service. It is almost needless to add that his memory was
equally accurate and extensive in matters connected with science or

His independence of character was no doubt due to and inseparable from
his great powers. The value of his scientific work greatly depended
upon his self-reliance and independence of thought. And in the heavy
work of remodelling the Observatory it was a very valuable
quality. This same self-reliance made him in his latter years apt to
draw conclusions too confidently and hastily on subjects which he had
taken up more as a pastime than as work. But whatever he touched he
dealt with ably and in the most fearless truthseeking manner, and left
original and vigorous opinions.

He had a remarkably well-balanced mind, and a simplicity of nature
that appeared invulnerable. No amount of hero-worship seemed to have
the least effect upon him. And from a very early time he was exposed
to a great deal of it. His mind was incessantly engaged on
investigations of Nature, and this seems to have been with him, as has
been the case with others, a preserving influence. This simplicity of
character he retained throughout his life. At the same time he was
sensible and shrewd in his money matters and attentive to his personal
interests. And his practical good sense in the general affairs of
life, combined with his calm and steady consideration of points
submitted to him, made his advice very valuable. This was especially
recognized by his own and his wife's relations, who consulted him on
many occasions and placed the fullest confidence in his absolute sense
of justice as well as in his wise counsel. He was extremely liberal
in proportion to his means, and gave away money to a large extent to
all who had any claim upon him. But he was not in any sense reckless,
and kept a most cautious eye on his expenses. He was not indifferent
to the honours which he received in the scientific world, but he does
not appear to have sought them in any way, and he certainly did not
trouble himself about them.

His courtesy was unfailing: no amount of trouble could shake
it. Whether it was the Secretary of the Admiralty, or a servant girl
wanting her fortune told: whether a begging-letter for money, or
miscellaneous invitations: all had their answer in the most clear and
courteous language. But he would not grant personal interviews when he
could avoid it: they took up too much of his time. His head was so
clear that he never seemed to want for the clearest and most direct
language in expressing his meaning, and his letters are models of

In all his views and opinions he was strongly liberal. At Cambridge at
an early date he was one of the 83 members of the Senate who supported
the application to permit the granting of medical degrees without
requiring an expression of assent to the religious doctrines of the
Church of England. And in 1868 he declined to sign a petition against
the abolition of religious declarations required of persons admitted
to Fellowships or proceeding to the degree of M.A. And he was opposed
to every kind of narrowness and exclusiveness. When he was appointed
to the post of Astronomer Royal, he stipulated that he should not be
asked to vote in any political election. But all his views were in the
liberal direction. He was a great reader of theology and church
history, and as regarded forms of worship and the interpretation of
the Scriptures, he treated them with great respect, but from the point
of view of a freethinking layman. In the Preface to his "Notes on the
Earlier Hebrew Scriptures" he says, "In regard to the general tone of
these notes, I will first remark that I have nothing to say on the
subject of verbal inspiration. With those who entertain that doctrine,
I can have nothing in common. Nor do I recognize, in the professedly
historical accounts, any other inspiration which can exempt them from
the severest criticism that would be applicable to so-called profane
accounts, written under the same general circumstances, and in the
same countries." And his treatment of the subject in the "Notes" shews
how entirely he took a rationalistic view of the whole question. He
also strongly sided with Bishop Colenso in his fearless criticism of
the Pentateuch, though he dissented from some of his conclusions. But
he was deeply imbued with the spirit of religion and reflected much
upon it. His whole correspondence conveys the impression of the most
sterling integrity and high-mindedness, without a trace of
affectation. In no letter does there appear a shadow of wavering on
matters of principle, whether in public or private matters, and he was
very clear and positive in his convictions.

The great secret of his long and successful official career was that
he was a good servant and thoroughly understood his position. He never
set himself in opposition to his masters, the Admiralty. He never
hesitated to ask the Admiralty for what he thought right, whether in
the way of money grants for various objects, or for occasional
permission to give his services to scientific matters not immediately
connected with the Observatory. Sometimes the Admiralty refused his
requests, and he felt this very keenly, but he was far too busy and
energetic to trouble himself about such little slights, and cheerfully
accepted the situation. What was refused by one Administration was
frequently granted by another; and in the meantime he was always ready
to give his most zealous assistance in any matter that was officially
brought before him. This cheerful readiness to help, combined with his
great ability and punctuality in business matters, made him a very
valuable servant, and speaking generally he had the confidence of the
Admiralty in a remarkable degree. In many of his Reports to the Board
of Visitors he speaks gratefully of the liberality of the Admiralty in
forwarding scientific progress and research. In matters too which are
perhaps of minor importance from the high stand-point of science, but
which are invaluable in the conduct of an important business office,
such for example as estimates and official correspondence, he was
orderly and punctual in the highest degree. And, what is by no means
unimportant, he possessed an excellent official style in
correspondence, combined with great clearness of expression. His
entire honesty of purpose, and the high respect in which he was held
both at home and abroad, gave great weight to his recommendations.

With regard to his habits while he resided at the Observatory, his
custom was to work in his official room from 9 to about 2.30, though
in summer he was frequently at work before breakfast. He then took a
brisk walk, and dined at about 3.30. This early hour had been
prescribed and insisted upon by his physician, Dr Haviland of
Cambridge, in whom he had great confidence. He ate heartily, though
simply and moderately, and slept for about an hour after dinner. He
then had tea, and from about 7 to 10 he worked in the same room with
his family. He would never retire to a private room, and regarded the
society of his family as highly beneficial in "taking the edge off his
work." His powers of abstraction were remarkable: nothing seemed to
disturb him; neither music, singing, nor miscellaneous conversation.
He would then play a game or two at cards, read a few pages of a
classical or historical book, and retire at 11. On Sundays he attended
morning service at church, and in the evening read a few prayers very
carefully and impressively to his whole household. He was very
hospitable, and delighted to receive his friends in a simple and
natural way at his house. In this he was most admirably aided by his
wife, whose grace and skill made everything pleasant to their
guests. But he avoided dinner-parties as much as possible--they
interfered too much with his work--and with the exception of
scientific and official dinners he seldom dined away from home. His
tastes were entirely domestic, and he was very happy in his
family. With his natural love of work, and with the incessant calls
upon him, he would soon have broken down, had it not been for his
system of regular relaxation. Two or three times a year he took a
holiday: generally a short run of a week or ten days in the spring, a
trip of a month or thereabouts in the early autumn, and about three
weeks at Playford in the winter. These trips were always conducted in
the most active manner, either in constant motion from place to place,
or in daily active excursions. This system he maintained with great
regularity, and from the exceeding interest and enjoyment that he took
in these trips his mind was so much refreshed and steadied that he
always kept himself equal to his work.

Airy seems to have had a strong bent in the direction of astronomy
from his youth, and it is curious to note how well furnished he was,
by the time that he became Astronomer Royal, both with astronomy in
all its branches, and with the kindred sciences so necessary for the
practical working and improvement of it. At the time that he went to
Cambridge Physical Astronomy was greatly studied there and formed a
most important part of the University course. He eagerly availed
himself of this, and mastered the Physical Astronomy in the most
thorough manner, as was evidenced by his Papers collected in his
"Mathematical Tracts," his investigation of the Long Inequality of the
Earth and Venus, and many other works. As Plumian Professor he had
charge of the small Observatory at Cambridge, where he did a great
deal of the observing and reduction work himself, and became
thoroughly versed in the practical working of an Observatory. The
result of this was immediately seen in the improved methods which he
introduced at Greenwich, and which were speedily imitated at other
Observatories. Optics and the Undulatory Theory of Light had been very
favourite subjects with him, and he had written and lectured
frequently upon them. In the construction of the new and powerful
telescopes and other optical instruments required from time to time
this knowledge was very essential, for in its instrumental equipment
the Greenwich Observatory was entirely remodelled during his tenure of
office. And in many of the matters referred to him, as for instance
that of the Lighthouses, a thorough knowledge of Optics was most
valuable. He had made a great study of the theory and construction of
clocks, and this knowledge was invaluable to him at Greenwich in the
establishment of new and more accurate astronomical clocks, and
especially in the improvement of chronometers. He had carefully
studied the theory of pendulums, and had learned how to use them in
his experiments in the Cornish mines. This knowledge he afterwards
utilized very effectively at the Harton Pit in comparing the density
of the Earth's crust with its mean density; and it was very useful to
him in connection with geodetic surveys and experiments on which he
was consulted. And his mechanical knowledge was useful in almost

The subjects (outside those required for his professional work) in
which he took most interest were Poetry, History, Theology,
Antiquities, Architecture, and Engineering. He was well acquainted
with standard English poetry, and had committed large quantities to
memory, which he frequently referred to as a most valuable acquisition
and an ever-present relief and comfort to his mind. History and
theology he had studied as opportunity offered, and without being
widely read in them he was much at home with them, and his powerful
memory made the most of what he did read. Antiquities and architecture
were very favourite subjects with him. He had visited most of the
camps and castles in the United Kingdom and was never tired of tracing
their connection with ancient military events: and he wrote several
papers on this subject, especially those relating to the Roman
invasions of Britain. Ecclesiastical architecture he was very fond of:
he had visited nearly all the cathedrals and principal churches in
England, and many on the Continent, and was most enthusiastic on their
different styles and merits: his letters abound in critical remarks on
them. He was extremely well versed in mechanics, and in the principles
and theory of construction, and took the greatest interest in large
engineering works. This led to much communication with Stephenson,
Brunel, and other engineers, who consulted him freely on the subject
of great works on which they were engaged: in particular he rendered
much assistance in connection with the construction of the Britannia
Bridge over the Menai Straits. There were various other subjects which
he read with much interest (Geology in particular), but he made no
study of Natural History, and knew very little about it beyond
detached facts. His industry was untiring, and in going over his books
one by one it was very noticeable how large a number of them were
feathered with his paper "marks," shewing how carefully he had read
them and referred to them. His nature was essentially cheerful, and
literature of a witty and humourous character had a great charm for
him. He was very fond of music and knew a great number of songs; and
he was well acquainted with the theory of music: but he was no
performer. He did not sketch freehand but made excellent drawings with
his Camera Lucida.

At the time when he took his degree (1823) and for many years
afterwards there was very great activity of scientific investigation
and astronomical enterprise in England. And, as in the times of
Flamsteed and Halley, the earnest zeal of men of science occasionally
led to much controversy and bitterness amongst them. Airy was by no
means exempt from such controversies. He was a man of keen
sensitiveness, though it was combined with great steadiness of temper,
and he never hesitated to attack theories and methods that he
considered to be scientifically wrong. This led to differences with
Ivory, Challis, South, Cayley, Archibald Smith, and others; but
however much he might differ from them he was always personally
courteous, and the disputes generally went no farther than as regarded
the special matter in question. Almost all these controversial
discussions were carried on openly, and were published in the
Athenaeum, the Philosophical Magazine, or elsewhere; for he printed
nearly everything that he wrote, and was very careful in the selection
of the most suitable channels for publication. He regarded it as a
duty to popularize as much as possible the work done at the
Observatory, and to take the public into his confidence. And this he
effected by articles communicated to newspapers, lectures, numerous
Papers written for scientific societies, reports, debates, and

His strong constitution and his regular habits, both of work and
exercise, are sufficient explanation of the good health which in
general he enjoyed. Not but what he had sharp touches of illness from
time to time. At one period he suffered a good deal from an attack of
eczema, and at another from a varicose vein in his leg, and he was
occasionally troubled with severe colds. But he bore these ailments
with great patience and threw them off in course of time. He was happy
in his marriage and in his family, and such troubles and distresses as
were inevitable he accepted calmly and quietly. In his death, as in
his life, he was fortunate: he had no long or painful illness, and he
was spared the calamity of aberration of intellect, the saddest of all

                             CHAPTER II.


              FROM JULY 27TH 1801 TO JANUARY 18TH 1823.

George Biddell Airy was born at Alnwick in Northumberland on July 27th
1801. His father was William Airy of Luddington in Lincolnshire, the
descendant of a long line of Airys who have been traced back with a
very high degree of probability to a family of that name which was
settled at Kentmere in Westmorland in the 14th century. A branch of
this family migrated to Pontefract in Yorkshire, where they seem to
have prospered for many years, but they were involved in the
consequences of the Civil Wars, and one member of the family retired
to Ousefleet in Yorkshire. His grandson removed to Luddington in
Lincolnshire, where his descendants for several generations pursued
the calling of small farmers. George Biddell Airy's mother, Ann Airy,
was the daughter of George Biddell, a well-to-do farmer in Suffolk.

William Airy, the father of George Biddell Airy, was a man of great
activity and strength, and of prudent and steady character. When a
young man he became foreman on a farm in the neighbourhood of
Luddington, and laid by his earnings in summer in order to educate
himself in winter. For a person in his rank, his education was
unusually good, in matters of science and in English literature. But
at the age of 24 he grew tired of country labour, and obtained a post
in the Excise. After serving in various Collections he was appointed
Collector of the Northumberland Collection on the 15th August 1800,
and during his service there his eldest son George Biddell Airy was
born. The time over which his service as Officer and Supervisor
extended was that in which smuggling rose to a very high pitch, and in
which the position of Excise Officer was sometimes dangerous. He was
remarkable for his activity and boldness in contests with smugglers,
and made many seizures. Ann Airy, the mother of George Biddell Airy,
was a woman of great natural abilities both speculative and practical,
kind as a neighbour and as head of a family, and was deeply loved and
respected. The family consisted of George Biddell, Elizabeth, William,
and Arthur who died young.

William Airy was appointed to Hereford Collection on 22nd October
1802, and removed thither shortly after. He stayed at Hereford till he
was appointed to Essex Collection on 28th February 1810, and during
this time George Biddell was educated at elementary schools in
writing, arithmetic, and a little Latin. He records of himself that he
was not a favourite with the schoolboys, for he had very little animal
vivacity and seldom joined in active play with his schoolfellows. But
in the proceedings of the school he was successful, and was a
favourite with his master.

On the appointment of William Airy to Essex Collection, the family
removed to Colchester on April 5th 1810. Here George Biddell was first
sent to a large school in Sir Isaac's Walk, then kept by Mr Byatt
Walker, and was soon noted for his correctness in orthography,
geography, and arithmetic. He evidently made rapid progress, for on
one occasion Mr Walker said openly in the schoolroom how remarkable it
was that a boy 10 years old should be the first in the school. At this
school he stayed till the end of 1813 and thoroughly learned
arithmetic (from Walkingame's book), book-keeping by double entry (on
which knowledge throughout his life he set a special value), the use
of the sliding rule (which knowledge also was specially useful to him
in after life), mensuration and algebra (from Bonnycastle's books). He
also studied grammar in all its branches, and geography, and acquired
some knowledge of English literature, beginning with that admirable
book The Speaker, but it does not appear that Latin and Greek were
attended to at this school. He records that at this time he learned an
infinity of snatches of songs, small romances, &c., which his powerful
memory retained most accurately throughout his life. He was no hand at
active play: but was notorious for his skill in constructing guns for
shooting peas and arrows, and other mechanical contrivances. At home
he relates that he picked up a wonderful quantity of learning from his
father's books. He read and remembered much poetry from such standard
authors as Milton, Pope, Gay, Gray, Swift, &c., which was destined to
prove in after life an invaluable relaxation for his mind. But he also
studied deeply an excellent Cyclopaedia called a Dictionary of Arts
and Sciences in three volumes folio, and learned from it much about
ship-building, navigation, fortification, and many other subjects.

During this period his valuable friendship with his uncle Arthur
Biddell commenced. Arthur Biddell was a prosperous farmer and valuer
at Playford near Ipswich. He was a well-informed and able man, of
powerful and original mind, extremely kind and good-natured, and
greatly respected throughout the county. In the Autobiography of
George Biddell Airy he states as follows:

"I do not remember precisely when it was that I first visited my uncle
Arthur Biddell. I think it was in a winter: certainly as early as the
winter of 1812--13. Here I found a friend whose society I could enjoy,
and I entirely appreciated and enjoyed the practical, mechanical, and
at the same time speculative and enquiring talents of Arthur
Biddell. He had a library which, for a person in middle life, may be
called excellent, and his historical and antiquarian knowledge was not
small. After spending one winter holiday with him, it easily came to
pass that I spent the next summer holiday with him: and at the next
winter holiday, finding that there was no precise arrangement for my
movements, I secretly wrote him a letter begging him to come with a
gig to fetch me home with him: he complied with my request, giving no
hint to my father or mother of my letter: and from that time,
one-third of every year was regularly spent with him till I went to
College. How great was the influence of this on my character and
education I cannot tell. It was with him that I became acquainted with
the Messrs Ransome, W. Cubitt the civil engineer (afterwards Sir
W. Cubitt), Bernard Barton, Thomas Clarkson (the slave-trade
abolitionist), and other persons whose acquaintance I have valued
highly. It was also with him that I became acquainted with the works
of the best modern poets, Scott, Byron, Campbell, Hogg, and others: as
also with the Waverley Novels and other works of merit."

In 1813 William Airy lost his appointment of Collector of Excise and
was in consequence very much straitened in his circumstances. But
there was no relaxation in the education of his children, and at the
beginning of 1814 George Biddell was sent to the endowed Grammar
School at Colchester, then kept by the Rev. E. Crosse, and remained
there till the summer of 1819, when he went to College. The
Autobiography proceeds as follows:

"I became here a respectable scholar in Latin and Greek, to the extent
of accurate translation, and composition of prose Latin: in regard to
Latin verses I was I think more defective than most scholars who take
the same pains, but I am not much ashamed of this, for I entirely
despise the system of instruction in verse composition.

"My father on some occasion had to go to London and brought back for
me a pair of 12-inch globes. They were invaluable to me. The first
stars which I learnt from the celestial globe were alpha Lyrae, alpha
Aquilae, alpha Cygni: and to this time I involuntarily regard these
stars as the birth-stars of my astronomical knowledge. Having
somewhere seen a description of a Gunter's quadrant, I perceived that
I could construct one by means of the globe: my father procured for me
a board of the proper shape with paper pasted on it, and on this I
traced the lines of the quadrant.

"My command of geometry was tolerably complete, and one way in which I
frequently amused myself was by making paper models (most carefully
drawn in outline) which were buttoned together without any cement or
sewing. Thus I made models, not only of regular solids, regularly
irregular solids, cones cut in all directions so as to shew the conic
sections, and the like, but also of six-gun batteries, intrenchments
and fortresses of various kinds &c.

"From various books I had learnt the construction of the steam-engine:
the older forms from the Dictionary of Arts and Sciences; newer forms
from modern books. The newest form however (with the sliding steam
valve) I learnt from a 6-horse engine at Bawtrey's brewery (in which
Mr Keeling the father of my schoolfellow had acquired a
partnership). I frequently went to look at this engine, and on one
occasion had the extreme felicity of examining some of its parts when
it was opened for repair.

"In the mean time my education was advancing at Playford. The first
record, I believe, which I have of my attention to mechanics there is
the plan of a threshing-machine which I drew. But I was acquiring
valuable information of all kinds from the Encyclopaedia Londinensis,
a work which without being high in any respect is one of the most
generally useful that I have seen. But I well remember one of the most
important steps that I ever made. I had tried experiments with the
object-glass of an opera-glass and was greatly astonished at the
appearance of the images of objects seen through the glass under
different conditions. By these things my thoughts were turned to
accurate optics, and I read with care Rutherford's Lectures, which my
uncle possessed. The acquisition of an accurate knowledge of the
effect of optical constructions was one of the most charming
attainments that I ever reached. Long before I went to College I
understood the action of the lenses of a telescope better than most
opticians. I also read with great zeal Nicholson's Dictionary of
Chemistry, and occasionally made chemical experiments of an
inexpensive kind: indeed I grew so fond of this subject that there was
some thought of apprenticing me to a chemist. I also attended to
surveying and made a tolerable survey and map of my uncle's farm.

"At school I was going on successfully, and distinguished myself
particularly by my memory. It was the custom for each boy once a week
to repeat a number of lines of Latin or Greek poetry, the number
depending very much on his own choice. I determined on repeating 100
every week, and I never once fell below that number and was sometimes
much above it. It was no distress to me, and great enjoyment. At
Michaelmas 1816 I repeated 2394 lines, probably without missing a
word. I do not think that I was a favourite with Mr Crosse, but he
certainly had a high opinion of my powers and expressed this to my
father. My father entertained the idea of sending me to College, which
Mr Crosse recommended: but he heard from some college man that the
expense would be _£200_ a year, and he laid aside all thoughts of it.

"The farm of Playford Hall was in 1813 or 1814 hired by Thomas
Clarkson, the slave-trade abolitionist. My uncle transacted much
business for him (as a neighbour and friend) in the management of the
farm &c. for a time, and they became very intimate. My uncle begged
him to examine me in Classical knowledge, and he did so, I think,
twice. He also gave some better information about the probable
expenses &c. at College. The result was a strong recommendation by my
uncle or through my uncle that I should be sent to Cambridge, and this
was adopted by my father. I think it likely that this was in 1816.

"In December 1816, Dealtry's Fluxions was bought for me, and I read it
and understood it well. I borrowed Hutton's Course of Mathematics of
old Mr Ransome, who had come to reside at Greenstead near Colchester,
and read a good deal of it.

"About Ladyday 1817 I began to read mathematics with Mr Rogers
(formerly, I think, a Fellow of Sidney College, and an indifferent
mathematician of the Cambridge school), who had succeeded a Mr Tweed
as assistant to Mr Crosse in the school. I went to his house twice a
week, on holiday afternoons. I do not remember how long I received
lessons from him, but I think to June, 1818. This course was extremely
valuable to me, not on account of Mr Rogers's abilities (for I
understood many things better than he did) but for its training me
both in Cambridge subjects and in the Cambridge accurate methods of
treating them. I went through Euclid (as far as usually read), Wood's
Algebra, Wood's Mechanics, Vince's Hydrostatics, Wood's Optics,
Trigonometry (in a geometrical treatise and also in Woodhouse's
algebraical form), Fluxions to a good extent, Newton's Principia to
the end of the 9th section. This was a large quantity, but I read it
accurately and understood it perfectly, and could write out any one of
the propositions which I had read in the most exact form. My connexion
with Mr Rogers was terminated by _his_ giving me notice that he could
not undertake to receive me any longer: in fact I was too much for
him. I generally read these books in a garret in our house in George
Lane, which was indefinitely appropriated to my brother and myself. I
find that I copied out Vince's Conic Sections in February, 1819. The
first book that I copied was the small geometrical treatise on
Trigonometry, in May, 1817: to this I was urged by old Mr Ransome,
upon my complaining that I could not purchase the book: and it was no
bad lesson of independence to me."

During the same period 1817-1819 he was occupied at school on
translations into blank verse from the Aeneid and Iliad, and read
through the whole of Sophocles very carefully.

The classical knowledge which he thus gained at school and
subsequently at Cambridge was sound, and he took great pleasure in it:
throughout his life he made a practice of keeping one or other of the
Classical Authors at hand for occasional relaxation. He terminated his
schooling in June 1819. Shortly afterwards his father left Colchester
and went to reside at Bury St Edmund's. The Autobiography proceeds as

"Mr Clarkson was at one time inclined to recommend me to go to St
Peter's College (which had been much enriched by a bequest from a Mr
Gisborne). But on giving some account of me to his friend Mr James
D. Hustler, tutor of Trinity College, Mr Hustler urged upon him that I
was exactly the proper sort of person to go to Trinity College. And
thus it was settled (mainly by Mr Clarkson) that I should be entered
at Trinity College. I think that I was sent for purposely from
Colchester to Playford, and on March 6th, 1819, I rode in company with
Mr Clarkson from Playford to Sproughton near Ipswich to be examined by
the Rev. Mr Rogers, incumbent of Sproughton, an old M.A. of Trinity
College; and was examined, and my certificate duly sent to Mr Hustler;
and I was entered on Mr Hustler's side as Sizar of Trinity College.

"In the summer of 1819 I spent some time at Playford. On July 27th,
1819 (my birthday, 18 years old), Mr Clarkson invited me to dinner, to
meet Mr Charles Musgrave, Fellow of Trinity College, who was residing
for a short time at Grundisburgh, taking the church duty there for Dr
Ramsden, the Rector. It was arranged that I should go to Grundisburgh
the next day (I think) to be examined in mathematics by Mr Musgrave. I
went accordingly, and Mr Musgrave set before me a paper of questions
in geometry, algebra, mechanics, optics, &c. ending with the first
proposition of the Principia. I knew nothing more about my answers at
the time; but I found long after that they excited so much admiration
that they were transmitted to Cambridge (I forget whether to Mr
Musgrave's brother, a Fellow of Trinity College and afterwards
Archbishop of York, or to Mr Peacock, afterwards Dean of Ely) and were
long preserved.

"The list of the Classical subjects for the first year in Trinity
College was transmitted to me, as usual, by Mr Hustler. They were--The
Hippolytus of Euripides, the 3rd Book of Thucydides, and the 2nd
Philippic of Cicero. These I read carefully and noted before going
up. Mr Hustler's family lived in Bury; and I called on him and saw him
in October, introduced by Mr Clarkson. On the morning of October 18th,
1819, I went on the top of the coach to Cambridge, knowing nobody
there but Mr Hustler, but having letters of introduction from Mr
Charles Musgrave to Professor Sedgwick, Mr Thomas Musgrave, and Mr
George Peacock, all Fellows of Trinity College.

"I was set down at the Hoop, saw Trinity College for the first time,
found Mr Hustler, was conducted by his servant to the robe-maker's,
where I was invested in the cap and blue gown, and after some further
waiting was installed into lodgings in Bridge Street. At 4 o'clock I
went to the College Hall and was introduced by Mr Hustler to several
undergraduates, generally clever men, and in the evening I attended
Chapel in my surplice (it being St Luke's day) and witnessed that
splendid service of which the occasional exhibition well befits the

"As soon as possible, I called on Mr Peacock, Mr Musgrave, and
Professor Sedgwick. By all I was received with great kindness: my
examination papers had been sent to them, and a considerable
reputation preceded me. Mr Peacock at once desired that I would not
consider Mr C. Musgrave's letter as an ordinary introduction, but that
I would refer to him on all occasions. And I did so for several years,
and always received from him the greatest assistance that he could
give. I think that I did not become acquainted with Mr Whewell till
the next term, when I met him at a breakfast party at Mr Peacock's. Mr
Peacock at once warned me to arrange for taking regular exercise, and
prescribed a walk of two hours every day before dinner: a rule to
which I attended regularly, and to which I ascribe the continuance of
good general health.

"I shewed Mr Peacock a manuscript book which contained a number of
original Propositions which I had investigated. These much increased
my reputation (I really had sense enough to set no particular value on
it) and I was soon known by sight to almost everybody in the
University. A ridiculous little circumstance aided in this. The former
rule of the University (strictly enforced) had been that all students
should wear drab knee-breeches: and I, at Mr Clarkson's
recommendation, was so fitted up. The struggle between the old dress
and the trowsers customary in society was still going on but almost
terminated, and I was one of the very few freshmen who retained the
old habiliments. This made me in some measure distinguishable:
however at the end of my first three terms I laid these aside.

"The College Lectures began on Oct. 22: Mr Evans at 9 on the
Hippolytus, and Mr Peacock at 10 on Euclid (these being the Assistant
Tutors on Mr Hustler's side): and then I felt myself established.

"I wrote in a day or two to my uncle Arthur Biddell, and I received
from him a letter of the utmost kindness. He entered gravely on the
consideration of my prospects, my wants, &c.: and offered at all times
to furnish me with money, which he thought my father's parsimonious
habits might make him unwilling to do. I never had occasion to avail
myself of this offer: but it was made in a way which in no small
degree strengthened the kindly feelings that had long existed between

"I carefully attended the lectures, taking notes as appeared
necessary. In Mathematics there were geometrical problems, algebra,
trigonometry (which latter subjects the lectures did not reach till
the terms of 1820). Mr Peacock gave me a copy of Lacroix's
Differential Calculus as translated by himself and Herschel and
Babbage, and also a copy of their Examples. At this time, the use of
Differential Calculus was just prevailing over that of Fluxions (which
I had learnt). I betook myself to it with great industry. I also made
myself master of the theories of rectangular coordinates and some of
the differential processes applying to them, which only a few of the
best of the university mathematicians then wholly possessed. In
Classical subjects I read the Latin (Seneca's) and English Hippolytus,
Racine's Phèdre (which my sister translated for me), and all other
books to which I was referred, Aristotle, Longinus, Horace, Bentley,
Dawes &c., made verse translations of the Greek Hippolytus, and was
constantly on the watch to read what might be advantageous.

"Early in December Mr Hustler sent for me to say that one of the
Company of Fishmongers, Mr R. Sharp, had given to Mr John H. Smyth,
M.P. for Norwich, the presentation to a small exhibition of _£20_ a
year, which Mr Smyth had placed in Mr Hustler's hands, and which Mr
Hustler immediately conferred on me. This was my first step towards
pecuniary independence. I retained this exhibition till I became a
Fellow of the College.

"I stayed at Cambridge during part of the winter vacation, and to
avoid expense I quitted my lodgings and went for a time into
somebody's rooms in the Bishop's Hostel. (It is customary for the
tutors to place students in rooms when their right owners are absent.)
I took with me Thucydides and all relating to it, and read the book,
upon which the next term's lectures were to be founded, very
carefully. The latter part of the vacation I spent at Bury, where I
began with the assistance of my sister to pick up a little French: as
I perceived that it was absolutely necessary for enabling me to read
modern mathematics.

"During a part of the time I employed myself in writing out a paper on
the geometrical interpretation of the algebraical expression
sqrt(-1). I think that the original suggestion of perpendicular line
came from some book (I do not remember clearly), and I worked it out
in several instances pretty well, especially in De Moivre's Theorem. I
had spoken of it in the preceding term to Mr Peacock and he encouraged
me to work it out. The date at the end is 1820, January 21. When some
time afterwards I spoke of it to Mr Hustler, he disapproved of my
employing my time on such speculations. About the last day of January
I returned to Cambridge, taking up my abode in my former lodgings. I
shewed my paper on sqrt(-1) to Mr Peacock, who was much pleased with
it and shewed it to Mr Whewell and others.

"On February 1 I commenced two excellent customs. The first was that
I always had upon my table a quire of large-sized scribbling-paper
sewn together: and upon this paper everything was entered:
translations into Latin and out of Greek, mathematical problems,
memoranda of every kind (the latter transferred when necessary to the
subsequent pages), and generally with the date of the day. This is a
most valuable custom. The other was this: as I perceived that to write
Latin prose well would be useful to me, I wrote a translation of
English into Latin every day. However much pressed I might be with
other business, I endeavoured to write at least three or four words,
but if possible I wrote a good many sentences.

"I may fix upon this as the time when my daily habits were settled in
the form in which they continued for several years. I rose in time for
the chapel service at 7. It was the College regulation that every
student should attend Chapel four mornings and four evenings (Sunday
being one of each) in every week: and in this I never failed. After
chapel service I came to my lodgings and breakfasted. At 9 I went to
College lectures, which lasted to 11. Most of my contemporaries, being
intended for the Church, attended also divinity lectures: but I never
did. I then returned, put my lecture notes in order, wrote my piece of
Latin prose, and then employed myself on the subject which I was
reading for the time: usually taking mathematics at this hour. At 2 or
a little sooner I went out for a long walk, usually 4 or 5 miles into
the country: sometimes if I found companions I rowed on the Cam (a
practice acquired rather later). A little before 4 I returned, and at
4 went to College Hall. After dinner I lounged till evening chapel
time, 1/2 past 5, and returning about 6 I then had tea. Then I read
quietly, usually a classical subject, till 11; and I never, even in
the times when I might seem most severely pressed, sat up later.

"From this time to the close of the annual examination (beginning of
June) I remained at Cambridge, stopping there through the Easter
Vacation. The subjects of the mathematical lectures were ordinary
algebra and trigonometry: but Mr Peacock always had some private
problems of a higher class for me, and saw me I believe every day. The
subjects of the Classical lectures were, the termination of
Hippolytus, the book of Thucydides and the oration of Cicero. In
mathematics I read Whewell's Mechanics, then just published (the first
innovation made in the Cambridge system of Physical Sciences for many
years): and I find in my scribbling-paper notes, integrals, central
forces, Finite Differences, steam-engine constructions and powers,
plans of bridges, spherical trigonometry, optical calculations
relating to the achromatism of eye-pieces and achromatic
object-glasses with lenses separated, mechanical problems, Transit of
Venus, various problems in geometrical astronomy (I think it was at
this time that Mr Peacock had given me a copy of Woodhouse's Astronomy
1st Edition), the rainbow, plans for anemometer and for a wind-pumping
machine, clearing lunars, &c., with a great number of geometrical
problems. I remark that my ideas on the Differential Calculus had not
acquired on some important points the severe accuracy which they
acquired in a few months. In Classics I read the Persae of Aeschylus,
Greek and Roman history very much (Mitford, Hooke, Ferguson) and the
books of Thucydides introductory to that of the lecture subject (the
3rd): and attended to Chronology. On the scribbling-paper are
verse-translations from Euripides, careful prose-translations from
Thucydides, maps, notes on points of grammar &c. I have also little
MS. books with abundant notes on all these subjects: I usually made a
little book when I pursued any subject in a regular way.

"On May 1st Mr Dobree, the head lecturer, sent for me to say that he
appointed me head-lecturer's Sizar for the next year. The stipend of
this office was _£10_, a sum upon which I set considerable value in my
anxiety for pecuniary independence: but it was also gratifying to me
as shewing the way in which I was regarded by the College authorities.

"On Wednesday, May 24th, 1820, the examination began. I was anxious
about the result of the examination, but only in such a degree as to
make my conduct perfectly steady and calm, and to prevent me from
attempting any extraordinary exertion.

"When the Classes were published the first Class of the Freshman's
Year (alphabetically arranged, as is the custom) stood thus: Airy,
Boileau, Childers, Drinkwater, Field, Iliff, Malkin, Myers, Romilly,
Strutt, Tate, Winning. It was soon known however that I was first of
the Class. It was generally expected (and certainly by me) that,
considering how great a preponderance the Classics were understood, in
the known system of the College, to have in determining the order of
merit, Field would be first. However the number of marks which Field
obtained was about 1700, and that which I obtained about 1900. No
other competitor, I believe, was near us."--In a letter to Airy from
his College Tutor, Mr J. D. Hustler, there is the following passage:
"It is a matter of extreme satisfaction to me that in the late
examination you stood not only in the First Class but first of the
first. I trust that your future exertions and success will be
commensurate with this honourable beginning."

"Of the men whom I have named, Drinkwater (Bethune) was afterwards
Legal Member of the Supreme Court of India, Field was afterwards
Rector of Reepham, Romilly (afterwards Lord Romilly) became
Solicitor-General, Strutt (afterwards Lord Belper) became M.P. for
Derby and First Commissioner of Railways, Tate was afterwards master
of Richmond Endowed School, Childers was the father of Childers who
was subsequently First Lord of the Admiralty.

"I returned to Bury immediately. While there, some students (some of
them men about to take their B.A. degree at the next January) applied
to me to take them as pupils, but I declined. This year of my life
enabled me to understand how I stood among men. I returned to
Cambridge about July 11th. As a general rule, undergraduates are not
allowed to reside in the University during the Long Vacation. I
believe that before I left, after the examination, I had made out that
I should be permitted to reside: or I wrote to Mr  Hustler. I applied
to Mr Hustler to be lodged in rooms in College: and was put, first
into rooms in Bishop's Hostel, and subsequently into rooms in the
Great Court.

"The first affair that I had in College was one of disappointment by
no means deserving the importance which it assumed in my thoughts. I
had been entered a Sizar, but as the list of Foundation Sizars was
full, my dinners in Hall were paid for. Some vacancies had arisen: and
as these were to be filled up in order of merit, I expected one: and
in my desire for pecuniary independence I wished for it very
earnestly. However, as in theory all of the first class were equal,
and as there were some Sizars in it senior in entrance to me, they
obtained places first: and I was not actually appointed till after the
next scholarship examination (Easter 1821). However a special
arrangement was made, allowing me (I forget whether others) to sit at
the Foundation-Sizars' table whenever any of the number was absent:
and in consequence I received practically nearly the full benefits.

"Mr Peacock, who was going out for the vacation, allowed me access to
his books. I had also (by the assistance of various Fellows, who all
treated me with great kindness, almost to a degree of respect) command
of the University Library and Trinity Library: and spent this Long
Vacation, like several others, very happily indeed.

"The only non-mathematical subjects of the next examination were The
Gospel of St Luke, Paley's Evidences, and Paley's Moral and Political
Philosophy. Thus my time was left more free to mathematics and to
general classics than last year. I now began a custom which I
maintained for some years. Generally I read mathematics in the
morning, and classics for lectures in the afternoon: but invariably I
began at 10 o'clock in the evening to read with the utmost severity
some standard classics (unconnected with the lectures) and at 11
precisely I left off and went to bed. I continued my daily
translations into Latin prose as before.

"On August 24th, 1820, Rosser, a man of my own year, engaged me as
private tutor, paying at the usual rate (_£14_ for a part of the
Vacation, and _£14_ for a term): and immediately afterwards his friend
Bedingfield did the same. This occupied two hours every day, and I
felt that I was now completely earning my own living. I never received
a penny from my friends after this time.

"I find on my scribbling-paper various words which shew that in
reading Poisson I was struggling with French words. There are also
Finite Differences and their Calculus, Figure of the Earth (force to
the center), various Attractions (some evidently referring to
Maclaurin's), Integrals, Conic Sections, Kepler's Problem, Analytical
Geometry, D'Alembert's Theorem, Spherical Aberration, Rotations round
three axes (apparently I had been reading Euler), Floating bodies,
Evolute of Ellipse, Newton's treatment of the Moon's Variation. I
attempted to extract something from Vince's Astronomy on the physical
explanation of Precession: but in despair of understanding it, and
having made out an explanation for myself by the motion round three
axes, I put together a little treatise (Sept. 10, 1820) which with
some corrections and additions was afterwards printed in my
Mathematical Tracts. On Sept. 14th I bought Woodhouse's Physical
Astronomy, and this was quite an epoch in my mathematical
knowledge. First, I was compelled by the process of "changing the
independent variable" to examine severely the logic of the
Differential Calculus. Secondly, I was now able to enter on the Theory
of Perturbations, which for several years had been the desired land to

"At the Fellowship Election of Oct. 1st, Sydney Walker (among other
persons) was elected Fellow. He then quitted the rooms in which he had
lived (almost the worst in the College), and I immediately took
them. They suited me well and I lived very happily in them till I was
elected Scholar. They are small rooms above the middle staircase on
the south side of Neville's Court. (Mr Peacock's rooms were on the
same staircase.) I had access to the leads on the roof of the building
from one of my windows. This was before the New Court was built: my
best window looked upon the garden of the College butler.

"I had brought to Cambridge the telescope which I had made at
Colchester, and about this time I had a stand made by a carpenter at
Cambridge: and I find repeated observations of Jupiter and Saturn made
in this October term.

"Other mathematical subjects on my scribbling-paper are: Geometrical
Astronomy, Barometers (for elevations), Maclaurin's Figure of the
Earth, Lagrange's Theorem, Integrals, Differential Equations of the
second order, Particular Solutions. In general mathematics I had much
discussion with Atkinson (who was Senior Wrangler, January 1821), and
in Physics with Rosser, who was a friend of Sir Richard Phillips, a
vain objector to gravitation. In Classics I read Aeschylus and

"On October 5th I received notice from the Head Lecturer to declaim in
English with Winning. (This exercise consists in preparing a
controversial essay, learning it by heart, and speaking it in Chapel
after the Thursday evening's service.)  On October 6th we agreed on
the subject, "Is natural difference to be ascribed to moral or to
physical causes?" I taking the latter side. I spoke the declamation
(reciting it without missing a word) on October 25th. On October 26th
I received notice of Latin declamation with Myers: subject agreed on,
"Utrum civitati plus utilitatis an incommodi afferant leges quae ad
vitas privatorum hominum ordinandas pertinent"; I took the former. The
declamation was recited on November 11, when a curious circumstance
occurred. My declamation was rather long: it was the first Saturday of
the term on which a declamation had been spoken: and it was the day on
which arrived the news of the withdrawal of the Bill of Pains and
Penalties against Queen Caroline. (This trial had been going on
through the summer, but I knew little about it.) In consequence the
impatience of the undergraduates was very great, and there was such an
uproar of coughing &c. in the Chapel as probably was never known. The
Master (Dr Wordsworth, appointed in the beginning of the summer on the
death of Dr Mansell, and to whom I had been indirectly introduced by
Mrs Clarkson) and Tutors and Deans tried in vain to stop the
hubbub. However I went on steadily to the end, not at all
frightened. On the Monday the Master sent for me to make a sort of
apology in the name of the authorities, and letters to the Tutors were
read at the Lectures, and on the whole the transaction was nowise
disagreeable to me.

"On the Commemoration Day, December 15th, I received my Prize
(Mitford's Greece) as First-Class man, after dinner in the College
Hall. After a short vacation spent at Bury and Playford I returned to
Cambridge, walking from Bury on Jan. 22nd, 1821. During the next term
I find in Mathematics Partial Differential Equations, Tides, Sound,
Calculus of Variations, Composition of rotary motions, Motion in
resisting medium, Lhuillier's theorem, Brightness of an object as seen
through a medium with any possible law of refraction (a good
investigation), star-reductions, numerical calculations connected with
them, equilibrium of chain under centripetal force (geometrically
treated, as an improvement upon Whewell's algebraical method),
investigation of the magnitude of attractive forces of glass, &c.,
required to produce refraction. I forget about Mathematical Lectures;
but I have an impression that I regularly attended Mr Peacock's
lectures, and that he always set me some private problems.

"I attended Mr Evans's lectures on St Luke: and I find many notes
about the history of the Jews, Cerinthus and various heresies, Paley's
Moral Philosophy, Paley's Evidences, and Biblical Maps: also
speculations about ancient pronunciations.

"For a week or more before the annual examination I was perfectly
lazy. The Classes of my year (Junior Sophs) were not published till
June 11. It was soon known that I was first with 2000 marks, the next
being Drinkwater with 1200 marks. After a short holiday at Bury and
Playford I returned to Cambridge on July 18th, 1821. My daily life
went on as usual. I find that in writing Latin I began Cicero De
Senectute (retranslating Melmoth's translation, and comparing). Some
time in the Long Vacation the names of the Prizemen for Declamations
were published: I was disappointed that not one, English or Latin, was
assigned to me: but it was foolish, for my declamations were rather

"My former pupil, Rosser, came again on August 14th. On August 29th
Dr Blomfield (afterwards Bishop of London) called, to engage me as
Tutor to his brother George Beecher Blomfield, and he commenced
attendance on Sept. 1st. With these two pupils I finished at the end
of the Long Vacation: for the next three terms I had one pupil,
Gibson, a Newcastle man, recommended by Mr Peacock, I believe, as a
personal friend (Mr Peacock being of Durham).

"The only classical subject appointed for the next examination was the
5th, 6th and 7th Books of the Odyssey: the mathematical subjects all
the Applied Mathematics and Newton. There was to be however the
Scholarship Examination (Sizars being allowed to sit for Scholarships
only in their 3rd year: and the Scholarship being a kind of little
Fellowship necessary to qualify for being a candidate for the real

"When the October term began Mr Hustler, who usually gave lectures in
mathematics to his third-year pupils, said to me that it was not worth
my while to attend his lectures, and he or Mr Peacock suggested that
Drinkwater, Myers, and I should attend the Questionists'
examinations. The Questionists are those who are to take the degree of
B.A. in the next January: and it was customary, not to give them
lectures, but three times a week to examine them by setting
mathematical questions, as the best method of preparing for the
B.A. examination. Accordingly it was arranged that we should attend
the said examinations: but when we went the Questionists of that year
refused to attend. They were reported to be a weak year, and we to be
a strong one: and they were disposed to take offence at us on any
occasion. From some of the scholars of our year who sat at table with
scholars of that year I heard that they distinguished us as 'the
impudent year,' 'the annus mirabilis' &c. On this occasion they
pretended to believe that the plan of our attendance at the
Questionists' examinations had been suggested by an undergraduate, and
no explanation was of the least use. So the Tutors agreed not to press
the matter on them: and instead of it, Drinkwater, Myers, and I went
three times a week to Mr Peacock's rooms, and he set us questions. I
think that this system was also continued during the next two terms
(ending in June 1822) or part of them, but I am not certain.

"In August 1821 I copied out a M.S. on Optics, I think from Mr
Whewell: on August 24th one on the Figure of the Earth and Tides; and
at some other time one on the motion of a body round two centers of
force; both from Mr Whewell. On my scribbling paper I find--A problem
on the vibrations of a gig as depending on the horse's step (like that
of a pendulum whose support is disturbed), Maclaurin's Attractions,
Effect of separating the lenses of an achromatic object-glass
(suggested by my old telescope), Barlow's theory of numbers, and
division of the circle into 17 parts, partial differentials, theory of
eye-pieces, epicycloids, Figure of the Earth, Time of body in arc of
parabola, Problem of Sound, Tides, Refraction of Lens, including
thickness, &c., Ivory's paper on Equations, Achromatism of microscope,
Capillary Attraction, Motions of Fluids, Euler's principal axes,
Spherical pendulum, Equation b²(d²y/dx²)=(d²y/dt²), barometer, Lunar
Theory well worked out, ordinary differential equations, Calculus of
Variations, Interpolations like Laplace's for Comets, Kepler's
theorem. In September I had my old telescope mounted on a short tripod
stand, and made experiments on its adjustments. I was possessed of
White's Ephemeris, and I find observations of Jupiter and Saturn in
October. I planned an engine for describing ellipses by the polar
equation A/(1 + e cos theta) and tried to make a micrometer with silk
threads converging to a point. Mr Cubitt called on Oct. 4 and Nov. 1;
he was engaged in erecting a treadmill at Cambridge Gaol, and had some
thoughts of sending plans for the Cambridge Observatory, the erection
of which was then proposed. On Nov. 19 I find that I had received from
Cubitt a Nautical Almanac, the first that I had. On Dec. 11 I made
some experiments with Drinkwater: I think it was whirling a glass
containing oil on water. In Classics I was chiefly engaged upon
Thucydides and Homer. On October 6th I had a letter from Charles
Musgrave, introducing Challis, who succeeded me in the Cambridge
Observatory in 1836.

"At this time my poor afflicted father was suffering much from a
severe form of rheumatism or pain in the legs which sometimes
prevented him from going to bed for weeks together.

"On the Commemoration Day, Dec. 18th, I received my prize as
first-class man in Hall again. The next day I walked to Bury, and
passed the winter vacation there and at Playford.

"I returned to Cambridge on Jan. 24th, 1822. On Feb. 12th I kept my
first Act, with great compliments from the Moderator, and with a most
unusually large attendance of auditors. These disputations on
mathematics, in Latin, are now discontinued. On March 20th I kept a
first Opponency against Sandys. About this time I received Buckle, a
Trinity man of my own year, who was generally supposed to come next
after Drinkwater, as pupil. On my sheets I find integrals and
differential equations of every kind, astronomical corrections (of
which I prepared a book), chances, Englefield's comets, investigation
of the brightness within a rainbow, proof of Clairaut's theorem in one
case, metacentres, change of independent variable applied to a
complicated case, generating functions, principal axes. On Apr. 8th I
intended to write an account of my eye: I was then tormented with a
double image, I suppose from some disease of the stomach: and on May
28th I find by a drawing of the appearance of a lamp that the disease
of my eye continued.

"On Feb. 11th I gave Mr Peacock a paper on the alteration of the focal
length of a telescope as directed with or against the Earth's orbital
motion (on the theory of emissions) which was written out for reading
to the Cambridge Philosophical Society on Feb. 24th and 25th. [This
Society I think was then about a year old.] On Feb. 1 my MS. on
Precession, Solar Inequality, and Nutation, was made complete.

"The important examination for Scholarships was now approaching. As I
have said, this one opportunity only was given to Sizars (Pensioners
having always two opportunities and sometimes three), and it is
necessary to be a Scholar in order to be competent to be a candidate
for a Fellowship. On Apr. 10th I addressed my formal Latin letter to
the Seniors. There were 13 vacancies and 37 candidates. The election
took place on Apr. 18th, 1822. I was by much the first (which I hardly
expected) and was complimented by the Master and others. Wrote the
formal letter of thanks as usual. I was now entitled to claim better
rooms, and I took the rooms on the ground floor on the East side of
the Queen's Gate of the Great Court. Even now I think of my quiet
residence in the little rooms above the staircase in Neville's Court
with great pleasure. I took possession of my new rooms on May 27th.

"The Annual Examination began on May 30th. The Classes were published
on June 5th, when my name was separated from the rest by two lines. It
was understood that the second man was Drinkwater, and that my number
of marks was very nearly double of his. Having at this time been
disappointed of a proposed walking excursion into Derbyshire with a
college friend, who failed me at the last moment, I walked to Bury and
spent a short holiday there and at Playford.

"I returned to Cambridge on July 12th, 1822. I was steadily busy
during this Long Vacation, but by no means oppressively so: indeed my
time passed very happily. The Scholars' Table is the only one in
College at which the regular possessors of the table are sure never to
see a stranger, and thus a sort of family intimacy grows up among the
Scholars. Moreover the Scholars feel themselves to be a privileged
class 'on the foundation,' and this feeling gives them a sort of
conceited happiness. It was the duty of Scholars by turns to read
Grace after the Fellows' dinner and supper, and at this time (1848) I
know it by heart. They also read the Lessons in Chapel on week days:
but as there was no daily chapel-service during the summer vacation, I
had not much of this. In the intimacy of which I speak I became much
acquainted with Drinkwater, Buckle, Rothman, and Sutcliffe: and we
formed a knot at the table (first the Undergraduate Scholars' table,
and afterwards the Bachelor Scholars' table) for several years. During
this Vacation I had for pupils Buckle and Gibson.

"I wrote my daily Latin as usual, beginning with the retranslation of
Cicero's Epistles, but I interrupted it from Sept. 27th to Feb. 8th. I
believe it was in this Vacation, or in the October term, that I began
every evening to read Thucydides very carefully, as my notes are
marked 1822 and 1823. On August 27 I find that I was reading Ovid's

"In Mathematics I find the equation x + y = a, x^q + y^q = b,
Caustics, Calculus of Variations, Partial Differentials, Aberration of
Light, Motions of Comets, various Optical constructions computed with
spherical aberrations, Particular Solutions, Mechanics of Solid
Bodies, Attractions of Shells, Chances, Ivory's attraction-theorem,
Lunar Theory (algebraical), Degrees across meridian, theoretical
refraction, Newton's 3rd Book, Investigation of the tides in a shallow
equatoreal canal, from which I found that there would be low-water
under the moon, metacentres, rotation of a solid body round three
axes, Attractions of Spheroids of variable density, finite
differences, and complete Figure of the Earth. There is also a good
deal of investigation of a mathematical nature not connected with
College studies, as musical chords, organ-pipes, sketch for a
computing machine (suggested by the publications relating to
Babbage's), sketch of machine for solving equations. In August there
is a plan of a MS. on the Differential Calculus, which it appears I
wrote then: one on the Figure of the Earth written about August 15th;
one on Tides, Sept. 25th; one on Newton's Principia with algebraical
additions, Nov. 1st. On Sept. 6th and 10th there are Lunar Distances
observed with Rothman's Sextant and completely worked out; for these I
prepared a printed skeleton form, I believe my first. On December 13th
there are references to books on Geology (Conybeare and Phillips, and
Parkinson) which I was beginning to study. On July 27th, being the day
on which I completed my 21st year, I carefully did nothing.

"Another subject partly occupied my thoughts, which, though not (with
reference to practical science) very wise, yet gave me some Cambridge
celebrity. In July 1819 I had (as before mentioned) sketched a plan
for constructing reflecting telescopes with silvered glass, and had
shewn it afterwards to Mr Peacock. I now completed the theory of this
construction by correcting the aberrations, spherical as well as
chromatic. On July 13th, 1822, I drew up a paper about it for Mr
Peacock. He approved it much, and in some way communicated it to Mr
(afterwards Sir John) Herschel. I was soon after introduced to
Herschel at a breakfast with Mr Peacock: and he approved of the scheme
generally. On August 5th I drew up a complete mathematical paper for
the Cambridge Philosophical Society, which I entrusted to Mr
Peacock. The aberrations, both spherical and chromatic, are here
worked out very well. On Nov. 25th it was read at the meeting of the
Philosophical Society, and was afterwards printed in their
Transactions: this was my first printed Memoir. Before this time
however I had arranged to try the scheme practically. Mr Peacock had
engaged to bear the expense, but I had no occasion to ask him. Partly
(I think) through Drinkwater, I communicated with an optician named
Bancks, in the Strand, who constructed the optical part. I
subsequently tried my telescope, but it would not do. The fault, as I
had not and have not the smallest doubt, depends in some way on the
crystallization of the mercury silvering. It must have been about this
time that I was introduced to Mr (afterwards Sir James) South, at a
party at Mr Peacock's rooms. He advised me to write to Tulley, a
well-known practical optician, who made me some new reflectors,
&c. (so that I had two specimens, one Gregorian, the other
Cassegrainian). However the thing failed practically, and I was too
busy ever after to try it again.

"During the October term I had no pupils. I kept my second Act on
Nov. 6 (opponents Hamilton, Rusby, Field), and an Opponency against
Jeffries on Nov. 7. I attended the Questionists' Examinations. I seem
to have lived a very comfortable idle life. The Commemoration Day was
Dec. 18th, when I received a Prize, and the next day I walked to
Bury. On Jan. 4th, 1823, I returned to Cambridge, and until the
B.A. Examination I read novels and played cards more than at any other
time in College.

"On Thursday, Jan. 9th, 1823, the preliminary classes, for arrangement
of details of the B.A. Examination, were published. The first class,
Airy, Drinkwater, Jeffries, Mason. As far as I remember, the rule was
then, that on certain days the classes were grouped (in regard to
identity of questions given to each group) thus: 1st, {2nd/3rd},
{4th/5th} &c., and on certain other days thus: {1st/2nd}, {3rd/4th},
&c. On Saturday, Jan. 11th, I paid fees. On Monday, Jan. 13th, the
proceedings of examination began by a breakfast in the Combination
Room. After this, Gibson gave me breakfast every day, and Buckle gave
me and some others a glass of wine after dinner. The hours were sharp,
the season a cold one, and no fire was allowed in the Senate House
where the Examination was carried on (my place was in the East
gallery), and altogether it was a severe time.

"The course of Examination was as follows:

"Monday, Jan. 13th. 8 to 9, printed paper of questions by Mr Hind
(moderator); half-past 9 to 11, questions given orally; 1 to 3, ditto;
6 to 9, paper of problems at Mr Higman's rooms.

"Tuesday, Jan. 14th. 8 to 9, Higman's paper; half-past 9 to 11,
questions given orally; 1 to 3, ditto; 6 to 9, paper of problems in
Sidney College Hall.

"Wednesday, Jan. 15th. Questions given orally 8 to 9 and 1 to 3, with
paper of questions on Paley and Locke (one question only in each was

"Thursday, Jan. 16th. We went in at 9 and 1, but there seems to have
been little serious examination.

"Friday, Jan. 17. On this day the brackets or classes as resulting
from the examination were published, 1st bracket Airy, 2nd bracket
Jeffries, 3rd bracket Drinkwater, Fisher, Foley, Mason, Myers.

"On Saturday, Jan. 18th, the degrees were conferred in the usual
way. It had been arranged that my brother and sister should come to
see me take my degree of B.A., and I had asked Gibson to conduct them
to the Senate House Gallery: but Mr Hawkes (a Trinity Fellow) found
them and stationed them at the upper end of the Senate House. After
the preliminary arrangements of papers at the Vice-Chancellor's table,
I, as Senior Wrangler, was led up first to receive the degree, and
rarely has the Senate House rung with such applause as then filled
it. For many minutes, after I was brought in front of the
Vice-Chancellor, it was impossible to proceed with the ceremony on
account of the uproar. I gave notice to the Smith's Prize Electors of
my intention to 'sit' for that prize, and dined at Rothman's rooms
with Drinkwater, Buckle, and others. On Monday, Jan. 20th, I was
examined by Professor Woodhouse, for Smith's Prize, from 10 to 1. I
think that the only competitor was Jeffries. On Tuesday I was examined
by Prof. Turton, 10 to 1, and on Wednesday by Prof. Lax, 10 to 1. On
Thursday, Jan. 23rd, I went to Bury by coach, on one of the coldest
evenings that I ever felt.

"Mr Peacock had once recommended me to sit for the Chancellor's medal
(Classical Prize). But he now seemed to be cool in his advice, and I
laid aside all thought of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

It seems not out of place to insert here a copy of some "Cambridge
Reminiscences" written by Airy, which will serve to explain the Acts
and Opponencies referred to in the previous narrative, and other

                              THE ACTS.

The examination for B.A. degrees was preceded, in my time, by keeping
two Acts, in the Schools under the University Library: the second of
them in the October term immediately before the examination; the first
(I think) in the October term of the preceding year.

These Acts were reliques of the Disputations of the Middle Ages, which
probably held a very important place in the discipline of the
University. (There seems to be something like them in some of the
Continental Universities.)  The presiding authority was one of the
Moderators. I apprehend that the word "Moderator" signified
"President," in which sense it is still used in the Kirk of Scotland;
and that it was peculiarly applied to the Presidency of the
Disputations, the most important educational arrangement in the
University. The Moderator sent a summons to the "Respondent" to submit
three subjects for argument, and to prepare to defend them on a given
day: he also named three Opponents. This and all the following
proceedings were conducted in Latin. For my Act of 1822, Nov. 6, I
submitted the following subjects:

"Recte statuit Newtonus in Principiis suis Mathematicis, libro primo,
sectione undecimâ."

"Recte statuit Woodius de Iride."

"Recte statuit Paleius de Obligationibus."

The Opponents named to attack these assertions were Hamilton of St
John's, Rusby of St Catharine's, Field of Trinity. It was customary
for the Opponents to meet at tea at the rooms of the Senior Opponent,
in order to discuss and arrange their arguments; the Respondent was
also invited, but he was warned that he must depart as soon as tea
would be finished: then the three Opponents proceeded with their
occupation. As I have acted in both capacities, I am able to say that
the matter was transacted in an earnest and business-like way. Indeed
in the time preceding my own (I know not whether in my own time) the
assistance of a private tutor was frequently engaged, and I remember
hearing a senior M.A. remark that my College Tutor (James D. Hustler)
was the best crammer for an Act in the University.

At the appointed time, the parties met in the Schools: the Respondent
first read a Latin Thesis on any subject (I think I took some
metaphysical subject), but nobody paid any attention to it: then the
Respondent read his first Dogma, and the first Opponent produced an
argument against it, in Latin. After this there were repeated replies
and rejoinders, all in vivâ voce Latin, the Moderator sometimes
interposing a remark in Latin. When he considered that one argument
was disposed of, he called for another by the words "Probes aliter."
The arguments were sometimes shaped with considerable ingenuity, and
required a clear head in the Respondent. When all was finished, the
Moderator made a complimentary remark to the Respondent and one to the
first Opponent (I forget whether to the second and third). In my
Respondency of 1822, November 6, the compliment was, "Quaestiones tuas
summo ingenio et acumine defendisti, et in rebus mathematicis
scientiam planè mirabilem ostendisti."  In an Opponency (I forget
when) the compliment was, "Magno ingenio argumenta tua et construxisti
et defendisti."

The Acts of the high men excited much interest among the students. At
my Acts the room was crowded with undergraduates.

I imagine that, at a time somewhat distant, the maintenance of the
Acts was the only regulation by which the University acted on the
studies of the place. When the Acts had been properly kept, license
was given to the Father of the College to present the undergraduate to
the Vice-Chancellor, who then solemnly admitted him "ad respondendum
Quaestioni." There is no appearance of collective examination before
this presentation: what the "Quaestio" might be, I do not know. Still
the undergraduate was not B.A. The Quaestio however was finished and
approved before the day of a certain Congregation, and then the
undergraduate was declared to be "actualiter in artibus Baccalaureum."

Probably these regulations were found to be insufficient for the
control of education, and the January examination was instituted. I
conjecture this to have been at or shortly before the date of the
earliest Triposes recorded in the Cambridge Calendar, 1748.

The increasing importance of the January examination naturally
diminished the value of the Acts in the eyes of the undergraduates;
and, a few years after my M.A. degree, it was found that the Opponents
met, not for the purpose of concealing their arguments from the
Respondent, but for the purpose of revealing them to him. This led to
the entire suppression of the system. The most active man in this
suppression was Mr Whewell: its date must have been near to 1830.

The shape in which the arguments were delivered by an Opponent,
reading from a written paper, was, "Si (quoting something from the
Respondent's challenge), &c., &c. Cadit Quaestio; Sed (citing
something else bearing on the subject of discussion), Valet
Consequentia; Ergo (combining these to prove some inaccuracy in the
Respondent's challenge), Valent Consequentia et Argumentum." Nobody
pretended to understand these mystical terminations.

Apparently the original idea was that several Acts should be kept by
each undergraduate; for, to keep up the number (as it seemed), each
student had to gabble through a ridiculous form "Si quaestiones tuae
falsae sint, Cadit Quaestio:--sed quaestiones tuae falsae sunt, Ergo
valent Consequentia et Argumentum."  I have forgotten time and place
when this was uttered.


The Questionists, as the undergraduates preparing for B.A. were called
in the October term, were considered as a separate body; collected at
a separate table in Hall, attending no lectures, but invited to attend
a system of trial examinations conducted by one of the Tutors or

From the Acts, from the annual College examinations, and (I suppose)
from enquiries in the separate Colleges, the Moderators acquired a
general idea of the relative merits of the candidates for
honours. Guided by this, the candidates were divided into six
classes. The Moderators and Assistant Examiners were provided each
with a set of questions in manuscript (no printed papers were used for
Honours in the Senate House; in regard to the [Greek: hoi polloi] I
cannot say). On the Monday on which the examination began, the Father
of the College received all the Questionists (I believe), at any rate
all the candidates for honours, at breakfast in the Combination Room
at 8 o'clock, and marched them to the Senate House. My place with
other honour-men was in the East Gallery. There one Examiner took
charge of the 1st and 2nd classes united, another Examiner took the
3rd and 4th classes united, and a third took the 5th and 6th
united. On Tuesday, one Examiner took the 1st class alone, a second
took the 2nd and 3rd classes united, a third took the 4th and 5th
classes united, and a fourth took the 6th class alone. On Wednesday,
Thursday, and Friday the changes were similar. And, in all, the
questioning was thus conducted. The Examiner read from his manuscript
the first question. Those who could answer it proceeded to write out
their answers, and as soon as one had finished he gave the word
"Done"; then the Examiner read out his second question, repeating it
when necessary for the understanding by those who took it up more
lately. And so on. I think that the same process was repeated in the
afternoon; but I do not remember precisely. In this manner the
Examination was conducted through five days (Monday to Friday) with no
interruption except on Friday afternoon. It was principally, perhaps
entirely, bookwork.

But on two _evenings_ there were printed papers of problems: and the
examination in these was conducted just as in the printed papers of
the present day: but in the private College Rooms of the
Moderators. And there, wine and other refreshments were offered to the
Examinees. How this singular custom began, I know not.

The order of merit was worked out on Friday afternoon and evening, and
was in some measure known through the University late in the
evening. I remember Mr Peacock coming to a party of Examinees and
giving information on several places. I do not remember his mentioning
mine (though undoubtedly he did) but I distinctly remember his giving
the Wooden Spoon. On the Saturday morning at 8 o'clock the manuscript
list was nailed to the door of the Senate-House. The form of further
proceedings in the presentation for degree (ad respondendum
quaestioni) I imagine has not been much altered. The kneeling before
the Vice-Chancellor and placing hands in the Vice-Chancellor's hands
were those of the old form of doing homage.

The form of examination which I have described was complicated and
perhaps troublesome, but I believe that it was very efficient,
possibly more so than the modern form (established I suppose at the
same time as the abolition of the Acts). The proportion of questions
now answered to the whole number set is ridiculously small, and no
accurate idea of relative merit can be formed from them.

                          THE COLLEGE HALL.

When I went up in 1819, and for several years later, the dinner was at
1/4 past 3. There was no supplementary dinner for special
demands. Boat-clubs I think were not invented, even in a plain social
way, till about 1824 or 1825; and not in connection with the College
till some years later. Some of the senior Fellows spoke of the time
when dinner was at 2, and regretted the change.

There was supper in Hall at 9 o'clock: I have known it to be attended
by a few undergraduates when tired by examinations or by evening
walks; and there were always some seniors at the upper table: I have
occasionally joined them, and have had some very interesting
conversations. The supper was cold, but hot additions were made when

One little arrangement amused me, as shewing the ecclesiastical
character of the College. The Fasts of the Church were to be strictly
kept, and there was to be no dinner in Hall. It was thus arranged. The
evening chapel service, which was usually at 5-1/2 (I think), was held
at 3; and at 4 the ordinary full meal was served in Hall, but as it
followed the chapel attendance it was held to be supper; and there was
no subsequent meal.

There were no chairs whatever in Hall, except the single chair of the
vice-master at the head of the table on the dais and that of the
senior dean at the table next the East wall. All others sat on
benches. And I have heard allusions to a ludicrous difficulty which
occurred when some princesses (of the Royal Family) dined in the Hall,
and it was a great puzzle how to get them to the right side of the

The Sizars dined after all the rest; their dinner usually began soon
after 4. For the non-foundationists a separate dinner was provided, as
for pensioners. But for the foundationists, the remains of the
Fellows' dinner were brought down; and I think that this provision was
generally preferred to the other.

The dishes at all the tables of undergraduates were of pewter, till a
certain day when they were changed for porcelain. I cannot remember
whether this was at the time when they became Questionists (in the
October Term), or at the time when they were declared "actualiter esse
in artibus Baccalaureos" (in the Lent Term).

Up to the Questionist time the undergraduate Scholars had no mixture
whatever; they were the only pure table in the Hall: and I looked on
this as a matter very valuable for the ultimate state of the College
society. But in the October term, those who were to proceed to
B.A. were drafted into the mixed body of Questionists: and they
greatly disliked the change. They continued so till the Lent Term,
when they were formally invited by the Bachelor Scholars to join the
upper table.


In the October Term 1819, the only books on Pure Mathematics
were:--Euclid generally, Algebra by Dr Wood (formerly Tutor, but in
1819 Master, of St John's College), Vince's Fluxions and Dealtry's
Fluxions, Woodhouse's and other Trigonometries. Not a whisper passed
through the University generally on the subject of Differential
Calculus; although some papers (subsequently much valued) on that
subject had been written by Mr Woodhouse, fellow of Caius College; but
their style was repulsive, and they never took hold of the
University. Whewell's Mechanics (1819) contains a few and easy
applications of the Differential Calculus. The books on applied
Mathematics were Wood's Mechanics, Whewell's Mechanics, Wood's Optics,
Vince's Hydrostatics, Vince's Astronomy, Woodhouse's Plane Astronomy
(perhaps rather later), The First Book of Newton's Principia: I do not
remember any others. These works were undoubtedly able; and for the
great proportion of University students going into active life, I do
not conceal my opinion that books constructed on the principles of
those which I have cited were more useful than those exclusively
founded on the more modern system. For those students who aimed at the
mastery of results more difficult and (in the intellectual sense) more
important, the older books were quite insufficient. More aspiring
students read, and generally with much care, several parts of Newton's
Principia, Book I., and also Book III. (perhaps the noblest example
of geometrical form of cosmical theory that the world has seen). I
remember some questions from Book III. proposed in the Senate-House
Examination 1823.

In the October term 1819, I went up to the University. The works of
Wood and Vince, which I have mentioned, still occupied the
lecture-rooms. But a great change was in preparation for the
University Course of Mathematics. During the great Continental war,
the intercourse between men of science in England and in France had
been most insignificant. But in the autumn of 1819, three members of
the Senate (John Herschel, George Peacock, and Charles Babbage) had
entered into the mathematical society of Paris, and brought away some
of the works on Pure Mathematics (especially those of Lacroix) and on
Mechanics (principally Poisson's). In 1820 they made a translation of
Lacroix's Differential Calculus; and they prepared a volume of
Examples of the Differential and Integral Calculus. These were
extensively studied: but the form of the College Examinations or the
University Examinations was not, I think, influenced by them in the
winter 1820-1821 or the two following terms. But in the winter
1821-1822 Peacock was one of the Moderators; and in the Senate-House
Examination, January 1822, he boldly proposed a Paper of important
questions entirely in the Differential Calculus. This was considered
as establishing the new system in the University. In January 1823, I
think the two systems were mingled. Though I was myself subject to
that examination, I grieve to say that I have forgotten much of the
details, except that I well remember that some of the questions
referred to Newton, Book III. on the Lunar Theory. To these I have
already alluded.

No other work occurs to me as worthy of mention, except Woodhouse's
Lunar Theory, entirely founded on the Differential Calculus. The style
of this book was not attractive, and it was very little read.

                             CHAPTER III.


            FROM JANUARY 18TH, 1823, TO MARCH 15TH, 1828.

"On Jan. 30th, 1823, I returned to Cambridge. I had already heard that
I had gained the 1st Smith's Prize, and one of the first notifications
to me on my return was that the Walker's good-conduct prize of _£10_
was awarded to me.

"I remember that my return was not very pleasant, for our table in
hall was half occupied by a set of irregular men who had lost terms
and were obliged to reside somewhat longer in order to receive the
B.A. degree. But at the time of my completing the B.A. degree (which
is not till some weeks after the examination and admission) I with the
other complete bachelors was duly invited to the table of the B.A.
scholars, and that annoyance ended.

"The liberation from undergraduate study left me at liberty generally
to pursue my own course (except so far as it was influenced by the
preparation for fellowship examination), and also left me at liberty
to earn more money, in the way usual with the graduates, by taking
undergraduate pupils. Mr Peacock recommended me to take only four,
which occupied me four hours every day, and for each of them I
received 20 guineas each term. My first pupils, for the Lent and
Easter terms, were Williamson (afterwards Head Master of Westminster
School), James Parker (afterwards Q.C. and Vice-Chancellor), Bissett,
and Clinton of Caius. To all these I had been engaged before taking my
B.A. degree.

"I kept up classical subjects. I have a set of notes on the [Greek:
Ploutos] and [Greek: Nephelai] of Aristophanes, finished on Mar. 15th,
1823, and I began my daily writing of Latin as usual on Feb. 8th. In
mathematics I worked very hard at Lunar and Planetary Theories. I have
two MS. books of Lunar Theory to the 5th order of small quantities,
which however answered no purpose except that of making me perfectly
familiar with that subject. I worked well, upon my quires, the figure
of Saturn supposed homogeneous as affected by the attraction of his
ring, and the figure of the Earth as heterogeneous, and the Calculus
of Variations. I think it was now that I wrote a MS. on constrained

"On Mar. 17th, 1823, I was elected Fellow of the Cambridge
Philosophical Society. On May 9th a cast of my head was taken for Dr
Elliotson, an active phrenologist, by Deville, a tradesman in the

"I had long thought that I should like to visit Scotland, and on my
once saying so to my mother, she (who had a most kindly recollection
of Alnwick) said in a few words that she thought I could not do
better. I had therefore for some time past fully determined that as
soon as I had sufficient spare time and money enough I would go to
Scotland. The interval between the end of Easter Term and the usual
beginning with pupils in the Long Vacation offered sufficient time,
and I had now earned a little money, and I therefore determined to go,
and invited my sister to accompany me. I had no private
introductions, except one from James Parker to Mr Reach, a writer of
Inverness: some which Drinkwater sent being too late. On May 20th we
went by coach to Stamford; thence by Pontefract and Oulton to York,
where I saw the Cathedral, which _then_ disappointed me, but I suppose
that we were tired with the night journey. Then by Newcastle to
Alnwick, where we stopped for the day to see my birthplace. On May
24th to Edinburgh. On this journey I remember well the stone walls
between the fields, the place (in Yorkshire) where for the first time
in my life I saw rock, the Hambleton, Kyloe, Cheviot and Pentland
Hills, Arthur's Seat, but still more strikingly the revolving Inch
Keith Light. At Edinburgh I hired a horse and gig for our journey in
Scotland, and we drove by Queensferry to Kinross (where for the first
time in my life I saw clouds on the hills, viz. on the Lomond Hills),
and so to Perth. Thence by Dunkeld and Killicrankie to Blair Athol
(the dreariness of the Drumochter Pass made a strong impression on
me), and by Aviemore (where I saw snow on the mountains) to
Inverness. Here we received much kindness and attention from Mr Reach,
and after visiting the Falls of Foyers and other sights we went to
Fort Augustus and Fort William. We ascended Ben Nevis, on which there
was a great deal of snow, and visited the vitrified fort in Glen
Nevis. Then by Inverary to Tarbet, and ascended Ben Lomond, from
whence we had a magnificent view. We then passed by Loch Achray to
Glasgow, where we found James Parker's brother (his father, of the
house of Macinroy and Parker, being a wealthy merchant of Glasgow). On
June 15th to Mr Parker's house at Blochairn, near Glasgow (on this day
I heard Dr Chalmers preach), and on the 17th went with the family by
steamer (the first that I had seen) to Fairly, near Largs. I returned
the gig to Edinburgh, visited Arran and Bute, and we then went by
coach to Carlisle, and by Penrith to Keswick (by the old road: never
shall I forget the beauty of the approach to Keswick). After visiting
Ambleside and Kendal we returned to Cambridge by way of Leeds, and
posted to Bury on the 28th June. The expense of this expedition was
about _£81_. It opened a completely new world to me.

"I had little time to rest at Bury. In the preceding term Drinkwater,
Buckle, and myself, had engaged to go somewhere into the country with
pupils during the Long Vacation (as was customary with Cambridge
men). Buckle however changed his mind. Drinkwater went to look for a
place, fixed on Swansea, and engaged a house (called the Cambrian
Hotel, kept by a Captain Jenkins). On the morning of July 2nd I left
Bury for London and by mail coach to Bristol. On the morning of July
3rd by steamer to Swansea, and arrived late at night. I had then five
pupils: Parker, Harman Lewis (afterwards Professor in King's College,
London), Pierce Morton, Gibson, and Guest of Caius (afterwards Master
of the College). Drinkwater had four, viz. two Malkins (from Bury),
Elphinstone (afterwards M.P.), and Farish (son of Professor
Farish). We lived a hard-working strange life. My pupils began with me
at six in the morning: I was myself reading busily. We lived
completely _en famille_, with two men-servants besides the house
establishment. One of our first acts was to order a four-oared boat to
be built, fitted with a lug-sail: she was called the Granta of
Swansea. In the meantime we made sea excursions with boats borrowed
from ships in the port. On July 23rd, with a borrowed boat, we went
out when the sea was high, but soon found our boat unmanageable, and
at last got into a place where the sea was breaking heavily over a
shoal, and the two of the crew who were nearest to me (A. Malkin and
Lewis), one on each side, were carried out: they were good swimmers
and we recovered them, though with some trouble: the breaker had
passed quite over my head: we gained the shore and the boat was taken
home by land. When our own boat was finished, we had some most
picturesque adventures at the Mumbles, Aberavon, Caswell Bay,
Ilfracombe, and Tenby. From all this I learnt navigation pretty
well. The mixture of hard study and open-air exertion seemed to affect
the health of several of us (I was one): we were covered with painful

"My Latin-writing began again on July 25th: I have notes on
Demosthenes, Lucretius, and Greek History. In mathematics I find
Chances, Figure of the Earth with variable density, Differential
Equations, Partial Differentials, sketch for an instrument for shewing
refraction, and Optical instruments with effects of chromatic
aberration. In August there occurred an absurd quarrel between the
Fellows of Trinity and the undergraduates, on the occasion of
commencing the building of King's Court, when the undergraduates were
not invited to wine, and absented themselves from the hall.

"There were vacant this year (1823) five fellowships in Trinity
College. In general, the B.A.'s of the first year are not allowed to
sit for fellowships: but this year it was thought so probable that
permission would be given, that on Sept. 2nd Mr Higman, then appointed
as Tutor to a third 'side' of the College, wrote to me to engage me as
Assistant Mathematical Tutor in the event of my being elected a Fellow
on Oct. 1st, and I provisionally engaged myself. About the same time
I had written to Mr Peacock, who recommended me to sit, and to Mr
Whewell, who after consultation with the Master (Dr Wordsworth),
discouraged it. As there was no absolute prohibition, I left Swansea
on Sept. 11th (before my engagement to my pupils was quite finished)
and returned to Cambridge by Gloucester, Oxford, and London. I gave in
my name at the butteries as candidate for fellowship, but was informed
in a day or two that I should not be allowed to sit. On Sept. 19th I
walked to Bury.

"I walked back to Cambridge on Oct. 17th, 1823. During this October
term I had four pupils: Neate, Cankrein, Turner (afterwards 2nd
wrangler and Treasurer of Guy's Hospital), and William Hervey (son of
the Marquis of Bristol). In the Lent term I had four (Neate, Cankrein,
Turner, Clinton). In the Easter term I had three (Neate, Cankrein,

"My daily writing of Latin commenced on Oct. 27th. In November I began
re-reading Sophocles with my usual care. In mathematics I find
investigations of Motion in a resisting medium, Form of Saturn, Draft
of a Paper about an instrument for exhibiting the fundamental law of
refraction (read at the Philosophical Society by Mr Peacock on
Nov. 10th, 1823), Optics, Solid Geometry, Figure of the Earth with
variable density, and much about attractions. I also in this term
wrote a MS. on the Calculus of Variations, and one on Wood's Algebra,
2nd and 4th parts. I have also notes of the temperature of mines in
Cornwall, something on the light of oil-gas, and reminiscences of
Swansea in a view of Oswick Bay. In November I attended Professor
Sedgwick's geological lectures.

"At some time in this term I had a letter from Mr South (to whom I
suppose I had written) regarding the difficulty of my telescope: he
was intimately acquainted with Tulley, and I suppose that thus the
matter had become more fully known to him. He then enquired if I could
visit him in the winter vacation. I accordingly went from Bury, and
was received by him at his house in Blackman Street for a week or more
with great kindness. He introduced me to Sir Humphrey Davy and many
other London savans, and shewed me many London sights and the
Greenwich Observatory. I also had a little practice with his own
instruments. He was then on intimate terms with Mr Herschel
(afterwards Sir John Herschel), then living in London, who came
occasionally to observe double stars. This was the first time that I
saw practical astronomy. It seems that I borrowed his mountain
barometer. In the Lent term I wrote to him regarding the deduction of
the parallax of Mars, from a comparison of the relative positions of
Mars and 46 Leonis, as observed by him and by Rumker at Paramatta. My
working is on loose papers. I see that I have worked out perfectly the
interpolations, the effects of uncertainty of longitude, &c., but I do
not see whether I have a final result.

"In Jan. 1824, at Playford, I was working on the effects of separating
the two lenses of an object-glass, and on the kind of eye-piece which
would be necessary: also on spherical aberrations and Saturn's
figure. On my quires at Cambridge I was working on the effects of
separating the object-glass lenses, with the view of correcting the
secondary spectrum: and on Jan. 31st I received some numbers (indices
of refraction) from Mr Herschel, and reference to Fraunhofer's

"About this time it was contemplated to add to the Royal Observatory
of Greenwich two assistants of superior education. Whether this
scheme was entertained by the Admiralty, the Board of Longitude, or
the Royal Society, I do not know. Somehow (I think through Mr
Peacock) a message from Mr Herschel was conveyed to me, acquainting me
of this, and suggesting that I should be an excellent person for the
principal place. To procure information, I went to London on Saturday,
Feb. 7th, sleeping at Mr South's, to be present at one of Sir Humphrey
Davy's Saturday evening soirées (they were then held every Saturday),
and to enquire of Sir H. Davy and Dr Young. When I found that
succession to the post of Astronomer Royal was not considered as
distinctly a consequence of it, I took it coolly, and returned the
next night. The whole proposal came to nothing.

"At this time I was engaged upon differential equations, mountain
barometer problem and determination of the height of the Gogmagogs and
several other points, investigations connected with Laplace's
calculus, spherical aberration in different planes, geology
(especially regarding Derbyshire, which I proposed to visit), and much
of optics. I wrote a draft of my Paper on the figure of Saturn, and on
Mar. 15th, 1824, it was read at the Philosophical Society under the
title of 'On the figure assumed by a fluid homogeneous mass, whose
particles are acted on by their mutual attraction, and by small
extraneous forces,' and is printed in their Memoirs. I also wrote a
draft of my Paper on Achromatic Eye-pieces, and on May 17th, 1824, it
was read at the Philosophical Society under the title of 'On the
Principles and Construction of the Achromatic Eye-pieces of
Telescopes, and on the Achromatism of Microscopes,' including also the
effects of separating the lenses of the object-glass. It is printed in
their Memoirs.

"Amongst miscellaneous matters I find that on Mar. 22nd of this year I
began regularly making extracts from the books of the Book Society, a
practice which I continued to March 1826. On Mar. 27th, a very rainy
day, I walked to Bury to attend the funeral of my uncle William
Biddell, near Diss, and on Mar. 30th I walked back in rain and
snow. On Feb. 24th I dined with Cubitt in Cambridge. On May 21st I
gave a certificate to Rogers (the assistant in Crosse's school, and my
instructor in mathematics), which my mother amplified much, and which
I believe procured his election as master of Walsall School. On June
23rd I went to Bury. The speeches at Bury School, which I wished to
attend, took place next day."

At this point of his Autobiography the writer continues, "Now came one
of the most important occurrences in my life." The important event in
question was his acquaintance with Richarda Smith, the lady who
afterwards became his wife. The courtship was a long one, and in the
Autobiography there are various passages relating to it, all written
in the most natural and unaffected manner, but of somewhat too private
a nature for publication. It will therefore be convenient to digress
from the straight path of the narrative in order to insert a short
memoir of the lady who was destined to influence his life and
happiness in a most important degree.

Richarda Smith was the eldest daughter of the Rev. Richard Smith, who
had been a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, but was at this time
Private Chaplain to the Duke of Devonshire, and held the small living
of Edensor, near Chatsworth, in Derbyshire. He had a family of two
sons and seven daughters, whom he had brought up and educated very
carefully. Several of his daughters were remarkable both for their
beauty and accomplishments. Richarda Smith was now in her 20th year,
and the writer of the Autobiography records that "at Matlock we
received great attention from Mr Chenery: in speaking of Mr Smith I
remember his saying that Mr Smith had a daughter whom the Duke of
Devonshire declared to be the most beautiful girl he ever saw." This
was before he had made the acquaintance of the family. Airy was at
this time on a walking tour in Derbyshire with his brother William,
and they were received at Edensor by Mr Smith, to whom he had letters
of introduction. He seems to have fallen in love with Miss Smith "at
first sight," and within two days of first seeing her he made her an
offer of marriage. Neither his means nor his prospects at that time
permitted the least idea of an immediate marriage, and Mr Smith would
not hear of any engagement. But he never had the least doubt as to
the wisdom of the choice that he had made: he worked steadily on,
winning fame and position, and recommending his suit from time to time
to Miss Smith as opportunity offered, and finally married her, nearly
six years after his first proposal. His constancy had its reward, for
he gained a most charming and affectionate wife. As he records at the
time of his marriage, "My wife was aged between 25 and 26, but she
scarcely appeared more than 18 or 20. Her beauty and accomplishments,
her skill and fidelity in sketching, and above all her exquisite
singing of ballads, made a great sensation in Cambridge."

Their married life lasted 45 years, but the last six years were
saddened by the partial paralysis and serious illness of Lady
Airy. The entire correspondence between them was most carefully
preserved, and is a record of a most happy union. The letters were
written during his numerous journeys and excursions on business or
pleasure, and it is evident that his thoughts were with her from the
moment of their parting. Every opportunity of writing was seized with
an energy and avidity that shewed how much his heart was in the
correspondence. Nothing was too trivial or too important to
communicate to his wife, whether relating to family or business
matters. The letters on both sides are always full of affection and
sympathy, and are written in that spirit of confidence which arises
from a deep sense of the value and necessity of mutual support in the
troubles of life. And with his active and varied employments and his
numerous family there was no lack of troubles. They were both of them
simple-minded, sensible, and practical people, and were very grateful
for such comforts and advantages as they were able to command, but for
nothing in comparison with their deep respect and affection for one

Both by natural ability and education she was well qualified to enter
into the pursuits of her husband, and in many cases to assist him. She
always welcomed her husband's friends, and by her skill and attractive
courtesy kept them well together. She was an admirable letter-writer,
and in the midst of her numerous domestic distractions always found
time for the duties of correspondence. In conversation she was very
attractive, not so much from the wit or brilliancy of her remarks as
from the brightness and interest with which she entered into the
topics under discussion, and from the unfailing grace and courtesy
with which she attended to the views of others. This was especially
recognized by the foreign astronomers and men of science who from time
to time stayed as guests at the Observatory and to whom she acted as
hostess. Although she was not an accomplished linguist yet she was
well able to express herself in French and German, and her natural
good sense and kindliness placed her guests at their ease, and made
them feel themselves (as indeed they were) welcomed and at home.

Her father, the Rev. Richard Smith, was a man of most cultivated mind,
and of the highest principles, with a keen enjoyment of good society,
which the confidence and friendship of his patron the Duke of
Devonshire amply secured to him, both at Chatsworth and in London. He
had a deep attachment to his Alma Mater of Cambridge, and though not
himself a mathematician he had a great respect for the science of
mathematics and for eminent mathematicians. During the long courtship
already related Mr Smith conceived the highest respect for Airy's
character, as well as for his great repute and attainments, and
expressed his lively satisfaction at his daughter's marriage. Thus on
January 20th, 1830, he wrote to his intended son-in-law as follows: "I
have little else to say to you than that I continue with heartfelt
satisfaction to reflect on the important change about to take place in
my dear daughter's situation. A father must not allow himself to
dilate on such a subject: of course I feel confident that you will
have no reason to repent the irrevocable step you have taken, but from
the manner in which Richarda has been brought up, you will find such a
helpmate in her as a man of sense and affection would wish to have,
and that she is well prepared to meet the duties and trials (for such
must be met with) of domestic life with a firm and cultivated mind,
and the warm feelings of a kind heart. Her habits are such as by no
means to lead her to expensive wishes, nor will you I trust ever find
it necessary to neglect those studies and pursuits upon which your
reputation and subsistence are chiefly founded, to seek for idle
amusements for your companion. I must indulge no further in speaking
of her, and have only at present to add that I commit in full
confidence into your hands the guardianship of my daughter's
happiness." And on April 5th, 1830, shortly after their marriage, he
wrote to his daughter thus: "If thinking of you could supply your
place amongst us you would have been with us unceasingly, for we have
all of us made you the principal object of our thoughts and our talk
since you left us, and I travelled with you all your journey to your
present delightful home. We had all but one feeling of the purest
pleasure in the prospect of the true domestic comfort to which we
fully believe you to be now gone, and we rejoice that all your
endearing qualities will now be employed to promote the happiness of
one whom we think so worthy of them as your dear husband, who has left
us in the best opinion of his good heart, as well as his enlightened
and sound understanding. His late stay with us has endeared him to us
all. Never did man enter into the married state from more honourable
motives, or from a heart more truly seeking the genuine happiness of
that state than Mr Airy, and he will, I trust, find his reward in you
from all that a good wife can render to the best of husbands, and his
happiness be reflected on yourself." It would be difficult to find
letters of more genuine feeling and satisfaction, or more eloquently
expressed, than these.

The narrative of the Autobiography will now be resumed.

"I had been disappointed two years before of an expedition to
Derbyshire. I had wished still to make it, and my brother wished to
go: and we determined to make it this year (1824). We were prepared
with walking dresses and knapsacks. I had well considered every detail
of our route, and was well provided with letters of introduction,
including one to the Rev. R. Smith of Edensor. On June 29th we started
by coach to Newmarket and walked through the Fens by Ramsay to
Peterborough. Then by Stamford and Ketton quarries to Leicester and
Derby. Here we were recognized by a Mr Calvert, who had seen me take
my degree, and he invited us to breakfast, and employed himself in
shewing us several manufactories, &c. to which we had been denied
access when presenting ourselves unsupported. We then went to Belper
with an introduction from Mr Calvert to Jedediah Strutt: saw the great
cotton mills, and in the evening walked to Matlock. Up to this time
the country of greatest interest was the region of the fens about
Ramsay (a most remarkable district), but now began beauty of scenery.
On July 9th we walked by Rowsley and Haddon Hall over the hills to
Edensor, where we stayed till the 12th with Mr Smith. We next visited
Hathersage, Castleton, and Marple (where I wished to see the canal
aqueduct), and went by coach to Manchester, and afterwards to
Liverpool. Here Dr Traill recommended us to see the Pontycyssylte
Aqueduct, and we went by Chester and Wrexham to Rhuabon, saw the
magnificent work, and proceeded to Llangollen. Thence by Chester and
Northwich (where we descended a salt-mine) to Macclesfield. Then to
the Ecton mine (of which we saw but little) through Dovedale to
Ashbourn, and by coach to Derby. On July 24th to Birmingham, where we
found Mr Guest, lodged in his house, and were joined by my pupil
Guest. Here we were fully employed in visiting the manufactures, and
then went into the iron country, where I descended a pit in the
Staffordshire Main. Thence by coach to Cambridge, where I stopped to
prepare for the Fellowship Examination.

"I had two pupils in this portion of the Long Vacation, Turner and
Dobbs. On August 2nd my writing of Latin began regularly as before. My
principal mathematics on the quires are Optics. On August 25th I made
experiments on my left eye, with good measures, and on Aug. 26th
ordered a cylindrical lens of Peters, a silversmith in the town, which
I believe was never made. Subsequently, while at Playford, I ordered
cylindrical lenses of an artist named Fuller, living at Ipswich, and
these were completed in November, 1824.

"My letter to the Examiners, announcing my intention of sitting for
Fellowship (which like all other such documents is preserved on my
quires) was delivered on Sept 21st. The Examination took place on
Sept. 22nd and the two following days. On Oct. 1st, 1824, at the usual
hour of the morning, I was elected Fellow. There were elected at the
same time T.B. Macaulay (afterwards Lord Macaulay), who was a year
senior to me in College, and I think Field of my own year. I drew up
my letter of acknowledgment to the Electors. On Oct. 2nd at 9 in the
morning I was admitted Fellow with the usual ceremonies, and at 10 I
called on the Electors with my letter of acknowledgment. I immediately
journeyed to Derbyshire, paid a visit at Edensor, and returned by

"On Oct. 11th (it having been understood with Mr Higman that my
engagement as Assistant Mathematical Tutor stood) the Master sent for
me to appoint me and to say what was expected as duty of the
office. He held out to me the prospect of ultimately succeeding to the
Tutorship, and I told him that I hoped to be out of College before
that time.

"About this time the 'Athenaeum,' a club of a scientific character,
was established in London, and I was nominated on it, but I declined"
(Oct. 14th). In this year (1824) I commenced account with a banker by
placing _£110_ in the hands of Messrs Mortlock and Co. On Oct. 16th I
walked to Bury, and after a single day's stay there returned to

"On Oct. 23rd, 1824,1 began my lectures as Mathematical Assistant
Tutor. I lectured the Senior Sophs and Junior Sophs on Higman's
side. The number of Senior Sophs was 21. Besides this I took part in
the 'Examinations of the Questionists,' a series of exercises for
those who were to take the Bachelor's degree in the next January. I
examined in Mechanics, Newton, and Optics. I had also as private
pupils Turner, Dobbs, and Cooper. I now ceased from the exercise which
I had followed with such regularity for five years, namely that of
daily writing Latin. In its stead I engaged a French Master (Goussel)
with whom I studied French with reasonable assiduity for the three
terms to June, 1825.

"Among mathematical investigations I find: Theory of the Moon's
brightness, Motion of a body in an ellipse round two centres of force,
Various differential equations, Numerical computation of sin pi from
series, Numerical computation of sines of various arcs to 18 decimals,
Curvature of surfaces in various directions, Generating functions,
Problem of sound. I began in the winter a Latin Essay as competing
for the Middle Bachelors' Prize, but did not proceed with it. I
afterwards wished that I had followed it up: but my time was fully

"On Jan. 28th, 1825, I started for Edensor, where I paid a visit, and
returned on Feb. 2nd. On Feb. 4th I wrote to Mr Clarkson, asking his
advice about a profession or mode of life (the cares of life were now
beginning to press me heavily, and continued to do so for several
years). He replied very kindly, but his answer amounted to nothing.
About the same time I had some conversation of the same kind with Mr
Peacock, which was equally fruitless.

"On Feb. 4th I have investigations of the density of light near a
caustic (on the theory of emissions). On Feb. 5th I finished a Paper
about the defect in my eye, which was communicated to the Cambridge
Philosophical Society on Feb. 21st. Mr Peacock or Mr Whewell had some
time previously applied to me to write a Paper on Trigonometry for the
Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, and I had been collecting some materials
(especially in regard to its history) at every visit to London, where
I read sometimes at the British Museum: also in the Cambridge
libraries. I began this Paper (roughly) on Feb. 8th, and finished it
on Mar. 3rd. The history of which I speak, by some odd management of
the Editors of the Encyclopaedia, was never published. The MS. is now
amongst the MSS. of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Other subjects
on my quires are: Theory of musical concords, many things relating to
trigonometry and trigonometrical tables, achromatic eye-pieces,
equation to the surface bounding the rays that enter my left eye,
experiments on percussion. Also notes on Cumberland and Wales (I had
already proposed to myself to take a party of pupils in the Long
Vacation to Keswick), and notes on history and geology.

"I had been in correspondence with Dr Malkin (master of Bury School),
who on Feb. 8th sent a certificate for my brother William, whom I
entered at Trinity on Peacock's side. On Mar. 25th I changed my rooms,
quitting those on the ground-floor east side of Queen Mary's Gate for
first-floor rooms in Neville's Court, south side, the easternmost
rooms. In this term my lectures lasted from Apr. 18th to May
14th. Apparently I had only the Senior Sophs, 19 in number, and the
same four pupils (Turner, Dobbs, Cooper, Hovenden) as in the preceding
term. The only scientific subjects on which I find notes are, a Paper
on the forms of the Teeth of Wheels, communicated to the Philosophical
Society on May 2nd; some notes about Musical Concords, and some
examination of a strange piece of Iceland Spar. On Apr. 29th I was
elected to the Northern Institution (of Inverness); the first
compliment that I received from an extraneous body.

"On May 14th I have a most careful examination of my money accounts,
to see whether I can make an expedition with my sister into Wales. My
sister came to Cambridge, and on Monday, May 23rd, 1825, we started
for Wales, equipped in the lightest way for a walking expedition. We
went by Birmingham to Shrewsbury: then to the Pontycyssylte Aqueduct
and by various places to Bala, and thence by Llanrwst to Conway. Here
the suspension bridge was under construction: the mole was made and
the piers, but nothing else. Then on to Bangor, where nine chains of
the suspension bridge were in place, and so to Holyhead. Then by
Carnarvon to Bethgelert, ascending Snowdon by the way, and in
succession by Festiniog, Dolgelly, and Aberystwyth to Hereford (the
first time that I had visited it since my father left it). From thence
we went by coach to London, and I went on to Cambridge on the 23rd of

"I had arranged to take a party of pupils to Keswick, and to take my
brother there. Mr Clarkson had provided me with introductions to Mr
Southey and Mr Wordsworth. On Wednesday, June 29th, 1825, we started,
and went by Leicester, Sheffield, Leeds, and Kendal, to Keswick,
calling at Edensor on the way. My pupils were Cleasby, Marshman,
Clinton, Wigram, Tottenham, and M. Smith. At Keswick I passed three
months very happily. I saw Mr Southey's family frequently, and Mr
Wordsworth's occasionally. By continual excursions in the
neighbourhood, and by a few excursions to places as distant as
Bowness, Calder Bridge, &c. (always climbing the intermediate
mountains), I became well acquainted with almost the whole of that
beautiful country, excepting some of the S. W. dales. A geological
hammer and a mountain barometer were very interesting companions. I
had plenty of work with my pupils: I worked a little Lunar Theory, a
little of Laplace's Equations, something of the Figure of the Earth,
and I wrote out very carefully my Trigonometry for the Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana. I read a little of Machiavelli, and various books
which I borrowed of Mr Southey. On Friday, Sept. 30th, my brother and
I left for Kendal, and after a stay of a few days at Edensor, arrived
at Cambridge on Oct. 11th.

"On Oct. 21st my Lectures to the Junior Sophs began, 39 names, lasting
to Dec. 13th. Those to the Senior Sophs, 16 names, Oct 29th to
Dec. 10th. I also examined Questionists as last year. I have notes
about a Paper on the connection of impact and pressure, read at the
Philosophical Society on Nov. 14th, but not printed, dipping-needle
problems, curve described round three centres of force, barometer
observations, theory of the Figure of the Earth with variable density,
and effect on the Moon, correction to the Madras pendulum, wedge with
friction, spots seen in my eyes, density of rays near a caustic. In
this term I accomplished the preparation of a volume of Mathematical
Tracts on subjects which, either from their absolute deficiency in the
University or from the unreadable form in which they had been
presented, appeared to be wanted. The subjects of my Tracts were,
Lunar Theory (begun Oct. 26th, finished Nov. 1st), Figure of the Earth
(1st part finished Nov. 18th), Precession and Nutation (my old MS. put
in order), and the Calculus of Variations. I applied, as is frequently
done, to the Syndicate of the University Press for assistance in
publishing the work; and they agreed to give me paper and printing for
500 copies. This notice was received from Professor Turton on
Nov. 29th, 1825. It was probably also in this year that I drew up an
imperfect 'Review' of Coddington's Optics, a work which deserved
severe censure: my review was never finished.

"In the Long Vacation at Keswick I had six pupils at _£42_ each. In
the October term I had Marshman and Ogilby at _£105_ for three terms,
and Dobbs at _£75_ for three terms. I had, at Mr Peacock's suggestion,
raised my rate from 60 to 100 guineas for three terms: this prevented
some from applying to me, and induced some to withdraw who had been
connected with me: but it did me no real hurt, for engrossment by
pupils is the worst of all things that can happen to a man who hopes
to distinguish himself. On Dec. 17th I went to Bury, and returned to
Cambridge on Jan. 30th, 1826.

"I have the attendance-bills of my Lectures to Senior Sophs (16) from
Feb. 3rd to Feb. 23rd, and to Freshmen (40) from Feb. 27th to
Mar. 15. It would appear that I gave but one college-lecture per day
(my belief was that I always had two). The tutor's stipend per term
was _£50_. On my quires I find, Investigations for the ellipticity of
a heterogeneous spheroid when the density is expressed by sin
_qc_/_qc_ (the remarkable properties of which I believe I discovered
entirely myself, although they had been discovered by other persons),
Theoretical Numbers for precession, nutation, &c., some investigations
using Laplace's Y, hard work on the Figure of the Earth to the 2nd
order,'Woodhouse's remaining apparatus,' Notes about Lambton's and
Kater's errors, Depolarization, Notes of Papers on depolarization in
the Phil. Trans., Magnetic Investigations for Lieut. Foster,
Isochronous Oscillations in a resisting medium, Observations on a
strange piece of Iceland Spar. On Mar. 7th forwarded Preface and Title
Page for my Mathematical Tracts.

"Some time in this term I began to think of the possibility of
observing the diminution of gravity in a deep mine, and communicated
with Whewell, who was disposed to join in experiments. My first notion
was simply to try the rate of a clock, and the Ecton mine was first
thought of. I made enquiries about the Ecton mine through Mr Smith (of
Edensor), and visited the mine, but in the meantime Whewell had made
enquiries in London and found (principally from Dr Paris) that the
mine of Dolcoath near Camborne in Cornwall would be a better place for
the experiment. Dr Paris wrote to me repeatedly, and ultimately we
resolved on trying it there. In my papers on Mar. 21st are various
investigations about attractions in both mines. On Apr. 3rd I went to
London, principally to arrange about Dolcoath, and during April and
May I was engaged in correspondence with Sir H. Davy (President of
the Royal Society), Mr Herschel, and Dr Young (Secretary of the Board
of Longitude) about the loan of instruments and pendulums. On
Apr. 23rd I was practising pendulum-observations (by coincidence); and
about this time repeatedly practised transits with a small instrument
lent by Mr Sheepshanks (with whom my acquaintance must have begun no
long time before) which was erected under a tent in the Fellows'
Walks. On my quires I find various schemes for graduating thermometers
for pendulum experiments.

"I find also Notes of examination of my brother William, who had come
to College last October; and a great deal of correspondence with my
mother and sister and Mr Case, a lawyer, about a troublesome business
with Mr Cropley, an old friend of G. Biddell, to whom my father had
lent _£500_ and whose affairs were in Chancery.

"My lectures in this term were to the Junior Sophs from Apr. 10th to
May 13th: they were six in number and not very regular. On Apr. 28th I
sent to Mawman the copy of my Trigonometry for the Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana, for which I received _£42_. I received notice from the
Press Syndicate that the price of my Mathematical Tracts was fixed at
_6s. 6d._: I sold the edition to Deighton for _£70_, and it was
immediately published. About this time I have letters from Mr Herschel
and Sir H. Davy about a Paper to be presented to the Royal Society--I
suppose about the Figure of the Earth to the 2nd order of ellipticity,
which was read to the Royal Society on June 15th.

"On Saturday, May 13th, 1826, I went to London on the way to Dolcoath,
and received four chronometers from the Royal Observatory,
Greenwich. I travelled by Devonport and Falmouth to Camborne, where I
arrived on May 20th and dined at the count-house dinner at the mine. I
was accompanied by Ibbotson, who was engaged as a pupil, and intended
for an engineer. On May 24th Whewell arrived, and we took a pendulum
and clock down, and on the 30th commenced the observation of
coincidences in earnest. This work, with the changing of the
pendulums, and sundry short expeditions, occupied nearly three
weeks. We had continued the computation of our observations at every
possible interval. It is to be understood that we had one detached
pendulum swinging in front of a clock pendulum above, and another
similarly mounted below; and that the clocks were compared by
chronometers compared above, carried down and compared, compared
before leaving, and brought up and compared. The upper and lower
pendulums had been interchanged. It was found now that the reliance
on the steadiness of the chronometers was too great; and a new method
was devised, in which for each series the chronometers should make
four journeys and have four comparisons above and two below. This
arrangement commenced on the 19th June and continued till the 20th. On
the 26th we packed the lower instruments, intending to compare the
pendulum directly with the upper one, and sent them up the shaft: when
an inexplicable occurrence stopped all proceedings. The basket
containing all the important instruments was brought up to the surface
(in my presence) on fire; some of the instruments had fallen out with
their cases burning. Whether a superstitious miner had intentionally
fired it, or whether the snuff of a candle had been thrown into it, is
not known. Our labour was now rendered useless. On the 28th I packed
up what remained of instruments, left for Truro, and arrived at Bury
on July 1st. During our stay in Cornwall I had attended a 'ticketing'
or sale of ore at Camborne, and we had made expeditions to the
N.W. Coast, to Portreath and Illogan, to Marazion and St Michael's
Mount, and to Penzance and the Land's End. On July 3rd I saw Mr
Cropley in Bury gaol, and went to Cambridge. On the 4th I was admitted
A.M., and on the 5th was admitted Major Fellow.

"I had engaged with four pupils to go to Orléans in this Long
Vacation: my brother William was also to go. One of my pupils, Dobbs,
did not join: the other three were Tinkler, Ogilby, and Ibbotson. We
left London on July 9th, and travelled by Brighton, Dieppe, Rouen, and
Paris to Orléans. At Paris I saw Bouvard, Pouillet, Laplace and
Arago. I had introductions from Mr Peacock, Mr South, Mr Herschel, Dr
Young; and from Professor Sedgwick to an English resident, Mr
Underwood. On the 19th I was established in the house of M. Lagarde,
Protestant Minister. Here I received my pupils. On the 28th I
commenced Italian with an Italian master: perhaps I might have done
more prudently in adhering to French, for I made no great progress. On
Aug. 2nd I saw a murderer guillotined in the Place Martroi. The
principal investigations on my quires are--Investigations about
pendulums, Calculus of Variations, Notes for the Figure of the Earth
(Encyc. Metrop.) and commencement of the article, steam-engine
machinery, &c. I picked up various French ballads, read various books,
got copies of the Marseillaise (this I was obliged to obtain rather
secretly, as the legitimist power under Charles X. was then at its
height) and other music, and particulars of farm wages for Whewell and
R. Jones. The summer was intensely hot, and I believe that the heat
and the work in Dolcoath had weakened me a good deal. The family was
the old clergyman, his wife, his daughter, and finally his son. We
lived together very amicably. My brother lodged in a Café in the Place
Martroi; the others in different families. I left Orléans on
Sept. 30th for Paris. Here I attended the Institut, and was present at
one of Ampère's Lectures. I arrived at Cambridge on Oct. 14th.

"On Oct. 16th Whewell mentioned to me that the Lucasian Professorship
would be immediately vacated by Turton, and encouraged me to compete
for it. Shortly afterwards Mr Higman mentioned the Professorship, and
Joshua King (of Queens') spoke on the restriction which prevented
College tutors or Assistant tutors from holding the office. About
this time Mr Peacock rendered me a very important service. As the
emolument of the Lucasian Professorship was only _£99_, and that of
the Assistant Tutorship _£150_, I had determined to withdraw from the
candidature. But Mr Peacock represented to me the advantage of
position which would be gained by obtaining the Professorship (which I
then instantly saw), and I continued to be a candidate. I wrote
letters to the Heads of Colleges (the electors) and canvassed them
personally. Only Dr Davy, the Master of Caius College, at once
promised me his vote. Dr French, Master of Jesus College, was a
candidate; and several of the Heads had promised him their votes. Mr
Babbage, the third candidate, threatened legal proceedings, and Dr
French withdrew. The course was now open for Mr Babbage and me.

"In the meetings of the Philosophical Society a new mode of proceeding
was introduced this term. To enliven the meetings, private members
were requested to give oral lectures. Mine was the second, I think,
and I took for subject The Machinery of the Steam Engines in the
Cornish mines, and especially of the Pumping Engines and Pumps. It
made an excellent lecture: the subjects were at that time undescribed
in books, and unknown to engineers in general out of Cornwall.

"My College lectures seem to have been, Oct. 21st to Dec. 14th to 31
Junior Sophs, Dec. 4th to 12th to 12 Senior Sophs. I assisted at the
examinations of the Questionists. I had no private pupils. On
Nov. 26th I communicated to the Cambridge Philosophical Society a
Paper on the Theory of Pendulums, Balances, and Escapements: and I
find applications of Babbage's symbolism to an escapement which I
proposed. I have various investigations about the Earth, supposed to
project at middle latitudes above the elliptical form. In November an
account of the Dolcoath failure (by Whewell) was given to the Royal

"At length on Dec. 7th, 1826, the election to the Lucasian
Professorship took place: I was elected (I think unanimously) and
admitted. I believe that this gave great satisfaction to the
University in general. My uncle, Arthur Biddell, was in Cambridge on
that evening, and was the first of my friends who heard of it. On the
same page of my quires on which this is mentioned, there is a great
list of apparatus to be constructed for Lucasian Lectures, notes of
experiments with Atwood's Machine, &c. In December, correspondence
with Dollond about prisms. I immediately issued a printed notice that
I would give professorial lectures in the next Term.

"On Dec. 13th I have a letter from Mr Smith informing me of the
dangerous illness (fever) which had attacked nearly every member of
his family, Richarda worst of all. On Dec. 23rd I went to Bury. The
affairs with Cropley had been settled by the sale of his property
under execution, and my father did not lose much of his debt. But he
had declined much in body and mind, and now had strange

"The commencement of 1827 found me in a better position (not in money
but in prospects) than I had before stood in: yet it was far from
satisfactory. I had resigned my Assistant Tutorship of _£150_ per
annum together with the prospect of succeeding to a Tutorship, and
gained only the Lucasian Professorship of _£99_ per annum. I had a
great aversion to entering the Church: and my lay fellowship would
expire in 7 years. My prospects in the law or other professions might
have been good if I could have waited: but then I must have been in a
state of starvation probably for many years, and marriage would have
been out of the question: I much preferred a moderate income in no
long time, and I am sure that in this I judged rightly for my
happiness. I had now in some measure taken science as my line (though
not irrevocably), and I thought it best to work it well, for a time at
least, and wait for accidents.

"The acceptance of the Lucasian Professorship prevented me from being
pressed by Sedgwick (who was Proctor this year) to take the office of
moderator: which was a great relief to me. As Lucasian Professor I was
ipso facto Member of the Board of Longitude. A stipend of _£100_ a
year was attached to this, on condition of attending four meetings:
but I had good reason (from intimations by South and other persons in
London) for believing that this would not last long. The fortnightly
notices of the meetings of the Board were given on Jan. 18th,
Mar. 22nd, May 24th and Oct. 18th.

"On Jan. 2nd, 1827, I came from London to Bury. I found my father in a
very declining state (the painful rheumatism of some years had changed
to ulcerations of the legs, and he was otherwise helpless and had
distressing hallucinations). On Jan. 8th I walked to Cambridge. At
both places I was occupied in preparations for the Smith's Prize
Examination and for lectures (for the latter I obtained at Bury gaol
some numerical results about tread-mills).

"Of the Smith's Prize I was officially an Examiner: and I determined
to begin with---what had never been done before--making the
examination public, by printing the papers of questions. The Prize is
the highest Mathematical honour in the University: the competitors are
incepting Bachelors of Arts after the examination for that Degree. My
day of examination (apparently) was Jan. 21st. The candidates were
Turner, Cankrein, Cleasby, and Mr Gordon. The first three had been my
private pupils: Mr Gordon was a Fellow-commoner of St Peter's College,
and had just passed the B.A. examination as Senior Wrangler, Turner
being second. My situation as Examiner was rather a delicate one, and
the more so as, when I came to examine the papers of answers, Turner
appeared distinctly the first. Late at night I carried the papers to
Whewell's rooms, and he on inspection agreed with me. The other
examiners (Professors Lax and Woodhouse, Lowndean and Plumian
Professors) generally supported me: and Turner had the honour of First
Smith's Prize.

"On Jan. 30th my mother wrote, asking if I could see Cropley in
London, where he was imprisoned for contempt of Chancery. I attended
the meeting of the Board of Longitude on Feb. 1st, and afterwards
visited Cropley in the Fleet Prison. He died there, some time
later. It was by the sale of his effects under execution that my
father's debt was paid.

"On Feb. 15th I communicated to the Royal Society a Paper on the
correction of the Solar Tables from South's observations. I believe
that I had alluded to this at the February meeting of the Board of
Longitude, and that in consequence Mr Pond, the Astronomer Royal, had
been requested to prepare the errors of the Sun's place from the
Greenwich observations: which were supplied some months later. With
the exception of South's Solar Errors, and some investigations about
dipping-needles, I do not find anything going on but matters connected
with my approaching lectures. There are bridges, trusses, and other
mechanical matters, theoretical and practical, without end. Several
tradesmen in Cambridge and London were well employed. On Feb. 13th I
have a letter from Cubitt about groins: I remember studying those of
the Custom-house and other places. On Feb. 20th my Syllabus of
Lectures was finished: this in subsequent years was greatly
improved. I applied to the Royal Society for the loan of Huyghens's
object-glass, but they declined to lend it. About this time I find
observations of the spectrum of Sirius.

"There had been no lectures on Experimental Philosophy (Mechanics,
Hydrostatics, Optics) for many years. The University in general, I
believe, looked with great satisfaction to my vigorous beginning:
still there was considerable difficulty about it. There was no
understood term for the Lectures: no understood hour of the day: no
understood lecture room. I began this year in the Lent Term, but in
all subsequent years I took the Easter Term, mainly for the chance of
sunlight for the optical experiments, which I soon made important. I
could get no room but a private or retiring room (not a regular
lecture room) in the buildings at the old Botanic Garden: in following
years I had the room under the University Library. The Lectures
commenced on some day in February 1827: I think that the number who
attended them was about 64. I remember very well that the matter which
I had prepared as an Introductory Lecture did not last above half the
time that I had expected, but I managed very well to fill up the
hour. On another occasion I was so ill-prepared that I had
contemplated giving notice that I was unable to complete the hour's
lecture, but I saw in the front row some strangers, introduced by some
of my regular attendants, very busy in taking notes, and as it was
evident that a break-down now would not do, I silently exerted myself
to think of something, and made a very good lecture.

"On Mar. 1st, as official examiner, I received notices from 14
candidates for Bell's Scholarships, and prepared my Paper of
questions. I do not remember my day of examination; but I had all the
answers to all the examiners' questions in my hands, when on Mar. 27th
I received notice that my father had died the preceding evening. This
stopped my Lectures: they were concluded in the next term. I think
that I had only Mechanics and imperfect Optics this term, no
Hydrostatics; and that the resumed Lectures were principally
Optical. They terminated about May 14th.

"With my brother I at once went to Bury to attend my father's
funeral. He was buried on Mar. 31st, 1827, in the churchyard of Little
Whelnetham, on the north side of the church. Shortly afterwards I went
to London, and on Apr. 5th I attended a meeting of the Board of
Longitude, at which Herschel produced a Paper regarding improvements
of the Nautical Almanac. Herschel and I were in fact the leaders of
the reforming party in the Board of Longitude: Dr Young the Secretary
resisted change as much as possible. After the meeting I went to
Cambridge. I find then calculations of achromatic eye-pieces for a
very nice model with silk threads of various colours which I made with
my own hands for my optical lectures.

"On Apr. 7th Herschel wrote to me that the Professorship held by Dr
Brinkley (then appointed Bishop of Cloyne) at Dublin would be vacant,
and recommended it to my notice, and sent me some introductions. I
reached Dublin on Apr. 15th, where I was received with great kindness
by Dr Brinkley and Dr MacDonnell (afterwards Provost). I there met the
then Provost Dr Bartholomew Lloyd, Dr Lardner, Mr Hamilton (afterwards
Sir W. R. Hamilton) and others. In a few days I found that they
greatly desired to appoint Hamilton if possible (they did in fact
overcome some difficulties and appoint him in a few months), and that
they would not make such an augmentation as would induce me to offer
myself as a candidate, and I withdrew. I have always remembered with
gratitude Dr MacDonnell's conduct, in carefully putting me on a fair
footing in this matter. I returned by Holyhead, and arrived at
Birmingham on Apr. 23rd. While waiting there and looking over some
papers relating to the spherical aberration of eye-pieces, in which I
had been stopped some time by a geometrical difficulty, I did in the
coffee-room of a hotel overcome the difficulty; and this was the
foundation of a capital paper on the Spherical Aberration of
Eye-pieces. This paper was afterwards presented to the Cambridge
Philosophical Society.

"About this time a circumstance occurred of a disagreeable nature,
which however did not much disconcert me. Mr Ivory, who had a good
many years before made himself favourably known as a mathematician,
especially by his acquaintance with Laplace's peculiar analysis, had
adopted (as not unfrequently happens) some singular hydrostatical
theories. In my last Paper on the Figure of the Earth, I had said that
I could not receive one of his equations. In the Philosophical
Magazine of May he attacked me for this with great heat. On May 8th I
wrote an answer, and I think it soon became known that I was not to be
attacked with impunity.

"Long before this time there had been some proposal about an excursion
to the Lake District with my sister, and I now arranged to carry it
out. On May 23rd I went to Bury and on to Playford: while there I
sketched the Cumberland excursion. On June 5th I went to London, I
believe to the Visitation of the Greenwich Observatory to which I was
invited. I also attended the meeting of the Board of Longitude. I
think it was here that Pond's Errors of the Sun's place in the
Nautical Almanac from Greenwich Observations were produced. On June
7th I went by coach to Rugby, where I met my sister, and we travelled
to Edensor. We made a number of excursions in Derbyshire, and then
passed on by Penrith to Keswick, where we arrived on June 22nd. From
Keswick we made many excursions in the Lake District, visited Mr
Southey and Mr Wordsworth, descended a coal mine at Whitehaven, and
returned to Edensor by the way of Ambleside, Kendal, and Manchester.
With sundry excursions in Derbyshire our trip ended, and we returned
to Cambridge on the 21st July.

"During this Long Vacation I had one private pupil, Crawford, the only
pupil this year, and the last that I ever had. At this time there is
on my papers an infinity of optical investigations: also a plan of an
eye-piece with a concave lens to destroy certain aberrations. On
Aug. 20th I went to Woodford to see Messrs Gilbert's optical
works. From Aug. 13th I had been preparing for the discussion of the
Greenwich Solar Errors, and I had a man at work in my rooms, engaged
on the calculation of the Errors. I wrote to Bouvard at Paris for
observations of the sun, but he recommended me to wait for the Tables
which Bessel was preparing. I was busy too about my Lectures: on
Sept. 29th I have a set of plans of printing presses from Hansard the
printer (who in a visit to Cambridge had found me making enquiries
about them), and I corresponded with Messrs Gilbert about optical
constructions, and with W. and S. Jones, Eastons, and others about
pumps, hydraulic rams, &c. On Sept. 25th occurred a very magnificent
Aurora Borealis.

"I do not find when the investigation of Corrections of Solar Elements
was finished, or when my Extracts from Burckhardt, Connaissance des
Temps 1816, were made. But these led me to suspect an unknown
inequality in the Sun's motion. On Sept. 27th and 28th I find the
first suspicions of an inequality depending on 8 × mean longitude of
Venus--13 × mean longitude of Earth. The thing appeared so promising
that I commenced the investigation of the perturbation related to this
term, and continued it (a very laborious work) as fast as I was able,
though with various interruptions, which in fact were necessary to
keep up my spirits. On Oct. 30th I went to London for the Board of
Longitude meeting. Here I exhibited the results of my Sun
investigations, and urged the correction of the elements used in the
Nautical Almanac. Dr Young objected, and proposed that Bouvard should
be consulted. Professor Woodhouse, the Plumian Professor, was present,
and behaved so captiously that some members met afterwards to consider
how order could be maintained. I believe it was during this visit to
London that I took measures of Hammersmith Suspension Bridge for an
intended Lecture-model. Frequently, but not always, when in London, I
resided at the house of Mr Sheepshanks and his sister Miss
Sheepshanks, 30 Woburn Place. My quires, at this time, abound with
suggestions for lectures and examinations.

"On some day about the end of November or beginning of December 1827,
when I was walking with Mr Peacock near the outside gate of the
Trinity Walks, on some mention of Woodhouse, the Plumian Professor, Mr
Peacock said that he was never likely to rise into activity again (or
using some expression importing mortal illness). Instantly there had
passed through my mind the certainty of my succeeding him, the good
position in which I stood towards the University, the probability of
that position being improved by improved lectures, &c., &c., and by
increased reputation from the matters in which I was now engaged, the
power of thus commanding an increase of income. I should then have,
independent of my Fellowship, some competent income, and a house over
my head. I was quite aware that some time might elapse, but now for
the first time I saw my way clearly. The care of the Observatory had
been for two or three years attached to the Plumian Professorship. A
Grace was immediately prepared, entrusting the temporary care of the
Observatory to Dr French, to me, Mr Catton, Mr Sheepshanks, and Mr
King (afterwards Master of Queens' College). On Dec. 6th I have a note
from Mr King about going to the Observatory.

"On Dec. 6th my Paper on corrections of the elements of the Solar
Tables was presented to the Royal Society. On Dec. 9th, at 1 h. 4
m. a.m. (Sunday morning), I arrived at the result of my calculations
of the new inequality. I had gone through some fluctuations of
feeling. Usually the important part of an inequality of this kind
depends entirely on the eccentricities of the orbits, but it so
happened that from the positions of the axes of the orbits, &c., these
terms very nearly destroyed each other. After this came the
consideration of inclinations of orbits; and here were sensible terms
which were not destroyed. Finally I arrived at the result that the
inequality would be about 3"; just such a magnitude as was required. I
slipped this into Whewell's door. This is, to the time of writing
(1853), the last improvement of any importance in the Solar
Theory. Some little remaining work went on to Dec. 14th, and then,
being thoroughly tired, I laid by the work for revision at some future
time. I however added a Postscript to my Royal Society Paper on Solar
Errors, notifying this result.

"On Dec. 19th I went to Bury. While there I heard from Whewell that
Woodhouse was dead. I returned to Cambridge and immediately made known
that I was a candidate for the now vacant Plumian Professorship. Of
miscellaneous scientific business, I find that on Oct. 13th Professor
Barlow of Woolwich prepared a memorial to the Board of Longitude
concerning his fluid telescope (which I had seen at Woodford), which
was considered on Nov. 1st, and I had some correspondence with him in
December. In June and August my Trigonometry was printing.

"On Jan. 5th, 1828, I came from London. It seems that I had been
speculating truly 'without book' on perturbations of planetary
elements, for on Jan. 17th and 18th I wrote a Paper on a supposed
error of Laplace, and just at the end I discovered that he was quite
right: I folded up the Paper and marked it 'A Lesson.' I set two
papers of questions for Smith's Prizes (there being a deficiency of
one Examiner, viz. the Plumian Professor).

"Before the beginning of 1828 Whewell and I had determined on
repeating the Dolcoath experiments. On Jan. 8th I have a letter from
Davies Gilbert (then President of the Royal Society) congratulating me
upon the Solar Theory, and alluding to our intended summer's visit to
Cornwall. We had somehow applied to the Board of Longitude for
pendulums, but Dr Young wished to delay them, having with Capt. Basil
Hall concocted a scheme for making Lieut. Foster do all the work:
Whewell and I were indignant at this, and no more was said about
it. On Jan. 24th Dr Young, in giving notice of the Board of Longitude
meeting, informs me that the clocks and pendulums are ready.

"I had made known that I was a candidate for the Plumian
Professorship, and nobody thought it worth while to oppose me. One
person at least (Earnshaw) had intended to compete, but he called on
me to make certain that I was a candidate, and immediately withdrew. I
went on in quality of Syndic for the care of the Observatory,
ingrafting myself into it. But meantime I told everybody that the
salary (about _£300_) was not sufficient for me; and on Jan. 20th I
drafted a manifesto or application to the University for an increase
of salary. The day of election to the Professorship was Feb. 6th. As I
was officially (as Lucasian Professor) an elector, I was present, and
I explained to the electors that I could not undertake the
responsibility of the Observatory without augmentation of income, and
that I requested their express sanction to my application to the
University for that purpose. They agreed to this generally, and I was
elected. I went to London immediately to attend a meeting of the
Board of Longitude and returned on Feb. 8th. On Feb. 15th I began my
Lectures (which, this year, included Mechanics, Optics, Pneumatics,
and Hydrostatics) in the room below the University Library. The number
of names was 26. The Lectures terminated on Mar. 22nd.

"On Feb. 25th I received from Mr Pond information on the emoluments at
Greenwich Observatory. I drew up a second manifesto, and on Feb. 26th
I wrote and signed a formal copy for the Plumian electors. On
Feb. 27th I met them at Caius Lodge (the Master, Dr Davy, being
Vice-Chancellor). I read my Paper, which was approved, and their
sanction was given in the form of a request to the Vice-Chancellor to
permit the paper to be printed and circulated. My paper, with this
request at the head, was immediately printed, and a copy was sent to
every resident M.A. (more than 200 went out in one day). The statement
and composition of the paper were generally approved, but the
University had never before been taken by storm in such a manner, and
there was some commotion about it. I believe that very few persons
would have taken the same step. Mr Sheepshanks wrote to me on
Mar. 7th, intimating that it was desperate. I had no doubt of
success. Whewell told me that some people accused me of bad faith, in
omitting allusion to the _£100_ a year received as Member of the Board
of Longitude, and to the profits of Lectures. I wrote him a note,
telling him that I had most certain information of the intention to
dissolve the Board of Longitude (which was done in less than six
months), and that by two years' Lectures I had gained _£45_ (the
expenses being _£200_, receipts _£245_). This letter was sent to the
complaining people, and no more was said. By the activity of
Sheepshanks and the kindness of Dr Davy the business gradually grew
into shape, and on Mar. 21st a Grace passed the Senate for appointing
a Syndicate to consider of augmentation. Sheepshanks was one of the
Syndicate, and was understood to represent, in some measure, my
interests. The progress of the Syndicate however was by no means a
straightforward one. Members of the Senate soon began to remark that
before giving anything they ought to know the amount of the University
revenue, and another Syndicate was then appointed to enquire and
report upon it. It was more than a year before my Syndicate could
make their recommendation: however, in fact, I lost nothing by that
delay, as I was rising in the estimation of the University. The
Observatory house was furnished, partly from Woodhouse's sale, and
partly from new furniture. My mother and sister came to live with me
there. On Mar. 15th 1828 I began the Observatory Journal; on Mar. 27th
I slept at the Observatory for the first time, and on Apr. 15th I came
to reside there permanently, and gave up my college rooms."

                             CHAPTER IV.


                FROM MARCH 15TH 1828 TO JAN. 1ST 1836.


"I attended a meeting of the Board of Longitude on Apr. 3rd. And
again on June 4th; this was the last meeting: Sheepshanks had
previously given me private information of the certainty of its
dissolution.--On Apr. 4th I visited Mr Herschel at Slough, where one
evening I saw Saturn with his 20-foot telescope, the best view of it
that I have ever had.--In June I attended the Greenwich Observatory
Visitation.--Before my election (as Plumian Professor) there are
various schemes on my quires for computation of transit corrections,
&c. After Apr. 15th there are corrections for deficient wires,
inequality of pivots, &c. And I began a book of proposed regulations
for observations. In this are plans for groups of stars for R.A. (the
Transit Instrument being the only one finished): order of preference
of classes of observations: no reductions to be made after dinner, or
on Sunday: no loose papers: observations to be stopped if reductions
are two months in arrear: stars selected for parallax.--The reduction
of transits begins on Apr. 15th. On May 15th Mr Pond sent me some
moon-transits to aid in determining my longitude.--Dr Young, in a
letter to me of May 7th, enquires whether I will accept a free
admission to the Royal Society, which I declined. On May 9th I was
elected to the Astronomical Society.--Towards the end of the year I
observed Encke's Comet: and determined the latitude of the Observatory
with Sheepshanks's repeating circle.--On my papers I find a sketch of
an Article on the Figure of the Earth for the Encyclopaedia

"As early as Feb. 23rd I had been in correspondence with T. Jones, the
instrument-maker, about pendulums for a repetition of the Dolcoath
Experiments. Invitations had been received, and everything was
arranged with Whewell. Sheepshanks, my brother, and Mr Jackson of
Ipswich (Caius Coll.) were to go, and we were subsequently joined by
Sedgwick, and Lodge (Magdalene Coll.). On July 3rd Sheepshanks and I
started by Salisbury, taking Sherborne on our way to look at the
church, which had alarmed the people by signs of a crack, and arrived
at Camborne on July 8th. On the 14th we set up the pendulums, and at
once commenced observations, our plan being, to have no intermission
in the pendulum observations, so that as soon as the arc became too
small a fresh series was started. On July 29th we raised the
instruments, and Sheepshanks, who managed much of the upper
operations, both astronomical and of pendulums, mounted the pendulums
together in his observatory. We went on with our calculations, and on
August 8th, on returning from a visit to John Williams at Barncoose,
we heard that there was a 'run' in Dolcoath, that is a sinking of the
whole mass of rock where it had been set free by the mine excavations:
probably only a few inches, but enough to break the rock much and to
stop the pumps. On Aug. 10th the calculations of our observations
shewed that there was something wrong, and on the 13th I perceived an
anomaly in the form of the knife edge of one pendulum, and of its
agate planes, and suggested cautions for repeating the observations.
We determined at once to repeat them: and as the water was rising in
the mine there was no time to be lost. We again sent the instruments
down, and made observations on the 16th, 17th and 18th. On the 19th I
sent the instruments up, for the water was near our station, and
Sedgwick, Whewell, and I went on a geological expedition to the
Lizard. On our return we met Sheepshanks and the others, and found the
results of the last observations unsatisfactory. The results of
comparing the pendulums were discordant, and the knife edge of the
faulty pendulum had very sensibly altered. We now gave up
observations, with the feeling that our time had been totally lost,
mainly through the fault of the maker of the pendulum (T. Jones). On
the 28th we made an expedition to Penzance and other places, and
arrived at Cambridge on the 17th of September.

"In the course of the work at Dolcoath we made various expeditions as
opportunity offered. Thus we walked to Carn Brea and witnessed the
wrestling, the common game of the country. On another occasion
Sedgwick, Whewell, and I had a capital geological expedition to
Trewavas Head to examine granite veins. We visited at Pendarves and
Trevince, and made the expedition to the Lizard already referred to,
and saw many of the sights in the neighbourhood. After visiting
Penzance on the conclusion of our work we saw Cape Cornwall (where
Whewell overturned me in a gig), and returned homewards by way of
Truro, Plymouth (where we saw the watering-place and breakwater: also
the Dockyard, and descended in one of the working diving-bells),
Exeter, Salisbury, and Portsmouth. In returning from Camborne in 1826
I lost the principal of our papers. It was an odd thing that, in going
through Exeter on our way to Camborne in 1828, I found them complete
at Exeter, identified to the custodian by the dropping out of a letter
with my address.

"On my return to Cambridge I was immediately immersed in the work of
the Observatory. The only instrument then mounted at the Observatory
was the Transit. I had no Assistant whatever.--A Mr Galbraith of
Edinburgh had questioned something in one of my Papers about the
Figure of the Earth. I drew up a rather formal answer to it: Whewell
saw my draft and drew up a much more pithy one, which I adopted and
sent to the Philosophical Magazine.--For comparing our clocks at the
upper and lower stations of Dolcoath we had borrowed from the Royal
Observatory, Greenwich, six good pocket chronometers: they were still
in the care of Mr Sheepshanks. I arranged with him that they should be
sent backwards and forwards a few times for determining the longitude
of Cambridge Observatory. This was done on Oct. 21st, 22nd, 23rd: the
result was 23°54, and this has been used to the present time
(1853). It evinced an error in the Trigonometrical Survey, the origin
of which was found, I think, afterwards (Dr Pearson in a letter of
Dec. 17th spoke of the mistake of a may-pole for a signal-staff). I
drew up a Paper on this, and gave it to the Cambridge Philosophical
Society on Nov. 24th. (My only academical Paper this year.)--I had
several letters from Dr Young, partly supplying me with calculations
that I wanted, partly on reform or extension of the Nautical Almanac
(which Dr Young resisted as much as possible). He considered me very
unfairly treated in the dissolution of the Board of Longitude:
Professor Lax wished me to join in some effort for its restoration,
but I declined.

"As my reduction of observations was kept quite close, I now began to
think of printing. In regard to the form I determined to adopt a plan
totally different from that of any other observations which I had
seen. The results were to be the important things: I was desirous of
suppressing the separate wires of transits. But upon consulting
Herschel and other persons they would not agree to it, and I assented
to keeping them. I applied to the Press Syndicate to print the work,
and on Nov. 10th at the request of T. Musgrave (afterwards Archbishop
of York) I sent a specimen of my MS.: on Nov. 11th they granted 250
copies, and the printing soon commenced."


"During a winter holiday at Playford I wrote out some investigations
about the orbits of comets, and on Jan. 23rd 1829 I returned to
Cambridge. The Smith's Prize Examination soon followed, in which I set
a Paper of questions as usual. On Feb. 18th I made notes on
Liesganig's geodetic work at the British Museum.

"I was naturally anxious now about the settlement of my salary and of
the Observatory establishment. I do not know when the Syndicate made
their Report, but it must have been in the last term of 1828. It
recommended that the salary should be annually made up (by Grace) to
_£500_: that an Assistant should be appointed with the assent of the
Vice-Chancellor and dismissable by the Plumian Professor: and that a
Visiting Syndicate should be appointed, partly official and partly of
persons to be named every year by Grace. The Grace for adopting this
Report was to be offered to the Senate on Feb. 27th. The passing of
the Grace was exposed to two considerable perils. First, I found out
(just in time) that a Senior Fellow of Trinity (G.A. Browne) was
determined to oppose the whole, on account of the insignificant clause
regarding dismissal of Assistants, which he regarded as tyrannical. I
at once undertook that that clause should be rejected. Secondly, by
the absurd constitution of the 'Caput' at Cambridge, a single M.A. had
the power of stopping any business whatever, and an M.A. actually
came to the Senate House with the intention of throwing out all the
Graces on various business that day presented to the Senate. Luckily
he mistook the hour, and came at 11 instead of 10, and found that all
were dispatched. The important parts of the Grace passed without any
opposition: but I mustered some friends who negatived that part which
had alarmed G.A. Browne, and it was corrected to his satisfaction by a
new Grace on Mar. 18th. I was now almost set at rest on one of the
great objects of my life: but not quite. I did not regard, and I
determined not to regard, the addition to my salary as absolutely
certain until a payment had been actually made to me: and I carefully
abstained, for the present, from taking any steps based upon it. I
found for Assistant at the Observatory an old Lieutenant of the Royal
Navy, Mr Baldrey, who came on Mar. 16.

"On May 4th I began lectures: there were 32 names. The Lectures were
improving, especially in the optical part. I do not find note of the
day of termination.--I do not know the actual day of publication of my
first small volume of Cambridge Observations, 1828, and of
circulation. The date of the preface is Apr. 27th 1829. I have letters
of approval of it from Davies Gilbert, Rigaud, and Lax. The system
which I endeavoured to introduce into printed astronomical
observations was partially introduced into this volume, and was
steadily improved in subsequent volumes. I think that I am justified,
by letters and other remarks, in believing that this introduction of
an orderly system of exhibition, not merely of observations but of the
steps for bringing them to a practical result--quite a novelty in
astronomical publications--had a markedly good effect on European
astronomy in general.--In Feb. and March I have letters from Young
about the Nautical Almanac: he was unwilling to make any great change,
but glad to receive any small assistance. South, who had been keeping
up a series of attacks on Young, wrote to me to enquire how I stood in
engagements of assistance to Young: I replied that I should assist
Young whenever he asked me, and that I disapproved of South's
course.--The date of the first visitation of the (Cambridge)
Observatory must have been near May 11th: I invited South and Baily to
my house; South and I were very near quarrelling about the treatment
of Young.--In a few days after Dr Young died: I applied to Lord
Melville for the superintendence of the Nautical Almanac: Mr Croker
replied that it devolved legally upon the Astronomer Royal, and on May
30th Pond wrote to ask my assistance when I could give any. On June
6th I was invited to the Greenwich Visitation, to which I believe I
went on the 10th.

"I had long desired to see Switzerland, and I wished now to see some
of the Continental Observatories. I was therefore glad to arrange with
Mr Lodge, of Magdalene College (perhaps 10 years senior to myself), to
make a little tour. Capt. W.H. Smyth and others gave me
introductions. I met Lodge in London, and we started for Calais on
July 27th 1829. We visited a number of towns in Belgium (at Brussels I
saw the beginning of the Observatory with Quetelet), and passed by
Cologne, Frankfort, Fribourg, and Basle to Zurich. Thus far we had
travelled by diligence or posting: we now procured a guide, and
travelled generally on foot. From the 13th to the 31st August we
travelled diligently through the well-known mountainous parts of
Switzerland and arrived at Geneva on the 31st August. Here I saw
M. Gautier, M. Gambard, and the beginning of the Observatory. Mr
Lodge was now compelled to return to Cambridge, and I proceeded alone
by Chambéry to Turin, where I made the acquaintance of M. Plana and
saw the Observatory. I then made a tour through north Italy, looking
over the Observatories at Milan, Padua, Bologna, and Florence. At
Leghorn I took a passage for Marseille in a xebeque, but after sailing
for three days the weather proved very unfavourable, and I landed at
Spezia and proceeded by Genoa and the Cornici Road to Marseille. At
Marseille I saw M. Gambart and the Observatory, and passed by Avignon,
Lyons, and Nevers to Orléans, where I visited my old host
M. Legarde. Thence by Paris, Beauvais, and Calais to London and
Cambridge, where I arrived on the 30th October. I had started with
more than _£140_ and returned with _2s. 6d_. The expedition was in
many ways invaluable to me.

"On my return I found various letters from scientific men: some
approving of my method for the mass of the Moon: some approving highly
of my printed observations, especially D. Gilbert, who informed me
that they had produced good effect (I believe at Greenwich), and
Herschel.--On Nov. 13th I gave the Royal Astronomical Society a Paper
about deducing the mass of the Moon from observations of Venus: on
Nov. 16th a Paper to the Cambridge Philosophical Society on a
correction to the length of a ball-pendulum: and on Dec. 14th a Paper
on certain conditions under which perpetual motion is possible.--The
engravings for my Figure of the Earth in the Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana were dispatched at the end of the year. Some of the
Paper (perhaps much) was written after my return from the
Continent.--I began, but never finished, a Paper on the form of the
Earth supposed to be projecting at middle latitudes. In this I refer
to the printed Paper which Nicollet gave me at Paris. I believe that
the investigations for my Paper in the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana led
me to think the supposition unnecessary.--On Nov. 6th I was elected
member of the Geological Society.

"On Nov. 16th 1829 notice was given of a Grace to authorize payment to
me of _£157. 9s. 1d._, in conformity with the regulations adopted on
Feb. 27th, and on Nov. 18th the Grace passed the Senate. On Nov. 19th
the Vice-Chancellor wrote me a note enclosing the cheque. On Nov. 23rd
(practically the first day on which I could go) I went to London and
travelled to Edensor, where I arrived on the 26th. Here I found
Richarda Smith, proposed to her, and was accepted. I stayed there a
few days, and returned to Cambridge."


"On Jan. 25th 1830 the Smith's Prize Paper was prepared. I was (with
my Assistant, Mr Baldrey) vigorously working the Transit Instrument
and its reductions, and gradually forming a course of proceeding which
has had a good effect on European Astronomy. And I was preparing for
my marriage.

"On Mar. 11th I started with my sister to London, and arrived at
Edensor on the afternoon of the 14th. On the 17th I started alone for
Manchester and Liverpool. Through Mr Mason, a cotton-spinner at
Calver, near Edensor, I had become acquainted with Mr John Kennedy of
Manchester, and I had since 1824 been acquainted with Dr Traill of
Liverpool. Amongst other things, I saw the works of the Manchester and
Liverpool Railway, then advancing and exciting great interest, and saw
George Stephenson and his son. On Mar. 24th I was married to Richarda
Smith by her father in Edensor. We stopped at Edensor till Apr. 1st,
and then started in chaises by way of Newark and Kettering (where we
were in danger of being stopped by the snow), and arrived at Cambridge
on Apr. 3rd.

"I was now busy in preparing for lectures, especially the part of the
optical lectures which related to the theory of interferences and
polarization. I think it was now that my wife drew some of my lecture
pictures, exhibiting interference phenomena. My lectures began on
Apr. 26th and finished on May 24th. The number of names was 50. They
were considered an excellent course of lectures.

"May 9th is the date of my Preface to the 1829 Observations: all was
then printed. Apparently I did not go to the Visitation of the
Greenwich Observatory this year.--I was at this time pressing Tulley,
the optician, about an object-glass for the Mural Circle.--A new
edition of my 'Tracts' was wanted, and I prepared to add a Tract on
the Undulatory Theory of Light in its utmost extent. The Syndicate of
the University Press intimated through Dr Turton that they could not
assist me (regarding the book as a second edition). On July 10th I
have some negociation about it with Deighton the bookseller.--On May
18th I have a note from Whewell about a number of crystals of
plagiedral quartz, in which he was to observe the crystalline
indication, and I the optical phenomena.--The Report of the Syndicate
for visiting the Observatory is dated June 18th: it is highly
laudatory.--The Proctor (Barnard of King's College) requested me to
name the Moderator for the next B.A. Examination: I named Mr Challis.

"On June 14th my wife and I went, in company with Professor and Mrs
Henslow, to London and Oxford; at Oxford we were received in
Christchurch College by Dr and Mrs Buckland. My wife and I then went
to Bedford to visit Capt. and Mrs Smyth, and returned to Cambridge on
the 23rd. On July 5th we went on a visit to my mother and uncle at
Playford. While there I took a drive with my uncle into some parts
near the valley of the Gipping, in which I thought that the extent of
the chalk was inadequately exhibited on Greenough's map, and
communicated my remarks to Buckland.

"I find letters from Dr Robinson and Col. Colby about determining
longitudes of certain observatories by fire signals: I proposed
chronometers as preferable. Also from Herschel, approving of my second
volume of observations: and from F. Baily, disclaiming the origination
of the attack on the old Nautical Almanac (with which I suppose I had
reproached him). On July 30th I received a summons from South to a
committee for improving the Nautical Almanac; and subsequently a
letter from Baily about Schumacher's taking offence at a passage of
mine in the Cambridge Observations, on the comparative merits of
Ephemerides, which I afterwards explained to his satisfaction.

"On Aug. 24th my wife and I started for Edensor, and after a short
stay there proceeded by Manchester to Cumberland, where we made many
excursions. We returned by Edensor, and reached Cambridge on Oct. 6th,
bringing my wife's sister Susanna on a visit. My mother had
determined, as soon as my intention of marriage was known to her, to
quit the house, although always (even to her death) entertaining the
most friendly feelings and fondness for my wife. It was also judged
best by us all that my sister should not reside with us as a settled
inhabitant of the house. They fixed themselves therefore at Playford
in the farm-house of the Luck's Farm, then in the occupation of my
uncle Arthur Biddell. On Oct. 21st I have a letter from my sister
saying that they were comfortably settled there.

"In this month of October (principally, I believe) I made some capital
Experiments on Quartz, which were treated mathematically in a Paper
communicated in the next year to the Cambridge Philosophical
Society. In some of these my wife assisted me, and also drew
pictures.--On Nov. 15th the Grace for paying me _£198. 13s. 8d._ to
make my income up to _£500_ passed the Senate.--I made three journeys
to London to attend committees, one a committee on the Nautical
Almanac, and one a Royal Society Committee about two southern
observatories.--On Dec. 31st I have a letter from Maclear (medical
practitioner and astronomer at Biggleswade) about occultations.--In
this December I had a quartz object-glass by Cauchaix mounted by
Dollond, and presented it to the Observatory.--In this December
occurred the alarm from agrarian fires. There was a very large fire at
Coton, about a mile from the Observatory. This created the most
extraordinary panic that I ever saw. I do not think it is possible,
without having witnessed it, to conceive the state of men's minds. The
gownsmen were all armed with bludgeons, and put under a rude
discipline for a few days."


"On Jan. 4th I went with my wife, first to Miss Sheepshanks in London,
at 30, Woburn Place, and next to the house of my wife's old friend,
the Rev. John Courtney, at Sanderstead, near Croydon. I came to London
on one day to attend a meeting of the new Board of Visitors of the
Greenwich Observatory. Formerly the Board of Visitors consisted of the
Council of the Royal Society with persons invited by them (in which
capacity I had often attended). But a reforming party, of which
South, Babbage, Baily and Beaufort were prominent members, had induced
the Admiralty to constitute a new Board, of which the Plumian
Professor was a member. Mr Pond, the Astronomer Royal, was in a rather
feeble state, and South seemed determined to bear him down:
Sheepshanks and I did our best to support him. (I have various letters
from Sheepshanks to this purpose.)--On Jan. 22nd we returned to
Cambridge, and I set an Examination Paper for Smith's Prizes as
usual.--On Jan. 30th I have a letter from Herschel about improving
the arrangement of Pond's Observations. I believe that much of this
zeal arose from the example of the Cambridge Observations.

"On Feb. 21st my Paper 'On the nature of the light in the two rays of
Quartz' was communicated to the Philosophical Society: a capital piece
of deductive optics. On Mar. 2nd I went to London, I suppose to
attend the Board of Visitors (which met frequently, for the proposed
reform of Pond's Observations, &c.). As I returned on the outside of
the coach there occurred to me a very remarkable deduction from my
ideas about the rays of Quartz, which I soon tried with success, and
it is printed as an Appendix to the Paper above mentioned. On Mar. 6th
my son George Richard was born."

Miscellaneous matters in the first half of this year are as follows:

"Faraday sends me a piece of glass for Amici (he had sent me a piece
before).--On Apr. 9th I dispatched the Preface of my 1830
Observations: this implies that all was printed.--On Apr. 18th I began
my Lectures and finished on May 24th. There were 49 names. A very good
series of lectures.--I think it was immediately after this, at the
Visitation of the Cambridge Observatory, that F. Baily and Lieut.
Stratford were present, and that Sheepshanks went to Tharfield on the
Royston Downs to fire powder signals to be seen at Biggleswade (by
Maclear) and at Bedford (by Capt. Smyth) as well as by us at
Cambridge.--On May 14th I received _£100_ for my article on the Figure
of the Earth from Baldwin the publisher of the Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana.--I attended the Greenwich Visitation on June 3rd.--On
June 30th the Observatory Syndicate made their report: satisfactory.

"On July 6th 1831 I started with my wife and infant son for Edensor,
and went on alone to Liverpool. I left for Dublin on the day on which
the loss of the 'Rothsay Castle' was telegraphed, and had a bad
voyage, which made me ill during my whole absence. After a little stay
in Dublin I went to Armagh to visit Dr Robinson, and thence to
Coleraine and the Giant's Causeway, returning by Belfast and Dublin to
Edensor. We returned to Cambridge on Sept. 9th.

"Up to this time the Observatory was furnished with only one large
instrument, namely the 10-foot Transit. On Feb. 24th of this year I
had received from Thomas Jones (62, Charing Cross) a sketch of the
stone pier for mounting the Equatoreal which he was commissioned to
make: and the pier was prepared in the spring or summer. On Sept. 20th
part of the instrument was sent to the Observatory; other parts
followed, and Jones himself came to mount it. On Sept. 16th I received
Simms's assurance that he was hastening the Mural Circle.--In this
autumn I seriously took up the recalculation of my Long Inequality of
Venus and the Earth, and worked through it independently; thus
correcting two errors. On Nov. 10th I went to Slough, to put my Paper
in the hands of Mr Herschel for communication to the Royal
Society. The Paper was read on Nov. 24th.--This was the year of the
first Meeting of the British Association at York. The next year's
meeting was to be at Oxford, and on Oct. 17th I received from the
Rev. W. Vernon Harcourt an invitation to supply a Report on Astronomy,
which I undertook: it employed me much of the winter, and the
succeeding spring and summer.--The second edition of my Tracts was
ready in October. It contained, besides what was in the first edition,
the Planetary Theory, and the Undulatory Theory of Light. The Profit
was _£80_.--On Nov. 14th I presented to the Cambridge Philosophical
Society a Paper 'On a remarkable modification of Newton's Rings': a
pretty good Paper.--In November the Copley Medal was awarded to me by
the Royal Society for my advances in Optics.--Amongst miscellaneous
matters I was engaged in correspondence with Col. Colby and
Capt. Portlock about the Irish Triangulation and its calculation. Also
with the Admiralty on the form of publication of the Greenwich and
Cape Observations."


"In January my Examination Paper for Smith's Prizes was prepared as
usual.--Two matters (in addition to the daily routine of Observatory
work) occupied me at the beginning of this year. One was the
translation of Encke's Paper in successive numbers of the
Astronomische Nachrichten concerning Encke's Comet; the University
Press printed this gratuitously, and I distributed copies, partly by
the aid of Capt. Beaufort.--The other was the Report on Astronomy for
the British Association, which required much labour. My reading for
it was principally in the University Library (possibly some in
London), but I borrowed some books from F. Baily, and I wrote to
Capt. Beaufort about the possible repetition of Lacaille's Meridian
Arc at the Cape of Good Hope. The Report appears to have been finished
on May 2nd.--At this time the Reform Bill was under discussion, and
one letter written by me (probably at Sheepshanks's request) addressed
I think to Mr Drummond, Lord Althorp's secretary, was read in the
House of Commons.

"Optics were not neglected. I have some correspondence with Brewster
and Faraday. On Mar. 5th I gave the Cambridge Philosophical Society a
Paper 'On a new Analyzer,' and on Mar. 19th one 'On Newton's Rings
between two substances of different refractive powers,' both Papers
satisfactory to myself.--On the death of Mr F. Fallows, astronomer at
the Cape of Good Hope Observatory, the Admiralty appointed Mr
Henderson, an Edinburgh lawyer, who had done some little things in
astronomical calculation. On Jan. 10th I discussed with him
observations to be made, and drew up his Official Instructions which
were sent on Jan. 10th.--On Feb. 16th Sir James South writes that
Encke's Comet is seen: also that with his 12-inch achromatic,
purchased at Paris, and which he was preparing to mount equatoreally,
he had seen the disk of Aldebaran apparently bisected by the Moon's
limb.--Capt. Beaufort and D. Gilbert write in March about instructions
to Dunlop, the astronomer at Paramatta. I sent a draft to
Capt. Beaufort on Apr. 27th.

"The Preface to my 1831 Observations is dated Mar. 20th. The
distribution of the book would be a few weeks later.--On May 7th I
began my Lectures: 51 names: I finished on May 29th.--The mounting of
the Equatoreal was finished some time before the Syndicate Visitation
at the end of May, but Jones's charge appeared to be exorbitant: I
believe it was paid at last, but it was considered unfair.--On June
2nd I went to London: I presume to the Greenwich Visitation.--I went
to Oxford to the meeting of the British Association (lodging I think
with Prof. Rigaud at the Observatory) on June 16th, and read part of
my Report on Astronomy in the Theatre.

"On June 26th I started with my wife for the Highlands of
Scotland. After a short stay at Edensor, we went by Carlisle to
Glasgow, and through the Lake District to Inverness. Thence by
Auchnanault to Balmacarra, where we were received by Mr
Lillingstone. After an expedition in Skye, we returned to Balmacarra,
and passed on to Invermoriston, where we were received by Grant of
Glenmoriston. We then went to Fort William and Oban, and crossed over
to Mull, where we were received by Maclean of Loch Buy. We returned to
Oban and on to Edinburgh, where we made a short stay. Then to Melrose,
where we were received by Sir D. Brewster, and by Edensor to
Cambridge, where we arrived on Sept. 17th.

"I received (at Edinburgh I believe) a letter from Arago, writing for
the plans of our observing-room shutters.--Mr Vernon Harcourt wrote
deprecating the tone of my Report on Astronomy as related to English
Astronomers, but I refused to alter a word.--Sheepshanks wrote in
September in great anxiety about the Cambridge Circle, for which he
thought the pier ought to be raised: I would have no such thing, and
arranged it much more conveniently by means of a pit. On Oct. 9th
Simms says that he will come with the circle immediately, and Jones on
Sept. 29th says that he will make some alteration in the equatoreal:
thus there was at last a prospect of furnishing the Observatory
properly.--On Oct. 9th, I have Encke's thanks for the translation of
the Comet Paper.--One of the desiderata which I had pointed out in my
Report on Astronomy was the determination of the mass of Jupiter by
elongations of the 4th satellite: and as the Equatoreal of the
Cambridge Observatory was on the point of coming into use, I
determined to employ it for this purpose. It was necessary for the
reduction of the observations that I should prepare Tables of the
motion of Jupiter's 4th Satellite in a form applicable to computations
of differences of right-ascension. The date of my Tables is Oct. 3rd,
1832.--In October the Observatory Syndicate made their Report: quite

"On Oct. 20th Sheepshanks wrote asking my assistance in the Penny
Cyclopaedia: I did afterwards write 'Gravitation' and 'Greenwich.'
--Capt. Beaufort wrote in November to ask my opinion on the
Preface to an edition of Groombridge's Catalogue which had been
prepared by H. Taylor: Sheepshanks also wrote; he had objected to
it. This was the beginning of an affair which afterwards gave me great
labour.--Vernon Harcourt writes, much offended at some terms which I
had used in reference to an office in the British Association.

"The Equatoreal mounting which Troughton and Simms had been preparing
for Sir James South's large telescope had not entirely succeeded. I
have various letters at this time from Sheepshanks and Simms, relating
to the disposition which Sir James South shewed to resist every claim
till compelled by law to pay it.--A general election of Members of
Parliament was now coming on: Mr Lubbock was candidate for the
University. On Nov. 27th I had a letter from Sedgwick requesting me to
write a letter in the newspapers in favour of Lubbock; which I did. On
Dec. 7th I have notice of the County voting at Newmarket on Dec. 18th
and 19th: I walked there to vote for Townley; he lost the election by
two or three votes in several thousands.

"The Mural Circle was now nearly ready in all respects, and it was
known that another Assistant would be required. Mr Richardson (one of
the Assistants of Greenwich Observatory) and Mr Simms recommended to
me Mr Glaisher, who was soon after appointed, and subsequently became
an Assistant at Greenwich.--On Dec. 24th I have a letter from Bessel
(the first I believe). I think that I had written to him about a
general reduction of the Greenwich Planetary Observations, using his
Tabulae Regiomontanae as basis, and that this was his reply approving
of it."


"On Jan. 4th 1833 my daughter Elizabeth was born.--I prepared an
examination paper for Smith's Prizes as usual.--On Jan. 5th I received
notice from Simms that he had received payment (_£1050_) for the Mural
Circle from the Vice-Chancellor. About this time the Circle was
completely made serviceable, and I (with Mr Glaisher as Assistant)
immediately began its use. A puzzling apparent defect in the circle
(exhibiting itself by the discordance of zenith points obtained by
reflection observations on opposite sides of the zenith) shewed itself
very early. On Feb. 4th I have letters about it from Sheepshanks and
Simms.--On Jan. 17th I received notice from F. Baily that the
Astronomical Society had awarded me their Medal for my long inequality
of Venus and the Earth: on Feb. 7th I went to London, I suppose to
receive the Medal.--I also inspected Sir J. South's telescope, then
becoming a matter of litigation, and visited Mr Herschel at Slough: on
Feb. 12th I wrote to Sir J. South about the support of the
instrument, hoping to remove one of the difficulties in the
litigation; but it produced no effect.--Herschel wrote to me, from
Poisson, that Pontécoulant had verified my Long Inequality.

"Mar. 12th is the date of the Preface to my 1832 volume of
Observations: it was of course distributed a few weeks later.--In my
Report on Astronomy I had indicated the Mass of Jupiter as a subject
requiring fresh investigation. During the last winter I had well
employed the Equatoreal in observing elongations in R.A. of the 4th
Satellite. To make these available it was necessary to work up the
theory carefully, in which I discovered some remarkable errors of
Laplace. Some of these, for verification, I submitted to Mr Lubbock,
who entirely agreed with me. The date of my first calculations of the
Mass of Jupiter is Mar. 1st: and shortly after that I gave an oral
account of them to the Cambridge Philosophical Society. The date of my
Paper for the Astronomical Society is April 12th. The result of my
investigations (which was subsequently confirmed by Bessel) entirely
removed the difficulty among Astronomers; and the mass which I
obtained has ever since been received as the true one.

"On Apr. 9th my wife's two sisters, Elizabeth and Georgiana Smith,
came to stay with me.--On Apr. 22nd I began lectures, and finished on
May 21st: there were 54 names. During the course of the lectures I
communicated a Paper to the Philosophical Society 'On the calculation
of Newton's experiments on Diffraction.'--I went to London on the
Visitation of the Greenwich Observatory: the dinner had been much
restricted, but was now made more open.--It had been arranged that the
meeting of the British Association was to be held this year at
Cambridge. I invited Sir David Brewster and Mr Herschel to lodge at
the Observatory. The meeting lasted from June 24th to 30th. We gave
one dinner, but had a breakfast party every day. I did not enter much
into the scientific business of the meeting, except that I brought
before the Committee the expediency of reducing the Greenwich
Planetary Observations from 1750. They agreed to represent it to the
Government, and a deputation was appointed (I among them) who were
received by Lord Althorp on July 25th. On Aug. 3rd Herschel announced
to me that _£500_ was granted.

"On Aug. 7th I started with my wife for Edensor. At Leicester we met
Sedgwick and Whewell: my wife went on to Edensor, and I joined
Sedgwick and Whewell in a geological expedition to Mount Sorrel and
various parts of Charnwood Forest. We were received by Mr Allsop of
Woodlands, who proved an estimable acquaintance. This lasted four or
five days, and we then went on to Edensor.--On Aug. 15th Herschel
wrote to me, communicating an offer of the Duke of Northumberland to
present to the Cambridge Observatory an object-glass of about 12
inches aperture by Cauchaix. I wrote therefore to the Duke, accepting
generally. The Duke wrote to me from Buxton on Aug. 23rd (his letter,
such was the wretched arrangement of postage, reaching Bakewell and
Edensor on the 25th) and on the 26th I drove before breakfast to
Buxton and had an interview with him. On Sept. 1st the Duke wrote,
authorizing me to mount the telescope entirely, and he subsequently
approved of Cauchaix's terms: there was much correspondence, but on
Dec. 28th I instructed Cauchaix how to send the telescope.--On our
return we paid a visit to Dr Davy, Master of Caius College, at
Heacham, and reached Cambridge on Oct. 8th.

"Groombridge's Catalogue, of which the editing was formally entrusted
to Mr Henry Taylor (son of Taylor the first-assistant of the Greenwich
Observatory), had been in some measure referred to Sheepshanks: and
he, in investigating the work, found reason for thinking the whole
discreditable. About May he first wrote to me on his rising quarrel
with H. Taylor, but on Sept. 7th he found things coming to a crisis,
and denounced the whole. Capt. Beaufort the Hydrographer (in whose
office this matter rested) begged me with Baily to decide upon it. We
did not at first quite agree upon the terms of investigation &c., but
after a time all was settled, and on Oct. 4th the Admiralty formally
applied, and I formally accepted. Little or nothing had been done by
Mr Baily and myself, when my work was interrupted by illness.

"Sheepshanks had thought that something might be done to advance the
interests of myself or the Observatory by the favour of Lord Brougham
(then Lord Chancellor), and had urged me to write an article in the
Penny Cyclopaedia, in which Lord Brougham took great interest. I chose
the subject 'Gravitation,' and as I think wrote a good deal of it in
this Autumn: when it was interrupted by my illness.

"On Dec. 9th 1833, having at first intended to attend the meeting of
the Philosophical Society and then having changed my mind, I was
engaged in the evening on the formulae for effects of small errors on
the computation of the Solar Eclipse of 1833. A dizziness in my head
came on. I left off work, became worse, and went to bed, and in the
night was in high fever with a fierce attack of scarlet fever. My wife
was also attacked but very slightly. The first day of quitting my
bedroom was Dec. 31st. Somewhere about the time of my illness my
wife's sister, Susanna Smith, who was much reduced in the summer, died
of consumption.

"Miscellaneous notes in 1833 are as follows: Henderson (at the Cape)
could not endure it much longer, and on Oct. 14th Stratford writes
that Maclear had just sailed to take his place: Henderson is candidate
for the Edinburgh Observatory.--Stratford writes on Dec. 2nd that the
Madras observations have come to England, the first whose arrangement
imitates mine.--On Nov. 3rd Herschel, just going to the Cape,
entrusted to me the revisal of some proof sheets, if necessary:
however it was never needed.--In November I sat for my portrait to a
painter named Purdon (I think): he came to the house and made a good
likeness. A pencil portrait was taken for a print-seller (Mason) in
Cambridge: it was begun before my illness and finished after it.--I
applied through Sheepshanks for a copy of Maskelyne's Observations, to
be used in the Reduction of the Planetary Observations: and on
Dec. 24th (from my bedroom) I applied through Prof. Rigaud to the
Delegates of the Clarendon Press for a copy of Bradley's Observations
for the same. The latter request was refused. In October I applied to
the Syndics of the University Press for printed forms for these
Reductions: the Syndics agreed to grant me 12,000 copies."


"On Jan. 11th 1834 I went with my wife to London for the recruiting of
my strength. We stayed at the house of our friend Miss Sheepshanks,
and returned on Feb. 13th.--I drew up a Paper of Questions for Smith's
Prizes, but left the whole trouble of examination and adjudication to
Professor Miller, who at my request acted for me.--While I was in
London I began to look at the papers relating to Groombridge's
Catalogue: and I believe that it was while in London that I agreed
with Mr Baily on a Report condemnatory of H. Taylor's edition, and
sent the Report to the Admiralty. The Admiralty asked for further
advice, and on Feb. 28th I replied, undertaking to put the Catalogue
in order. On Mar. 17th Capt. Beaufort sent me all the papers. Some
time however elapsed before I could proceed with it.

"There was in this spring a furious discussion about the admission of
Dissenters into the University: I took the Liberal side. On Apr. 30th
there was a letter of mine in the Cambridge newspaper.--On Apr. 14th I
began lectures, and finished on May 20th: there were 87 names.--My
'Gravitation' was either finished or so nearly finished that on Jan.
24th I had some conversation with Knight the publisher about printing
it. It was printed in the spring, and on Apr. 27th Sheepshanks sent a
copy of it to Lord Brougham. I received from Knight _£83. 17s. 1d._
for this Paper.--On May 10th I went to London, I believe to attend one
of the Soirées which the Duke of Sussex gave as President of the Royal
Society. The Duke invited me to breakfast privately with him the next
morning. He then spoke to me, on the part of the Government, about my
taking the office of Astronomer Royal. On May 19th I wrote him a
semi-official letter, to which reference was made in subsequent
correspondence on that subject.

"On May 12th my son Arthur was born.--In June the Observatory
Syndicate made a satisfied Report.--On June 7th I went to the
Greenwich Visitation, and again on June 14th I went to London, I
believe for the purpose of trying the mounting of South's telescope,
as it had been strengthened by Mr Simms by Sheepshanks's
suggestions. I was subsequently in correspondence with Sheepshanks on
the subject of the Arbitration on South's telescope, and my giving
evidence on it. On July 29th, as I was shortly going away, I wrote him
a Report on the Telescope, to be used in case of my absence. The
award, which was given in December, was entirely in favour of
Simms.--On July 23rd I went out, I think to my brother's marriage at
Ixworth in Suffolk.--On Aug. 1st I started for Edensor and Cumberland,
with my wife, sister, and three children: Georgiana Smith joined us at
Edensor. We went by Otley, Harrogate, Ripon, and Stanmoor to Keswick,
from whence we made many excursions. On Aug. 11th I went with Whewell
to the clouds on Skiddaw, to try hygrometers. Mr Baily called on his
way to the British Association at Edinburgh. On Sept. 10th we
transferred our quarters to Ambleside, and after various excursions we
returned to Edensor by Skipton and Bolton. On Sept. 19th I went to
Doncaster and Finningley Park to see Mr Beaumont's Observatory. On
Sept. 25th we posted in one day from Edensor to Cambridge.

"On Aug. 25th Mr Spring Rice (Lord Monteagle) wrote to me to enquire
whether I would accept the office of Astronomer Royal if it were
vacant. I replied (from Keswick) on Aug. 30th, expressing my general
willingness, stipulating for my freedom of vote, &c., and referring to
my letter to the Duke of Sussex. On Oct. 8th Lord Auckland, First Lord
of the Admiralty, wrote: and on Oct. 10th I provisionally accepted the
office. On Oct. 30th I wrote to ask for leave to give a course of
lectures at Cambridge in case that my successor at Cambridge should
find difficulty in doing it in the first year: and to this Lord
Auckland assented on Oct. 31st. All this arrangement was for a time
upset by the change of Ministry which shortly followed.

"Amongst miscellaneous matters, in March I had some correspondence
with the Duke of Northumberland about the Cauchaix Telescope. In
August I had to announce to him that the flint-lens had been a little
shattered in Cauchaix's shop and required regrinding: finally on
Dec. 17th I announced its arrival at Cambridge.--In the Planetary
Reductions, I find that I employed one computer (Glaisher) for 34
weeks.--In November the Lalande Medal was awarded to me by the French
Institut, and Mr Pentland conveyed it to me in December.--On March
14th I gave the Cambridge Philosophical Society a Paper, 'Continuation
of researches into the value of Jupiter's Mass.' On Apr. 14th, 'On the
Latitude of Cambridge Observatory.' On June 13th, 'On the position of
the Ecliptic,' and 'On the Solar Eclipse of 1833,' to the Royal
Astronomical Society. On Nov. 24th, 'On Computing the Diffraction of
an Object Glass,' to the Cambridge Society. And on Dec. 3rd, 'On the
Calculation of Perturbations,' to the Nautical Almanac: this Paper was
written at Keswick between Aug. 22nd and 29th.--I also furnished Mr
Sheepshanks with investigations regarding the form of the pivots of
the Cape Circle."


"On Jan. 9th 1835 I was elected correspondent of the French Academy;
and on Jan. 26th Mr Pentland sent me _£12. 6s._, the balance of the
proceeds of the Lalande Medal Fund.--I prepared my Paper for Smith's
Prizes, and joined in the Examination as usual.

"There had been a very sudden change of Administration, and Sir
R. Peel was now Prime Minister as First Lord of the Treasury, and Lord
Lyndhurst was Lord Chancellor. On Jan. 19th I wrote to Lord
Lyndhurst, asking him for a Suffolk living for my brother William,
which he declined to give, though he remembered my application some
years later. Whether my application led to the favour which I shortly
received from the Government, I do not know. But, in dining with the
Duke of Sussex in the last year, I had been introduced to Sir R. Peel,
and he had conversed with me a long time, and appeared to have heard
favourably of me. On Feb. 17th he wrote to me an autograph letter
offering a pension of _£300_ per annum, with no terms of any kind, and
allowing it to be settled if I should think fit on my wife. I wrote
on Feb. 18th accepting it for my wife. In a few days the matter went
through the formal steps, and Mr Whewell and Mr Sheepshanks were
nominated trustees for my wife. The subject came before Parliament, by
the Whig Party vindicating their own propriety in having offered me
the office of Astronomer Royal in the preceding year; and Spring
Rice's letter then written to me was published in the Times, &c."

       *       *       *       *       *

The correspondence relating to the pension above-mentioned is given
below, and appears to be of interest, both as conveying in very
felicitous terms the opinion of a very eminent statesman on the
general subject of such pensions, and as a most convincing proof of
the lofty position in Science which the subject of this Memoir had
then attained.

                                                    WHITEHALL GARDENS,
                                                     _Feb. 17 1835_.


You probably are aware that in a Resolution voted by the House of
Commons in the last Session of Parliament, an opinion was expressed,
that Pensions on the Civil List, ought not thereafter to be granted by
the Crown excepting for the satisfaction of certain public claims,
among which those resting on Scientific or Literary Eminence were
especially mentioned.

I trust that no such Resolution would have been necessary to induce me
as Minister of the Crown fully to recognize the justice of such
claims, but I refer to the Resolution, as removing every impediment to
a Communication of the nature of that which I am about to make to you.

In acting upon the Principle of the Resolution in so far as the Claims
of Science are concerned, my _first_ address is made to you, and made
directly, and without previous communication with any other person,
because it is dictated exclusively by public considerations, and
because there can be no advantage in or any motive for indirect

I consider you to have the first claim on the Royal Favour which
Eminence in those high Pursuits to which your life is devoted, can
give, and I fear that the Emoluments attached to your appointment in
the University of Cambridge are hardly sufficient to relieve you from
anxiety as to the Future on account of those in whose welfare you are
deeply interested.

The state of the Civil List would enable me to advise the King to
grant a pension of three hundred pounds per annum, and if the offer be
acceptable to you the Pension shall be granted either to Mrs Airy or
yourself as you may prefer.

I beg you distinctly to understand that your acquiescence in this
Proposal, will impose upon you no obligation personal or political in
the slightest degree. I make it solely upon public grounds, and I ask
you, by the acceptance of it, to permit the King to give some slight
encouragement to Science, by proving to those who may be disposed to
follow your bright Example, that Devotion to the highest Branches of
Mathematical and Astronomical Knowledge shall not necessarily involve
them in constant solicitude as to the future condition of those, for
whom the application of the same Talents to more lucrative Pursuits
would have ensured an ample Provision.

        I have the honor to be, Sir,
          With true Respect and Esteem,
            Your faithful Servant,
              ROBERT PEEL.

_Mr Professor Airy,
  &c., &c.,

                                               OBSERVATORY, CAMBRIDGE,
                                                    _1835, Feb. 18_.


I have the honor to acknowledge your letter of the 17th acquainting me
with your intention of advising the King to grant a pension of _£300_
per annum from the Civil List to me or Mrs Airy.

I trust you will believe that I am sensible of the flattering terms in
which this offer is made, and deeply grateful for the considerate
manner in which the principal arrangement is left to my choice, as
well as for the freedom from engagement in which your offer leaves
me. I beg to state that I most willingly accept the offer. I should
prefer that the pension be settled on Mrs Airy (by which I understand
that in case of her surviving me the pension would be continued to her
during her life, or in the contrary event would cease with her life).

I wish that I may have the good fortune to prove to the world that I
do not accept this offer without an implied engagement on my part. I
beg leave again to thank you for your attention, and to assure you
that the form in which it is conveyed makes it doubly acceptable.

        With sincere respect I have the honor to be, Sir,
          Your very faithful Servant,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Right Hon. Sir Robert Peel, Bart.,
  First Lord of the Treasury, &c., &c._

                                                   _Feb. 19th 1835_.


I will give immediate directions for the preparation of the Warrant
settling the Pension on Mrs Airy--the effect of which will be, as you
suppose, to grant the Pension to her for her life. I assure you I
never gave an official order, which was accompanied with more
satisfaction to myself than this.

        I have the honor to be, Sir.
          Your faithful Servant,
            ROBERT PEEL.

_Mr Professor Airy,
  &c., &c.,

       *       *       *       *       *

"On March 18th 1835 I started (meeting Sheepshanks at Kingstown) for
Ireland. We visited Dublin Observatory, and then went direct to
Markree near Sligo, to see Mr Cooper's telescope (our principal
object). We passed on our return by Enniskillen and Ballyjamesduff,
where my former pupil P. Morton was living, and returned on
Apr. 3rd.--On Apr. 20th I was elected to the Royal Society,
Edinburgh.--Apr. 22nd my wife wrote me from Edensor that her sister
Florence was very ill: she died shortly after.--On May 4th I began
lectures and finished on May 29th: there were 58 names.--My former
pupil Guest asks my interest for the Recordership of Birmingham.--In
June was circulated the Syndicate Report on the Observatory.--The date
of the Preface to the 1834 Observations is June 16th.

"The Ministry had been again changed in the spring, and the Whigs were
again in power. On June 11th Lord Auckland, who was again First Lord
of the Admiralty (as last year), again wrote to me to offer me the
office of Astronomer Royal, or to request my suggestions on the
filling up of the office. On June 15th I wrote my first reply, and on
June 17th wrote to accept it. On June 18th Lord Auckland acknowledges,
and on June 22nd the King approved. Lord Auckland appointed to see me
on Friday, June 23rd, but I was unwell. I had various correspondence
with Lord Auckland, principally about buildings, and had an
appointment with him for August 13th. As Lord Auckland was just
quitting office, to go to India, I was introduced to Mr Charles Wood,
the Secretary of the Admiralty, with whom principally the subsequent
business was transacted. At this meeting Lord Auckland and Mr Wood
expressed their feeling, that the Observatory had fallen into such a
state of disrepute that the whole establishment ought to be cleared
out. I represented that I could make it efficient with a good First
Assistant; and the other Assistants were kept. But the establishment
was in a queer state. The Royal Warrant under the Sign Manual was sent
on August 11th. It was understood that my occupation of office would
commence on October 1st, but repairs and alterations of buildings
would make it impossible for me to reside at Greenwich before the end
of the year. On Oct. 1st I went to the Observatory, and entered
formally upon the office (though not residing for some time). Oct 7th
is the date of my Official Instructions.

"I had made it a condition of accepting the office that the then First
Assistant should be removed, and accordingly I had the charge of
seeking another. I determined to have a man who had taken a
respectable Cambridge degree. I made enquiry first of Mr Bowstead
(brother to the bishop) and Mr Steventon: at length, consulting Mr
Hopkins (a well-known private tutor at Cambridge), he recommended to
me Mr Robert Main, of Queens' College, with whom I corresponded in the
month (principally) of August, and whom on August 30th I nominated to
the Admiralty. On Oct. 21st F.W. Simms, one of the Assistants (who
apparently had hoped for the office of First Assistant, for which he
was quite incompetent) resigned; and on Dec. 4th I appointed in his
place Mr James Glaisher, who had been at Cambridge from the beginning
of 1833, and on Dec. 10th the Admiralty approved.

"During this quarter of a year I was residing at Cambridge
Observatory, visiting Greenwich once a week (at least for some time),
the immediate superintendence of the Observatory being placed with Mr
Main. I was however engaged in reforming the system of the Greenwich
Observatory, and prepared and printed 30 skeleton forms for reductions
of observations and other business. On Dec. 14th I resigned my
Professorship to the Vice-Chancellor. But I continued the reduction of
the observations, so that not a single figure was left to my
successor: the last observations were those of Halley's Comet. The
Preface to my 1835 Cambridge Observations is dated Aug. 22nd, 1836.

"In regard to the Northumberland Telescope, I had for some time been
speculating on plans of mounting and enclosing the instrument, and had
corresponded with Simms, A. Biddell, Cubitt, and others on the
subject. On Apr. 24th Tulley the younger was endeavouring to adjust
the object-glass. On May 31st I plainly asked the Duke of
Northumberland whether he would defray the expense of the mounting and
building. On June 4th he assented, and money was placed at a banker's
to my order. I then proceeded in earnest: in the autumn the building
was erected, and the dome was covered before the depth of winter. I
continued in 1836 to superintend the mounting of the instrument.

"In regard to the Planetary Reductions: to July 11th J. Glaisher had
been employed 27 weeks, and from July 11th to Jan. 16th, 1836, 25
weeks. Mr Spring Rice, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, had promised
money, but no official minute had been made, and no money had been
granted. On Aug. 21st I applied to Mr Baring (Secretary of the
Treasury). After another letter he answered on Oct. 15th that he
found no official minute. After writing to Vernon Harcourt and to
Spring Rice, the matter was arranged: my outlay was refunded, and
another sum granted.--In regard to Groombridge's Observations, I find
that on Dec. 16th certain trial reductions had been made under my
direction by J. Glaisher.--I had attempted some optical experiments in
the summer, especially on the polarization of sky-light; but had been
too busy with the Observatory to continue them.

"In August my wife was in a critical state of health.--In December I
received information regarding merchant ships' chronometers, for which
I had applied to Mr Charles Parker of Liverpool.--On Dec. 8th Mr
Spring Rice and Lord John Russell offered me knighthood, but I
declined it.--On July 23rd I went into Suffolk with my wife's sisters
Elizabeth and Georgiana, and returned on August 3rd: this was all the
holiday that I got in this year.--On the 14th of August I saw Mr
Taylor, the Admiralty Civil Architect in London, and the extension of
buildings at Greenwich Observatory was arranged.--I made various
journeys to Greenwich, and on Dec. 17th, having sent off our
furniture, we all quitted the Cambridge Observatory, and stayed for
some days at the house of Miss Sheepshanks.

"Thus ended a busy and anxious year."

       *       *       *       *       *

With reference to the offer of knighthood above-mentioned, Airy's
reply is characteristic, and the short correspondence relating to it
is therefore inserted.--The offer itself is an additional proof of the
high estimation in which he stood at this time.

                                                       DOWNING STREET,
                                                    _Dec. 8th 1835_.


I have been in communication with my colleague Lord John Russell which
has made me feel rather anxious to have the pleasure of seeing you,
but on second thoughts it has occurred to me that the subject of my
communication would render it more satisfactory to you to receive a
letter than to pay a visit.

In testimony of the respect which is felt for your character and
acquirements, there would be every disposition to recommend you to His
Majesty to receive the distinction of Knighthood. I am quite aware
that to you individually this may be a matter of small concern, but to
the scientific world in general it will not be indifferent, and to
foreign countries it will mark the consideration felt for you
personally as well as for the position which you occupy among your
learned contemporaries.

From a knowledge of the respect and esteem which I feel for you Lord
John Russell has wished that the communication should be made through
me rather than through any person who had not the pleasure of your

Pray let me hear from you and believe me my dear Sir, with compliments
to Mrs Airy,

        Very truly yours,
          T. SPRING RICE.

P.S.--It may be right to add that when a title of honor is conferred
on grounds like those which apply to your case, no fees or charges of
any kind would be payable.

                                               OBSERVATORY, CAMBRIDGE,
                                                  _1835, Dec. 10th_.


I beg to acknowledge your letter of the 8th, which I have received at
this place, conveying to me an intimation of the wish of His Majesty's
Ministers to recommend me to the King for the honor of Knighthood.

I beg to assure you that I am most sensible to the liberality which I
have experienced from the Government in other as well as in pecuniary
matters, and that I am very highly gratified by the consideration
(undeserved by me, I fear) which they have displayed in the present
instance. And if I now request permission to decline the honor offered
to me, I trust I may make it fully understood that it is not because I
value it lightly or because I am not anxious to receive honors from
such a source.

The unalterable custom of this country has attached a certain degree
of light consideration to titles of honor which are not supported by
considerable fortune; or at least, it calls for the display of such an
establishment as may not be conveniently supported by even a
comfortable income. The provision attached to my official situation,
and the liberality of the King towards one of the members of my
family, have placed me in a position of great comfort. These
circumstances however have bound me to consider myself as the devoted
servant of the country, and to debar myself from efforts to increase
my fortune which might otherwise have been open to me. I do not look
forward therefore to any material increase of income, and that which I
enjoy at present is hardly sufficient, in my opinion, to support
respectably the honor which you and Lord John Russell have proposed to
confer upon me. For this reason only I beg leave most respectfully to
decline the honor of Knighthood at the present time.

I have only to add that my services will always be at the command of
the Government in any scientific subject in which I can be of the
smallest use.

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Your very faithful Servant,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Right Honorable T. Spring Rice_.

       *       *       *       *       *

"In brief revision of the years from 1827 to 1835 I may confine myself
to the two principal subjects--my Professorial Lectures, and my
Conduct of the Cambridge Observatory.

"The Lectures as begun in 1827 included ordinary Mechanics, ordinary
Hydrostatics and Pneumatics (I think that I did not touch, or touched
very lightly, on the subjects connected with the Hydraulic Ram), and
ordinary Optics (with a very few words on Polarization and
Depolarization). In 1828 the two first were generally improved, and
for the third (Optics) I introduced a few words on Circular
Polarization. I believe that it was in 1829 that I made an addition
to the Syllabus with a small engraving, shewing the interference of
light in the best practical experiment (that of the flat prism); and I
went thoroughly into the main points of the Undulatory Theory,
interference, diffraction, &c. In 1830 I believe I went (in addition
to what is mentioned above) into Polarization and Depolarization of
all kinds. My best lecture diagrams were drawn and painted by my
wife. The Lectures were universally pronounced to be valuable. The
subjects underwent no material change in 1831, 2, 3, 4, 5; and I
believe it was a matter of sincere regret to many persons that my
removal to Greenwich terminated the series. Each lecture nominally
occupied an hour. But I always encouraged students to stop and talk
with me; and this supplement was usually considered a valuable part of
the lecture. Practically the lecture, on most days, occupied two
hours. I enjoyed the Lectures much: yet I felt that the labour (in
addition to other work) made an impression on my strength, and I
became at length desirous of terminating them.

"The Observatory, when I took charge of it, had only one
instrument--the Transit-Instrument The principles however which I laid
down for my own direction were adapted to the expected complete
equipment, Planets (totally neglected at Greenwich) were to be
observed. Observations were to be reduced completely, and the
reductions were to be exhibited in an orderly way: this was a novelty
in Astronomy. I considered it so important that I actually proposed
to omit in my publication the original observations, but was dissuaded
by Herschel and others. I sometimes suspended, observations for a
short time, in order to obtain leisure for; the reductions. I had at
first no intention of correcting the places of the fundamental stars
as settled at Greenwich. But I found myself compelled to do so,
because they were not sufficiently accurate; and then I took the
course of observing and reducing as an independent observer, without
reference to any other observatory. I introduced the principle of not
correcting instrumental errors, but measuring them and applying
numerical corrections. I determined my longitude by chronometers, and
my latitude by a repeating circle borrowed from Mr Sheepshanks, which
I used so well that the result; was only half a second in error. The
form of my reductions in the published volume for 1828 is rather
irregular, but the matter is good: it soon attracted attention. In
1829 the process was much the same: I had an assistant, Mr Baldrey.
In 1830 still the same, with the additions:--that I formally gave the
corrections of relative right-ascension of fundamental stars (without
alteration of equinox, which I had not the means of obtaining) to be
used in the year 1831; and that I reduced completely the observed
occultations (with a small error, subsequently corrected). In 1831 the
system of correction of broken transits was improved: the errors of
assumed R.A. of Fundamental Stars were exhibited: Mean Solar Time was
obtained from Sidereal Time by time of Transit of [Symbol: Aries]
(computed by myself): the method of computing occultations was
improved. In 1832 the small Equatoreal was erected, and was soon
employed in observations of the elongation of the 4th Satellite of
Jupiter for determining the mass of Jupiter. The Mural Circle was
erected at the end of the year, but not used. The calculation of
R.A. of Fundamental Stars was made homogeneously with the others:
separate results of all were included in ledgers: a star-catalogue was
formed: all as to the present time (1871). With the Equatoreal the
difference of N.P.D. of Mars and stars was observed.

"With the beginning of 1833 the Mural Circle was established at work,
a second assistant (Mr Glaisher) was appointed, and the Observatory
might be considered complete. I made experiments on the graduations of
the Circle. I detected and was annoyed by the R--D. I determined the
latitude. I exhibited the separate results for N.P.D. of stars in
ledger, and their means in Catalogue. I investigated from my
observations the place of equinox and the obliquity of the ecliptic.
I made another series of observations of Jupiter's 4th Satellite, for
the mass of Jupiter. I observed the solar eclipse with the Equatoreal,
by a method then first introduced, which I have since used several
times at Cambridge and Greenwich with excellent effect. The Moon and
the Planets were usually observed till near two in the morning.
Correction for defective illumination applied when necessary.
The volume is very complete, the only deficiency being in
the observation of Moon and Planets through the severe morning
hours. In 1834 the only novelties are--examination of the graduations
of the declination circle of the Equatoreal (excessively bad):
observations of a spot on Jupiter for rotation, and of Mars and
stars. In 1835 (including January 1836) there is a more complete
examination of the Equatoreal graduations: parallax and refraction for
Equatoreal observations: a spot on Jupiter: a series of observations
on Jupiter's 4th Satellite for the mass of Jupiter: Mars and stars:
Halley's Comet (the best series of observations which could be made in
the season): and a short series of meteorological observations, on a
plan suggested by Sir John Herschel then at the Cape of Good Hope.

"I cannot tell precisely in which year I introduced the following
useful custom. Towards the end of each year I procured a pocket-book
for the following year with a space for every day, and carefully
examining all the sources of elements of observations, and determining
the observations to be made every day, I inserted them in the
pocket-book. This system gave wonderful steadiness to the plan of
observations for the next year. The system has been maintained in
great perfection at the Observatory of Greenwich. (The first of these
pocket-books which Prof. Adams has found is that for 1833.) Printed
skeleton forms were introduced for all calculations from 1828. In the
Greenwich Observatory Library there is a collection, I believe
complete, of printed papers commencing with my manifesto, and
containing all Syndicate Reports except for 1833 (when perhaps there
was none). It seems from these that my first written Report on
Observations, &c., was on May 30th, 1834. The first Syndicate Report
is on May 25th, 1829."

       *       *       *       *       *

A few remarks on Airy's private life and friends during his residence
at Cambridge Observatory may be here appropriately inserted.

Amid the laborious occupations recorded in the foregoing pages, his
social life and surroundings appear to have been most pleasant and
congenial. At that period there were in residence in Cambridge, and
particularly at Trinity, a large number of very brilliant men. Airy
was essentially a Cambridge man. He had come up poor and friendless:
he had gained friends and fame at the University, and his whole work
had been done there. From the frequent references in after times both
by him and his wife to their life at Cambridge, it is clear that they
had a very pleasant recollection of it, and that the social gatherings
there were remarkably attractive. He has himself recorded that with
Whewell and Sedgwick, and his accomplished sisters-in-law, who were
frequently on long visits at the Observatory, they formed pretty
nearly one family.

His friendship with Whewell was very close. Although Whewell was at
times hasty, and rough-mannered, and even extremely rude, yet he was
generous and large-minded, and thoroughly upright. [Footnote: The
following passage occurs in a letter from Airy to his wife, dated
1845, Sept. 17th: "I am sorry that ---- speaks in such terms of the
'Grand Master,' as she used to be so proud of him: it is only those
who have _well_ gone through the ordeal of quarrels with him and
almost insults from him, like Sheepshanks and me, that thoroughly
appreciate the good that is in him: I am sure he will never want a
good word from me."]  In power of mind, in pursuits, and interests,
Airy had more in common with Whewell than with any other of his
friends. It was with Whewell that he undertook the experiments at
Dolcoath: it was to Whewell that he first communicated the result of
his remarkable investigation of the Long Inequality of Venus and the
Earth; and some of his Optical researches were conducted jointly with
Whewell. Whewell took his degree in 1816, seven years before Airy, and
his reputation, both for mathematical and all-round knowledge, was
extremely and deservedly great, but he was always most generous in his
recognition of Airy's powers. Thus in a letter of Mar. 16th, 1823
(Life of William Whewell by Mrs Stair Douglas), he says, "Airy is
certainly a most extraordinary man, and deserves everything that can
be said of him"; and again in the autumn of 1826 he writes to his
aunt, "You mentioned a difficulty which had occurred to you in one of
your late letters; how Airy should be made Professor while I was here,
who, being your nephew, must of course, on that account, deserve it
better than he could. Now it is a thing which you will think odd, but
it is nevertheless true, that Airy is a better mathematician than your
nephew, and has moreover been much more employed of late in such
studies.... Seriously speaking, Airy is by very much the best person
they could have chosen for the situation, and few things have given me
so much pleasure as his election." How much Whewell depended upon his
friends at the Observatory may be gathered from a letter which he
wrote to his sister on Dec. 21st, 1833. "We have lately been in alarm
here on the subject of illness. Two very near friends of mine,
Prof. and Mrs Airy, have had the scarlet fever at the same time; she
more slightly, he very severely. They are now, I am thankful to say,
doing well and recovering rapidly. You will recollect that I was
staying with them at her father's in Derbyshire in the summer. They
are, I think, two of the most admirable and delightful persons that
the world contains." And again on Dec. 20th, 1835, he wrote to his
sister Ann, "My friends--I may almost say my dearest friends
--Professor Airy and his family have left Cambridge, he being
appointed Astronomer Royal at Greenwich--to me an irreparable loss;
but I shall probably go and see how they look in their new abode."
Their close intercourse was naturally interrupted by Airy's removal to
Greenwich, but their friendly feelings and mutual respect continued
without material break till Whewell's death. There was frequent
correspondence between them, especially on matters connected with the
conduct and teaching of the University, in which they both took a keen
interest, and a warm welcome at Trinity Lodge always awaited Mr and
Mrs Airy when they visited Cambridge. In a letter written to Mrs Stair
Douglas on Feb. 11th, 1882, enclosing some of Whewell's letters, there
occurs the following passage: "After the decease of Mrs Whewell,
Whewell wrote to my wife a mournful letter, telling her of his
melancholy state, and asking her to visit him at the Lodge for a few
days. And she did go, and did the honours of the house for several
days. You will gather from this the relation in which the families
stood." Whewell died on Mar. 6th, 1866, from the effects of a fall
from his horse, and the following extract is from a letter written by
Airy to Whewell's niece, Mrs Sumner Gibson, on hearing of the death of
his old friend:

"The Master was, I believe, my oldest surviving friend (beyond my own
family), and, after an acquaintance of 46 years, I must have been one
of his oldest friends. We have during that time been connected
privately and officially: we travelled together and experimented
together: and as opportunity served (but I need not say in very
different degrees) we both laboured for our College and University. A
terrible blank is left on my mind."

Sedgwick was probably 15 years older than Airy: he took his degree in
1808. But the astonishing buoyancy of spirits and bonhomie of Sedgwick
fitted him for all ages alike. He was undoubtedly the most popular man
in Cambridge in modern times. His ability, his brightness and wit, his
fearless honesty and uprightness, his plain-speaking and good humour,
rendered him a universal favourite. His close alliance with Airy was
much more social than scientific. It is true that they made some
geological excursions together, but, at any rate with Airy, it was far
more by way of recreation than of serious study, and Sedgwick's
science was entirely geological. Their friendship continued till
Sedgwick's death, though it was once or twice imperilled by Sedgwick's
impulsive and hasty nature.

Peacock took his degree in 1813 (Herschel's year), and was therefore
probably 10 years older than Airy. He was the earliest and staunchest
friend of Airy in his undergraduate years, encouraged him in every
possible way, lent him books, assisted him in his studies, helped him
with wise advice on many occasions, and took the greatest interest in
his success. He was a good and advanced mathematician, and with a
great deal of shrewdness and common-sense he united a singular
kindness and gentleness of manner. It is therefore not to be wondered
at that he was regarded by Airy with the greatest esteem and
affection, and though they were afterwards separated, by Peacock
becoming Dean of Ely and Airy Astronomer Royal, yet their warm
friendship was never broken. The following letter, written by Airy to
Mrs Peacock on receiving the news of the death of the Dean, well
expresses his feelings towards his old friend:

                                             TRINITY LODGE, CAMBRIDGE,
                                                     _1858, Dec. 4_.


I have desired for some time to express to you my sympathies on
occasion of the sad bereavement which has come upon me perhaps as
strongly as upon any one not connected by family ties with my late
friend. But I can scarcely give you an idea how every disposable
moment of my time has been occupied. I am now called to Cambridge on
business, and I seize the first free time to write to you.

My late friend was the first person whom I knew in College (I had an
introduction to him when I went up as freshman). From the first, he
desired me to consider the introduction not as entitling me to a mere
formal recognition from him, but as authorizing me at all times to
call on him for any assistance which I might require. And this was
fully carried out: I referred to him in every difficulty: I had the
entire command of his rooms and library (a very important aid in
following the new course of mathematics which he had been so
instrumental in introducing into the University) in his occasional
absences: and in all respects I looked to him as to a parent. All my
debts to other friends in the University added together are not
comparable to what I owe to the late Dean.

Latterly I need not say that I owed much to him and that I owe much to
you for your kind notice of my two sons, even since the sad event
which has put it out of his power to do more.

In the past summer, looking to my custom of making a visit to
Cambridge in some part of the October Term, I had determined that a
visit to Ely this year should not depend on the chance of being free
to leave Cambridge, but that, if it should be found convenient to
yourself and the Dean, the first journey should be made to Ely. I
wish that I had formed the same resolution one or two years ago.

With many thanks for your kindness, and with deep sympathy on this

        I am,
      My dear Madam,
        Yours very faithfully,
          G.B. AIRY.

Sheepshanks was a Fellow of Trinity, in orders: he was probably seven
years older than Airy (he took his degree in 1816). He was not one of
Airy's earliest friends, but he had a great taste and liking for
astronomy, and the friendship between them when once established
became very close. He was a very staunch and fearless friend, an able
and incisive writer, and remarkably energetic and diligent in
astronomical investigations. He, or his sister, Miss Sheepshanks, had
a house in London, and Sheepshanks was very much in London, and busied
himself extremely with the work of the Royal Observatory, that of the
Board of Longitude, and miscellaneous astronomical matters. He was
most hospitable to his friends, and while Airy resided at Cambridge
his house was always open to receive him on his frequent visits to
town. In the various polemical discussions on scientific matters in
which Airy was engaged, Sheepshanks was an invaluable ally, and after
Airy's removal to Greenwich had more or less separated him from his
Cambridge friends, Sheepshanks was still associated with him and took
a keen interest in his Greenwich work. And this continued till
Sheepshanks's death. The warmest friendship always subsisted between
the family at the Observatory and Mr and Miss Sheepshanks.

There were many other friends, able and talented men, but these four
were the chief, and it is curious to note that they were all much
older than Airy. It would seem as if Airy's knowledge had matured in
so remarkable a manner, and the original work that he produced was so
brilliant and copious, that by common consent he ranked with men who
were much his seniors: and the natural gravity and decorum of his
manners when quite a young man well supported the idea of an age
considerably greater than was actually the case.

                              CHAPTER V.

               AT GREENWICH OBSERVATORY--1836 TO 1846.


"Through the last quarter of 1835 I had kept everything going on at
the Greenwich Observatory in the same manner in which Mr Pond had
carried it on. With the beginning of 1836 my new system began. I had
already prepared 30 printed skeleton forms (a system totally unknown
to Mr Pond) which were now brought into use. And, having seen the
utility of the Copying Press in merchants' offices, I procured
one. From this time my correspondence, public and private, is
exceedingly perfect.

"At this time the dwelling house was still unconnected with the
Observatory. It had no staircase to the Octagon Room. Four new rooms
had been built for me on the western side of the dwelling house, but
they were not yet habitable. The North-east Dome ground floor was
still a passage room. The North Terrace was the official passage to
the North-west Dome, where there was a miserable Equatoreal, and to
the 25-foot Zenith Tube (in a square tower like a steeple, which
connected the N.W. Dome with Flamsteed's house). The southern boundary
of the garden ran down a hollow which divides the peninsula from the
site of the present Magnetic Observatory, in such a manner that the
principal part of the garden was fully exposed to the public. The
Computing Room was a most pitiful little room. There was so little
room for me that I transported the principal table to a room in my
house, where I conducted much of my own official business. A large
useless reflecting telescope (Ramage's), on the plan and nearly of the
size of Sir W. Herschel's principal telescope, encumbered the centre
of the Front Court.

"On Jan. 11th I addressed Mr Buck, agent of the Princess Sophia of
Gloucester, Ranger of Greenwich Park, for leave to enclose a portion
of the ground overlooking my garden. This was soon granted, and I was
partially delivered from the inconvenience of the public gaze. The
liberation was not complete till the Magnetic ground was enclosed in

"In the inferior departments of the Admiralty, especially in the
Hydrographic Office (then represented by Captain Beaufort) with which
I was principally connected, the Observatory was considered rather as
a place for managing Government chronometers than as a place of
science. The preceding First Assistant (Taylor) had kept a book of
letter references, and I found that out of 840 letters, 820 related to
Government chronometers only. On Jan. 17th I mentally sketched my
regulations for my own share in chronometer business. I had some
correspondence with Captain Beaufort, but we could not agree, and the
matter was referred to the Admiralty. Finally arrangements were made
which put the chronometer business in proper subordination to the
scientific charge of the Observatory.

"In my first negociations with the Admiralty referring to acceptance
of the office of Astronomer Royal, in 1834, Lord Auckland being then
First Lord of the Admiralty, I had stipulated that, as my successor at
Cambridge would be unprepared to carry on my Lectures, I should have
permission to give a final course of Lectures there. At the end of
1835 Lord Auckland was succeeded by Lord Minto: I claimed the
permission from him and he refused it. When this was known in
Cambridge a petition was presented by many Cambridge residents, and
Lord Minto yielded. On April 18th I went to Cambridge with my wife,
residing at the Bull Inn, and began Lectures on April 21st: they
continued (apparently) to May 27th. My lecture-room was crowded (the
number of names was 110) and the lectures gave great satisfaction. I
offered to the Admiralty to put all the profits in their hands, and
transmitted a cheque to the Accountant General of the Navy: but the
Admiralty declined to receive them.

"On June 4th the Annual Visitation of the Observatory was held, Mr
F. Baily in the Chair. I presented a written Report on the Observatory
(a custom which I had introduced at Cambridge) in which I did not
suppress the expression of my feelings about chronometer business. The
Hydrographer, Captain Beaufort, who was one of the Official Visitors,
was irritated: and by his influence the Report was not printed. I
kept it and succeeding Reports safe for three years, and then the
Board of Visitors agreed to print them; and four Reports were printed
together, and bound with the Greenwich Observations of 1838.

"In the course of this year I completed the volume of Observations
made at Cambridge Observatory in 1835 and on Nov. 10th the printed
copies were distributed. About the end of 1835 the Dome for the
Northumberland Telescope was erected: but apparently the polar frame
was not erected."

The following account of an accident which occurred during the
construction of the dome is extracted from a letter by Airy to his
wife dated 1836 Jan. 31st. "The workmen's account of the dome blowing
off is very curious: it must have been a strange gust. It started
suddenly when the men were all inside and Beaumont was looking up at
it: the cannon balls were thrown in with great violence (one of them
going between the spokes of Ransomes' large casting), and instantly
after the dome had started, the boards of the outside scaffolding
which had been tossed up by the same gust dropped down into the gap
which the dome had left. It is a wonder that none of the men were hurt
and that the iron was not broken. The dome is quite covered and I
think does not look so well as when the hooping was visible."

"Previous to 1836 I had begun to contemplate the attachment of
Magnetic Observations to the Observatory, and had corresponded with
Prof. Christie, Prof. Lloyd, Prof. J. D. Forbes, and Mr Gauss on the
subject. On Jan. 12th 1836 I addressed a formal letter to the
Admiralty, and on Jan. 18th received their answer that they had
referred it to the Board of Visitors. On March 25th I received
authority for the expenditure of _£30_, and I believe that I then
ordered Merz's 2-foot magnet. The Visitors met on Feb. 26th and after
some discussion the site was chosen and the extent of ground generally
defined, and on Dec. 22nd Mr Spring Rice (Lord Monteagle) as
Chancellor of the Exchequer virtually effected the transfer of the
ground. But no further steps were taken in 1836. A letter on a
systematic course of magnetic observations in various parts of the
world was addressed by Baron Alexander Humboldt to the Duke of Sussex,
President of the Royal Society; and was referred to Prof. Christie and
me. We reported on it on June 9th 1836, strongly recommending the
adoption of the scheme.

"A plan had been proposed by the Promoters of the London and Gravesend
Railway (Col. Landman, Engineer) for carrying a railway at high level
across the bottom of the Park. On Jan. 9th I received orders from the
Admiralty to examine into its possible effect in producing vibrations
in the Observatory. After much correspondence, examination of ground,
&c., I fixed upon a part of the Greenwich Railway (not yet opened for
traffic) near the place where the Croydon trunk line now joins it, as
the place for trains to run upon, while I made observations with a
telescope viewing a collimator by reflection in mercury at the
distance of 500 feet. The experiments were made on Jan. 25th, and I
reported on Feb. 4th. It was shewn that there would be some danger to
the Observatory. On Nov. 2nd Mr James Walker, Engineer, brought a
model of a railway to pass by tunnel under the lower part of the Park:
apparently this scheme was not pressed.

"In addition to the routine work of the Observatory, a special set of
observations were made to determine the mass of Jupiter.--Also the
Solar Eclipse of May 15th was observed at Greenwich in the manner
which I had introduced at Cambridge.--The Ordnance Zenith Sector, and
the instruments for the St Helena Observatory were brought for
examination.--Much attention was given to chronometers, and various
steps were taken for their improvement.--I had some important
correspondence with Mr (Sir John) Lubbock, upon the Lunar Theory
generally and his proposed empirical lunar tables. This was the first
germ of the great reduction of Lunar Observations which I subsequently
carried out.--In October I was nominated on the Council of the Royal
Society, having been admitted a Fellow on Feb. 18th 1836. I was
President of the Astronomical Society during this and the preceding
year (1836 and 1835).

"My connection with Groombridge's Catalogue of Stars began in 1832,
and the examination, in concert with Mr Baily, of the edition printed
by Mr Henry Taylor, resulted in its condemnation. In 1834 I
volunteered to the Admiralty to prepare a new edition, and received
their thanks and their authority for proceeding. It required a great
deal of examination of details, and much time was spent on it in 1836:
but it was not brought to the state of readiness for press.

"My predecessor, Mr Pond, died on Sept. 7th 1836, and was interred in
Halley's tomb in Lee churchyard."

       *       *       *       *       *

The following letter was written by Airy in support of the application
for a pension to Mrs Pond, who had been left in great distress:

                       To HENRY WARBURTON, ESQ.

"The points upon which in my opinion Mr Pond's claims to the gratitude
of Astronomers are founded, are principally the following. _First_
and chief, the accuracy which he introduced into all the principal
observations. This is a thing which from its nature it is extremely
difficult to estimate now, so long after the change has been made, and
I can only say that so far as I can ascertain from books the change is
one of very great extent: for certainty and accuracy, Astronomy is
quite a different thing from what it was, and this is mainly due to Mr
Pond. The most striking exemplification of this is in his laborious
working out of every conceivable cause or indication of error in the
Circle and the two Circles: but very great praise is also due for the
new system which he introduced in working the Transit. In comparing Mr
Pond's systems of observation with Dr Maskelyne's, no one can avoid
being impressed with the inferiority of Dr Maskelyne's. It is very
important to notice that the continental observatories which have
since attracted so much attention did not at that time exist or did
not exist in vigour. _Secondly_, the attention bestowed by Mr Pond on
those points (chiefly of sidereal astronomy) which he regarded as
fundamental: to which such masses of observations were directed as
entirely to remove the doubts from probable error of individual
observations or chance circumstances which have injured many other
determinations. _Thirdly_, the regularity of observation. The effect
of all these has been that, since the commencement of Mr Pond's
residence at Greenwich, Astronomy considered as an accurate
representation of the state of the heavens in the most material points
has acquired a certainty and an extent which it never had
before. There is no period in the history of the science so clean. On
some matters (in regard to the choice of observations) I might say
that my own judgment would have differed in some degree from Mr
Pond's, but one thing could have been gained only by giving up
another, and upon the general accuracy no improvement could have been
made. Mr Pond understood nothing of physical astronomy; but neither
did anybody else, in England.

"The supposed decrease of general efficiency in the last few years is
to be ascribed to the following causes:

1. Mr Pond's ill health.

2. The inefficiency of his first assistant.

3. The oppression of business connected with chronometers.

"The last of these, as I have reason to think, operated very far.
Business of this nature which (necessarily) is _daily_ and
_peremptory_ will always prevail over that which is _general_ and
_confidential_. I will not trouble you with an account of the various
ways in which the chronometer business teazed the Astronomer Royal
(several alterations having been made at my representation), but shall
merely remark that much of the business had no connection whatever
with astronomy.

"I beg to submit these remarks to your perusal, requesting you to
point out to me _what part_ of them should be laid before any of the
King's Ministers, _at what time, in what shape_, and to whom
addressed. I am quite sure that Mrs Pond's claims require nothing to
ensure favourable consideration but the impression of such a feeling
of Mr Pond's astronomical merits as must be entertained by any
reasonable astronomer; and I am most anxious to assist in conveying
this impression.

"Of private history: I went to Suffolk for a week on Mar. 25th. On
Sept. 19th my son Wilfrid (my fourth child) was born. In October I
made an excursion for a week round the coast of Kent. In November I
went to my brother's house at Keysoe in Bedfordshire: I was much
exposed to cold on the return-journey, which probably aggravated the
illness that soon followed. From Nov. 27th I was ill; made the last
journal entry of the year on Dec. 6th; the next was on Jan. 14th,
1837. I find that in this year I had introduced Arthur Biddell to the
Tithe Commutation Office, where he was soon favourably received, and
from which connection he obtained very profitable employment as a


"My connection with Cambridge Observatory was not yet finished. I had
determined that I would not leave a figure to be computed by my
successor. In October I had (at my private expense) set Mr Glaisher to
work on reducing the observations of Sun, Moon, and Planets made in
1833, 1834, 1835; and subsequently had the calculations examined by Mr
Hartnup. This employed me at times through 1837. I state here, once
for all, that every calculation or other work in reference to the
Cambridge Observatory, in this and subsequent years, was done at my
private expense. The work of the Northumberland Telescope was going on
through the year: from Nov. 24th to 29th I was at Cambridge on these

"An object-glass of 6-3/4 inches aperture (a most unusual size at this
time, when it was difficult to find a 4-inch or 5-inch glass) had been
presented to the Greenwich Observatory by my friend Mr Sheepshanks,
and on Mar. 29th I received from the Admiralty authority for mounting
it equatoreally in the empty South Dome, which had been intended for a
copy of the Palermo Circle.--In the month of July the Admiralty wished
for my political assistance in a Greenwich election, but I refused to
give any.--On Jan. 3rd I gave notice to the Admiralty that I had
finished the computations of Groombridge's Catalogue, and was ready to
print. The printing was authorized and proceeded (the introduction was
finished on Nov. 22nd), but the book was not quite ready till the
beginning of 1838.--In connection with the Cavendish experiment: on
June 10th I wrote to Spring Rice (Chancellor of the Exchequer) for
_£500_, which was soon granted: and from this time there is a great
deal of correspondence (mainly with Mr Baily) upon the details of the
experiment and the theory of the calculation.--On July 24th I saw the
descent of the parachute by which Mr Cocking was killed. I attended
the coroner's inquest and gave evidence a few days later.

"The Planetary Reductions from 1750 to 1830 had been going on: the
computers (Glaisher, Hartnup, and Thomas) worked in the Octagon Room,
and considerable advance was made.--In consequence of the agitation of
the proposal by Mr Lubbock to form empirical tables of the Moon, for
which I proposed to substitute complete reduction of the observations
of the Moon from 1750, the British Association at York (Oct. 23rd,
1837) appointed a deputation (including myself) to place the matter
before the Government. I wrote on the matter to Mr Wood (Lord Halifax)
stating that it would be proper to raise the First Assistant's salary,
and to give me more indefinite power about employing computers. In all
these things I received cordial assistance from Mr Wood. The
Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr Spring Rice) received us on Dec. 20th:
statements were furnished by me, and the business was sanctioned
immediately.--During this year I was very much engaged in
correspondence with Lubbock and others on improvements of the Lunar

"In the operations of 1836 and 1837 a great quantity of papers had
been accumulated. I had kept them in reasonably good order, tied up in
bundles: but this method began to fail in convenience, as the number
increased. The great lines of classification were however now well
understood. I believe it was in the latter part of the year 1837 that
I finally settled on the principle of arranging papers in packets and
subordinate packets, every paper being flat, by the use of four
punched holes in every paper. I have never seen any principle of
arrangement comparable to this. It has been adopted with the greatest
ease by every assistant, and is used to the present time (1871)
without alteration.

"On Jan. 3rd I was informed unofficially by Mr Wood (Admiralty
Secretary) that the addition of the Magnetic Ground was sanctioned. On
Feb. 16th Mr Rhodes (an officer of the Department of Woods and Works)
came to put me formally in possession of the ground. Between Apr. 26th
and May 13th the ground was enclosed, and my garden was completely
protected from the public. The plan of the building was settled, and
numerous experiments were made on various kinds of concrete: at last
it was decided to build with wood.

"After a dinner given by Lord Burlington, Chancellor, the first
meeting of the London University was held on Mar. 4th, and others
followed. On Apr. 18th I handed to the Chancellor a written protest
against a vote of a salary of _£1000_ to the Registrar: which salary,
in fact, the Government refused to sanction. Dissensions on the
question of religious examination were already beginning, but I took
little part in them.

"In 1833 Mr Henderson had resigned the superintendance of the Cape of
Good Hope Observatory, and Mr Maclear was appointed. I recommended the
same Official Instructions for him (they had included an allusion to
La Caille's Arc of Meridian) with an addition on the probability of
Trigonometrical Survey, on Aug. 8th, 1837. On Feb. 24th, 1837, I wrote
to Beaufort suggesting that Bradley's Sector should be used for
verifying the astronomical determinations, and subsequently received
the approval of the Admiralty. In June Sir J. Herschel and I had an
interview with Mr Wood on the Cape equipment generally. The Sector was
erected with its new mounting, careful drawings were made of every
part, instructions were prepared for its use, and on Aug. 10th it was
sent to Woolwich Dockyard and shipped for the Cape.

"Of private history: On Aug. 23rd I started with my wife for an
excursion in South Wales, &c. On Sept. 9th I gave a lecture in the
Town Hall of Neath. While at Swansea we received news of the death of
my wife's father, the Rev. Richard Smith, and returned at once.--In
this year Arthur Biddell bought the little Eye estate for me."


"Cambridge Observatory:--On Dec. 29th, 1837, I had set Mr Glaisher to
work in collecting the annual results for star-places from the
Cambridge Observations, to form one catalogue: I examined the
calculations and the deduced catalogue, and on Dec. 14, 1838,
presented it to the Royal Astronomical Society, under the title of
'The First Cambridge Catalogue.'--For the Northumberland telescope I
was engaged with Simms about the clockwork from time to time up to
Apr. 30th, and went to Cambridge about it. The instrument was brought
to a useable state, but some small parts were still wanting.

"At Greenwich:--In April I drew up a little history of the Observatory
for the Penny Cyclopaedia.--On June 30th the Lords of the Admiralty
paid a short visit to the Observatory: on this occasion Mr Wood
suggested a passage connecting the Observatory with the
dwelling-house, and I subsequently prepared sketches for it; it was
made in the next year.--In the course of the year the Sheepshanks
Equatoreal was mounted, and Encke's Comet was observed with it from
Oct. 26th to Nov. 13th.--On Mar. 31st, &c. I reported to the Admiralty
on the selection of chronometers for purchase, from a long list: this
was an important beginning of a new system.--The Magnetic Observatory
was built, in the form originally planned for it (a four-armed cross
with equal arms, one axis being in the magnetic meridian) in the
beginning of this year. (No alteration has since been made in form up
to the present time, 1871, except that the north arm has been
lengthened 8 feet a few years ago.) On May 21st a magnet was suspended
for the first time, Mr Baily and Lieut. (afterwards Sir William)
Denison being present.--Groombridge's Catalogue was finished, and on
Mar. 3rd I arranged for sending out copies.--The Planetary Reductions
were carried on vigorously. On May 31st, 1838, the Treasury assented
to the undertaking of the Lunar Reductions and allotted _£2,000_ for
it: preparations were made, and in the autumn 7 computers were
employed upon it. It will easily be seen that this undertaking added
much to my labours and cares.--The geodetic affairs of the Cape of
Good Hope began to be actively pressed, and in February Beaufort wrote
to me in consequence of an application from Maclear, asking about a
standard of length for Maclear (as foundation for a geodetic
survey). I made enquiries, and on Mar. 13th wrote to Mr Wood, alluding
also generally to the want of a National English standard after the
destruction of the Houses of Parliament. On Apr. 24th the Admiralty
sanctioned my procuring proper Standard Bars.--In connection with the
Cavendish Experiment, I have an immense quantity of correspondence
with Mr Baily, and all the mathematics were furnished by me: the
experiment was not finished at the end of the year.--The Perturbations
of Uranus were now attracting attention. I had had some correspondence
on this subject with Dr Hussey in 1834, and in 1837 with Eugène
Bouvard. On Feb. 24th, of 1838, I wrote to Schumacher regarding the
error in the tabular radius-vector of Uranus, which my mode of
reducing the observations enabled me to see.

"The National Standards of Length and Weight had been destroyed in the
fire of the Houses of Parliament. On May 11th I received a letter from
Mr Spring Rice, requesting me to act (as chairman) with a committee
consisting of F. Baily, J.E. Drinkwater Bethune, Davies Gilbert,
J.G.S. Lefevre, J.W. Lubbock, G. Peacock, and R. Sheepshanks, to
report on the steps now to be taken. I accepted the charge, and the
first meeting was held at the Observatory on May 22nd; all subsequent
meetings in London, usually in the apartments of the Royal
Astronomical Society. I acted both as chairman and as working
secretary. Our enquiries went into a very wide field, and I had much

"On Jan. 4th Mr Wood wrote to me, mentioning that Capt. Johnson had
made some observations on the magnetism of iron ships, and asking
whether they ought to be continued; a steamer being offered at _£50_
per week. I applied to Beaufort for a copy of Johnson's Observations,
and on Jan. 7th replied very fully, discouraging such observations;
but recommending a train of observations expressly directed to
theoretical points. On Feb. 17th I reported that I had examined the
Deptford Basin, and found that it would do fairly well for
experiments. On July 14th, 1838, Capt. Beaufort wrote to me that the
Admiralty wished for experiments on the ship, the 'Rainbow,' then in
the river, and enquired whether I would undertake them and what
assistance I desired, as for instance that of Christie or Barlow. I
replied that one person should undertake it, either Christie, Barlow,
or myself, and that a basin was desirable. On July 16th and 17th I
looked at the basins of Woolwich and Deptford, approving the
latter. On July 21st the Admiralty gave me full powers. From July 23rd
I was almost entirely employed on preparations. The course of
operations is described in my printed Paper: the original maps,
curves, and graphical projections, are in the bound MSS.: 'Correction
of Compass in Iron Ships--"Rainbow,"' at the Greenwich
Observatory. The angular disturbances were found on July 26th and
30th, requiring some further work on a raft, so that they were finally
worked out on Aug. 11th. I struggled hard with the numbers, but should
not have succeeded if it had not occurred to me to examine the
horizontal magnetic intensities. This was done on Aug. 14th, and the
explanation of the whole was suggested at once: graphical projections
were made on Aug. 16th and 17th for comparison of my explanation with
observations, and the business was complete. On Aug. 17th and 18th I
measured the intensity of some magnets, to be used in the ship for
correction. It is to be remarked that, besides the effect of polar
magnetism, there was no doubt of the existence of an effect of induced
magnetism requiring correction by other induced magnetism: and
experiments for this were made in the Magnetic Observatory. All was
ready for trial: and on Aug. 20th I carried my magnets and iron
correctors to Deptford, mounted them in the proper places, tried the
ship, and the compass, which had been disturbed 50 degrees to the
right and 50 degrees to the left, was now sensibly correct. On
Aug. 21st I reported this to the Admiralty, and on Aug. 24th I tried
the ship to Gravesend. On Aug. 30th I had the loan of her for an
expedition with a party of friends to Sheerness, and on Sept. 9th I
accompanied her to Gravesend, on her first voyage to Antwerp.--On
Oct. 5th application was made to me by the owner of the 'Ironsides' to
correct her compasses. In consequence of this I went to Liverpool on
Oct. 25th, and on this occasion made a very important improvement in
the practical mode of performing the correction.--On Nov. 16th I
reported to the Admiralty in considerable detail. On Dec. 4th I had an
interview with Lord Minto (First Lord of the Admiralty) and Mr
Wood. They refused to sanction any reward to me.--The following is a
copy of the report of the Captain of the 'Rainbow' after her voyage to
Antwerp: 'Having had the command of the Rainbow steamer the two
voyages between London and Antwerp, I have the pleasure to inform you
that I am perfectly satisfied as to the correctness of the compasses,
and feel quite certain they will continue so. I took particular notice
from land to land from our departure and found the bearings by compass
to be exact.'"--The following extracts from letters to his wife refer
to the "Ironsides": on Oct. 28th 1838 he writes, "I worked up the
observations so much as to see that the compass disturbance is not so
great as in the 'Rainbow' (35° instead of 50°), but quite enough to
make the vessel worthless; and that it is quite different in direction
from that in the 'Rainbow'--so that if they had stolen one of the
'Rainbow' correctors and put it into this ship it would have been much
worse than before." And on Nov. 1st he writes, "On Wednesday I again
went to the ship and tried small alterations in the correctors: I am
confident now that the thing is very near, but we were most abominably
baffled by the sluggishness of the compass."

"The University of London:--On Jan. 6th I attended a sub-committee
meeting on the minimum of acquirements for B.A. degree, and various
meetings of the Senate. On July 14th I intimated to Mr Spring Rice my
wish to resign. I had various correspondence, especially with Mr
Lubbock, and on Dec. 13th I wrote to him on the necessity of stipends
to Members of Senate. The dissensions on religious examination became
very strong. I took a middle course, demanding examination in the
languages and books, but absolutely refusing to claim any religious
assent. I expressed this to Dr Jerrard, the principal representative
on the religious side, by calling on him to substitute the words
'Recognition of Christian Literature' for 'Recognition of Christian
Religion': I addressed a printed letter to Lord Burlington
(Chancellor) and the Members of the Senate, on this subject.

"Of private history: In January I made a short excursion in Norfolk
and Suffolk, and visited Prof. Sedgwick at Norwich. In April I paid a
short visit to Mr Courtney at Sanderstead, with my wife. On June 14th
my son Hubert was born. In September I went with my sister by
Cambridge, &c., to Luddington, where I made much enquiry concerning my
father and the family of Airy who had long been settled there. We then
visited various places in Yorkshire, and arrived at Brampton, near
Chesterfield, where Mrs Smith, my wife's mother, now resided. And
returned by Rugby. I had much correspondence with my brother and for
him about private pupils and a better church living. I complained to
the Bishop of Norwich about the mutilation of a celebrated monument in
Playford Church by the incumbent and curate."

The following extracts are from letters to his wife relating to the
above-mentioned journeys:

                                                       CLOSE, NORWICH.
                                                    _1838, Jan. 21_.

I do not know what degree of cold you may have had last night, but
here it was (I believe) colder than before--thermometer close to the
house at 3°. I have not suffered at all. However I do not intend to go
to Lowestoft.

                                                 _1838, Sept. 30th_.

We began to think that we had seen enough of Scarborough, so we took a
chaise in the afternoon to Pickering, a small agricultural town, and
lodged in a comfortable inn there. On Wednesday morning at 8 we
started by the railroad for Whitby, in a huge carriage denominated the
Lady Hilda capable of containing 40 persons or more drawn by one
horse, or in the steep parts of the railway by two horses. The road
goes through a set of defiles of the eastern moorlands of Yorkshire
which are extremely pretty: at first woody and rich, then gradually
poorer, and at last opening on a black moor with higher moors in
sight: descending in one part by a long crooked inclined plane, the
carriage drawing up another load by its weight: through a little
tunnel: and then along a valley to Whitby. The rate of travelling was
about 10 miles an hour. Betsy declares that it was the most agreeable
travelling that she ever had.

Yesterday (Saturday) Caroline drove Betsy and Miss Barnes drove me to
Clay Cross to see the works at the great railroad tunnel there. Coming
from the north, the railroad passes up the Chesterfield valley close
by the town and continues up the same valley, till it is necessary for
it to enter the valley which runs the opposite way towards Buttersley:
the tunnel passes under the high ground between these two vallies: so
that it is in reality at the water-shed: it is to be I think more than
a mile long, and when finished 27 feet clear in height, so it is a
grand place. We saw the preparations for a blast, and heard it fired:
the ladies stopping their ears in due form.


"Cambridge Observatory:--On Mar. 7th I went to Cambridge on the
business of the Northumberland Telescope: I was subsequently engaged
on the accounts, and on Aug. 16th I finally resigned it to
Prof. Challis, who accepted it on Aug. 19th. On Sept. 11th I
communicated its completion and the settlement of accounts to the Duke
of Northumberland. The total expense was _£1938. 9s. 2d._ + 15000
francs for the object-glass.

"At Greenwich Observatory:--On Jan. 3rd I received the last revise of
the 1837 Observations, and on Jan. 8th the first sheet for 1838.--In
July I report on selection from a long list of chronometers which had
been on trial, and on Sept. 2nd I pointed out to Capt. Beaufort that
the system of offering only one price would be ruinous to the
manufacture of chronometers, and to the character of those supplied to
the Admiralty: and that I would undertake any trouble of classifying
the chronometers tried. This letter introduced the system still in use
(1871), which has been most beneficial to the manufacture. On
Sept. 11th I proposed that all trials begin in the first week of
January: this also has been in use as an established system to the
present time.--It was pointed out to me that a certain chronometer was
affected by external magnetic power. I remedied this by placing under
it a free compass magnet: a stand was specially prepared for it. I
have never found another chronometer sensibly affected by
magnetism.--In November and December I tried my new double-image
micrometer.--Between May 16th and Oct. 13th a fireproof room was
constructed in the southern part of the quadrant room; and in November
a small shed was erected over the entrance to the North Terrace.--The
position of the free Meridional Magnet (now mounted in the Magnetic
Observatory) was observed at every 5 m. through 24 hours on Feb. 22nd
and 23rd, May 24th and 25th, Aug. 30th and 31st, and Nov. 29th and
30th. This was done in cooperation with the system of the Magnetic
Union established by Gauss in Germany.--The Reduction of the Greenwich
Planetary and Lunar Observations, 1750 to 1830, went on steadily. I
had six and sometimes seven computers constantly at work, in the
Octagon Room.--As in 1838 I had a great amount of correspondence with
Mr Baily on the Cavendish Experiment.--I attended as regularly as I
could to the business of the University of London. The religious
question did not rise very prominently. I took a very active part, and
have a great deal of correspondence, on the nature of the intended
examinations in Hydrography and Civil Engineering.--On the Standards
Commission the chief work was in external enquiries.--On June 6th I
had enquiries from John Quincey Adams (U.S.A.) on the expense, &c., of
observatories: an observatory was contemplated in America.--I had
correspondence about the proposed establishment of observatories at
Durham, Glasgow, and Liverpool.

"I had in this year a great deal of troublesome and on the whole
unpleasant correspondence with the Admiralty about the correction of
the compass in iron ships. I naturally expected some acknowledgment of
an important service rendered to Navigation: but the Admiralty
peremptorily refused it. My account of the Experiments &c. for the
Royal Society is dated April 9th. The general success of the
undertaking soon became notorious, and (as I understood) led
immediately to extensive building of iron ships: and it led also to
applications to me for correction of compasses. On Jan. 9th I was
addressed in reference to the Royal Sovereign and Royal George at
Liverpool; July 18th the Orwell; May 11th two Russian ships built on
the Thames; Sept. 4th the ships of the Lancaster Company.

"I had much work in connection with the Cape of Good Hope Observatory,
chiefly relating to the instrumental equipment and to the geodetical
work. As it was considered advisable that any base measured in the
Cape Colony should be measured with compensation bars, I applied to
Major Jervis for the loan of those belonging to the East Indian
Survey, but he positively refused to lend them. On Jan. 20th I applied
to Col. Colby for the compensation bars of the British Survey, and he
immediately assented to lending them. Col. Colby had suggested to the
Ordnance Department that Capt. Henderson and several sappers should be
sent to use the measuring bars, and it was so arranged. It still
appeared desirable to have the command of some soldiers from the
Garrison of Cape Town, and this matter was soon arranged with the
military authorities by the Admiralty.

"The following are the principal points of my private history: it was
a very sad year. On Jan. 24th I went with my wife to Norwich, on a
visit to Prof. Sedgwick, and in June I visited Sir J. Herschel at
Slough. On June 13th my dear boy Arthur was taken ill: his malady soon
proved to be scarlet fever, of which he died on June 24th at 7 in the
morning. It was arranged that he should be buried in Playford
churchyard on the 28th, and on that day I proceeded to Playford with
my wife and my eldest son George Richard. At Chelmsford my son was
attacked with slight sickness, and being a little unwell did not
attend his brother's funeral. On July 1st at 4h.15m. in the morning he
also died: he had some time before suffered severely from an attack of
measles, and it seemed probable that his brain had suffered. On July
5th he was buried by the side of his brother Arthur in Playford
churchyard.--On July 23rd I went to Colchester on my way to
Walton-on-the-Naze, with my wife and all my family; all my children
had been touched, though very lightly, with the scarlet fever.--It was
near the end of this year that my mother quitted the house (Luck's) at
Playford, and came to live with me at Greenwich Observatory, where she
lived till her death; having her own attendant, and living in perfect
confidence with my wife and myself, and being I trust as happy as her
years and widowhood permitted. My sister also lived with me at the


"In the latter part of 1839, and through 1840, I had much
correspondence with the Admiralty, in which I obtained a complete
account of the transfer of the Observatory from the Ordnance
Department to the Admiralty, and the transfer of the Visitation of the
Observatory from the Royal Society to the present Board of
Visitors. In 1840 I found that the papers of the Board of Longitude
were divided between the Royal Society and the Admiralty: I obtained
the consent of both to bring them to the Observatory.

"In this year I began to arrange about an annual dinner to be held at
the Visitation.--My double-image micrometer was much used for
observations of circumpolar double stars.--In Magnetism and
Meteorology, certain quarterly observations were kept up; but in
November the system of incessant eye-observations was commenced. I
refused to commence this until I had secured a 'Watchman's Clock' for
mechanical verification of the regular attendance of the
Assistants.--With regard to chronometers: In this year, for the first
time, I took the very important step of publishing the rates obtained
by comparisons at the Observatory. I confined myself on this occasion
to the chronometers purchased by the Admiralty. In March a
pigeon-house was made for exposure of chronometers to cold.--The Lunar
and Planetary Reductions were going on steadily.--I was consulted
about an Observatory at Oxford, where I supported the introduction of
the Heliometer.--The stipend of the Bakerian Lecture was paid to me
for my explanation of Brewster's new prismatic fringes.--The business
of the Cape Observatory and Survey occupied much of my time.--In 1838
the Rev. H. J. Rose (Editor of the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana) had
proposed my writing a Paper on Tides, &c.; In Oct. 1840 I gave him
notice that I must connect Tides with Waves, and in that way I will
take up the subject. Much correspondence on Tides, &c., with Whewell
and others followed.

"With regard to the Magnetical and Meteorological Establishment. On
June 18th Mr Lubbock reported from the Committee of Physics of the
Royal Society to the Council in favour of a Magnetic and
Meteorological Observatory near London. After correspondence with
Sheepshanks, Lord Northampton, and Herschel, I wrote to the Council on
July 9th, pointing out what the Admiralty had done at Greenwich, and
offering to cooperate. In a letter to Lord Minto I stated that my
estimate was _£550_, including _£100_ to the First Assistant:
Lubbock's was _£3,000_. On Aug. 11th the Treasury assented, limiting
it to the duration of Ross's voyage. On Aug. 17th Wheatstone looked at
our buildings and was satisfied. My estimate was sent to the
Admiralty, viz. _£150_ outfit, _£520_ annual expense; and Glaisher to
be Superintendent. I believe this was allowed for the present; for
the following year it was placed on the Estimates. Most of the
contemplated observations were begun before the end of 1840: as much
as possible in conformity with the Royal Society's plan. Mr Hind
(subsequently the Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac) and Mr Paul
were the first extra assistants.

"Of private history. On Feb. 29th I went to Cambridge with my Paper on
the Going Fusee. On Mar. 27th I went to visit Mrs Smith, my wife's
mother, at Brampton near Chesterfield. I made a short visit to
Playford in April and a short expedition to Winchester, Portsmouth,
&c., in June. From Sept. 5th to Oct. 3rd I was travelling in the
North of England and South of Scotland." [This was an extremely active
and interesting journey, in the course of which a great number of
places were visited by Airy, especially places on the Border mentioned
in Scott's Poems, which always had a great attraction for him. He also
attended a Meeting of the British Association at Glasgow and made a
statement regarding the Planetary and Lunar Reductions: and looked at
a site for the Glasgow Observatory.] "In November I went for a short
time to Cambridge and to Keysoe (my brother's residence). On
Dec. 26th my daughter Hilda was born (subsequently married to
E.J. Routh). In this year I had a loss of _£350_ by a fire on my Eye

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extracts are from letters to his wife. Some of them
relate to matters of general interest. They are all of them
characteristic, and serve to shew the keen interest which he took in
matters around him, and especially in architecture and scenery. The
first letter relates to his journey from Chesterfield on the previous

                                                      FLAMSTEED HOUSE,
                                                    _1840, April 2_.

I was obliged to put up with an outside place to Derby yesterday, much
against my will, for I was apprehensive that the cold would bring on
the pain in my face. Of that I had not much; but I have caught
something of sore throat and catarrh. The coach came up at about 22
minutes past 8. It arrived in Derby at 20 minutes or less past 11
(same guard and coachman who brought us), and drew up in the street
opposite the inn at which we got no dinner, abreast of an omnibus. I
had to go to a coach office opposite the inn to pay and be booked for
London, and was duly set down in a way-bill with _name_; and then
entered the omnibus: was transferred to the Railway Station, and then
received the Railway Ticket by shouting out my name. If you should
come the same way, you would find it convenient to book your place at
Chesterfield to London by your name (paying for the whole, namely,
coach fare, omnibus fare _-/6_, and railway fare _£1. 15s. 0d._ first
class). Then you will only have to step out of the coach into the
omnibus, and to scream out once or twice to the guard to make sure
that you are entered in the way-bill and that your luggage is put on
the omnibus.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                           FLAMSTEED HOUSE, GREENWICH,
                                                   _1840, April 15_.

I forgot to tell you that at Lord Northampton's I saw some specimens
of the Daguerrotype, pictures made by the Camera Obscura, and they
surpass in beauty of execution anything that I could have
imagined. Baily who has two or three has promised to lend them for
your inspection when you return. Also I saw some post-office stamps
and stamped envelopes: I do not much admire the latter.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following relates to the fire on his Eye farm, referred to above:

                                                   _1840, April 23_.

On Wednesday (yesterday) went with my uncle to the Eye Estate, to see
the effects of the fire. The farming buildings of every kind are as
completely cleared away as if they had been mown down: not a bit of
anything but one or two short brick walls and the brick foundations of
the barns and stacks. The aspect of the place is much changed, because
in approaching the house you do not see it upon a back-ground of
barns, &c., but standing alone. The house is in particularly neat and
good order. I did not think it at all worth while to make troublesome
enquiries of the people who reside there, but took Mr Case's
account. There seems no doubt that the fire was caused by the
maid-servant throwing cinders into a sort of muck-place into which
they had been commonly thrown. I suppose there was after all this dry
weather straw or muck drier than usual, and the cinders were hotter
than usual. The whole was on fire in an exceedingly short time; and
everything was down in less than an hour. Two engines came from Eye,
and all the population of the town (as the fire began shortly after
two o'clock in the afternoon). It is entirely owing to these that my
house, and the farm (Sewell's) on the opposite side of the road, were
not burned down. At the beginning of the fire the wind was N.E. which
blew directly towards the opposite farm (Sewell's): although the
nearest part of it (tiled dwelling house) was 100 yards off or near
it, and the great barn (thatched roof) considerably further, yet both
were set on fire several times. All this while, the tail of my house
was growing very hot: and shortly after the buildings fell in burning
ruins, the wind changed to N.W., blowing directly to my house. If this
change had happened while the buildings were standing and burning,
there would have been no possibility of saving the house. As it was,
the solder is melted from the window next the farm-yard, and the roof
was set on fire in three or four places. One engine was kept working
on my house and one on the opposite farm. A large pond was pretty
nearly emptied. Mr Case's horses and bullocks were got out, not
without great difficulty, as the progress of the fire was fearfully
rapid. A sow and nine pigs were burnt, and a large hog ran out burnt
so much that the people killed it immediately.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                               GEORGE INN, WINCHESTER,
                                                    _1840, June 21_.

At Winchester we established ourselves at the George and then without
delay proceeded to St Cross. I did not know before the nature of its
hospital establishment, but I find that it is a veritable set of
alms-houses. The church is a most curious specimen of the latest
Norman. I never saw one so well marked before--Norman ornaments on
pointed arches, pilasters detached with cushion capitals, and various
signs: and it is clearly an instance of that state of the style when
people had been forced by the difficulties and inelegancies of the
round arch in groining to adopt pointed arches for groining but had
not learnt to use them for windows.......This morning after breakfast
went to the Cathedral (looking by the way at a curious old cross in
the street). I thought that its inside was wholly Norman, and was most
agreeably surprised by finding the whole inside groined in every part
with excellent late decorated or perpendicular work. Yet there are
several signs about it which lead me to think that the whole inside
has been Norman, and even that the pilasters now worked up into the
perpendicular are Norman. The transepts are most massive old Norman,
with side-aisles running round their ends (which I never saw
before). The groining of the side aisles of the nave very effective
from the strength of the cross ribs. The clerestory windows of the
quire very large. The organ is on one side. But the best thing about
the quire is the wooden stall-work, of early decorated, very
beautiful. A superb Lady Chapel, of early English.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                    _1840, June 23_.

We left Winchester by evening train to the Dolphin, Southampton, and
slept there. At nine in the morning we went by steamboat down the
river to Ryde in the Isle of Wight: our steamer was going on to
Portsmouth, but we thought it better to land at Ryde and take a boat
for ourselves. We then sailed out (rather a blowing day) to the vessel
attending Col. Pasley's operations, and after a good deal of going
from one boat to another (the sea being so rough that our boat could
not be got up to the ships) and a good deal of waiting, we got on
board the barge or lump in which Col. Pasley was. Here we had the
satisfaction of seeing the barrel of gunpowder lowered (there was more
than a ton of gunpowder), and seeing the divers go down to fix it,
dressed in their diving helmets and supplied with air from the great
air-pump above. When all was ready and the divers had ascended again,
the barge in which we were was warped away, and by a galvanic battery
in another barge (which we had seen carried there, and whose
connection with the barrel we had seen), upon signal given by sound of
trumpet, the gunpowder was fired. The effect was most wonderful. The
firing followed the signal instantaneously. We were at between 100 and
200 yards from the place (as I judge), and the effects were as
follows. As soon as the signal was given, there was a report, louder
than a musket but not so loud as a small cannon, and a severe shock
was felt at our feet, just as if our barge had struck on a
rock. Almost immediately, a very slight swell was perceived over the
place of the explosion, and the water looked rather foamy: then in
about a second it began to rise, and there was the most enormous
outbreak of spray that you can conceive. It rose in one column of 60
or 70 feet high, and broad at the base, resembling a stumpy sheaf with
jagged masses of spray spreading out at the sides, and seemed to grow
outwards till I almost feared that it was coming to us. It sunk, I
suppose, in separate parts, for it did not make any grand squash down,
and then there were seen logs of wood rising, and a dense mass of
black mud, which spread gradually round till it occupied a very large
space. Fish were stunned by it: our boatmen picked up some. It was
said by all present that this was the best explosion which had been
seen: it was truly wonderful. Then we sailed to Portsmouth.......The
explosion was a thing worth going many miles to see. There were many
yachts and sailing boats out to see it (I counted 26 before they were
at the fullest), so that the scene was very gay.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here are some notes on York Cathedral after the fire:

                                               RED LION HOTEL, REDCAR,
                                                    _1840, Sept. 7_.

My first letter was closed after service at York Cathedral. As soon as
I had posted it, I walked sedately twice round the cathedral, and then
I found the sexton at the door, who commiserating me of my former vain
applications, and having the hope of lucre before his eyes, let me
in. I saw the burnt part, which looks not melancholy but
unfinished. Every bit of wood is carried away clean, with scarcely a
smoke-daub to mark where it has been: the building looks as if the
walls were just prepared for a roof, but there are some deep dints in
the pavement, shewing where large masses have fallen. The lower parts
of some of the columns (to the height of 8 or 10 feet) are much scaled
and cracked. The windows are scarcely touched. I also refreshed my
memory of the chapter-house, which is most beautiful, and which has
much of its old gilding reasonably bright, and some of its old paint
quite conspicuous. And I looked again at the old crypt with its late
Norman work, and at the still older crypt of the pre-existing church.

       *       *       *       *       *


"The routine work of the Observatory in its several departments was
carried on steadily during this year.--The Camera Obscura was removed
from the N.W. Turret of the Great Room, to make way for the
Anemometer.--In Magnetism and Meteorology the most important thing was
the great magnetic storm of Sept. 29th, which revealed a new class of
magnetic phenomena. It was very well observed by Mr Glaisher, and I
immediately printed and circulated an account of it.--In April I
reported that the Planetary Reductions were completed, and furnished
estimates for the printing.--In August I applied for 18,000 copies of
the great skeleton form for computing Lunar Tabular Places, which were
granted.--I reported, as usual, on various Papers for the Royal
Society, and was still engaged on the Cavendish Experiment.--In the
University of London I attended the meeting of Dec. 8th, on the
reduction of Examiners' salaries, which were extravagant.--I furnished
Col. Colby with a plan of a new Sector, still used in the British
Survey.--I appealed to Colby about the injury to the cistern on the
Great Gable in Cumberland, by the pile raised for the Survey
Signal.--On Jan. 3rd occurred a most remarkable tidal disturbance: the
tide in the Thames was 5 feet too low. I endeavoured to trace it on
the coasts, and had a vast amount of correspondence: but it elicited

"Of private history: I was a short time in Suffolk in March.--On
Mar. 31st I started with my wife (whose health had suffered much) for
a trip to Bath, Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, &c. While at Swansea we
received news on Apr. 24th of the deadly illness of my dear mother. We
travelled by Neath and Cardiff to Bath, where I solicited a rest for
my wife from my kind friend Miss Sutcliffe, and returned alone to
Greenwich. My dear mother had died on the morning of the 24th. The
funeral took place at Little Whelnetham (near Bury) on May 1st, where
my mother was buried by the side of my father. We went to Cambridge,
where my wife consulted Dr Haviland to her great advantage, and
returned to Greenwich on May 7th.--On May 14th to 16th I was at
Sanderstead (Rev. J. Courtney) with Whewell as one sponsor, at the
christening of my daughter Hilda.--In September I went for a trip with
my sister to Yorkshire and Cumberland, in the course of which we
visited Dent (Sedgwick's birthplace), and paid visits to Mr
Wordsworth, Miss Southey, and Miss Bristow, returning to Greenwich on
the 30th Sept.--From June 15th to 19th I visited my brother at

The following extracts are from letters written to his wife while on
the above trip in Yorkshire and Cumberland:

                                                 RED LION INN, REDCAR,
                                                   _1841, Sept. 11_.

We stopped at York: went to the Tavern Hotel. In the morning (Friday)
went into the Cathedral. I think that it improves on acquaintance. The
nave is now almost filled with scaffolding for the repair of the roof,
so that it has not the bare unfinished appearance that it had when I
was there last year. The tower in which the fire began seems to be a
good deal repaired: there are new mullions in its windows, &c. We
stopped to hear part of the service, which was not very effective.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here are notes of his visit to Dentdale in Yorkshire, the birthplace
of his friend Sedgwick:

                                                  KING'S HEAD, KENDAL,
                                                   _1841, Sept. 15_.

The day was quite fine, and the hills quite clear. The ascent out of
Hawes is dull; the little branch dale is simple and monotonous, and so
are the hills about the great dale which are in sight. The only thing
which interested us was the sort of bird's-eye view of Hardraw dell,
which appeared a most petty and insignificant opening in the great
hill side. But when we got to the top of the pass there was a
magnificent view of Ingleborough. The dale which was most nearly in
front of us is that which goes down to Ingleton, past the side of
Ingleborough. The mountain was about nine miles distant. We turned to
the right and immediately descended Dent-dale. The three dales (to
Hawes, to Ingleton, and to Dent) lay their heads together in a most
amicable way, so that, when at the top, it is equally easy to descend
down either of them. We found very soon that Dent-dale is much more
beautiful than that by which we had ascended. The sides of the hills
are steeper, and perhaps higher: the bottom is richer. The road is
also better. The river is a continued succession of very pretty falls,
almost all of which have scooped out the lower strata of the rock, so
that the water shoots clear over. For several miles (perhaps 10) it
runs upon bare limestone without a particle of earth. From the head of
the dale to the village of Dent is eight miles. At about half-way is a
new chapel, very neat, with a transept at its west end. The village of
Dent is one of the strangest places that I ever saw. Narrow street, up
and down, with no possibility of two carriages bigger than children's
carts passing each other. We stopped at the head inn and enquired
about the Geolog: but he is not in the country. We then called on his
brother, who was much surprised and pleased to see us. His wife came
in soon after (his daughter having gone with a party to see some
waterfall) and they urged us to stop and dine with them. So we walked
about and saw every place about the house, church, and school,
connected with the history of the Geolog: and then dined. I promised
that you should call there some time when we are in the north together
and spend a day or two with them. Mr Sedgwick says it is reported that
Whewell will take Sedbergh living (which is now vacant: Trinity
College is patron). Then we had our chaise and went to Sedbergh. The
very mouth of Dent-dale is more contracted than its higher
parts. Sedbergh is embosomed among lumping hills. Then we had another
carriage to drive to Kendal.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a recollection of Wordsworth:

                                                SALUTATION, AMBLESIDE,
                                                   _1841, Sept. 19_.

We then got our dinner at Lowwood, and walked straight to Ambleside,
changed our shoes, and walked on to Rydal to catch Wordsworth at
tea. Miss Wordsworth was being drawn about in a chair just as she was
seven years ago. I do not recollect her appearance then so as to say
whether she is much altered, but I think not. Mr Wordsworth is as
full of good talk as ever, and seems quite strong and well. Mrs
Wordsworth looks older. Their son William was at tea, but he had come
over only for the day or evening. There was also a little girl, who I
think is Mrs Wordsworth's niece.


"In this year I commenced a troublesome work, the Description of the
Northumberland Telescope. On Sept. 9th I wrote to the Duke of
Northumberland suggesting this, sending him a list of Plates, and
submitting an estimate of expense _£120_. On Sept. 19th I received the
Duke's assent. I applied to Prof. Challis (at the Cambridge
Observatory) requesting him to receive the draughtsman, Sly, in his
house, which he kindly consented to do.

"With regard to Estimates. I now began to point out to the Admiralty
the inconvenience of furnishing separate estimates, viz. to the
Admiralty for the Astronomical Establishment, and to the Treasury for
the Magnetical and Meteorological Establishment.--The great work of
the Lunar Reductions proceeded steadily: 14 computers were employed on
them.--With regard to the Magnetical and Meteorological Establishment:
I suppose that James Ross's expedition had returned: and with this,
according to the terms of the original grant, the Magnetical and
Meteorological Establishments expired. There was much correspondence
with the Royal Society and the Treasury, and ultimately Sir R. Peel
consented to the continuation of the establishments to the end of
1845.--In this year began my correspondence with Mr Mitchell about the
Cincinnati Observatory. On Aug. 25 Mr Mitchell settled himself at
Greenwich, and worked for a long time in the Computing Room.--And in
this year Mr Aiken of Liverpool first wrote to me about the Liverpool
Observatory, and a great deal of correspondence followed: the plans
were in fact entirely entrusted to me.--July 7th was the day of the
Total Eclipse of the Sun, which I observed with my wife at the
Superga, near Turin. I wrote an account of my observations for the
Royal Astronomical Society.--On Jan. 10th I notified to Mr Goulburn
that our Report on the Restoration of the Standards was ready, and on
Jan. 12th I presented it. After this followed a great deal of
correspondence, principally concerning the collection of authenticated
copies of the Old Standards from all sides.--In some discussions with
Capt. Shirreff, then Captain Superintendent of the Chatham Dockyard,
I suggested that machinery might be made which would saw ship-timbers
to their proper form, and I sent him some plans on Nov. 8th. This was
the beginning of a correspondence which lasted long, but which led to
nothing, as will appear hereafter.--On Dec. 15th, being on a visit to
Dean Peacock at Ely, I examined the Drainage Scoop Wheel at
Prickwillow, and made a Report to him by letter, which obtained
circulation and was well known.--On May 26th the manuscript of my
article, 'Tides and Waves,' for the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana was
sent to the printer. I had extensive correspondence, principally on
local tides, with Whewell and others. Tides were observed for me by
Colby's officers at Southampton, by myself at Christchurch and Poole,
at Ipswich by Ransome's man; and a great series of observations of
Irish Tides were made on my plan under Colby's direction in June, July
and August.--On Sept. 15th Mr Goulburn, Chancellor of the Exchequer,
asked my opinion on the utility of Babbage's calculating machine, and
the propriety of expending further sums of money on it. I replied,
entering fully into the matter, and giving my opinion that it was
worthless.--I was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of
Civil Engineers, London.

"The reduction and printing of the astronomical observations had been
getting into arrear: the last revise of the 1840 observations went to
press on May 18th, 1842. On Aug. 18th came into operation a new
organization of Assistants' hours of attendance, &c., required for
bringing up reductions. I worked hard myself and my example had good
effect." His reference to this subject in his Report to the Visitors
is as follows: "I have in one of the preceding articles alluded to the
backwardness of our reductions. In those which follow it I trust that
I have sufficiently explained it. To say nothing of the loss, from ill
health, of the services of most efficient assistants, I am certain
that the quantity of current work will amply explain any
backwardness. Perhaps I may particularly mention that in the
observations of 1840 there was an unusual quantity of equatoreal
observations, and the reductions attending these occupied a very great
time. But, as regards myself, there has been another cause. The
reduction of the Ancient Lunar and Planetary Observations, the
attention to chronometer constructions, the proposed management of the
printing of papers relating to important operations at the Cape of
Good Hope; these and similar operations have taken up much of my
time. I trust that I am doing well in rendering Greenwich, even more
distinctly than it has been heretofore, the place of reference to all
the world for the important observations, and results of observations,
on which the system of the universe is founded. As regards myself, I
have been accustomed, in these matters, to lay aside private
considerations; to consider that I am not a mere Superintendent of
current observations, but a Trustee for the honour of Greenwich
Observatory generally, and for its utility generally to the world;
nay, to consider myself not as mere Director of Greenwich Observatory,
but (however unworthy personally) as British Astronomer, required
sometimes by my office to interfere (when no personal offence is
given) in the concerns of other establishments of the State. If the
Board supports me in this view there can be little doubt that the
present delay of computations, relating to current observations, will
be considered by them as a very small sacrifice to the important
advantage that may be gained by proper attention to the observations
of other times and other places."

"Of private history: In February I went for a week to Playford and
Norwich, visiting Prof. Sedgwick at the latter place. On Mar. 1st my
third daughter Christabel was born. In March I paid a short visit to
Sir John Herschel at Hawkhurst. From June 12th to Aug. 11th I was
travelling with my wife on the Continent, being partly occupied with
the observation of the Total Eclipse of the Sun on July 7th. The
journey was in Switzerland and North Italy. In December I went to
Cambridge and Ely, visiting Dr Peacock at the latter place."

From Feb. 23rd to 28th Airy was engaged on Observations of Tides at
Southampton, Christchurch, Poole, and Weymouth. During this expedition
he wrote frequently (as he always did) to his wife on the incidents of
his journey, and the following letters appear characteristic:

                                            KING'S ARMS, CHRISTCHURCH,
                                                    OR XCHURCH,
                                                    _1842, Feb. 24_.

The lower of the above descriptions of my present place of abode is
the correct one, as I fearlessly assert on the authority of divers
direction-posts on the roads leading to it (by the bye this supports
my doctrine that x in Latin was not pronounced eks but khi, because
the latter is the first letter of Christ, for which x is here
traditionally put). Finding this morning that Yolland (who called on
me as soon as I had closed the letter to you) was perfectly inclined
to go on with the tide observations at Southampton, and that his
corporals of sappers were conducting them in the most exemplary
manner, I determined on starting at once. However we first went to
look at the New Docks (mud up to the knees) and truly it is a very
great work. There is to be enclosed a good number of acres of water 22
feet deep: one dock locked in, the other a tidal dock or basin with
that depth at low water. They are surrounded by brick walls eight feet
thick at top, 10 or more at bottom; and all the parts that ever can be
exposed are faced with granite. The people reckon that this work when
finished will attract a good deal of the London commerce, and I should
not be surprised at it. For it is very much easier for ships to get
into Southampton than into London, and the railway carriage will make
them almost one. A very large steamer is lying in Southampton Water:
the Oriental, which goes to Alexandria. The Lady Mary Wood, a large
steamer for Lisbon and Gibraltar, was lying at the pier. The said pier
is a very pleasant place of promenade, the water and banks are so
pretty, and there is so much liveliness of ships about it. Well I
started in a gig, in a swashing rain, which continued off and on for a
good while. Of the 21 miles, I should think that 15 were across the
New Forest. I do not much admire it. As for Norman William's
destruction of houses and churches to make it hunting ground, that is
utter nonsense which never could have been written by anybody that
ever saw it: but as to hunting, except his horses wore something like
mud-pattens or snow-shoes, it is difficult to conceive it. Almost the
whole Forest is like a great sponge, water standing in every part. In
the part nearer to Xchurch forest trees, especially beeches, seem to
grow well. We stopped to bait at Lyndhurst, a small place high up in
the Forest: a good view, such as it is, from the churchyard. The
hills of the Isle of Wight occasionally in sight. On approaching
Xchurch the chalk cliffs of the west end of the Isle of Wight (leading
to the Needles) were partly visible; and, as the sun was shining on
them, they fairly blazed. Xchurch is a small place with a
magnificent-looking church (with lofty clerestory, double transept,
&c., but with much irregularity) which I propose to visit
to-morrow. Also a ruin which looks like an abbey, but the people call
it a castle. There is a good deal of low land about it, and the part
between the town and the sea reminded me a good deal of the estuary
above Cardigan, flat ill-looking bogs (generally islands) among the
water. I walked to the mouth of the river (more than two miles)
passing a nice little place called Sandford, with a hotel and a lot of
lodgings for summer sea-people. At the entrance of the river is a
coastguard station, and this I find is the place to which I must go in
the morning to observe the tide. I had some talk with the coastguard
people, and they assure me that the tide is really double as
reported. As I came away the great full moon was rising, and I could
read in her unusually broad face (indicating her nearness to the
earth) that there will be a powerful tide. I came in and have had
dinner and tea, and am now going to bed, endeavouring to negociate for
a breakfast at six o'clock to-morrow morning. It is raining cats and

       *       *       *       *       *

                                               LUCE'S HOTEL, WEYMOUTH,
                                                    _1842, Feb. 27_.

This morning when I got up I found that it was blowing fresh from
S.W. and the sea was bursting over the wall of the eastern extremity
of the Esplanade very magnanimously. So (the swell not being
favourable for tide-observations) I gave them up and determined to go
to see the surf on the Chesil Bank. I started with my great-coat on,
more for defence against the wind than against rain; but in a short
time it began to rain, and just when I was approaching the bridge
which connects the mainland with the point where the Chesil Bank ends
at Portland (there being an arm of the sea behind the Chesil Bank) it
rained and blew most dreadfully. However I kept on and mounted the
bank and descended a little way towards the sea, and there was the
surf in all its glory. I cannot give you an idea of its majestic
appearance. It was evidently very high, but that was not the most
striking part of it, for there was no such thing as going within a
considerable distance of it (the occasional outbreaks of the water
advancing so far) so that its magnitude could not be well seen. My
impression is that the height of the surf was from 10 to 20 feet. But
the striking part was the clouds of solid spray which formed
immediately and which completely concealed all the other operations of
the water. They rose a good deal higher than the top of the surf, so
the state of things was this. A great swell is seen coming, growing
steeper and steeper; then it all turns over and you see a face just
like the pictures of falls of Niagara; but in a little more than one
second this is totally lost and there is nothing before you but an
enormous impenetrable cloud of white spray. In about another second
there comes from the bottom of this cloud the foaming current of water
up the bank, and it returns grating the pebbles together till their
jar penetrates the very brain. I stood in the face of the wind and
rain watching this a good while, and should have stood longer but that
I was so miserably wet. It appeared to me that the surf was higher
farther along the bank, but the air was so thickened by the rain and
the spray that I could not tell. When I returned the bad weather
abated. I have now borrowed somebody else's trowsers while mine are
drying (having got little wet in other parts, thanks to my great-coat,
which successfully brought home a hundredweight of water), and do not
intend to stir out again except perhaps to post this letter.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                      FLAMSTEED HOUSE,
                                                     _1842, May 15_.

Yesterday after posting the letter for you I went per steamboat to
Hungerford. I then found Mr Vignoles, and we trundled off together,
with another engineer named Smith, picking up Stratford by the way, to
Wormwood Scrubs. There was a party to see the Atmospheric Railway in
action: including (among others) Sir John Burgoyne, whom I met in
Ireland several years ago, and Mr Pym, the Engineer of the Dublin and
Kingstown Railway, whom I have seen several times, and who is very
sanguine about this construction; and Mr Clegg, the proposer of the
scheme (the man that invented gas in its present arrangements), and
Messrs Samuda, two Jews who are the owners of the experiment now going
on; and Sir James South! With the latter hero and mechanician we did
not come in contact. Unfortunately the stationary engine (for working
the air-pump which draws the air out of the pipes and thus sucks the
carriages along) broke down during the experiment, but not till we had
seen the carriage have one right good run. And to be sure it is very
funny to see a carriage running all alone "as if the Devil drove it"
without any visible cause whatever. The mechanical arrangements we
were able to examine as well after the engine had broken down as at
any time. And they are very simple and apparently very satisfactory,
and there is no doubt of the mechanical practicability of the thing
even in places where locomotives can hardly be used: whether it will
pay or not is doubtful. I dare say that the Commissioners' Report has
taken a very good line of discrimination.

       *       *       *       *       *


"In March I wrote to Dr Wynter (Vice-Chancellor) at Oxford, requesting
permission to see Bradley's and Bliss's manuscript Observations, with
the view of taking a copy of them. This was granted, and the books of
Transits were subsequently copied under Mr Breen's superintendence.
--The following paragraph is extracted from the Report to
the Visitors: 'In the Report of last year, I stated that our
reductions had dropped considerably in arrear. I have the satisfaction
now of stating that this arrear and very much more have been
completely recovered, and that the reductions are now in as forward a
state as at any time since my connection with the Observatory.' In
fact the observations of 1842 were sent to press on Mar. 1st,
1843.--About this year the Annual Dinner at the Visitation began to be
more important, principally under the management of Capt. W.H. Smyth,
R.N.--In November I was enquiring about an 8-inch object-glass. I had
already in mind the furnishing of our meridional instruments with
greater optical powers.--On July 14th the Admiralty referred to me a
Memorial of Mr J.G. Ulrich, a chronometer maker, claiming a reward for
improvements in chronometers. I took a great deal of trouble in the
investigation of this matter, by books, witnesses, &c., and finally
reported on Nov. 4th that there was no ground for claim.--In April I
received the first application of the Royal Exchange Committee, for
assistance in the construction of the Clock: this led to a great deal
of correspondence, especially with Dent.--The Lunar Reductions were
going on in full vigour.--I had much work in connection with the Cape
Observatory: partly about an equatoreal required for the Observatory,
but chiefly in getting Maclear's work through the press.--In this year
I began to think seriously of determining the longitude of Valencia in
Ireland, as a most important basis for the scale of longitude in these
latitudes, by the transmission of chronometers; and in August I went
to Valencia and examined the localities. In September I submitted a
plan to the Admiralty, but it was deferred.--The new Commission for
restoring the Standards was appointed on June 20th, I being Chairman.
The work of collecting standards and arranging plans was going on; Mr
Baily attending to Standards of Length, and Prof. W.H. Miller to
Standards of Weight. We held two meetings.--A small assistance was
rendered to me by Mr Charles May (of the firm of Ransomes and May),
which has contributed much to the good order of papers in the
Observatory. Mr Robert Ransome had remarked my method of punching
holes in the paper by a hand-punch, the places of the holes being
guided by holes in a piece of card, and said that they could furnish
me with something better. Accordingly, on Aug. 28th Mr May sent me the
punching machine, the prototype of all now used in the Observatory.

"On Sept. 25th was made my proposal for an Altazimuth Instrument for
making observations of the Moon's place more frequently and through
parts of her orbit where she could never be observed with meridional
instruments; the most important addition to the Observatory since its
foundation. The Board of Visitors recommended it to the Admiralty,
and the Admiralty sanctioned the construction of the instrument and
the building to contain it." The following passage is quoted from the
Address of the Astronomer Royal to the Board of Visitors at the
Special Meeting of Nov. 10th, 1843: "The most important object in the
institution and maintenance of the Royal Observatory has always been
the Observations of the Moon. In this term I include the determination
of the places of fixed stars which are necessary for ascertaining the
instrumental errors applicable to the instrumental observations of the
Moon. These, as regards the objects of the institution, were merely
auxiliaries: the history of the circumstances which led the Government
of the day to supply the funds for the construction of the Observatory
shews that, but for the demands of accurate Lunar Determinations as
aids to navigation, the erection of a National Observatory would never
have been thought of. And this object has been steadily kept in view
when others (necessary as fundamental auxiliaries) were passed
by. Thus, during the latter part of Bradley's time, and Bliss's time
(which two periods are the least efficient in the modern history of
the Observatory), and during the latter part of Maskelyne's presidency
(when, for years together, there is scarcely a single observation of
the declination of a star), the Observations of the Moon were kept up
with the utmost regularity. And the effect of this regularity, as
regards its peculiar object, has been most honourable to the
institution. The existing Theories and Tables of the Moon are founded
entirely upon the Greenwich Observations; the Observatory of Greenwich
has been looked to as that from which alone adequate observations can
be expected, and from which they will not be expected in vain: and it
is not perhaps venturing too much to predict that, unless some gross
dereliction of duty by the managers of the Observatory should occur,
the Lunar Tables will always be founded on Greenwich Observations.
With this impression it has long been to me a matter of
consideration whether means should not be taken for rendering the
series of Observations of the Moon more complete than it can be made
by the means at present recognized in our observatories."--In
illustration of the foregoing remarks, the original inscription still
remaining on the outside of the wall of the Octagon Room of the
Observatory may be quoted. It runs thus: 'Carolus II's Rex Optimus
Astronomiae et Nauticae Artis Patronus Maximus Speculam hanc in
utriusque commodum fecit Anno D'ni MDCLXXVI Regni sui XXVIII curante
Iona Moore milite RTSG.'

"The Ashburton Treaty had been settled with the United States, for the
boundary between Canada and the State of Maine, and one of its
conditions was, that a straight line about 65 miles in length should
be drawn through dense woods, connecting definite points. It soon
appeared that this could scarcely be done except by astronomical
operations. Lord Canning, Under Secretary of the Foreign Office,
requested me to nominate two astronomers to undertake the work. I
strongly recommended that Military Officers should carry out the work,
and Capt. Robinson and Lieut. Pipon were detached for this service. On
Mar. 1st they took lodgings at Greenwich, and worked at the
Observatory every day and night through the month. My detailed
astronomical instructions to them were drawn out on Mar. 29th. I
prepared all the necessary skeleton forms, &c., and looked to their
scientific equipment in every way. The result will be given in 1844.

"Of private history: In January I went to Dover with my wife to see
the blasting of a cliff there: we also visited Sir J. Herschel at
Hawkhurst. In April I was at Playford, on a visit to Arthur
Biddell. On Apr. 9th my daughter Annot was born. From July 22nd to
August 25th I was travelling in the South of Ireland, chiefly to see
Valencia and consider the question of determining its longitude:
during this journey I visited Lord Rosse at Birr Castle, and returned
to Weymouth, where my family were staying at the time. In October I
visited Cambridge, and in December I was again at Playford."

The journey to Cambridge (Oct. 24th to 27th) was apparently in order
to be present on the occasion of the Queen's visit there on the 25th:
the following letter relating to it was written to his wife:

                                                SEDGWICK'S ROOMS,
                                           TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
                                          _1843, Oct. 26, Thursday_.

I have this morning received your letter: I had no time to write
yesterday. There are more things to tell of than I can possibly
remember. The Dean of Ely yesterday was in a most ludicrous state of
misery because his servant had sent his portmanteau (containing his
scarlet academicals as well as everything else) to London, and it went
to Watford before it was recovered: but he got it in time to shew
himself to-day. Yesterday morning I came early to breakfast with
Sedgwick. Then I walked about the streets to look at the
flags. Cambridge never had such an appearance before. In looking along
Trinity Street or Trumpington Street there were arches and flags as
close as they could stand, and a cord stretched from King's Entrance
to Mr Deck's or the next house with flags on all its length: a flag on
St Mary's, and a huge royal standard ready to hoist on Trinity
Gateway: laurels without end. I applied at the Registrar's office for
a ticket which was to admit me to Trinity Court, the Senate House,
&c., and received from Peacock one for King's Chapel. Then there was
an infinity of standing about, and very much I was fatigued, till I
got some luncheon at Blakesley's rooms at 1 o'clock. This was
necessary because there was to be no dinner in hall on account of the
Address presentation. The Queen was expected at 2, and arrived about
10 minutes after 2. When she drove up to Trinity Gate, the
Vice-Chancellor, masters, and beadles went to meet her, and the
beadles laid down their staves, which she desired them to take
again. Then she came towards the Lodge as far as the Sundial, where
Whewell as master took the college keys (a bundle of rusty keys tied
together by a particularly greasy strap) from the bursar Martin, and
handed them to the Queen, who returned them. Then she drove round by
the turret-corner of the court to the Lodge door. Almost every member
of the University was in the court, and there was a great hurraing
except when the ceremonies were going forward. Presently the Queen
appeared at a window and bowed, and was loudly cheered. Then notice
was given that the Queen and Prince would receive the Addresses of the
University in Trinity hall, and a procession was formed, in which I
had a good place, as I claimed rank with the Professors. A throne and
canopy were erected at the top of the hall, but the Queen did not sit,
which was her own determination, because if she had sat it would have
been proper that everybody should back out before presenting the
Address to the Prince: which operation would have suffocated at least
100 people. The Queen wore a blue gown and a brown shawl with an
immense quantity of gold embroidery, and a bonnet. Then it was known
that the Queen was going to service at King's Chapel at half past
three: so everybody went there. I saw the Queen walk up the antechapel
and she looked at nothing but the roof. I was not able to see her in
chapel or to see the throne erected for her with its back to the
Table, which has given great offence to many people. (I should have
said that before the Queen came I called on Dr Haviland, also on
Scholefield, also on the Master of Christ's.) After this she returned
to Trinity, and took into her head to look at the chapel. The cloth
laid on the pavement was not long enough and the undergraduates laid
down their gowns. Several of the undergraduate noblemen carried
candles to illuminate Newton's statue. After this the Prince went by
torchlight to the library. Then I suppose came dinner, and then it was
made known that at half-past nine the Queen would receive some Members
of the University. So I rigged myself up and went to the levée at the
Lodge and was presented in my turn; by the Vice-Chancellor as
"Ex-Professor Airy, your Majesty's Astronomer Royal." The Queen and
the Prince stood together, and a bow was made to and received from
each. The Prince recognised me and said "I am glad to see you," or
something like that. Next to him stood Goulburn, and next Lord
Lyndhurst, who to my great surprise spoke very civilly to me (as I
will tell you afterwards). The Queen had her head bare and a sort of
French white gown and looked very well. She had the ribbon of the
Garter on her breast; but like a ninny I forgot to look whether she
had the Garter upon her arm. The Prince wore his Garter. I went to bed
dead tired and got up with a headache.--About the degree to the Prince
and the other movements I will write again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a note from Cubitt relating to the blasting of the Round Down
Cliff at Dover referred to above:

                                                  GREAT GEORGE STREET,
                                                  _Jan. 20th, 1843_.


_Thursday_ next the 26th at 12 is the time fixed for the attempt to
blow out the foot of the "Round Down" Cliff near Dover.

The Galvanic apparatus has been repeatedly tried in place--that is by
exploding cartridges in the very chambers of the rock prepared for the
powder--with the batteries at 1200 feet distance they are in full form
and act admirably so that I see but little fear of failure on that

They have been rehearsing the explosions on the plan I most strongly
recommended, that is--to fire each chamber by an independent battery
and circuit and to discharge the three batteries simultaneously by
signal or word of command which answers well and "no mistake."

I shall write to Sir John Herschel to-day, and remain

        My dear Sir,
          Very truly yours,
            W. CUBITT.

G.B. Airy, Esq.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extracts are from letters to his wife written in Ireland
when on his journey to consider the determination of the longitude of

                                                    _1843, July 28_.

By the bye, to shew the quiet of Ireland now, I saw in a newspaper at
Cork this account. At some place through which a repeal-association
was to pass (I forget its name) the repealers of the place set up a
triumphal arch. The police pulled it down, and were pelted by the
repealers, and one of the policemen was much bruised. O'Connell has
denounced this place as a disgrace to the cause of repeal, and has
moved in the full meeting that the inhabitants of this place be struck
off the repeal list, with no exception but that of the parish priest
who was proved to be absent. And O'Connell declares that he will not
pass through this place. Now for my journey. It is a sort of
half-mountain country all the way, with some bogs to refresh my eyes.

                                                       VALENCIA HOTEL,
                                                   _1843, August 6_.

It seems that my coming here has caused infinite alarm. The common
people do not know what to conjecture, but have some notion that the
"sappers and miners" are to build a bridge to admit the charge of
cavalry into the island. An attendant of Mrs Fitzgerald expressed how
strange it was that a man looking so mild and gentle could meditate
such things "but never fear, Maam, those that look so mild are always
the worst": then she narrated how that her husband was building some
stables, but that she was demanding of him "Pat, you broth of a boy,
what is the use of your building stables when these people are coming
to destroy everything." I suspect that the people who saw me walking
up through the storm yesterday must have thought me the prince of the
powers of the air at least.

                                              HIBERNIAN HOTEL, TRALEE,
                                                   _1843, August 7_.

I sailed from Valencia to Cahersiveen town in a sail-boat up the water
(not crossing at the ferry). I had accommodated my time to the wish of
the boatman, who desired to be there in time for prayers: so that I
had a long waiting at Cahersiveen for the mail car. In walking through
the little town, I passed the chapel (a convent chapel) to which the
people were going: and really the scene was very curious. The chapel
appeared to be overflowing full, and the court in front of it was full
of people, some sitting on the ground, some kneeling, and some
prostrate. There were also people in the street, kneeling with their
faces towards the gate pillars, &c. It seemed to me that the priest
and the chapel were of less use here than even in the continental
churches, and I do not see why both parties should not have stopped at
home. When the chapel broke up, it seemed as if the streets were
crammed with people. The turnout that even a small village in Ireland
produces is perfectly amazing.


"In the course of 1843 I had put in hand the engraving of the drawings
of the Northumberland Telescope at Cambridge Observatory, and wrote
the description for letterpress. In the course of 1844 the work was
completed, and the books were bound and distributed.

"The building to receive the Altazimuth Instrument was erected in the
course of the year; during the construction a foreman fell into the
foundation pit and broke his leg, of which accident he died. This is
the only accident that I have known at the Observatory.--The
Electrometer Mast and sliding frame were erected near the Magnetic
Observatory.--The six-year Catalogue of 1439 stars was finished; this
work had been in progress during the last few years.--In May I went to
Woolwich to correct the compasses of the 'Dover,' a small iron steamer
carrying mails between Dover and Ostend: this I believe was the first
iron ship possessed by the Admiralty.--The Lunar Reductions were
making good progress; 16 computers were employed upon them. I made
application for printing them and the required sum (_£1000_) was
granted by the Treasury.--In this year commenced that remarkable
movement which led to the discovery of Neptune. On Feb. 13th
Prof. Challis introduced Mr Adams to me by letter. On Feb. 15th I sent
my observed places of Uranus, which were wanted. On June 19th I also
sent places to Mr E. Bouvard.--As regards the National Standards, Mr
Baily (who undertook the comparisons relating to standards of length)
died soon, and Mr Sheepshanks then undertook the work.--I attended the
meeting of the British Association held at York (principally in
compliment to the President, Dr Peacock), and gave an oral account of
my work on Irish Tides.--At the Oxford Commemoration in June, the
honorary degree of D.C.L. was conferred on M. Struve and on me, and
then a demand was made on each of us for _£6. 6s._ for fees. We were
much disgusted and refused to pay it, and I wrote angrily to Dr
Wynter, the Vice-Chancellor. The fees were ultimately paid out of the
University Chest.

"In this year the longitude of Altona was determined by M. Struve for
the Russian Government. For this purpose it was essential that
facilities should be given for landing chronometers at Greenwich. But
the consent of the customhouse authorities had first to be obtained,
and this required a good deal of negotiation. Ultimately the
determination was completed in the most satisfactory manner. The
chronometers, forty-two in number, crossed the German Sea sixteen
times. The transit observers were twice interchanged, in order to
eliminate not only their Personal Equation, but also the gradual
change of Personal Equation. On Sept. 30th Otto Struve formally wrote
his thanks for assistance rendered.

"For the determination of the longitude of Valencia, which was carried
out in this year, various methods were discussed, but the plan of
sending chronometers by mail conveyance was finally approved. From
London to Liverpool the chronometers were conveyed by the railways,
from Liverpool to Kingstown by steamer, from Dublin to Tralee by the
Mail Coaches, from Tralee to Cahersiveen by car, from Cahersiveen to
Knightstown by boat, and from Knightstown to the station on the hill
the box was carried like a sedan-chair. There were numerous other
arrangements, and all succeeded perfectly without a failure of any
kind. Thirty pocket chronometers traversed the line between Greenwich
and Kingstown about twenty-two times, and that between Kingstown and
Valencia twenty times. The chronometrical longitudes of Liverpool
Observatory, Kingstown Station, and Valencia Station are 12m 0.05s,
24m 31.17s, 41m 23.25s; the geodetic longitudes, computed from
elements which I published long ago in the Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana, are 12m 0.34s, 24m 31.47s, 41m 23.06s. It appears from
this that the elements to which I have alluded represent the form of
the Earth here as nearly as is possible. On the whole, I think it
probable that this is the best arc of parallel that has ever been

"With regard to the Maine Boundary: on May 7th Col. Estcourt, the
British Commissioner, wrote to me describing the perfect success of
following out my plan: the line of 64 miles was cut by directions laid
out at the two ends, and the cuttings met within 341 feet. The country
through which this line was to pass is described as surpassing in its
difficulties the conception of any European. It consists of
impervious forests, steep ravines, and dismal swamps. A survey for the
line was impossible, and a tentative process would have broken the
spirit of the best men. I therefore arranged a plan of operations
founded on a determination of the absolute latitudes and the
difference of longitudes of the two extremities. The difference of
longitudes was determined by the transfer of chronometers by the very
circuitous route from one extremity to the other; and it was necessary
to divide the whole arc into four parts, and to add a small part by
measure and bearing. When this was finished, the azimuths of the line
for the two ends were computed, and marks were laid off for starting
with the line from both ends. One party, after cutting more than
forty-two miles through the woods, were agreeably surprised, on the
brow of a hill, at seeing directly before them a gap in the woods on
the next line of hill; it opened gradually, and proved to be the line
of the opposite party. On continuing the lines till they passed
abreast of each other, their distance was found to be 341 feet. To
form an estimate of the magnitude of this error, it is to be observed
that it implies an error of only a quarter of a second of time in the
difference of longitudes; and that it is only one-third (or nearly so)
of the error which would have been committed if the spheroidal form of
the Earth had been neglected. I must point out the extraordinary merit
of the officers who effected this operation. Transits were observed
and chronometers were interchanged when the temperature was lower than
19° below zero: and when the native assistants, though paid highly,
deserted on account of the severity of the weather, the British
officers still continued the observations upon whose delicacy
everything depended.

"Of private history: From July 3rd to Aug. 13th I was in Ireland with
my wife. This was partly a business journey in connection with the
determination of the longitude of Valencia. On Jan. 4th I asked Lord
Lyndhurst (Lord Chancellor) to present my brother to the living of
Helmingham, which he declined to do: but on Dec. 12th he offered
Binbrooke, which I accepted for my brother."


"A map of the Buildings and Grounds of the Observatory was commenced
in 1844, and was still in progress.--On Mar. 19th I was employed on a
matter which had for some time occupied my thoughts, viz., the
re-arrangement of current manuscripts. I had prepared a sloping box
(still in use) to hold 24 portfolios: and at this time I arranged
papers A, and went on with B, C, &c. Very little change has been made
in these.--In reference to the time given to the weekly report on
Meteorology to the Registrar General, the Report to the Board of
Visitors contains the following paragraph: 'The devotion of some of my
assistants' time and labour to the preparation of the Meteorological
Report attached to the weekly report of the Registrar General, is, in
my opinion, justified by the bearing of the meteorological facts upon
the medical facts, and by the attention which I understand that Report
to have excited.'--On Dec. 13th the sleep of Astronomy was broken by
the announcement that a new planet, Astraea, was discovered by Mr
Hencke. I immediately circulated notices.--But in this year began a
more remarkable planetary discussion. On Sept. 22nd Challis wrote to
me to say that Mr Adams would leave with me his results on the
explanation of the irregularities of Uranus by the action of an
exterior planet. In October Adams called, in my absence. On Nov. 5th I
wrote to him, enquiring whether his theory explained the irregularity
of radius-vector (as well as that of longitude). I waited for an
answer, but received none. (See the Papers printed in the Royal
Astronomical Society's Memoirs and Monthly Notices).--In the Royal
Society, the Royal Medal was awarded to me for my Paper on the Irish
Tides.--In the Royal Astronomical Society I was President; and, with a
speech, delivered the Medal to Capt. Smyth for the Bedford Catalogue
of Double Stars.--On Jan. 21st I was appointed (with Schumacher) one
of the Referees for the King of Denmark's Comet Medal: I have the
King's Warrant under his sign manual.--The Tidal Harbour Commission
commenced on Apr. 5th: on July 21st my Report on Wexford Harbour (in
which I think I introduced important principles) was communicated. One
Report was made this year to the Government.--In the matter of Saw
Mills (which had begun in 1842), I had prepared a second set of plans
in 1844, and in this year Mr Nasmyth made a very favourable report on
my plan. A machinist of the Chatham Dock Yard, Sylvester, was set to
work (but not under my immediate command) to make a model: and this
produced so much delay as ultimately to ruin the design.--On Jan. 1st
I was engaged on my Paper 'On the flexure of a uniform bar, supported
by equal pressures at equidistant points.'" (This was probably in
connection with the support of Standards of Length, for the
Commission. Ed.).--In June I attended the Meeting of the British
Association at Cambridge, and on the 20th I gave a Lecture on
Magnetism in the Senate House. The following quotation relating to
this Lecture is taken from a letter by Whewell to his wife (see Life
of William Whewell by Mrs Stair Douglas): "I did not go to the Senate
House yesterday evening. Airy was the performer, and appears to have
outdone himself in his art of giving clearness and simplicity to the
hardest and most complex subjects. He kept the attention of his
audience quite enchained for above two hours, talking about
terrestrial magnetism."--On Nov. 29th I gave evidence before a
Committee of the House of Commons on Dover Harbour Pier.

"With respect to the Magnetical and Meteorological Establishment, the
transactions in this year were most important. It had been understood
that the Government establishments had been sanctioned twice for
three-year periods, of which the second would expire at the end of
1845: and it was a question with the scientific public whether they
should be continued. My own opinion was in favour of stopping the
observations and carefully discussing them. And I am convinced that
this would have been best, except for the subsequent introduction of
self-registering systems, in which I had so large a share. There was
much discussion and correspondence, and on June 7th the Board of
Visitors resolved that 'In the opinion of the Visitors it is of the
utmost importance that these observations should continue to be made
on the most extensive scale which the interests of those sciences may
require.' The meeting of the British Association was held at Cambridge
in June: and one of the most important matters there was the Congress
of Magnetic Philosophers, many of them foreigners. It was resolved
that the Magnetic Observatory at Greenwich be continued
permanently. At this meeting I proposed a resolution which has proved
to be exceedingly important. I had remarked the distress which the
continuous two-hourly observations through the night produced to my
Assistants, and determined if possible to remove it. I therefore
proposed 'That it is highly desirable to encourage by specific
pecuniary reward the improvement of self-recording magnetical and
meteorological apparatus: and that the President of the British
Association and the President of the Royal Society be requested to
solicit the favourable consideration of Her Majesty's Government to
this subject,' which was adopted. In October the Admiralty expressed
their willingness to grant a reward up to _£500_. Mr Charles Brooke
had written to me proposing a plan on Sept. 23rd, and he sent me his
first register on Nov. 24th. On Nov. 1st the Treasury informed the
Admiralty that the Magnetic Observatories will be continued for a
further period.

"The Railway Gauge Commission in this year was an important
employment. The Railways, which had begun with the Manchester and
Liverpool Railway (followed by the London and Birmingham) had advanced
over the country with some variation in their breadth of gauge. The
gauge of the Colchester Railway had been altered to suit that of the
Cambridge Railway. And finally there remained but two gauges: the
broad gauge (principally in the system allied with the Great Western
Railway); and the narrow gauge (through the rest of England). These
came in contact at Gloucester, and were likely to come in contact at
many other points--to the enormous inconvenience of the public. The
Government determined to interfere, beginning with a Commission. On
July 3rd Mr Laing (then on the Board of Trade) rode to Greenwich,
bearing a letter of introduction from Sir John Lefevre and a request
from Lord Dalhousie (President of the Board of Trade) that I would act
as second of a Royal Commission (Col. Sir Frederick Smith, Airy, Prof.
Barlow). I assented to this: and very soon began a vigorous course of
business. On July 23rd and 24th I went with Prof. Barlow and our
Secretary to Bristol, Gloucester, and Birmingham: on Dec. 17th I went
on railway experiments to Didcot: and on Dec. 29th to Jan. 2nd I went
to York, with Prof. Barlow and George Arthur Biddell, for railway
experiments. On Nov. 21st I finished a draft Report of the Railway
Gauge Commission, which served in great measure as a basis for that
adopted next year.

"Of private history: I wrote to Lord Lyndhurst on Feb. 20th,
requesting an exchange of the living to which he had presented my
brother in Dec. 1844 for that of Swineshead: to which he
consented.--On Jan. 29th I went with my wife on a visit to my uncle
George Biddell, at Bradfield St George, near Bury.--On June 9th I went
into the mining district of Cornwall with George Arthur Biddell.--From
Aug. 25th to Sept. 26th I was travelling in France with my sister and
my wife's sister, Georgiana Smith. I was well introduced, and the
journey was interesting.--On Oct. 29th my son Osmund was born.--Mr
F. Baily bequeathed to me _£500_, which realized _£450_."

Here are some extracts from letters written to his wife relating to
the visit to the Cornish mines, &c.--

                                             PEARCE'S HOTEL, FALMOUTH,
                                        _1845, June 12th, Thursday_.

Then we walked to the United Mines in Gwennap. The day was very fine
and now it was perfectly broiling: and the hills here are long and
steep. At the United Mines we found the Captain, and he invited us to
join in a rough dinner, to which he and the other captains were going
to sit down. Then we examined one of the great pumping engines, which
is considered the best in the country: and some other engines. Between
3 and 4 there was to be a setting out of some work to the men by a
sort of Dutch Auction (the usual way of setting out the work here):
some refuse ores were to be broken up and made marketable, and the
subject of competition was, for how little in the pound on the gross
produce the men would work them up. While we were here a man was
brought up who was hurt in blasting: a piece of rock had fallen on
him. At this mine besides the ladder ways, they have buckets sliding
in guides by which the men are brought up: and they are just preparing
for work another apparatus which they say is tried successfully at
another mine (Tresavean): there are two wooden rods _A_ and _B_
reaching from the top to the bottom, moved by cranks from the same
wheel, so that one goes up when the other goes down, and vice versâ:
each of these rods has small stages, at such a distance that when the
rod _A_ is down and the rod _B_ is up, the first stage of _A_ is level
with the first stage of _B_: but when the rod _A_ is up and the rod
_B_ is down, the second stage of _A_ is level with the first stage of
_B_: so a man who wants to descend steps on the first stage of _A_ and
waits till it goes down: then he steps sideways on the first stage of
_B_ and waits till it goes down: then he steps sideways to the second
stage of _A_ and waits till it goes down, and so on: or if a man is
coming up he does just the same. While we were here Mr R. Taylor
came. We walked home (a long step, perhaps seven miles) in a very hot
sun. Went to tea to Mr Alfred Fox, who has a house in a beautiful
position looking to the outside of Falmouth Harbour.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                          _1845, June 14, Saturday_.

Yesterday morning we breakfasted early at Falmouth, and before 9
started towards Gwennap. I had ascertained on Thursday that John
Williams (the senior of a very wealthy and influential family in this
country) was probably returned from London. So we drove first to his
house Burntcoose or Barncoose, and found him and his wife at
home. (They are Quakers, the rest of the family are not.) Sedgwick,
and Whewell, and I, or some of our party including me, had slept once
at their house. They received George and me most cordially, and
pressed us to come and dine with them after our visit to Tresavean
mine, of which intention I spoke in my last letter: so I named 4
o'clock as hour for dinner. After a little stay we drove to Tresavean,
where I found the Captain of the mine prepared to send an Underground
Captain and a Pit-man to descend with us. So we changed our clothes
and descended by the ladders in the pumpshaft. Pretty work to descend
with the huge pump-rods (garnished with large iron bolts) working
violently, making strokes of 12 feet, close to our elbows; and with a
nearly bottomless pit at the foot of every ladder, where we had to
turn round the foot of the ladder walking on only a narrow
board. However we got down to the bottom of the mine with great safety
and credit, seeing all the mighty machinery on the way, to a greater
depth than I ever reached before, namely 1900 feet. From the bottom of
the pump we went aside a short distance into the lowest workings where
two men nearly naked were driving a level towards the lode or vein of
ore. Here I felt a most intolerable heat: and upon moving to get out
of the place, I had a dreadful feeling of feebleness and fainting,
such as I never had in my life before. The men urged me to climb the
ladders to a level where the air was better, but they might as well
have urged me to lift up the rock. I could do nothing but sit down and
lean fainting against the rocks. This arose entirely from the badness
of the air. After a time I felt a trifle better, and then I climbed
one short ladder, and sat down very faint again. When I recovered, two
men tied a rope round me, and went up the ladder before me, supporting
a part of my weight, and in this way I ascended four or five ladders
(with long rests between) till we came to a level, 260 fathoms below
the adit or nearly 300 fathoms below the surface, where there was a
tolerable current of pretty good air. Here I speedily recovered,
though I was a little weak for a short time afterwards. George also
felt the bad air a good deal, but not so much as I. He descended to
some workings equally low in another place (towards which the party
that I spoke of were directing their works), but said that the air
there was by no means so bad. We all met at the bottom of the
man-engine 260 fathoms below the adit. We sat still a little while,
and I acquired sufficient strength and nerve, so that I did not feel
the slightest alarm in the operation of ascending by the
man-engine. This is the funniest operation that I ever saw: it is the
only absolute novelty that I have seen since I was in the country
before: it has been introduced 2-1/2 years in Tresavean, and one day
in the United Mines. In my last letter I described the principle. In
the actual use there is no other motion to be made by the person who
is ascending or descending than that of stepping sideways each time
(there being proper hand-holds) with no exertion at all, except that
of stepping exactly at the proper instant: and not the shadow of
unpleasant feeling in the motion. Any woman may go with the most
perfect comfort, if she will but attend to the rules of stepping, and
forget that there is an open pit down to the very bottom of the
mine. In this way we were pumped up to the surface, and came up as
cool as cucumbers, instead of being drenched with perspiration. In my
description in last letter I forgot to mention that between the stages
on the moving rods which I have there described there are intermediate
stages on the moving rods (for which there is ample room, inasmuch as
the interval between the stages on each rod used by one person is 24
feet), and these intermediate stages are used by persons _descending_:
so that there are persons _ascending_ and persons _descending_ at the
same time, who never interfere with each other and never step on the
same stages, but merely see each other passing on the other rods--It
is a most valuable invention. We then changed our clothes and washed,
and drove to Barncoose, arriving in good time for the dinner. I found
myself much restored by some superb Sauterne with water. When we were
proposing to go on to Camborne, Mr and Mrs Williams pressed us so
affectionately to stop that we at length decided on stopping for the
night, only bargaining for an early breakfast this morning. This
morning after breakfast, we started for Redruth and Camborne. The
population between them has increased immensely since I was here
before. &c. &c.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a letter written to his wife while he was engaged on the
business of the Railway Gauge Commission. It contains reminiscences of
some people who made a great figure in the railway world at that time,
and was preceded by a letter which was playfully addressed "From the
Palace of King Hudson, York."

                                                     GEORGE INN, YORK,
                                                    _1845, Dec. 30_.

I wrote yesterday from Mr Hudson's in time for the late post, and hope
that my letter might be posted by the servant to whom it was
given. Our affairs yesterday were simple: we reached Euston Station
properly, found Watson there, found a carriage reserved for us, eat
pork-pie at Wolverton (not so good as formerly), dined at Derby, and
arrived in York at 5.20. On the way Watson informed me that the
Government have awarded us _£500_ each. Sir F. Smith had talked over
the matter with us, and I laid it down as a principle that we
considered the business as an important one and one of very great
responsibility, and that we wished either that the Government should
treat us handsomely or should consider us as servants of the State
acting gratuitously, to which they assented. I think the Government
have done very well. Mr Hudson, as I have said, met us on the platform
and pressed us to dine with him (though I had dined twice). Then we
found the rival parties quarrelling, and had to arrange between
them. This prevented me from writing for the early post. (I forgot to
mention that Saunders, the Great Western Secretary, rode with us all
the way). At Hudson's we had really a very pleasant dinner: I sat
between Vernon Harcourt and Mrs Malcolm (his sister Georgiana) and
near to Mr Hudson. This morning we were prepared at 9 at the Station
for some runs. Brunel and other people had arrived in the night. And
we have been to Darlington and back, with a large party in our
experimental train. George Arthur Biddell rode on the engine as
representing me. But the side wind was so dreadfully heavy that, as
regards the wants of the case, this day is quite thrown away. We have
since been to lunch with Vernon Harcourt (Mrs Harcourt not at home)
and then went with him to look at the Cathedral. The Chapter-house,
which was a little injured, has been pretty well restored: all other
things in good order. The Cathedral looks smaller and lower than
French cathedrals. Now that we have come in, the Lord Mayor of York
has just called to invite us to dinner to-morrow.--I propose to George
Arthur Biddell that he go to Newcastle this evening, in order to see
glass works and other things there to-morrow, and to return when he

I think that I can persuade Barlow to stop to see the experiments out,
and if so I shall endeavour to return as soon as possible. The
earliest day would be the day after to-morrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extract is from a letter written to Mr Murray for
insertion in his Handbook of France, relating to the Breakwater at
Cherbourg, which Airy had visited during his journey in France in the
autumn of this year.

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                   _1845, Oct. 8th_.

My opinion on the construction I need not say ought not to be quoted:
but you are quite welcome to found any general statement on it; or
perhaps it may guide you in further enquiries. To make it clear, I
must speak rather generally upon the subject. There are three ways in
which a breakwater may be constructed. 1. By building a strong wall
with perpendicular face from the bottom of the sea. 2. By making a
bank with nothing but slopes towards the sea. 3. By making a sloping
bank to a certain height and then building a perpendicular wall upon
it.--Now if the 1st of these constructions could be arranged, I have
no doubt that it would be the best of all, because a sea does not
_break_ against a perpendicular face, but recoils in an unbroken
swell, merely making a slow quiet push at the wall, and not making a
violent impact. But practically it is nearly impossible. The 2nd
construction makes the sea to break tremendously, but if the sloping
surface be made of square stone put together with reasonable care
there is not the smallest tendency to unseat these stones. This is the
principle of construction of Plymouth Breakwater. In the 3rd
construction, the slope makes the sea to break tremendously, and then
it strikes the perpendicular face with the force of a battering ram:
and therefore in my opinion this is the worst construction of all. A
few face-stones may easily be dislodged, and then the sea entering
with this enormous force will speedily destroy the whole. This is the
form of the Cherbourg Digue.

From this you will gather that I have a full belief that Plymouth
Breakwater will last very long, and that the Digue of Cherbourg, at
least its upper wall, will not last long. The great bank will last a
good while, gradually suffering degradation, but still protecting the
Road pretty well.

I was assured by the officers residing on the Digue that the sea which
on breaking is thrown vertically upwards and then falls down upon the
pavement does sometimes push the stones about which are lying there
and which weigh three or four tons.

I saw some preparations for the foundations of the fort at the eastern
extremity of the Digue. One artificial stone of concrete measured
12'9" × 6'7" × 5'7", and was estimated to weigh 25000 kilogrammes.

                             CHAPTER VI.

               AT GREENWICH OBSERVATORY--1846 TO 1856.


"On Nov. 7th I proposed a change in the form of Estimates for the
Observatory. The original astronomical part was provided by the
Admiralty, and the new magnetical and meteorological part was provided
by the Treasury: and the whole Estimates and Accounts of the
Observatory never appeared in one public paper. I proposed that the
whole should be placed on the Navy Estimates, but the Admiralty
refused. I repeated this in subsequent years, with no success.
Meantime I always sent to the Admiralty a duplicate of my
Treasury Estimate with the proper Admiralty Estimate.--Stephenson's
Railway through the lower part of the Park, in tunnel about 850 feet
from the Observatory, was again brought forward. On Feb. 20th it was
put before me by the Government, and on March 9th I made experiments
at Kensal Green, specially on the effect of a tunnel: which I found to
be considerable in suppressing the tremors. On May 6th I made my
Report, generally favourable, supposing the railway to be in
tunnel. On May 13th I, with Mr Stephenson, had an interview at the
Admiralty with Lord Ellenborough and Sir George Cockburn. The Earl
appeared willing to relax in his scruples about allowing a railway
through the Park, when Sir George Cockburn made a most solemn protest
against it, on the ground of danger to an institution of such
importance as the Observatory. I have no doubt that this protest of
Sir George Cockburn's really determined the Government. On June 10th I
was informed that the Government refused their consent. After this the
South Eastern Railway Company adopted the line through Tranquil
Vale.--In consequence of the defective state of Paramatta Observatory
I had written to Sir Robert Peel on April 16th raising the question of
a General Superintending Board for Colonial Observatories: and on June
27th I saw Mr Gladstone at the Colonial Office to enquire about the
possibility of establishing local Boards. On June 29th a general plan
was settled, but it never came to anything.--Forty volumes of the
Observatory MSS. were bound--an important beginning.--Deep-sunk
thermometers were prepared by Prof. Forbes.--On June 22nd Sir Robert
Inglis procured an Order of the House of Commons for printing a paper
of Sir James South's, ostensibly on the effects of a railway passing
through Greenwich Park, but really attacking almost everything that I
did in the Observatory. I replied to this on July 21st by a letter in
the Athenaeum addressed to Sir Robert Inglis, in terms so strong and
so well supported that Sir James South was effectually silenced." The
following extract from a letter of Airy's to the Earl of Rosse, dated
Dec. 15th 1846, will shew how pronounced the quarrel between Airy and
South had become in consequence of the above-mentioned attack and
previous differences: "After the public exposure which his conduct in
the last summer compelled me to make, I certainly cannot meet him on
equal terms, and desire not to meet him at all." (Ed.).--"In the
Mag. and Met. Department, I was constantly engaged with Mr Charles
Brooke in the preparation and mounting of the self-registering
instruments, and the chemical arrangements for their use, to the end
of the year. With Mr Ronalds I was similarly engaged: but I had the
greatest difficulty in transacting business with him, from his
unpractical habits.--The equipment of the Liverpool Observatory, under
me, was still going on: I introduced the use of Siemens's Chronometric
Governor for giving horary motion to an Equatoreal there. I have since
introduced the same principle in the Chronograph Barrel and the Great
Equatoreal at Greenwich: I consider it important.--On Feb. 13th I
received the Astronomical Society's Medal for the Planetary
Reductions.--In the University of London: At this time seriously began
the discussion whether there should be a compulsory examination in
matters bearing on religious subjects. After this there was no
peace.--For discovery of Comets three medals were awarded by
Schumacher and me: one to Peters, two to De Vico. A comet was seen by
Hind, and by no other observer: after correspondence, principally in
1848, the medal was refused to him.--With respect to the Railway Gauge
Commission: On Jan. 1st, in our experiments near York, the engine ran
off the rails. On Jan. 29th the Commissioners signed the Report, and
the business was concluded by the end of April. Our recommendation was
that the narrow gauge should be carried throughout. This was opposed
most violently by partisans of the broad gauge, and they had
sufficient influence in Parliament to prevent our recommendation from
being carried into effect. But the policy, even of the Great Western
Railway (in which the broad gauge originated), has supported our
views: the narrow gauge has been gradually substituted for the broad:
and the broad now (1872) scarcely exists.--On June 20th Lord Canning
enquired of me about makers for the clock in the Clock Tower of
Westminster Palace. I suggested Vulliamy, Dent, Whitehurst; and made
other suggestions: I had some correspondence with E. B. Denison, about
clocks.--I had much correspondence with Stephenson about the Tubular
Bridge over the Menai Straits. Stephenson afterwards spoke of my
assistance as having much supported him in this anxious work: on
Dec. 11th I was requested to make a Report, and to charge a fee as a
Civil Engineer; but I declined to do so. In January I went, with
George Arthur Biddell, to Portsmouth, to examine Lord Dundonald's
rotary engine as mounted in the 'Janus,' and made a Report on the same
to the Admiralty: and I made several subsequent Reports on the same
matter. The scheme was abandoned in the course of next year; the real
cause of failure, as I believe, was in the bad mounting in the ship.

"The engrossing subject of this year was the discovery of Neptune. As
I have said (1845) I obtained no answer from Adams to a letter of
enquiry. Beginning with June 26th of 1846 I had correspondence of a
satisfactory character with Le Verrier, who had taken up the subject
of the disturbance of Uranus, and arrived at conclusions not very
different from those of Adams. I wrote from Ely on July 9th to
Challis, begging him, as in possession of the largest telescope in
England, to sweep for the planet, and suggesting a plan. I received
information of its recognition by Galle, when I was visiting Hansen at
Gotha. For further official history, see my communications to the
Royal Astronomical Society, and for private history see the papers in
the Royal Observatory. I was abused most savagely both by English and

The Report to the Visitors contains an interesting account of the
Great Lunar Reductions, from which the following passage is extracted:
"Of the Third Section, containing the comparison of Observed Places
with Tabular Places, three sheets are printed, from 1750 to 1756. This
comparison, it is to be observed, does not contain a simple comparison
of places, but contains also the coefficients of the various changes
in the moon's place depending on changes in the elements.... The
process for the correction of the elements by means of these
comparisons is now going on: and the extent of this work, even after
so much has been prepared, almost exceeds belief. For the longitude,
ten columns are added in groups, formed in thirteen different ways,
each different way having on the average about nine hundred
groups. For the ecliptic polar distance, five columns are added in
groups, formed in seven different ways, each different way having on
the average about nine hundred groups. Thus it will appear that there
are not fewer than 150,000 additions of columns of figures. This part
of the work is not only completed but is verified, so that the books
of comparison of Observed and Tabular Places are, as regards this
work, completely cleared out. The next step is to take the means of
these groups, a process which is now in hand: it will be followed by
the formation and solution of the equations on which the corrections
of the elements depend."

The following remarks, extracted from the Report to the Visitors, with
respect to the instrumental equipment of the Observatory, embody the
views of the Astronomer Royal at this time: "The utmost change, which
I contemplate as likely to occur in many years, in regard to our
meridional instruments, is the substitution of instruments of the same
class carrying telescopes of larger aperture. The only instrument
which, as I think, may possibly be called for by the demands of the
astronomer or the astronomical public, is a telescope of the largest
size, for the observation of faint nebulae and minute double
stars. Whether the addition of such an instrument to our apparatus
would be an advantage, is, in my opinion, not free from doubt. The
line of conduct for the Observatory is sufficiently well traced; there
can be no doubt that our primary objects ought to be the accurate
determination of places of the fundamental Stars, the Sun, the
Planets, and, above all, the Moon. Any addition whatever to our powers
or our instrumental luxuries, which should tend to withdraw our
energies from these objects, would be a misfortune to the

Of private history: "In March I visited Prof. Sedgwick at Norwich.--On
Mar. 28th the 'Sir Henry Pottinger' was launched from Fairbairn's Yard
on the Isle of Dogs, where I was thrown down and dislocated my right
thumb.--From Apr. 10th to 15th I was at Playford.--On June 10th Prof.
Hansen arrived, and stayed with me to July 4th.--From July 6th to 10th
I was visiting Dean Peacock at Ely.--From July 23rd to 29th I was at
Playford, where for the first time I lodged in my own cottage. I had
bought it some time before, and my sister had superintended
alterations and the addition of a room. I was much pleased thus to be
connected with the happy scenes of my youth.--From Aug. 10th to Oct.
11th I was with my wife and her sister Elizabeth Smith on the
Continent. We stayed for some time at Wiesbaden, as my nerves were
shaken by the work on the Railway Gauge Commission, and I wanted the
Wiesbaden waters. We visited various places in Germany, and made a
10-days' excursion among the Swiss Mountains. At Gotha we lodged with
Prof. Hansen for three days; and it was while staying here that I
heard from Prof. Encke (on Sept. 29th) that Galle had discovered the
expected planet. We visited Gauss at Göttingen and Miss Caroline
Herschel at Hannover. We had a very bad passage from Hamburgh to
London, lasting five days: a crank-pin broke and had to be repaired:
after four days our sea-sickness had gone off, during the gale--a
valuable discovery for me, as I never afterwards feared
sea-sickness.--On Dec. 22nd I attended the celebration of the 300th
anniversary of Trinity College."

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extracts relating to the engines of the "Janus" are
taken from letters to his wife dated from Portsmouth, Jan. 6th and
7th, 1846:

As soon as possible we repaired to the Dock Yard and presented
ourselves to the Admiral Superintendant--Admiral Hyde Parker (not Sir
Hyde Parker). Found that the "Janus" had not arrived: the Admiral
Superintendant (who does not spare a hard word) expressing himself
curiously thereon. But he had got the proper orders from the Admiralty
relating to me: so he immediately sent for Mr Taplin, the
superintendant of machinery: and we went off to see the small engine
of Lord D--d's construction which is working some pumps and other
machinery in the yard. It was kept at work a little longer than usual
for us to see it. And I have no hesitation in saying that it was
working extremely well. It had not been opened in any way for half a
year, and not for repair or packing for a much longer time.... This
morning we went to the Dock Yard, and on entering the engine house
there was Shirreff, and Lord D--d soon appeared. The "Janus" had come
to anchor at Spithead late last night, and had entered the harbour
this morning. Blowing weather on Saturday night. We had the engine
pretty well pulled to pieces, and sat contemplating her a long
time. Before this Denison had come to us. We then went on board the
"Janus" with Shirreff but not with Lord D--d. The engines were still
hot, and so they were turned backwards a little for my edification.
(This was convenient because, the vessel being moored by her
head, she could thus strain backwards without doing mischief.) The
vacuum not good. Then, after a luncheon on board, it was agreed to run
out a little way. But the engines absolutely stuck fast, and would not
stir a bit. This I considered a perfect Godsend. So the paddle-wheels
(at my desire) were lashed fast, and we are to see her opened
to-morrow morning.

This morning (Jan. 7th) we all went off to the "Janus," where we
expected to find the end of the cylinder (where we believe yesterday's
block to have taken place) withdrawn. But it was not near it. After a
great many bolts were drawn, it was discovered that one bolt could not
be drawn, and in order to get room for working at it, it was necessary
to take off the end of the other cylinder. And such a job!  Three
pulley hooks were broken in my sight, and I believe some out of my
sight. However this auxiliary end was at last got off: and the people
began to act on the refractory bolt. But by this time it was getting
dark and the men were leaving the dockyard, so I left, arranging that
what they could do in preparation for me might be done in good time
to-morrow morning.


"On Nov. 13th I circulated an Address, proposing to discontinue the
use of the Zenith Tube, because it had been found by a long course of
comparative trials that the Zenith Tube was not more accurate than the
Mural Circle. The Address stated that 'This want of superior
efficiency of the Zenith Tube (which, considered in reference to the
expectations that had been formed of its accuracy, must be estimated
as a positive failure) is probably due to two circumstances. One is,
the use of a plumb-line; which appears to be affected with various
ill-understood causes of unsteadiness. The other is, the insuperable
difficulty of ventilating the room in which the instrument is
mounted.'--On December 20th I circulated an Address, proposing a
Transit Circle, with telescope of 8 inches aperture. The Address
states as follows: 'The clear aperture of the Object-Glass of our
Transit Instrument is very nearly 5 inches, that of our Mural Circle
is very nearly 4 inches.'--I had been requested by the Master-General
of Ordnance (I think) to examine Candidates for a Mastership in
Woolwich Academy, and I was employed on it in February and March, in
conjunction with Prof. Christie.--In January I applied to Lord
Auckland for money-assistance to make an astronomical journey on the
Continent, but he refused.--On Mar. 19th Sir James South addressed to
the Admiralty a formal complaint against me for not observing with the
astronomical instruments: on Mar. 31st I was triumphantly acquitted by
the Admiralty.--In June I was requested by the Commissioners of
Railways to act as President of a Commission on Iron Bridges
(suggested by the fall of the bridge at Chester). Lord Auckland
objected to it, and I was not sorry to be spared the trouble of
it.--In December I was requested, and undertook to prepare the
Astronomical part of the Scientific Manual for Naval Officers.--On
Sept. 24th occurred a very remarkable Magnetic Storm, to which there
had been nothing comparable before. Mr Glaisher had it observed by eye
extremely well, and I printed and circulated a paper concerning
it.--Hansen, stimulated by the Lunar Reductions, discovered two long
inequalities in the motion of the Moon, produced by the action of
Venus. In the Report to the Visitors this matter is thus referred to:
'In the last summer I had the pleasure of visiting Prof. Hansen at
Gotha, and I was so fortunate as to exhibit to him the corrections of
the elements from these Reductions, and strongly to call his attention
to their certainty, the peculiarity of their fluctuations, and the
necessity of seeking for some physical explanation. I have much
pleasure in indulging in the thought, that it was mainly owing to this
representation that Prof. Hansen undertook that quest, which has
terminated in the discovery of his two new lunar inequalities, the
most remarkable discovery, I think, in Physical Astronomy.'--In
discussing points relating to the discovery of Neptune, I made an
unfortunate blunder. In a paper hastily sent to the Athenaeum
(Feb. 18th) I said that Arago's conduct had been indelicate. I
perceived instantly that I had used a wrong expression, and by the
very next post I sent an altered expression. This altered expression
was not received in time, and the original expression was printed, to
my great sorrow. I could not then apologize. But at what appeared to
be the first opportunity, in December, I did apologize; and my apology
was accepted. But I think that Arago was never again so cordial as
before.--On July 4th Hebe was discovered. After this Iris and
Flora. Now commenced that train of discoveries which has added more
than 100 planets to the Solar System.--On Oct. 8th was an Annular
Eclipse of the Sun, of which the limit of annularity passed near to
Greenwich. To determine the exact place, I equipped observatories at
Hayes, Lewisham South End, Lewisham Village, Blackwall, Stratford,
Walthamstow, and Chingford. The weather was bad and no observation was
obtained.--In the Royal Astronomical Society: In 1846, the dispute
between the partisans of Adams and Le Verrier was so violent that no
medal could be awarded to either. In 1847 I (with other Fellows of the
Society) promoted a special Meeting for considering such a
modification of the bye-laws that for this occasion only it might be
permissible to give two medals. After two days' stormy discussion, it
was rejected.--In the University of London: At a meeting in July,
where the religious question was discussed, it was proposed to receive
some testimonial from affiliated bodies, or to consider that or some
other plan for introducing religious literature. As the propriety of
this was doubtful, there was a general feeling for taking legal
advice: and it was set aside solely on purpose to raise the question
about legal consultation. _That_ was negatived by vote: and I then
claimed the consideration of the question which we had put aside for
it. By the influence of H. Warburton, M.P., this was denied. I wrote a
letter to be laid before the Meeting on July 28th, when I was
necessarily absent, urging my claim: my letter was put aside. I
determined never to sit with Warburton again: on Aug. 2nd I intimated
to Lord Burlington my wish to retire, and on Aug. 29th he transmitted
to the Home Secretary my resignation. He (Lord Burlington) fully
expressed his opinion that my claim ought to have been allowed.--On
June 9th, on the occasion of Prince Albert's state visit to Cambridge,
knighthood was offered to me through his Secretary, Prof. Sedgwick,
but I declined it.--In September, the Russian Order of St Stanislas
was offered to me, Mr De Berg, the Secretary of Embassy, coming to
Greenwich personally to announce it: but I was compelled by our
Government Rules to decline it.--I invited Le Verrier to England, and
escorted him to the Meeting of the British Association at Oxford in
June.--As regards the Westminster Clock on the Parliamentary Building:
in May I examined and reported on Dent's and Whitehurst's clock
factories. Vulliamy was excessively angry with me. On May 31st a great
Parliamentary Paper was prepared in return to an Order of the House of
Lords for correspondence relating to the Clock.--With respect to the
Saw Mills for Ship Timber: work was going on under the direction of
Sylvester to Mar. 18th. It was, I believe, at that time, that the
fire occurred in Chatham Dock Yard which burnt the whole of the
saw-machinery. I was tired of my machinery: and, from the extending
use of iron ships, the probable value of it was much diminished; and I
made no effort to restore it."

Of private history: "In February I went to Derby to see Whitehurst's
clock factory; and went on with my wife to Brampton near Chesterfield,
where her mother was living.--From Apr. 1st to 5th I was at
Playford.--On Holy Thursday, I walked the Parish Bounds (of Greenwich)
with the Parish officers and others. From Apr. 19th to 24th I was at
Birmingham (on a visit to Guest, my former pupil, and afterwards
Master of Caius College) and its neighbourhood, with George Arthur
Biddell.--From June 23rd to 28th I was at Oxford and Malvern: my
sister was at Malvern, for water-cure: the meeting of the British
Association was at Oxford and I escorted Le Verrier thither.--July
28th to 30th I was at Brampton.--From August 10th to September 18th I
was engaged on an expedition to St Petersburg, chiefly with the object
of inspecting the Pulkowa Observatory. I went by Hamburg to Altona,
where I met Struve, and started with him in an open waggon for Lübeck,
where we arrived on Aug. 14th. We proceeded by steamer to Cronstadt
and Petersburg, and so to Pulkowa, where I lodged with O. Struve. I
was here engaged till Sept. 4th, in the Observatory, in expeditions in
the neighbourhood and at St Petersburg, and at dinner-parties, &c. I
met Count Colloredo, Count Ouvaroff, Count Stroganoff, Lord Bloomfield
(British Ambassador), and others. On Sept. 4th I went in a small
steamer to Cronstadt, and then in the Vladimir to Swinemünde: we were
then towed in a passage boat to Stettin, and I proceeded by railway to
Berlin. On Sept. 9th I found Galle and saw the Observatory. On
Sept. 10th I went to Potzdam and saw Humboldt. On the 12th I went to
Hamburg and lodged with Schumacher: I here visited Repsold and
Rümker. On Sept. 14th I embarked in the John Bull for London, and
arrived there on the evening of the 18th: on the 16th it was blowing
'a whole gale,' reported to be the heaviest gale known for so many
hours; 4 bullocks and 24 sheep were thrown overboard.--From Dec. 3rd
to 8th I was at Cambridge, and from the 22nd to 31st at Playford."

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a letter to his wife written from Birmingham, containing a
note of the progress of the ironwork for the Menai Bridge:

                                                EDGBASTON, BIRMINGHAM,
                                                    _1847, Apr. 22_.

Yesterday morning we started between 10 and 11 for Stourbridge, first
to see some clay which is celebrated all over the world as the only
clay which is fit to make pots for melting glass, &c. You know that in
all these fiery regions, fire-clay is a thing of very great
importance, as no furnace will stand if made of any ordinary bricks
(and even with the fire-clay, the small furnaces are examined every
week), but this Stourbridge clay is as superior to fire-clay as
fire-clay is to common brick-earth. Then we went to Fosters' puddling
and rolling works near Stourbridge. These are on a very large scale:
of course much that we saw was a repetition of what we had seen
before, but there were slitting mills, machines for rolling the
puddled blooms instead of hammering them, &c., and we had the
satisfaction of handling the puddling irons ourselves. Then we went to
another work of the Fosters not far from Dudley, where part of the
work of the Tube Bridge for the Menai is going on. The Fosters are, I
believe, the largest iron masters in the country, and the two
principal partners, the elder Mr Foster and his Nephew, accompanied us
in all our inspections and steppings from one set of works to another.
The length of Tube Bridge which they have in hand here is only 120
feet, about 1/4 of the whole length: and at present they are only busy
on the bottom part of it: but it is a prodigious thing. I shall be
anxious about it. Then we went to other works of the Fosters' at
King's Wynford, where they have blast furnaces: and here after seeing
all other usual things we saw the furnaces tapped. In this district
the Fosters work the 10-yard coal in a way different from any body
else: they work out the upper half of its thickness and then leave the
ground to fall in: after a year or two this ground becomes so hard as
to make a good safe roof, and then they work away the other half: thus
they avoid much of the danger and difficulty of working the thick bed
all at once. The ventilation of these mines scarcely ever requires
fires, and then only what they call "lamps," those little fire-places
which are used for giving light at night. (In the Northumberland and
Durham pits, they constantly have immense roaring fires to make a
draught.) Then we came home through Dudley.

       *       *       *       *       *

During his stay in Russia, there was a great desire manifested by the
astronomers and scientific men of Russia that he should be presented
to the Emperor. This would no doubt have taken place had not the
movements of the Court and his own want of time prevented it. The
following letter to the British Ambassador, Lord Bloomfield, relates
to this matter:

                                                _1847, August 25th_.
                                                _Wednesday evening_.


I had the honour yesterday to receive your Lordship's note of Sunday
last, which by some irregularity in the communications with this place
reached me, I believe, later than it ought. From this circumstance,
and also from my being made acquainted only this afternoon with some
official arrangements, I am compelled to trouble you at a time which I
fear is less convenient than I could have desired.

The object of my present communication is, to ask whether (if the
movements of the Court permit it) it would be agreeable to your
Lordship to present me to the Emperor. In explanation of this enquiry,
I beg leave to state that this is an honour to which, personally, I
could not think of aspiring. My presence however at Pulkowa at this
time is in an official character. As Astronomer Royal of England, I
have thought it my duty to make myself perfectly acquainted with the
Observatory of Pulkowa, and this is the sole object of my journey to
Russia. It is understood that the Emperor takes great interest in the
reputation of the Observatory, and I am confident that the remarks
upon it which I am able to make would be agreeable to him.

I place these reasons before you, awaiting entirely Your Lordship's
decision on the propriety of the step to which I have alluded. I am
to leave St Petersburg on Saturday the 4th of September.

        I have the honor to be
            My Lord,
          Your Lordship's very faithful servant,
              G. B. AIRY.

_Lord Bloomfield, &c., &c._

       *       *       *       *       *

It was probably in acknowledgment of this letter that in due time he
received the following letter with the offer of the Russian Order of
St Stanislas:


Sa Majesté l'Empereur en appréciant les travaux assidus qui vous ont
donné une place distinguée au rang des plus illustres Astronomes de
l'Europe, et la coopération bienveillante, que vous n'avez cessé de
témoigner aux Astronomes Russes dans les expéditions, dont ils étaient
chargés, et en dernier lieu par votre visite à l'Observatoire central
de Poulkova, a daigné sur mon rapport, vous nommer Chevalier de la
seconde classe de l'Ordre Impérial et Royal de St Stanislas. Je ne
manquerai pas de vous faire parvenir par l'entremise de Lord
Bloomfield les insignes et la patente de l'ordre.

Veuillez en attendant, Monsieur, recevoir mes sincères félicitations
et l'assurance de ma parfaite considération.

        Le Ministre de l'instruction publique,
          CTE OUVAROFF.


   _ce_ 24 _Août_, 1847
             5 _Septbr._
  _à Mr G. B. Airy, Esq.,
  Astronome Royal de S. M. Britannique à

       *       *       *       *       *

Airy provisionally accepted the Order, but wrote at once to Lord John
Russell the following letter of enquiry:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                    _1847, Oct. 15_.


In respect of the office of Astronomer Royal, I refer to the first
Lord of the Treasury as Official Patron. In virtue of this relation I
have the honour to lay before your Lordship the following statement,
and to solicit your instructions thereon.

For conducting with efficiency and with credit to the nation the
institution which is entrusted to me, I have judged it proper to
cultivate intimate relations with the principal Observatories of
Europe, and in particular with the great Observatory founded by the
Emperor of Russia at Pulkowa near St Petersburg. I have several times
received Mr Struve, the Director of that Observatory, at Greenwich:
and in the past summer I made a journey to St Petersburg for the
purpose of seeing the Observatory of Pulkowa.

Since my return from Russia, I have received a communication from
Count Ouvaroff, Minister of Public Instruction in the Russian Empire,
informing me that the Emperor of Russia desires to confer on me the
decoration of Knight Commander in the second rank of the Order of St

And I have the honour now to enquire of your Lordship whether it is
permitted to me to accept from the Emperor of Russia this decoration.

        I have the honour to be,
            My Lord,
          Your Lordship's very obedient servant,
              G.B. AIRY.

_The Rt Honble Lord John Russell,
    &c. &c. &c.
  First Lord of the Treasury_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The answer was as follows:

                                                       DOWNING STREET,
                                                 _October 19, 1847_.


I am desired by Lord John Russell to acknowledge the receipt of your
letter, of the 14th inst. and to transmit to you the enclosed paper
respecting Foreign Orders by which you will perceive that it would be
contrary to the regulations to grant you the permission you desire.

        I am, Sir,
      Your obedient servant,
            C.A. GREY.

_G. B. Airy, Esq_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The passage in the Regulations referred to above is quoted in the
following letter to Count Ouvaroff:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                    _1847, Oct. 22_.


Referring to your Excellency's letter of the 24 August/5 September,
and to my answer of the 25th September, in which I expressed my sense
of the high honor conferred on me by His Majesty the Emperor of Russia
in offering me, through your Excellency, the Order of St Stanislas,
and my pride in accepting it:--I beg leave further to acquaint you
that I have thought it necessary to make enquiry of Lord John Russell,
First Lord of Her Majesty's Treasury, as to my competency to accept
this decoration from His Majesty the Emperor of Russia: and that his
Lordship in reply has referred me to the following Regulation of the
British Court;

"5th. That no Subject of Her Majesty could be allowed to accept the
Insignia of a Foreign Order from any Sovereign of a Foreign State,
except they shall be so conferred in consequence of active and
distinguished services before the Enemy, either at Sea, or in the
Field; or unless he shall have been actually employed in the Service
of the Foreign Sovereign."

In consequence of the stringency of this Regulation, it is my duty now
to state to your Excellency that I am unable to accept the decoration
which His Majesty the Emperor of Russia was pleased, through your
Excellency, to offer to me.

I beg leave to repeat the expression of my profound reverence to His
Majesty and of my deep sense of the honor which he has done me.

        I have the honor to be,
          Your Excellency's very faithful
              and obedient servant,
                G.B. AIRY.

_To His Excellency
  Count Ouvaroff,
    &c. &c._

In the course of the following year a very handsome gold medal,
specially struck, was transmitted by Count Ouvaroff on the part of the
Emperor of Russia, to Mr Airy.


"In April I received authority to purchase of Simms an 8-inch
object-glass for the new Transit Circle for _£300_. The glass was
tested and found satisfactory. While at Playford in January I drew the
first plans of the Transit Circle: and C. May sketched some
parts. Definite plans were soon sent to Ransomes and May, and to Simms
in March. The instrument and the building were proceeded with during
the year. The New Transit Circle was to be erected in the Circle
Room, and considerable arrangement was necessary for continuing the
Circle Observations with the existing instruments, whilst the new
instrument was under erection. When the new Transit is completely
mounted, the old Transit Instrument may be removed, and the Transit
Room will be free for any other purpose. I propose to take it as
Private Room for the Astronomer Royal.--On May 12th I made my first
proposal of the Reflex Zenith Tube. The principle of it is as follows:
Let the micrometer be placed close to the object-glass, the frame of
the micrometer being firmly connected with the object-glass cell, and
a reflecting eye-piece being used with no material tube passing over
the object-glass: and let a basin of quicksilver be placed below the
object-glass, but in no mechanical connection with it, at a distance
equal to half the focal length of the object-glass. Such an
instrument would at least be free from all uncertainties of twist of
plumb-line, viscosity of water, attachment of upper plumb-line
microscope, attachment of lower plumb-line microscope, and the
observations connected with them: and might be expected, as a result
of this extreme simplicity, to give accurate results.--A considerable
error was discovered in the graduation of Troughton's Circle,
amounting in one part to six seconds, which is referred to as follows:
'This instance has strongly confirmed me in an opinion which I have
long held--that no independent division is comparable in general
accuracy to engine-division,--where the fundamental divisions of the
engine have been made by Troughton's method, and where in any case the
determination by the astronomer of errors of a few divisions will
suffice, in consequence of the uniformity of law of error, to give the
errors of the intermediate divisions.'--The method of observing with
the Altazimuth is carefully described, and the effect of it, in
increasing the number of observations of the Moon, is thus given for
the thirteen lunations between 1847, May 15, and 1848, May 30. 'Number
of days of complete observations with the Meridional Instruments, 111;
number of days of complete observations with Altitude and Azimuth
Instrument, 203. The results of the observations appear very good;
perhaps a little, and but a little, inferior to those of the
Meridional Instruments. I consider that the object for which this
instrument was erected is successfully attained.'--Being satisfied
with the general efficiency of the system arranged by Mr Brooke for
our photographic records (of magnetical observations) I wrote to the
Admiralty in his favour, and on Aug. 25th the Admiralty ordered the
payment of _£500_ to him. A Committee of the Royal Society also
recommended a reward of _£250_ to Mr Ronalds, which I believe was paid
to him.--On May 1st the last revise of the Lunar Reductions was
passed, and on May 5th, 500 copies were sent for binding.--In this
year Schumacher and I refused a medal to Miss Mitchell for a Comet
discovered, because the rules of correspondence had not been strictly
followed: the King of Denmark gave one by special favour.--In this
year occurred the discovery of Saturn's 8th Satellite by Mr Lassell:
upon which I have various correspondence.--On the 18th of December the
degree of LL.D. was conferred upon me by the University of
Edinburgh.--The Ipswich Lectures: A wish had been expressed that I
would give a series of Astronomical Lectures to the people of
Ipswich. I therefore arranged with great care the necessary apparatus,
and lectured six evenings in a room (I forget its name--it might be
Temperance Hall--high above St Matthew's Street), from Mar. 13th to
the end of the week. A shorthand writer took them down: and these
formed the 'Ipswich Lectures,' which were afterwards published by the
Ipswich Museum (for whose benefit the lectures were given) and by
myself, in several editions, and afterwards by Messrs Macmillan in
repeated editions under the title of 'Airy's Popular Astronomy.'--It
had been found necessary to include under one body all the unconnected
Commissions of Sewers for the Metropolis, and Lord Morpeth requested
me to be a member. Its operations began on Oct. 28th. In constitution
it was the most foolish that I ever knew: consisting of, I think, some
200 persons, who could not possibly attend to it. It came to an end in
the next year."

Of private history: "I was at Playford from Jan. 1st to 11th, and
again from Jan. 17th to 25th: also at Playford from June 21st to July
12th.--From Aug. 23rd to Sept. 12th I was in Ireland on a visit to
Lord Rosse at Parsonstown, chiefly engaged on trials of his large
telescope. I returned by Liverpool, where I inspected the Liverpool
Equatoreal and Clockwork, and examined Mr Lassell's telescopes and
grinding apparatus.--From Dec. 6th to 20th I was at Edinburgh with my
wife, on a visit to Prof. J. D. Forbes. We made various excursions,
and I attended lectures by Prof. Wilson and Sir W. Hamilton: on the
18th I gave a lecture in Prof. Forbes's room. I received the Honorary
Degree of LL.D., and made a statement on the Telescopes of Lord Rosse
and Mr Lassell to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Returned to
Greenwich by Brampton."

       *       *       *       *       *

Here is a reminiscence of the "Ipswich Lectures," in a letter to his
wife, dated Playford, 1848 Mar. 14, "At the proper time I went to the
hall: found a chairman installed (Mr Western): was presented to him,
and by him presented to the audience: made my bow and commenced. The
room was quite full: I have rarely seen such a sea of faces; about 700
I believe. Everything went off extremely well, except that the rollers
of the moving piece of sky would squeak: but people did not mind it:
and when first a star passed the meridian, then Jupiter, then some
stars, and then Saturn, he was much applauded. Before beginning I gave
notice that I should wait to answer questions: and as soon as the
lecture was finished the Chairman repeated this and begged people to
ask. So several people did ask very pertinent questions (from the
benches) shewing that they had attended well. Others came up and
asked questions."

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extracts are from letters written to his wife while on
his visit to Lord Rosse at Parsonstown in Ireland. On the way he
stopped at Bangor and looked at the Tubular Bridge Works, which are
thus referred to: "Stopped at Bangor, settled _pro tem_. at the
Castle, and then walked past the Suspension Bridge towards the Tube
Works, which are about 1-1/2 mile south-west of the Suspension Bridge.
The way was by a path through fields near the water side: and from one
or two points in this, the appearance of the Suspension Bridge was
most majestic. The Tube Bridge consists of four spans, two over water
and two over sloping land. The parts for the double tube over the
water spans (four lengths of tube) are building on a platform as at
Conway, to be floated by barges as there: the parts over the sloping
banks are to be built in their place, on an immense scaffolding. I
suspect that, in regard to these parts, Stephenson is sacrificing a
great deal of money to uniformity of plan: and that it would have been
much cheaper to build out stone arches to the piers touching the
water.... The Tube Works are evidently the grand promenade of the
idlers about Bangor: I saw many scores of ladies and gentlemen walking
that way with their baskets of provision, evidently going to gipsy in
the fields close by."

                                              THE CASTLE, PARSONSTOWN,
                                                    _1848, Aug. 29_.

After tea it was voted that the night was likely to be fine, so we all
turned out. The night was uncertain: sometimes entirely clouded,
sometimes partially, but objects were pretty well seen when the sky
was clear: the latter part was much steadier. From the interruption by
clouds, the slowness of finding with and managing a large instrument
(especially as their finding apparatus is not perfectly arranged) and
the desire of looking well at an object when we had got it, we did not
look at many objects. The principal were, Saturn and the Annular
Nebula of Lyra with the 3-feet; Saturn, a remarkable cluster of stars,
and a remarkable planetary nebula, with the 6-feet. With the large
telescope, the evidence of the quantity of light is prodigious. And
the light of an object is seen in the field without any colour or any
spreading of stray light: and it is easy to see that the vision with a
reflecting telescope may be much more perfect than with a
refractor. With these large apertures, the rings round the stars are
insensible. The planetary nebula looked a mass of living and intensely
brilliant light: this is an object which I do not suppose can be seen
at all in our ordinary telescopes. The definition of the stars near
the zenith is extremely good: with a high power (as 800) they are
points or very nearly so--indeed I believe quite so--so that it is
clear that the whole light from the great 6-feet mirror is collected
into a space not bigger than the point of a needle. But in other
positions of the telescope the definition is not good: and we must
look to-day to see what is the cause of this fault. It is not a fault
in the telescope, properly so-called, but it is either a tilt of the
mirror, or an edge-pressure upon the mirror when the telescope points
lower down which distorts its figure, or something of that kind. So I
could not see Saturn at all well, for which I was sorry, as I could so
well have compared his appearance with what I have seen before. I
shall be very much pleased if we can make out what is the fault of
adjustment, and so correct it as to get good images everywhere. It is
evident that the figuring of the mirror, the polishing, and the
general arrangement, are perfectly managed.

                                              THE CASTLE, PARSONSTOWN,
                                                    _1848, Aug. 30_.

Yesterday we were employed entirely about the Great Telescope,
beginning rather late. The principal objects had relation to the fault
of definition when the telescope is pointed low (which I had remarked
on the preceding night), and were, to make ourselves acquainted with
the mechanism of the mirror's mounting generally, and to measure in
various ways whether the mirror actually does shift its place when the
telescope is set to different angles of elevation. For the latter we
found that the mirror actually does tilt 1/4 of an inch when the tube
points low. This of itself will not account for the fault but it
indicates that the lower part is held fast in a way that may cause a
strain which would produce the fault. These operations and reasonings
took a good deal of time. Lord Rosse is disposed to make an alteration
in the mounting for the purpose of correcting this possible strain.

                                              THE CASTLE, PARSONSTOWN,
                                                    _1848, Aug. 31_.

The weather here is still vexatious: but not absolutely repulsive.
Yesterday morning Lord Rosse arranged a new method of suspending the
great mirror, so as to take its edgewise pressure in a manner that
allowed the springy supports of its flat back to act. This employed
his workmen all day, so that the proposed finish of polishing the new
mirror could not go on. I took one Camera Lucida sketch of the
instrument in the morning, dodging the heavy showers as well as I
could; then, as the afternoon was extremely fine, I took another, with
my head almost roasted by the sun. This last view is extremely pretty
and characteristic, embracing parts of the mounting not shewn well in
the others, and also shewing the Castle, the Observatory, and the
3-feet telescope. The night promised exceedingly well: but when we got
actually to the telescope it began to cloud and at length became
hopeless. However I saw that the fault which I had remarked on the two
preceding nights was gone. There is now a slight exhibition of another
fault to a much smaller extent. We shall probably be looking at the
telescope to-day in reference to it.

                                              THE CASTLE, PARSONSTOWN,
                                                    _1848, Sept. 1_.

Yesterday we made some alterations in the mounting of the great
mirror. We found that sundry levers were loose which ought to be firm,
and we conjectured with great probability the cause of this, for
correction of which a change in other parts was necessary. The mirror
was then found to preserve its position much more fixedly than
before.... At night, upon trying the telescope, we found it very
faulty for stars near the zenith, where it had been free from fault
before. The screws which we had driven hard were then loosened, and
immediately it was made very good. Then we tried with some lower
objects, and it was good, almost equally good, there. For Saturn it
was very greatly superior to what it had been before. Still it is not
satisfactory to us, and at this time a strong chain is in preparation,
to support the mirror edgeways instead of the posts that there were at
first or the iron hoop which we had on it yesterday.

Nobody would have conceived that an edgewise gripe of such a mass of
metal could derange its form in this way.

Last night was the finest night we have had as regards clouds, though
perhaps not the best for definition of objects.

                                              THE CASTLE, PARSONSTOWN,
                                                    _1848, Sept. 2_.

I cannot learn that the fault in the mirror had been noticed before,
but I fancy that the observations had been very much confined to the
Zenith and its neighbourhood.


"In July the new constant-service water-pipes to the Observatory were
laid from Blackheath. Before this time the supply of water to the
Observatory had been made by a pipe leading up from the lower part of
the Park, and was not constant.--In May the new staircase from my
dwelling-house to the Octagon Room was commenced.--In the Report to
the Visitors there is a curious account of Mr Breen's (one of the
Assistants) personal equation, which was found to be different in
quantity for observations of the Moon and observations of the
Stars.--The most important set of observations (of planets) was a
series of measures of Saturn in four directions, at the time when his
ring had disappeared. They appear completely to negative the idea that
Saturn's form differs sensibly from an ellipsoid.--Among the General
Remarks of the Report the following appears: 'Another change (in
prospect) will depend on the use of galvanism; and as a probable
instance of the application of this agent, I may mention that,
although no positive step has hitherto been taken, I fully expect in
no long time to make the going of all the clocks in the Observatory
depend on one original regulator. The same means will probably be
employed to increase the general utility of the Observatory, by the
extensive dissemination throughout the kingdom of accurate
time-signals, moved by an original clock at the Royal Observatory; and
I have already entered into correspondence with the authorities of the
South Eastern Railway (whose line of galvanic communication will
shortly pass within nine furlongs of the Observatory) in reference to
this subject.'--I agreed with Schumacher in giving no medal to Mr
G. P. Bond; his comet was found to be Petersen's. Five medals were
awarded for comets in 1847 (Hind, Colla, Mauvais, Brorsen,
Schweizer).--The Liverpool Observatory was finished this year: and the
thanks of the Town Council were presented to me.--Respecting Fallows's
Observations at the Cape of Good Hope: I had received the Admiralty
sanction for proceeding with calculations in 1846, and I employed
computers as was convenient. On July 20th of this year I was ready
with final results, and began to make enquiries about Fallows's
personal history, and the early history of the Cape Observatory. On
Oct. 23rd I applied for sanction for printing, which was given, and
the work was soon finished off, in the Astronomical Society's
Memoirs.--In the month of March I had commenced correspondence with
various persons on the imperfect state of publication of the British
Survey. Sheets of the Map were issued by scores, but not one of them
had an indication of latitude or longitude engraved. I knew that great
pains had been taken in giving to the principal triangulation a degree
of accuracy never before reached, and in fixing the astronomical
latitudes of many stations with unequalled precision. Finally I
prepared for the Council of the Royal Society a very strong
representation on these subjects, which was adopted and presented to
the Government. It was entirely successful, and the Maps were in
future furnished with latitude and longitude lines.--I was elected
President of the Royal Astronomical Society on Feb. 9th.--In June I
went with Sheepshanks to see some of the operation of measuring a Base
on Salisbury Plain. The following extract from a letter to his wife
dated 1849, June 27th, relates to this expedition: 'In the morning we
started before eight in an open carriage to the Plain: looking into
Old Sarum on our way. The Base is measured on what I should think a
most unfavourable line, its north end (from which they have begun now,
in verification of the old measure) being the very highest point in
the whole plain, called Beacon Hill. The soldiers measure only 252
feet in a day, so it will take them a good while to measure the whole
seven miles. While we were there Col. Hall (Colby's successor) and
Yolland and Cosset came.'"

Of private history: "I made short visits to Playford in January, April
and July. From July 28th to Sept. 12th I made an expedition with my
wife to Orkney and Shetland.--From Dec. 24th to 26th I was at
Hawkhurst, on a visit to Sir John Herschel."


"The Report to the Board of Visitors opens with the following
paragraph: 'In recording the proceedings at the Royal Observatory
during the last year, I have less of novelty to communicate to the
Visitors than in the Reports of several years past. Still I trust that
the present Report will not be uninteresting; as exhibiting, I hope, a
steady and vigorous adherence to a general plan long since matured,
accompanied with a reasonable watchfulness for the introduction of new
instruments and new methods when they may seem desirable.'--Since the
introduction of the self-registering instruments a good many
experiments had been made to obtain the most suitable light, and the
Report states that 'No change whatever has been made in these
instruments, except by the introduction of the light of coal-gas
charged with the vapour of coal-naptha, for photographic
self-registration both of the magnetic and of the meteorological
instruments.... The chemical treatment of the paper is now so well
understood by the Assistants that a failure is almost unknown. And,
generally speaking, the photographs are most beautiful, and give
conceptions of the continual disturbances in terrestrial magnetism
which it would be impossible to acquire from eye-observation.'
--Amongst the General Remarks of the Report it is stated
that 'There are two points which have distinctly engaged my
attention. The first of these is, the introduction of the American
method of observing transits, by completing a galvanic circuit by
means of a touch of the finger at the instant of appulse of the
transiting body to the wire of the instrument, which circuit will then
animate a magnet that will make an impression upon a moving
paper. After careful consideration of this method, I am inclined to
believe that, in Prof. Mitchell's form, it does possess the advantages
which have been ascribed to it, and that it may possess peculiar
advantages in this Observatory, where the time-connection of transits
made with two different instruments (the Transit and the Altazimuth)
is of the highest importance.... The second point is, the connection
of the Observatory with the galvanic telegraph of the South Eastern
Railway, and with other lines of galvanic wire with which that
telegraph communicates. I had formerly in mind only the connection of
this Observatory with different parts of the great British island: but
I now think it possible that our communications may be extended far
beyond its shores. The promoters of the submarine telegraph are very
confident of the practicability of completing a galvanic connection
between England and France: and I now begin to think it more than
possible that, within a few years, observations at Paris and Brussels
may be registered on the recording surfaces at Greenwich, and vice
versa.'--Prof. Hansen was engaged in forming Lunar Tables from his
Lunar Theory, but was stopped for want of money. On Mar. 7th I
represented this privately to Mr Baring, First Lord of the Admiralty;
and on Mar. 30th I wrote officially to the Admiralty, soliciting
_£150_ with the prospect, if necessary, of making it _£200_. On
Apr. 10th the Admiralty gave their assent. The existence of Hansen's
Lunar Tables is due to this grant.--The King of Denmark's Medal for
Comets was discontinued, owing to the difficulties produced by the
hostility of Prussia.--On Aug. 1st I gave to the Treasury my opinion
on the first proposal for a large reflector in Australia: it was not
strongly favourable.--In August, being (with my wife and Otto Struve)
on a visit to Lady Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle, I examined the
mountain Schehallien.--As in other years, I reported on several Papers
for the Royal Society, and took part in various business for them.--In
the Royal Astronomical Society I had much official business, as
President.--In March I communicated to the Athenaeum my views on the
Exodus of the Israelites: this brought me into correspondence with
Miss Corbaux, Robert Stephenson, Capt. Vetch, and Prof. J.D.
Forbes.--In December I went to the London Custom House, to
see Sir T. Freemantle (Chairman of Customs), and to see how far
decimal subdivisions were used in the Custom House."

Of private history: "From Mar. 19th to 22nd I was on an expedition to
Folkestone, Dover, Dungeness, &c.--From Apr. 3rd to 8th at Playford,
and again for short periods in June and July.--From Aug. 1st to
Sept. 5th I was travelling in Scotland with my wife and Otto Struve
(for part of the time). At Edinburgh I attended the Meeting of the
British Association, and spoke a little in Section A. I was nominated
President for 1851 at Ipswich. We travelled to Cape Wrath and returned
by Inverness and the Caledonian Canal.--I was at Playford for a short
time in October and December."


"In this year the great shed was built (first erected on the Magnetic
Ground, and about the year 1868 transferred to the South Ground).--The
chronometers were taken from the old Chronometer Room (a room on the
upper story fronting the south, now, 1872, called Library 2) and were
put in the room above the Computing Room (where they remained for 10
or 12 years, I think): it had a chronometer-oven with gas-heat,
erected in 1850.--The following passage is quoted from the Report to
the Visitors:--'As regards Meridional Astronomy our equipment may now
be considered complete. As I have stated above, an improvement might
yet be made in our Transit Circle; nevertheless I do not hesitate to
express my belief that no other existing meridional instrument can be
compared with it. This presumed excellence has not been obtained
without much thought on my part and much anxiety on the part of the
constructors of the instrument (Messrs Ransomes and May, and Mr
Simms). But it would be very unjust to omit the further statement that
the expense of the construction has considerably exceeded the original
estimate, and that this excess has been most liberally defrayed by the
Government.'--In December Sir John Herschel gave his opinion (to the
Admiralty, I believe) in favour of procuring for the Cape Observatory
a Transit Circle similar to that at Greenwich.--I had much
correspondence about sending Pierce Morton (formerly a pupil of mine
at Cambridge, a clever gentlemanly man, and a high wrangler, but
somewhat flighty) as Magnetic Assistant to the Cape Observatory: he
was with me from May to October, and arrived at the Cape on
Nov. 27th.--I was much engaged with the clock with conical motion of
pendulum, for uniform movement of the Chronographic Barrel.--Regarding
galvanic communications: On Sept. 19th I had prepared a Draft of
Agreement with the South Eastern Railway Company, to which they
agreed. In November I wrote to Sir T. Baring (First Lord of the
Admiralty) and to the Admiralty for sanction, which was given on
Dec. 18th. In December I had various communications about laying wires
through the Park, &c., &c., and correspondence about the possibility
of using sympathetic clocks: in June, apparently, I had seen
Shepherd's sympathetic clock at the Great Exhibition, and had seen the
system of sympathetic clocks at Pawson's, St Paul's Churchyard.--In
the last quarter of this year I was engaged in a series of
calculations of chronological eclipses. On Sept. 30th Mr Bosanquet
wrote to me about the Eclipse of Thales, and I urged on the
computations related to it, through Mr Breen. In October the eclipse
of Agathocles (the critical eclipse for the motion of the Moon's node)
was going on. In October Hansteen referred me to the darkness at
Stiklastad.--I went to Sweden to observe the total eclipse of July
28th, having received assistance from the Admiralty for the journeys
of myself, Mr Dunkin, Mr Humphreys and his friend, and Capt.
Blackwood. I had prepared a map of its track, in which an
important error of the _Berliner Jahrbuch_ (arising from neglect of
the earth's oblateness) was corrected. I gave a lecture at the Royal
Institution, in preparation for the eclipse, and drew up suggestions
for observations, and I prepared a scheme of observations for
Greenwich, but the weather was bad. The official account of the
Observations of the Eclipse, with diagrams and conclusions, is given
in full in a paper published in the Royal Astr. Society's
Memoirs.--This year I was President of the British Association, at the
Ipswich Meeting: it necessarily produced a great deal of business. I
lectured one evening on the coming eclipse. Prince Albert was present,
as guest of Sir William Middleton: I was engaged to meet him at
dinner, but when I found that the dinner day was one of the principal
soirée days, I broke off the engagement.--On May 26th I had the first
letter from E. Hamilton (whom I had known at Cambridge) regarding the
selection of professors for the University of Sydney. Herschel,
Maldon, and H. Denison were named as my coadjutors. Plenty of work
was done, but it was not finished till 1852.--In connection with the
clock for Westminster Palace, in February there were considerations
about providing other clocks for the various buildings; and this
probably was one reason for my examining Shepherd's Clocks at the
Great Exhibition and at Pawson's. In November I first proposed that
Mr E.B. Denison should be associated with me. About the end of the
year, the plan of the tower was supplied to me, with reference to the
suspension of the weights and other particulars.--In 1850 Admiral
Dundas (M.P. for Greenwich and one of the Board of Admiralty) had
requested me to aid the Trustees of the Dee Navigation against an
attack; and on Mar. 19th 1851 I went to Chester to see the state of
the river. On Jan. 1st 1852 I went to give evidence at the Official
Enquiry.--At a discussion on the construction of the Great Exhibition
building in the Institution of Civil Engineers, I expressed myself
strongly on the faulty principles of its construction.--In this year I
wrote my first Paper on the landing of Julius Caesar in Britain, and
was engaged in investigations of the geography, tides, sands, &c.,
relating to the subject."

Of private history: "I was several times at Playford during January,
and went there again on Dec. 23rd.--In this year a very heavy
misfortune fell on us. My daughter, Elizabeth, had been on a visit to
Lady Herschel at Hawkhurst, and on Apr. 2nd Sir J. Herschel wrote to
me, saying that she was so well in health. She returned a few days
later, and from her appearance I was sure that she was suffering under
deadly disease. After some time, an able physician was consulted, who
at once pronounced it to be pulmonary. A sea voyage was thought
desirable, and my wife took her to Shetland, where there was again a
kind welcome from Mr Edmonston. But this, and the care taken on her
return, availed nothing: and it was determined to take her to
Madeira. My wife and daughter sailed in the brig 'Eclipse' from
Southampton on Dec. 11th. The termination came in 1852.--On Nov. 23rd
I went to Bradfield, near Bury: my uncle, George Biddell, died, and I
attended the funeral on Nov. 29th.--From July 18th to Aug. 24th I was
in Sweden for the Observation of the Eclipse, and returned through
Holland.--In October I was about a week at Ventnor and Torquay, and
from Dec. 7th to 11th at Southampton, on matters connected with my
daughter's illness."

The following extracts are from letters to his wife, relating to the
Observation of the eclipse, his interview with the King of Sweden,
&c., and his visit to the pumping engines at Haarlem:

                                   _July 28, half-past 10, morning_.

The weather is at present most perfectly doubtful. Nearly the whole
sky is closely covered, yet there is now and then a momentary gleam of
sun. The chances are greatly against much of the eclipse being
seen. All is arranged to carry off the telescope, &c., at 11: they can
be carted to the foot of the hill, and we have made out a walking-pass
then to the top. We are to dine with Mr Dickson afterwards.

                                             _July 28, 10 at night_.

Well we have had a glorious day. As soon as we started, the weather
began to look better. We went up the hill and planted my telescope,
and the sky shewed a large proportion of blue. At first I placed the
telescope on the highest rock, but the wind blew almost a gale, and
shook it slightly: so I descended about 8 feet to one side. (The power
of doing this was one of the elements in my choice of this station,
which made me prefer it to the high hill beyond the river.) The view
of scenery was inexpressibly beautiful. The beginning of eclipse was
well seen. The sky gradually thickened from that time, so that the sun
was in whitish cloud at the totality, and barely visible in dense
cloud at the end of the eclipse. The progress of the eclipse brought
on the wonderful changes that you know: just before the totality I saw
a large piece of blue sky become pitch black; the horror of totality
was very great; and then flashed into existence (I do not know how) a
broad irregular corona with red flames _instantly seen_ of the most
fantastic kind. The darkness was such that my assistant had very great
trouble in reading his box chronometer. (A free-hand explanatory
diagram is here given.)  Some important points are made out from
this. 1st the red flames certainly belong to the sun. 2nd they
certainly are in some instances detached. 3rd they are sometimes quite
crooked. 4th they seem to be connected with spots. The corona was
brilliant white. One star brilliant: I believe Venus. I had no time to
make observations of polarization, &c., although prepared. When the
totality was more than half over I looked to N. and N.W., and in these
regions there was the fullest rosy day-break light. After the
sun-light reappeared, the black shadow went travelling away to the
S.E. exactly like the thunder-storm from the Main. The day then grew
worse, and we came home here (after dinner) in pouring rain.

                                                     _1851, Aug. 5_.

I then by appointment with Sir Edmund Lyons went with him to the
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Baron Stjerneld, who received me most
civilly. My business was to thank him for the orders which had been
given to facilitate the landing of our telescopes, &c., &c. He was
quite familiar with the names of my party, Humphreys Milaud, &c., so
that I trust they have been well received (I have had no letter). He
intimated, I suppose at Sir E. Lyons's suggestion, that perhaps King
Oscar might wish to see me, but that it would not be on Tuesday. So I
replied that I was infinitely flattered and he said that he would send
a message to Sir E. Lyons by Tuesday evening. Now all this put me in a
quandary: because I wanted to see Upsala, 47 miles off: and the
steamboats on the Mälar only go in the morning and return in the
morning: and this was irreconcileable with waiting for his Majesty's
appointment which might be for Wednesday morning. So after
consultation Sir E. Lyons put me in the hands of a sort of courier
attached to the Embassy, and he procured a calèche, and I posted to
Upsala yesterday afternoon (knocking the people up at 11 at night) and
posted back this afternoon. And sure enough a message has come that
the king expects me at 11 to-morrow morning. Posting of course is much
dearer than steam-boat travelling, but it is cheap in comparison with
England: two horses cost 1s. for nearly 7 miles. At Upsala there is a
very good old cathedral, I suppose the only one in Sweden: and many
things about the University which interested me. I sent my card to
Professor Fries, and he entirely devoted himself to me: but imagine
our conversation--he spoke in _Latin_ and I in French: however we
understood each other very well. It is on the whole a dreary country
except where enlivened by lakes: some parts are pine forests and birch
forests, but others are featureless ground with boulder stones, like
the worst part of the Highlands.

                                   _August 6, Wednesday, 3 o'clock_.

I rigged myself in black trowsers and white waistcoat and neckcloth
this morning. Sir Edmund Lyons called. Baron Wrede called on me: he
had observed the Eclipse at Calmar and brought his drawing, much like
mine. He conducted me to the Palace. The Minister for Foreign Affairs
came to me. In the waiting-room I was introduced to the
Lieutenant-Governor of Christianstad, who had had the charge of
Humphreys and Milaud. He had placed a _guard of soldiers_ round them
while they were observing. They saw the eclipse well. Captain
Blackwood went to Helsingborg instead of Bornholm, and saw well. I am
sorry to hear that it was cloudy at Christiania, Mr Dunkin's
station. I heard some days ago that Hind had lost his telescope, but I
now heard a very different story: that he landed at Ystad, and found a
very bad hotel there: that he learnt from Murray that the hotels at
Carlscrona (or wherever he meant to go) were much worse; and so he
grew faint at heart and turned back. I was summoned in to the King
and presented by the Minister (Stjerneld), and had a long conversation
with him: on the eclipse, the arc of meridian, the languages, and the
Universities. We spoke in French. Then Baron Wrede went with me to the
Rittershus (House of Lords or Nobles) in Session, and to the Gallery
of Scandinavian Antiquities, which is very remarkable: the collection
of stone axes and chisels, bronze do., iron do., ornaments, &c. is
quite amazing. I was struck with seeing specimens from a very distant
age of the Maid of Norway's brooch: the use of which I explained to
the Director.

I dined and drove out with Sir E. Lyons, and called at the houses of
the Baron Stjerneld and of the Norwegian Minister Baron Duë, and had
tea at the latter. Most of these people speak English well, and they
seem to live in a very domestic family style. I should soon be quite
at home here: for I perceive that my reception at Court, &c., make
people think that I am a very proper sort of person.

       *       *       *       *       *

The extract concerning his visit to the Pumping-Engines at Haarlem is
as follows:

                                       _1851, August 20, Wednesday_.

I went to see the great North Holland Canal, and went a mile or two in
a horse-drawn-boat upon it: a very comfortable conveyance. Saw
windmills used for sawing timber and other purposes, as well as some
for grinding and many for draining. Yesterday at half-past one I went
by railway to Haarlem. I did not look at anything in the town except
going through it and seeing that it is a curious fantastic place, but
I drove at once to the burgomaster to ask permission to visit one of
the three great pumping engines for draining the immense Haarlem lake,
and then drove to it. Imagine a round tower with a steam-cylinder in
its center; and the piston which works up-and-down, instead of working
one great beam as they usually do, works _eight_, poking out on
different sides of the round tower, and each driving a pump 6 feet in
diameter. I am glad to have seen it. Then by railway here.

       *       *       *       *       *


"Galvanic communication was now established with Lewisham station
(thus giving power of communicating with London, Deal, &c.).--From the
Report to the Board of Visitors it appears that, in the case of the
Transit Circle, the azimuth of the Instrument as determined by
opposite passages of the Pole Star had varied four seconds; and in the
case of the Altazimuth, there was a discordance in the azimuthal zeros
of the Instrument, as determined from observations of stars. In both
cases it was concluded that the discordances arose from small
movements of the ground.--Under the head of 'General Remarks' in the
Report, the following paragraph occurs: 'It will be perceived that the
number of equatoreal observations made here at present is small: and
that they are rarely directed to new comets and similar objects which
sometimes excite considerable interest. This omission is
intentional. It is not because the instrumental means are wanting (for
our Equatoreals, though not comparable to those of either Cambridge,
or of Pulkowa, are fully equal to those usually directed to such
objects), but it is because these observations are most abundantly
supplied from other observatories, public and private, and because the
gain to those observations from our taking a part in them would,
probably, be far less than the loss to the important class of
observations which we can otherwise follow so well. Moreover, I am
unwilling to take any step which could be interpreted as attempting to
deprive the local and private observatories of honours which they have
so nobly earned. And, finally, in this act of abstinence, I am
desirous of giving an example of adhesion to one principle which, I am
confident, might be extensively followed with great advantage to
astronomy:--the principle of division of labour.'--Discoveries of
small planets were now not infrequent: but the only one of interest to
me is Melpomene, for the following reason. On 1852 June 24 I lost my
most dear, amiable, clever daughter Elizabeth: she died at
Southampton, two days after landing from Madeira. On that evening Mr
Hind discovered the planet; and he requested me to give a name. I
remembered Horace's 'Praecipe lugubres cantus, Melpomene,' and
Cowley's 'I called the buskin'd muse Melpomene and told her what sad
story I would write,' and suggested Melpomene, or Penthos: Melpomene
was adopted.--The first move about the Deal Time Ball was in a letter
from Commander Baldock to the Admiralty, suggesting that a Time Ball,
dropped by galvanic current from Greenwich, should be attached to one
of the South Foreland Lighthouses. The Admiralty sent this for my
Report. I went to the place, and I suggested in reply (Nov. 15th) that
a better place would be at an old signal station on the chalk
downs. The decisive change from this was made in 1853.--As the result
of my examination and enquiries into the subject of sympathetic
clocks, I established 8 sympathetic clocks in the Royal Observatory,
one of which outside the entrance gate had a large dial with
Shepherd's name as Patentee. Exception was taken to this by the
solicitor of a Mr Bain who had busied himself about galvanic
clocks. After much correspondence I agreed to remove Shepherd's name
till Bain had legally established his claim. This however was never
done: and in 1853 Shepherd's name was restored.--In Nov. 1851,
Denison had consented to join me in the preparation of the Westminster
Clock. In Feb. 1852 we began to have little disagreements. However on
Apr. 6th I was going to Madeira, and requested him to act with full
powers from me.--I communicated to the Royal Society my Paper on the
Eclipses of Agathocles, Thales, and Xerxes.--In the British
Association, I had presided at the Ipswich Meeting in 1851, and
according to custom I ought to attend at the 1852 Meeting (held at
Belfast) to resign my office. But I was broken in spirit by the death
of my daughter, and the thing generally was beyond my willing
enterprise. I requested Sir Roderick Murchison to act generally for
me: which he did, as I understood, very gracefully.--In this year a
proposal was made by the Government for shifting all the Meeting Rooms
of the Scientific Societies to Kensington Gore, which was stoutly
resisted by all, and was finally abandoned."

Of private history: "I was at Playford in January, and went thence to
Chester on the enquiry about the tides of the Dee; and made excursions
to Halton Castle and to Holyhead.--From Apr. 8th to May 14th I was on
the voyage to and from Madeira, and on a short visit to my wife and
daughter there.--On June 23rd I went to Southampton to meet my wife
and daughter just landed from Madeira: on June 24th my dear daughter
Elizabeth died: she was buried at Playford on June 29th.--I was at
Playford also in July and December.--From Sept. 16th to 24th I went to
Cumberland, viâ Fleetwood and Peel."


"On May 3rd 1853 I issued an address to the individual Members of the
Board of Visitors, proposing the extension of the Lunar Reductions
from 1830. From this it appears that 'Through the whole period (from
1830 to 1853), the places of the Moon, deduced from the observations,
are compared with the places computed in the Nautical Almanac: that
is, with Burckhardt's tables, which have been used for many years in
computing the places of the Nautical Almanac.......Very lately,
however, Mr Adams has shewn that Burckhardt's Parallax is erroneous in
formula and is numerically incorrect, sometimes to the amount of seven
seconds. In consequence of this, every reduction of the Observations
of the Moon, from 1830 to the present time, is sensibly erroneous. And
the error is of such a nature that it is not easy, in general, to
introduce its correction by any simple process.... The number of
observations to the end of 1851 (after which time the parallax will be
corrected in the current reductions) is about 2560. An expense
approaching to _£400_ might be incurred in their reduction.'
Subsequently I made application to the Admiralty, and the _£400_ was
granted on Dec. 12th.--In the Report to the Visitors it is stated that
with regard to the Transit Circle, changes are under contemplation in
its reflection-apparatus: one of these changes relates to the material
of the trough. 'Several years ago, when I was at Hamburgh, my revered
friend Prof. Schumacher exhibited to me the pacifying effect of a
copper dish whose surface had been previously amalgamated with
quicksilver.......The Rev. Charles Pritchard has lately given much
attention to this curious property of the metals, and has brought the
practical operation of amalgamation to great perfection. Still it is
not without difficulty, on account of a singular crystallization of
the amalgam.'--With regard to the Chronograph, the Report states: 'The
Barrel Apparatus for the American method of observing transits is not
yet brought into use.... I have, however, brought it to such a state
that I am beginning to try whether the Barrel moves with sufficient
uniformity to be itself used as the Transit Clock. This, if perfectly
secured, would be a very great convenience, but I am not very sanguine
on that point.'--A change had been made in the Electrometer-apparatus:
'A wire for the collection of atmospheric electricity is now stretched
from a chimney on the north-west angle of the leads of the Octagon
Room to the Electrometer pole.... There appears to be no doubt that a
greater amount of electricity is collected by this apparatus than by
that formerly in use.'--As regards the Magnetical Observations: 'The
Visitors at their last Meeting, expressed a wish that some attempt
should be made to proceed further in the reduction or digest of the
magnetical results, if any satisfactory plan could be devised. I
cannot say that I have yet satisfied myself on the propriety of any
special plan that I have examined.... I must, however, confess that,
in viewing the capricious forms of the photographic curves, my mind is
entirely bewildered, and I sometimes doubt the possibility of
extracting from them anything whatever which can be considered
trustworthy.'--Great progress had been made with the distribution of
time. 'The same Normal Clock maintains in sympathetic movement the
large clock at the entrance gate, two other clocks in the Observatory,
and a clock at the London Bridge Terminus of the South-Eastern
Railway.... It sends galvanic signals every day along all the
principal railways diverging from London. It drops the Greenwich Ball,
and the Ball on the Offices of the Electric Telegraph Company in the
Strand;... All these various effects are produced without sensible
error of time; and I cannot but feel a satisfaction in thinking that
the Royal Observatory is thus quietly contributing to the punctuality
of business through a large portion of this busy country. I have the
satisfaction of stating to the Visitors that the Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty have decided on the erection of a Time-Signal Ball at
Deal, for the use of the shipping in the Downs, to be dropped every
day by a galvanic current from the Royal Observatory. The construction
of the apparatus is entrusted to me. Probably there is no roadstead in
the world in which the knowledge of true time is so important.'--The
Report includes an account of the determination of the Longitude of
Cambridge Observatory by means of galvanic signals, which appear to
have been perfectly successful.--Under the head of General Remarks the
following passage appears: 'The system of combining the labour of
unattached computers with that of attached Assistants tends materially
to strengthen our powers in everything relating to computation. We
find also, among the young persons who are engaged merely to serve as
computers, a most laudable ambition to distinguish themselves as
observers; and thus we are always prepared to undertake any
observations which may be required, although necessarily by an
expenditure of strength which would usually be employed on some other
work.'--Considerable work was undertaken in preparing a new set of
maps of our buildings and grounds.--On Apr. 23rd there was a small
fire in the magnetic observatory, which did little mischief.--In
December I wrote my description of the Transit Circle.--Lieut.
Stratford, the Editor of the Nautical Almanac, died, and
there was some competition for the office. I was willing to take
it at a low rate, for the addition to my salary: Mr Main--and I think
Mr Glaisher--were desirous of exchanging to it: Prof. Adams was
anxious for it. The Admiralty made the excellent choice of Mr
Hind.--In October Faraday and I, at Lothbury, witnessed some
remarkable experiments by Mr Latimer Clark on a galvanic current
carried four times to and from Manchester by subterranean wires (more
than 2000 miles) shewing the retardation of visible currents (at their
maximum effect) and the concentration of active power. I made
investigations of the velocity of the Galvanic Current.--I was engaged
on the preliminary enquiries and arrangements for the Deal Time
Ball.--With respect to the Westminster Clock; an angry paper was
issued by Mr Vulliamy. In October I expostulated with Denison about
his conduct towards Sir Charles Barry: on November 7th I resigned.--On
Feb. 11th I was elected President of the Royal Astronomical
Society.--In the Royal Institution I lectured on the Ancient
Eclipses.--On Dec. 15th I was elected to the Academy of
Brussels.--After preliminary correspondence with Sir W. Molesworth
(First Commissioner of Works, &c.) and Sir Charles Barry (Architect of
the Westminster Palace), I wrote, on May 14th, to Mr Gladstone about
depositing the four Parliamentary Copies of Standards, at the Royal
Observatory, the Royal Mint, the Royal Society, and within a wall of
Westminster Palace. Mr Gladstone assented on June 23rd.--On Mar. 26th
I wrote to Mr Gladstone, proposing to take advantage of the new copper
coinage for introducing the decimal system. I was always strenuous
about preserving the Pound Sterling. On May 10th I attended the
Committee of the House of Commons on decimal coinage: and in May and
September I wrote letters to the Athenaeum on decimal coinage.--I had
always something on hand about Tides. A special subject now was, the
cry about intercepting the tidal waters of the Tyne by the formation
of the Jarrow Docks, in Jarrow Slake; which fear I considered to be

Of private history: "From Jan. 15th to 24th I was at Playford.--On
Mar. 4th I went to Dover to try time-signals.--From June 24th to
Aug. 6th I was at Little Braithwaite near Keswick, where I had hired a
house, and made expeditions with members of my family in all
directions. On July 28th I went, with my son Wilfrid, by Workington
and Maryport to Rose Castle, the residence of Bishop Percy (the Bishop
of Carlisle), and on to Carlisle and Newcastle, looking at various
works, mines, &c.--On Dec. 24th I went to Playford."


The chronograph Barrel-Apparatus for the American method of transits
had been practically brought into use: "I have only to add that this
apparatus is now generally efficient. It is troublesome in use;
consuming much time in the galvanic preparations, the preparation of
the paper, and the translation of the puncture-indications into
figures. But among the observers who use it there is but one opinion
on its astronomical merits--that, in freedom from personal equation
and in general accuracy, it is very far superior to the observations
by eye and ear."--The printing and publication of the Observations,
which was always regarded by Airy as a matter of the first importance,
had fallen into arrear: "I stated in my last Report that the printing
of the Observations for 1852 was scarcely commenced at the time of the
last meeting of the Visitors. For a long time the printing went on so
slowly that I almost despaired of ever again seeing the Observations
in a creditable state. After a most harassing correspondence, the
printers were at length persuaded to move more actively, ... but the
volume is still very much behind its usual time of publication."--"The
Deal Time-Ball has now been erected by Messrs Maudslays and Field, and
is an admirable specimen of the workmanship of those celebrated
engineers. The galvanic connection with the Royal Observatory (through
the telegraph wires of the South Eastern Railway) is perfect. The
automatic changes of wire-communications are so arranged that, when
the Ball at Deal has dropped to its lowest point, it sends a message
to Greenwich to acquaint me, not with the time of the beginning of its
fall (which cannot be in error) but with the fact that it has really
fallen. The Ball has several times been dropped experimentally with
perfect success; and some small official and subsidiary arrangements
alone are wanting for bringing it into constant use."--The operations
for the galvanic determination of the longitude of Brussels are
described, with the following conclusion: "Thus, about 3000 effective
signals were made, but only 1000 of these were admissible for the
fundamental objects of the operation. The result, I need scarcely
remark, claims a degree of accuracy to which no preceding
determination of longitude could ever pretend. I apprehend that the
probable error in the difference of time corresponds to not more than
one or two yards upon the Earth's surface.--A careful scheme had been
arranged for the determination of the longitude of Lerwick, but
'unfortunately, the demand for chronometers caused by our large naval
armament has been so considerable that I cannot reckon on having at my
disposal a sufficient number to carry on this operation successfully;
and I have, therefore, unwillingly deferred it to a more peaceful
time.'--The covering stone of Halley's Tomb in Lee Churchyard was much
shattered, and I applied to the Admiralty for funds for its complete
restoration: these were granted on Feb. 3rd.--In this year, under my
cognizance, _£100_ was added to the Hansen grant.--I had much
correspondence and work in connection with the printing of Maclear's
work at the Cape of Good Hope. In June, all accounts, &c. about the
Transit Circle were closed at the Admiralty, and the instrument was
completely mounted at the Cape.--Dr Scoresby (who in his own way was
very imperious) had attacked my methods of correcting the compass in
iron ships: I replied in a letter to the Athenaeum on Oct. 17th.--I
made enquiries about operations for determining the longitude of
Vienna, but was utterly repelled by the foreign telegraph offices.--In
the Royal Astronomical Society; I prepared the Address on presenting
the Medal to Rümker.--In Melbourne University: The first letter
received was from the Chancellor of the University dated Jan. 26th,
requesting that Sir John Herschel, Prof. Malden, Mr Lowe
(subsequently Chancellor of the Exchequer), and I would select
professors. We had a great deal of correspondence, meetings,
examination of testimonials, &c., and on August 14th we agreed on
Wilson, Rowe, McCoy, and Hearn.--On Feb. 17th I received the Prussian
Order of Merit.--I had correspondence with the Treasury on the scale
to be adopted for the Maps of the British Survey. I proposed 1/3000,
and for some purposes 1/600.--I printed a Paper on the Deluge, in
which I shewed (I believe to certainty) that the Deluge of Genesis was
merely a Destructive Flood of the Nile.--Being well acquainted with
the mountains of Cumberland, I had remarked that a 'man' or cairn of
stones erected by the Ordnance Surveyors on the Great Gable had
covered up a curious natural stone trough, known as one of the
remarkable singularities of the country. This year, without giving any
notice to the Ordnance Surveyors, I sent two wallers from Borrowdale
to the mountain top, to remove the 'man' about 10 feet and expose the
trough. Sir Henry James afterwards approved of my act, and refunded
the expense.--I investigated the optical condition of an eye with
conical cornea.

"The Harton Colliery Experiment: I had long wished to repeat the
experiment which I had attempted unsuccessfully in 1826 and 1828, of
determining by pendulum-vibrations the measure of gravity at the
bottom of a mine. Residing near Keswick this summer, and having the
matter in my mind, I availed myself of an introduction from Dr Leitch
to some gentlemen at South Shields, for inspection of the Harton
Colliery. I judged that it would answer pretty well. I find that on
Aug. 11th I wrote to Mr Anderson (lessee of the mine), and on the same
day to the Admiralty requesting authority to employ a Greenwich
Assistant, and requesting _£100_ for part payment of expenses. On
August 16th the Admiralty assent. There were many preparations to be
made, both personal and instrumental. My party consisted of Dunkin
(Superintendant), Ellis, Criswick, Simmons, Pogson, and Rümker: I did
not myself attend the detail of observations. The observations began
on Oct. 2nd and ended on Oct. 21st: supplementary observations were
subsequently made at Greenwich for examining the coefficient of
temperature-correction. On Oct. 24th I gave a Lecture at South Shields
on the whole operation. In 'Punch' of Nov. 18th there was an excellent
semi-comic account of the experiment, which as I afterwards found was
written by Mr Percival Leigh."

Of private history: "On Jan. 18th I returned from Playford. From
Mar. 10th to 13th I was at Deal, and visited Sir John Herschel at
Hawkhurst.--From June 28th to Aug. 7th I was staying with my family at
The Grange, in Borrowdale near Keswick: and also made an expedition to
Penrith, Carlisle, Newcastle, Jarrow, &c.; and descended the Harton
Pit.--In September and also in October I was at South Shields on the
Harton Experiments.--From Dec. 14th to 18th I was at Cambridge, and on
the 26th I went to Playford."

The following letter, written in answer to a lady who had asked him to
procure permission from Lord Rosse for her to observe with his
telescope, is characteristic:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH.
                                               _1854, September 20_.


The state of things with regard to Lord Rosse's Telescope is this. If
a night is fine, it is wanted for his use or for the use of
professional astronomers. If it is not fine, it is of no use to
anybody. Now considering this, and considering that the appropriation
of the telescope on a fine night to any body but a technical
astronomer is a misapplication of an enormous capital of money and
intellect which is invested in this unique instrument--it is against
my conscience to ask Lord Rosse to place it at the service of any
person except an experienced astronomer. No introduction, I believe,
is necessary for seeing it in the day-time. The instrument stands
unenclosed in the Castle Demesne, to which strangers are admitted
without question, I believe...............

        Faithfully yours,
          G.B. AIRY.


"On May 9th it was notified to me (I think through the Hydrographer)
that the Admiralty were not unwilling to increase my salary. I made
application therefore; and on Jan. 21st 1856 Sir Charles Wood notified
to me that the Admiralty consented to have it raised from _£800_ to
_£1000_.--In the Report to the Board of Visitors it appears that 'At
the instance of the Board of Trade, acting on this occasion through a
Committee of the Royal Society, a model of the Transit Circle (with
the improvement of perforated cube, &c. introduced in the Cape
Transit Circle) has been prepared for the Great Exhibition at
Paris.'--Under the head of Reduction of Astronomical Observations it
is stated that 'During the whole time of which I have spoken, the
galvanic-contact method has been employed for transits, with the
exception of a few days, when the galvanic apparatus was out of order.
From the clock errors, I have deduced the personal equations of the
observers in our usual way.... The result is that the magnitude of the
personal equations in the galvanic-touch method is not above half of
that in the eye and ear method.'--With regard to the Reduction of the
Magnetical Observations, 'I have not yet felt sufficiently satisfied
with any proposed method of discussing the magnetic results to devote
any time to their further treatment.'--'The Time-Signal Ball at Deal
was brought into regular use at the beginning of the present year. In
a short time, however, its action was interrupted, partly by
derangement of the apparatus, and partly by the severity of the
weather, which froze the sulphuric acid to the state of jelly. I sent
an assistant and workman to put it in order, and since that time it
has generally acted very well.--Application has been made to me from
one of the important offices of Government (the Post Office) for the
galvanic regulation of their clocks.--On considering the risks to
which various galvanic communications are liable, and the financial
necessity for occupying wires as little as possible, I perceived that
it was necessary to devise constructions which should satisfy the
following conditions. First, that a current sent once a day should
suffice for adjusting the clock, even if it had gone ten or more
seconds wrong. Secondly, that an occasional failure of the current
should not stop the clock. I have arranged constructions which possess
these characters, and the artist (Mr C. Shepherd) is now engaged in
preparing estimates of the expense. I think it likely that this may
prove to be the beginning of a very extensive system of clock
regulation."--With respect to the operations for determining the
longitude of Paris, it is stated that, "The whole number of days of
signal transmission was eighteen, and the whole number of signals
transmitted was 2530. The number of days considered available for
longitude, in consequence of transits of stars having been observed at
both Observatories, was twelve, and the number of signals was
1703. Very great care was taken on both sides, for the adjustments of
the instruments. The resulting difference of longitude, 9m. 20.63s.,
is probably very accurate. It is less by nearly 1s. of time than that
determined in 1825 by rocket-signals, under the superintendance of Sir
John Herschel and Col. Sabine. The time occupied by the passage of the
galvanic current appears to be 1/12th of a second."--With regard to
the Pendulum Experiments in the Harton Colliery, after mentioning that
personal assistance had been sought and obtained from the
Observatories of Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, and Red Hill, the Report
states that "The experiments appear to have been in every point
successful, shewing beyond doubt that gravity is increased at the
depth of 1260 feet by 1/10000th part. I trust that this combination
may prove a valuable precedent for future associations of the
different Observatories of the kingdom, when objects requiring
extensive personal organization shall present themselves."--On
Oct. 18th the Astronomer Royal printed an Address to the Individual
Members of the Board of Visitors on the subject of a large new
Equatoreal for the Observatory. After a brief statement of the
existing equipment of the Observatory in respect of equatoreal
instruments, the Address continues thus: "It is known to the Visitors
that I have uniformly objected to any luxury of extrameridional
apparatus, which would materially divert us from a steady adherence to
the meridional system which both reason and tradition have engrafted
on this Observatory. But I feel that our present instruments are
insufficient even for my wishes; and I cannot overlook the
consideration that due provision must be made for future interests,
and that we are nearer by twenty years to the time when another
judgment must decide on the direction which shall be given to the
force of the Observatory."--"In August I had some correspondence about
the Egyptian wooden astronomical tablets with Mr Gresswell and others:
they were fully examined by Mr Ellis.--In this year I was much engaged
on schemes for compasses, and in June I sent my Paper on Discussions
of Ships' Magnetism to the Royal Society.--On Dec. 6th the mast of the
Observatory time-ball broke, and the Ball fell in the Front Court.--On
Aug. 4th my valued friend Mr Sheepshanks died; and on Aug. 14th I went
to London to see the Standard Bars as left by him. Afterwards, on
Oct. 25th I went to Reading to collect the papers about Standards left
by Mr Sheepshanks.--I made a mechanical construction for Euclid I. 47,
with which I was well satisfied.--On Apr. 13th I joined a deputation
to the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Sir G. Cornewall Lewis) on Decimal

Of private history: "I was at Playford for a large part of
January.--On Mar, 26th I went to Reading, to visit Mr Sheepshanks, and
afterwards to Silchester and Hereford.--On June 21st I went with my
wife and two eldest sons to Edinburgh and other places in Scotland,
but residing principally at Oban, where I hired a house. Amongst other
expeditions, I and my son Wilfrid went with the 'Pharos' (Northern
Lights Steamer) to the Skerry Vohr Lighthouse, &c. I also visited
Newcastle, &c., and returned to Greenwich on Aug. 2nd.--From Oct. 12th
to 17th I was at Cambridge.--On Dec. 24th I went to Playford."

                             CHAPTER VII.

               AT GREENWICH OBSERVATORY--1856 TO 1866.


"In the Report to the Visitors there is an interesting account of the
difficulties experienced with the Reflex Zenith Tube in consequence of
the tremors of the quicksilver transmitted through the ground.
Attempts were made to reduce the tremor by supporting the
quicksilver trough on a stage founded at a depth of 10 feet below the
surface, but it was not in the smallest degree diminished, and the
Report states that 'The experience of this investigation justifies me
in believing that no practicable depth of trench prevents the
propagation of tremor when the soil is like that of Greenwich Hill, a
gravel, in all places very hard, and in some, cemented to the
consistency of rock.'--With respect to the regulation of the Post
Office clocks, 'One of the galvanic clocks in the Post Office
Department, Lombard Street, is already placed in connection with the
Royal Observatory, and is regulated at noon every day ... other clocks
at the General Post Office are nearly prepared for the same
regulation, and I expect that the complete system will soon be in
action.'--Under the head of General Remarks a careful summary is given
of the work of the Observatory, and the paragraph concludes as
follows: 'Lastly there are employments which connect the scientific
Observatory with the practical world; the distribution of accurate
time, the improvement of marine time-keepers, the observations and
communications which tend to the advantage of Geography and
Navigation, and the study, in a practical sense, of the modifications
of Magnetism; a careful attention to these is likely to prove useful
to the world, and conducive to the material prosperity of the
Observatory: and these ought not to be banished from our system.'--In
September I prepared the first specification for the building to carry
the S.E. Dome.--In September, learning that Hansen's Lunar Tables were
finished in manuscript, I applied to Lord Clarendon and they were
conveyed to me through the Foreign Office: in October I submitted to
the Admiralty the proposal for printing the Tables, and in November I
learned that the Treasury had assented to the expense.--Lieut.
Daynou's eclipses and occultations for longitudes of points
in South Africa, observed in 1854 and 1855, were calculated
here in this year.--On Feb. 16th I made my first application to Sir
C. Wood (First Lord of the Admiralty) for assistance to C. Piazzi
Smyth to carry out the Teneriffe Experiment: grounding it in part on
the failure of attempts to see the solar prominences. He gave
encouragement, and on Mar. 18th I transmitted Piazzi Smyth's Memorial
to the Admiralty: on May 2nd the Admiralty authorized an expense of
_£500_. I drew up suggestions.--The Sheepshanks Fund: After the death
of my friend Richard Sheepshanks, his sister Miss Anne Sheepshanks
wished to bestow some funds in connection with the University of
Cambridge, Trinity College, and Astronomy, to which his name should be
attached. There must have been some conversation with me, but the
first letter is one from De Morgan in August. In September I had a
conversation with Miss Sheepshanks, and sent her my first draft of a
scheme, to which she assented. On Sept. 30th I wrote to Whewell
(Master of Trinity) who was much trusted by Miss Sheepshanks: he
consented to take part, and made some suggestions. There was further
correspondence, but the business did not get into shape in this
year.--In connection with the Correction of the Compass in Iron Ships:
I discussed the observations made in the voyage of the Royal
Charter. On Feb. 13th I proposed to the Admiralty a system of mounting
the compasses with adjustable magnets, and it was ordered to be tried
in the Trident and Transit.--In February I reported to the Admiralty
that the Deal Time-Ball had been successful, and I proposed time-balls
at Portsmouth, Plymouth, and Sheerness. There was much correspondence
in various directions about Portsmouth and Devonport, and in March I
went to Devonport and specially examined Mount Wise and the Devonport
Column.--I had correspondence with Sir Howard Douglas about the sea
breaking over the unfinished Dover Pier. I have an idea that this
followed evidence given by me to a Harbour Commission, in which I
expressed as a certainty that the sea will not be made to break by a
vertical wall."

Of private history: "I returned from Playford on Jan. 18th.--From
June 16th to August 5th I was, with my son Wilfrid, on an expedition
to South Italy and Sicily: on our return from Sicily, we remained for
three days ill at Marseilles from a touch of malaria.--On Dec. 22nd I
went to Playford.--In acknowledgment of the pleasure which I had
derived from excursions in the Cumberland Passes, I made a foot-bridge
over a troublesome stream on the Pass of the Sty Head."


"In the Report to the Visitors, when on the subject of the Altazimuth,
the following paragraph occurs: 'I alluded in a preceding section to
the cutting away of a very small portion of one of the rays of the
three-armed pier which carries the Altazimuth. The quality of the
brickwork is the best that I have ever seen, and not a single brick
was disturbed beyond those actually removed. Yet the effect was to
give the Altazimuth an inclination of about 23". This inclination
evidently depends on the elasticity of the brickwork.'--With reference
to the new S.E. Equatoreal the Report states that 'The support of the
north or upper end of the polar axis has been received, and is planted
within the walls of the building in a position convenient for raising
it to its ultimate destination. It is one piece of cast-iron, and
weighs nearly 5 tons.'--Small changes as previously mentioned had been
noticed with regard to the Zero of Azimuth of the Transit Circle, and
the Report states that 'In regard to the Azimuth of the Transit
Circle, and the Azimuth of its Collimator, Mr Main has brought
together the results of several years, and the following law appears
to hold. There is a well-marked annual periodical change in the
position of the Transit Circle, the southerly movement of the eastern
pivot having its minimum value in September, and its maximum in March,
the extreme range being about 14 seconds; and there is a similar
change, but of smaller amount, in the position of the Collimator. I
cannot conjecture any cause for these changes, except in the motion of
the ground. There is also a well-marked connection between the state
of level of the axis and the temperature. The eastern pivot always
rises when the temperature rises, the extreme range being about 6
seconds. I cannot offer any explanation of this.'--Under the head of
Extraneous Works the Report states that 'The British Government had
for some years past contributed by pecuniary grants to the preparation
of Prof. Hansen's Lunar Tables. In the last winter they undertook the
entire expense of printing a large impression of the Tables. The
reading of the proof-sheets (a very considerable labour) has been
effected entirely at the Observatory. I may take this opportunity of
stating that the use of these Tables has enabled me, as I think,
incontestably to fix the capture of Larissa to the date B.C. 557, May
19. This identification promises to prove valuable, not merely for its
chronological utility, but also for its accurate determination of an
astronomical epoch, the point eclipsed being exactly known, and the
shadow having been very small.'--In April I gave a lecture to the
Royal Astronomical Society on the methods available through the next
25 years for the determination of the Sun's parallax.--Dr
Livingstone's observations for African longitudes were computed at the
Observatory.--The Admiralty enquire of me about the feasibility of
adopting Piazzi Smyth's construction for steadying telescopes on board
ship: I gave a Report, of mixed character, on the whole
discouraging.--I had correspondence with G.P. Bond and others about
photographing the Stars and Moon.--On Feb. 17th Piazzi Smyth's books,
&c. relating to the Teneriffe Experiment were sent to me: I
recommended that an abridged Report should be sent to the Royal
Society.--Respecting the Sheepshanks Fund: there was correspondence
with Miss Sheepshanks and Whewell, but nothing got into shape this
year: Miss Sheepshanks transferred to me _£10,000_ lying at Overend
and Gurney's.--In November experiments were made for the longitude of
Edinburgh, which failed totally from the bad state of the telegraph
wire between Deptford and the Admiralty.--In June the first suggestion
was made to me by Capt. Washington for time-signals on the Lizard
Point: which in no long time I changed for the Start Point.--The
Admiralty call for estimates for a time-ball at Portsmouth: on
receiving them they decline further proceeding.--I was engaged in
speculations and correspondence about the Atlantic Submarine
Cable.--In the Royal Astronomical Society, I presented Memoirs and
gave lectures on the three great chronological eclipses (Agathocles,
Thales, Larissa)."--On Dec. 5th Airy wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of
the University of Cambridge, objecting to the proposed changes
regarding the Smith's Prizes--a subject in which he took much
interest, and to which he ascribed great importance.--On Apr. 27th I
was in correspondence with G. Herbert of the Trinity House, about
floating beacons.--In July I reported to the Treasury on the Swedish
Calculating Engine (I think on the occasion of Mr Farr, of the
Registrar-General's Office, applying for one).--In November I had
correspondence about the launch of the Great Eastern, and the main
drainage of London."

Of private history: "On Jan. 14th I returned from Playford.--From June
27th to Aug. 5th I was travelling in Scotland with my wife and two
eldest sons, chiefly in the West Highlands. On our return we visited
Mrs Smith (my wife's mother) at Brampton.--On Dec. 26th I went to


"In the Minutes of the Visitors it is noted that the new Queen's
Warrant was received. The principal change was the exclusion of the
Astronomer Royal and the other Observatory Officers from the
Board.--In the Report to the Visitors it is stated that 'The Papers of
the Board of Longitude are now finally stitched into books. They will
probably form one of the most curious collections of the results of
scientific enterprise, both normal and abnormal, which exists.'--It
appears that the galvanic communications, external to the Observatory,
had been in a bad state, the four wires to London Bridge having
probably been injured by a thunderstorm in the last autumn, and the
Report states that 'The state of the wires has not enabled us to drop
the Ball at Deal. The feeble current which arrives there has been used
for some months merely as giving a signal, by which an attendant is
guided in dropping the Ball by hand.'--Regarding the new Equatoreal
the Report states that 'For the new South-East Equatoreal, the
object-glass was furnished by Messrs Merz and Son in the summer of
last year, and I made various trials of it in a temporary tube carried
by the temporary mounting which I had provided, and finally I was well
satisfied with it. I cannot yet say that I have certainly divided the
small star of gamma Andromedae; but, for such a test, a combination of
favourable circumstances is required. From what I have seen, I have no
doubt of its proving a first-rate object-glass.'--On March 15th was an
annular eclipse of the Sun, for the observation of which I sent
parties fully equipped to Bedford, Wellingborough, and Market
Harborough. The observations failed totally in consequence of the bad
weather: I myself went to Harrowden near Wellingborough.--Respecting
the Altazimuth, the Report states that with due caution as to the zero
of azimuth 'the results of observation are extremely good, very nearly
equal to those of the meridional instrument; perhaps I might say that
three observations with the Altazimuth are equivalent to two with the
Transit Circle.'--Respecting Meteorological Observations the Report
states that 'The observations of the maximum and minimum thermometers
in the Thames, interrupted at the date of the last Report, have been
resumed, and are most regularly maintained. Regarding the Thames as
the grand climatic agent on London and its neighbourhood, I should
much regret the suppression of these observations.'--After much
trouble the longitude of Edinburgh had been determined: 'the retard of
the current is 0.04s very nearly, and the difference of longitudes 12m
43.05s, subject to personal equations.'--The Report concludes thus:
'With regard to the direction of our labours, I trust that I shall
always be supported by the Visitors in my desire to maintain the
fundamental and meridional system of the Observatory absolutely
intact. This, however, does not impede the extension of our system in
any way whatever, provided that such means are arranged for carrying
out the extension as will render unnecessary the withdrawal of
strength from what are now the engrossing objects of the
Observatory.'--I had much correspondence on Comets, of which Donati's
great Comet was one: the tail of this Comet passed over Arcturus on
October 5th.--Respecting the Sheepshanks Fund: In September I met
Whewell at Leeds, and we settled orally the final plan of the
scheme. On Oct. 27th I saw Messrs Sharp, Miss Sheepshanks's
solicitors, and drew up a Draft of the Deed of Gift. There was much
correspondence, and on Nov. 20th I wrote to the Vice-Chancellor of
Cambridge University. A counter-scheme was proposed by Dr Philpott,
Master of St Catharine's College. By arrangement I attended the
Council of the University on Dec. 3rd, and explained my views, to
which the Council assented. On Dec. 9th the Senate accepted the gift
of Miss Sheepshanks.--I had much correspondence throughout this year,
with the Treasury, Herschel, Sabine, and the Royal Society, about the
continuation of the Magnetic Establishments. The Reductions of the
Magnetic Observations 1848-1857 were commenced in February of this
year, under the direction of Mr Lucas, a computer who had been engaged
on the Lunar Reductions.--In this year I came to a final agreement
with the South Eastern Railway Company about defining the terms of our
connection with them for the passage of Time Signals. I was authorized
by the Admiralty to sign the 'protocol' or Memorandum of Agreement,
and it was signed by the South Eastern Railway Directors.--On
Aug. 28th I made my first proposal to Sir John Packington (First Lord
of the Admiralty) for hourly time signals on the Start Point, and in
September I went to the Start to examine localities, &c. On Dec. 23rd
the Admiralty declined to sanction it.--I presented to the Royal
Society a Paper about drawing a great-circle trace on a Mercator's
chart.--In October I gave a Lecture on Astronomy in the Assembly Room
at Bury.--On Jan. 25th I was busied with my Mathematical Tracts for
republication."--In this year Airy published in the Athenaeum very
careful and critical remarks on the Commissioners' Draft of Statutes
for Trinity College. He was always ready to take action in the
interests of his old College. This Paper procured him the warmest
gratitude from the Fellows of the College.

Of private history: "On Jan. 23rd I returned from Playford. From July
5th to Aug. 6th I was on an expedition in Switzerland with my two
eldest sons. At Paris we visited Le Verrier, and at Geneva we visited
Gautier, De La Rive, and Plantamour. We returned by Brussels.--On
Dec. 23rd I went to Playford."--In this year was erected in Playford
Churchyard a granite obelisk in memory of Thomas Clarkson. It was
built by subscription amongst a few friends of Clarkson's, and the
negociations and arrangements were chiefly carried out by Airy, who
zealously exerted himself in the work which was intended to honour the
memory of his early friend. It gave him much trouble during the years
1856 to 1858.

Here is a letter to the Editor of the Athenaeum on some other Trinity

                                             _1858, November 22_.


In the Athenaeum of November 20, page 650, column 3, paragraph 4,
there is an account of the erection of the statue of Barrow in Trinity
College Antechapel (Cambridge) conceived in a spirit hostile to the
University, and written in great ignorance of the facts. On the latter
I can give the writer some information.

The Marquis of Lansdowne, who was a Trinity man and whose son was of
Trinity, intimated to the authorities of the College that he was
desirous of placing in the antechapel a statue of _Milton_. This,
regard being had to the customs and the college-feelings of Cambridge,
was totally impossible. The antechapel of every college is sacredly
reserved for memorials of the men of that college only; and Milton was
of Christ's College. The Marquis of Lansdowne, on hearing this
objection, left the choice of the person to be commemorated, to
certain persons of the college, one of whom (a literary character of
the highest eminence and a profound admirer of Milton) has not resided
in Cambridge for many years. Several names were carefully considered,
and particularly one (not mentioned by your correspondent) of very
great literary celebrity, but in whose writings there is ingrained so
much of ribaldry and licentiousness that he was at length given
up. Finally the choice rested on Barrow, not as comparable to Milton,
but as a person of reputation in his day and as the best who could be
found under all the circumstances.

Cromwell never was mentioned; he was a member of Sidney College:
moreover it would have been very wrong to select the exponent of an
extreme political party. But Cromwell has I believe many admirers in
Cambridge, to which list I attach myself.

I had no part in the negociations above mentioned, but I saw the
original letters, and I answer for the perfect correctness of what I
have stated. But as I am not a principal, I decline to appear in

It is much to be desired, both for the Athenaeum and for the public,
that such an erroneous statement should not remain uncorrected. And I
would suggest that a correction by the Editor would be just and
graceful, and would tend to support the Athenaeum in that high
position which it has usually maintained.

        I am, dear Sir,
          Yours very faithfully,
            G.B. AIRY.

_Hepworth Dixon, Esq._


"The Report to the Visitors states that 'The Lunar Reductions with
amended elements (especially parallax) for correction of Observations
from 1831 to 1851 are now completed. It is, I think, matter of
congratulation to the Observatory and to Astronomy, that there are now
exhibited the results of uninterrupted Lunar Observations extending
through more than a century, made at the same place, reduced under the
same superintendence and on the same general principles, and compared
throughout with the same theoretical Tables.'--After reference to the
great value of the Greenwich Lunar Observations to Prof. Hansen in
constructing his Tables, and to the liberality of the British
Government in their grants to Hansen, the Report continues thus: 'A
strict comparison of Hansen's Tables with the Greenwich Observations
of late years, both meridional and extra-meridional, was commenced.
The same observations had, in the daily routine of the Observatory,
been compared with the Nautical Almanac or Burckhardt's Tables. The
result for one year only (1852) has yet reached me, but it is most
remarkable. The sum of squares of residual errors with Hansen's Tables
is only one-eighth part of that with Burckhardt's Tables. When it is
remembered that in this is included the entire effect of errors and
irregularities of observation, we shall be justified in considering
Hansen's Tables as nearly perfect. So great a step, to the best of my
knowledge, has never been made in numerical physical theory. I have
cited this at length, not only as interesting to the Visitors from the
circumstance that we have on our side contributed to this great
advance, but also because an innovation, peculiar to this Observatory,
has in no small degree aided in giving a decisive character to the
comparison. I have never concealed my opinion that the introduction
and vigorous use of the Altazimuth for observations of the Moon is the
most important addition to the system of the Observatory that has been
made for many years. The largest errors of Burckhardt's Tables were
put in evidence almost always by the Altazimuth Observations, in
portions of the Moon's Orbit which could not be touched by the
meridional instruments; they amounted sometimes to nearly 40" of arc,
and they naturally became the crucial errors for distinction between
Burckhardt's and Hansen's Tables. Those errors are in all cases
corrected with great accuracy by Hansen's Tables.'--The Report
concludes with the following paragraph: 'With the inauguration of the
new Equatoreal will terminate the entire change from the old state of
the Observatory. There is not now a single person employed or
instrument used in the Observatory which was there in Mr Pond's time,
nor a single room in the Observatory which is used as it was used
then. In every step of change, however, except this last, the ancient
and traditional responsibilities of the Observatory have been most
carefully considered: and, in the last, the substitution of a new
instrument was so absolutely necessary, and the importance of
tolerating no instrument except of a high class was so obvious, that
no other course was open to us. I can only trust that, while the use
of the Equatoreal within legitimate limits may enlarge the utility and
the reputation of the Observatory, it may never be permitted to
interfere with that which has always been the staple and standard work
here.'--Concerning the Sheepshanks Fund: There was much correspondence
about settling the Gift till about Feb. 21st. I took part in the first
examination for the Scholarship in October of this year, and took my
place with the Trinity Seniority, as one of their number on this
foundation, for some general business of the Fund.--With respect to
the Correction of the Compass in Iron Ships: I sent Mr Ellis to
Liverpool to see some practice there in the correction of the
Compass. In September I urged Mr Rundell to make a voyage in the Great
Eastern (just floated) for examination of her compasses, and lent him
instruments: very valuable results were obtained. Mr Archibald Smith
had edited Scoresby's Voyage in the Royal Charter, with an
introduction very offensive to me: I replied fully in the Athenaeum of
Nov. 7th.--The Sale of Gas Act: An Act of Parliament promoted by
private members of the House of Commons had been passed, without the
knowledge or recollection of the Government. It imposed on the
Government various duties about the preparation of Standards.
Suddenly, at the very expiration of the time allowed this
came to the knowledge of Government. On Oct. 1st Lord Monteagle
applied to me for assistance. On Oct. 15th and 22nd I wrote to Mr
Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, and received authority to ask for
the assistance of Prof. W.H. Miller.--I made an examination of Mr
Ball's eyes (long-sighted and short-sighted I think).--In February I
made an Analysis of the Cambridge Tripos Examination, which I
communicated to some Cambridge residents." In a letter on this subject
to one of his Cambridge friends Airy gives his opinion as follows: "I
have looked very carefully over the Examination Papers, and think them
on the whole very bad. They are utterly perverted by the insane love
of Problems, and by the foolish importance given to wholly useless
parts of Algebraical Geometry. For the sake of these, every Physical
Subject and every useful application of pure mathematics are cut down
or not mentioned." This led to much discussion at Cambridge. In this
year the Smith's Prizes were awarded to the 4th and 6th Wranglers.

Of private history: "On Apr. 29th Mrs Smith (my wife's mother) died at
Brampton.--From July 4th to Aug. 2nd I was in France (Auvergne and the
Vivarais) with my two eldest sons. Maclear travelled with us to
Paris.--On Dec. 23rd I went to Playford."--Antiquities and historical
questions connected with military movements had a very great
attraction for Airy. On his return from the expedition in France
above-mentioned, he engaged in considerable correspondence with
military authorities regarding points connected with the battle of
Toulouse. And in this year also he had much correspondence with the
Duke of Northumberland concerning his Map of the Roman Wall, and the
military points relating to the same.


"In June Mr Main accepted the office of Radcliffe Observer at Oxford
(Mr Johnson having died) and resigned the First Assistancy at
Greenwich: in October Mr Stone was appointed First Assistant.--At an
adjourned Meeting of the Visitors on June 18th there were very heavy
discussions on Hansen's merits, and about the grant to him. Papers
were read from Sir J. Lubbock, Babbage, South, Whewell, and
me. Finally it was recommended to the Government to grant _£1000_ to
Hansen, which was paid to him.--In the Report to the Board of Visitors
the following remark occurs: 'The apparent existence of a discordance
between the results of Direct Observations and Reflection Observations
(after the application of corrections for flexure, founded upon
observations of the horizontal collimator wires) to an extent far
greater than can be explained by any disturbance of the direction of
gravity on the quicksilver by its distance from the vertical, or by
the attraction of neighbouring masses, perplexes me much.'--With
respect to the discordance of dips of the dipping-needles, which for
years past had been a source of great trouble and puzzle, the Report
states that 'The dipping-needles are still a source of anxiety. The
form which their anomalies appear to take is that of a special or
peculiar value of the dip given by each separate needle. With one of
the 9-inch needles, the result always differs about a quarter of a
degree from that of the others. I can see nothing in its mechanical
construction to explain this.--Reference is made to the spontaneous
currents through the wires of telegraph companies, which are
frequently violent and always occur at the times of magnetic storms,
and the Report continues 'It may be worth considering whether it would
ever be desirable to establish in two directions at right angles to
each other (for instance, along the Brighton Railway and along the
North Kent Railway) wires which would photographically register in the
Royal Observatory the currents that pass in these directions,
exhibiting their indications by photographic curves in close
juxtaposition with the registers of the magnetic elements.'--In
connection with the Reduction of the Greenwich Lunar Observations from
1831 to 1851, the Report states that 'The comparison of Hansen's Lunar
Tables with the Greenwich Observations, which at the last Visitation
had been completed for one year only, has now been finished for the
twelve years 1847 to 1858. The results for the whole period agree
entirely, in their general spirit, with those for the year 1852 cited
in the last Report. The greatest difference between the merits of
Burckhardt's and Hansen's Tables appears in the Meridional Longitudes
1855, when the proportion of the sum of squares of errors is as 31
(Burckhardt) to 2 (Hansen). The nearest approach is in the Altazimuth
Latitudes 1854, when the proportion of the sum of squares of errors is
as 12 (Burckhardt) to 5 (Hansen).'--A special Address to the Members
of the Board of Visitors has reference to the proposals of M. Struve
for (amongst other matters) the improved determination of the
longitude of Valencia, and the galvanic determination of the extreme
Eastern Station of the British triangles.--On Sept. 13th I circulated
amongst the Visitors my Remarks on a Paper entitled 'On the Polar
Distances of the Greenwich Transit-Circle, by A. Marth,' printed in
the Astronomische Nachrichten; the Paper by Mr Marth was an elaborate
attack on the Greenwich methods of observation, and my Remarks were a
detailed refutation of his statements.--On Oct. 20th I made enquiry of
Sabine as to the advantage of keeping up magnetic observations. On
Oct. 22nd he wrote, avoiding my question in some measure, but saying
that our instruments must be changed for such as those at Kew (his
observatory): I replied, generally declining to act on that
advice.--In March and April I was in correspondence with Mr Cowper
(First Commissioner of Works, &c.) about the bells of the Westminster
Clock; also about the smoky chimneys of the various apartments of the
Palace. On Apr. 21st I made my Report on the clock and bells, 20
foolscap pages. I employed a professional musician to examine the
tones of the bells.--In November I was writing my book on Probable
Errors, &c.--I was engaged on the Tides of Kurrachee and Bombay.--The
first examination of Navy telescopes was made for the Admiralty.
--Hoch's Paper on Aberration appeared in the Astronomische
Nachrichten. This (with others) led to the construction of the
water-telescope several years later.--In September I wrote in the
Athenaeum against a notion of Sir H. James on the effect of an
upheaval of a mountain in changing the Earth's axis. In October I had
drawn up a list of days for a possible evagation of the Earth's poles:
but apparently nothing was done upon them.

"In this year I was a good deal occupied for the Lighthouse
Commission. On Feb. 21st Admiral Hamilton (chairman) applied to me for
assistance. In April I went to Chance's Factory in Birmingham on this
business. In May I made my report on the Start Lighthouse, after
inspection with the Commission. In June, with my son Hubert, I visited
the Whitby Lighthouses, and discovered a fault of a singular kind
which most materially diminished their power. This discovery led to a
general examination of lighthouses by the Trinity Board, to a
modification of many, and to a general improvement of system. On June
25th I reported on the Lights at Calais, Cap de Valde, Grisnez, South
Foreland, and North Foreland. In August I had been to the North
Foreland again, and in September to Calais and the Cap d'Ailly. In
October I went with my son Hubert to Aberdeen to see the Girdleness
Lighthouse. On Nov. 10th I made a General Report.

"This was the year of the great total solar eclipse visible in
Spain. At my representation, the Admiralty placed at my command the
large steamship 'Himalaya' to carry about 60 astronomers, British and
Foreign. Some were landed at Santander: I with many at Bilbao. The
Eclipse was fairly well observed: I personally did not do my part
well. The most important were Mr De La Rue's photographic operations.
At Greenwich I had arranged a very careful series of observations with
the Great Equatoreal, which were fully carried out."

The eclipse expedition to Spain, shortly referred to above, was most
interesting, not merely from the importance of the results obtained
(and some of the parties were very fortunate in the weather) but from
the character of the expedition. It was a wonderful combination of
the astronomers of Europe, who were all received on board the
'Himalaya,' and were conveyed together to the coast of Spain. The
polyglot of languages was most remarkable, but the utmost harmony and
enthusiasm prevailed from first to last, and this had much to do with
the general success of the expedition. Those who landed at Bilbao
were received in the kindest and most hospitable manner by Mr
C.B. Vignoles, the engineer-in-chief of the Bilbao and Tudela Railway,
which was then under construction. This gentleman made arrangements
for the conveyance of parties to points in the interior of the country
which were judged suitable for the observation of the eclipse, and
placed all the resources of his staff at the disposal of the
expedition in the most liberal manner. The universal opinion was that
very great difficulty would have been experienced without the active
and generous assistance of Mr Vignoles. It is needless to say that the
vote of thanks to Mr Vignoles, proposed by the Astronomer Royal during
the return voyage, was passed by acclamation and with a very sincere
feeling of gratitude: it was to the effect that 'without the great and
liberal aid of Mr C.B. Vignoles, and the disinterested love of science
evinced by him on this occasion, the success of the "Himalaya" eclipse
expedition could not have been ensured.' There is a graphic and
interesting account of the reception of the party at Bilbao given in
the 'Life of C.B. Vignoles, F.R.S., Soldier and Civil Engineer,' by
O.J. Vignoles, M.A.

Of private history: "On May 26th my venerable friend Arthur Biddell
died. He had been in many respects more than a father to me: I cannot
express how much I owed to him, especially in my youth.--From June
12th to 15th I visited the Whitby Lighthouses with my son
Hubert.--From July 6th to 28th I was in Spain, on the 'Himalaya'
expedition, to observe the total eclipse: I was accompanied by my
wife, my eldest son, and my eldest daughter.--From Oct. 5th to 18th I
went with my son Hubert to Aberdeen to see the Girdleness Lighthouse,
making lateral trips to Cumberland in going and returning.--On
Dec. 21st I went to Playford."


"In the Report to the Visitors there is great complaint of want of
room. 'With increase of computations, we want more room for computers;
with our greatly increased business of Chronometers and
Time-Distribution, we are in want of a nearly separate series of rooms
for the Time-Department: we want rooms for book-stores; and we require
rooms for the photographic operations and the computations of the
Magnetic Department.'--The Report gives a curious history of Dr
Bradley's Observations, which in 1776 had been transferred to the
University of Oxford, and proceeds thus: 'More lately, I applied (in
the first instance through Lord Wrottesley) to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr
Jeune, in reference to the possibility of transferring these
manuscripts to the Royal Observatory.... Finally, a decree for the
transfer of the manuscript observations to the Royal Observatory,
without any condition, was proposed to Convocation on May 2nd, and was
passed unanimously. And on May 7th my Assistant, Mr Dunkin, was sent
to Oxford to receive them. And thus, after a delay of very nearly a
century, the great work of justice is at length completed, and the
great gap in our manuscript observations is at length filled
up.'--With reference to the Transit Circle, it had been remarked that
the Collimators were slightly disturbed by the proximity of the
gas-flames of their illuminators, and after various experiments as to
the cause of it, the Report proceeds thus: 'To my great surprise, I
found that the disturbance was entirely due to the radiation of the
flame upon a very small corner (about 16 square inches) of the large
and massive stone on which the collimator is planted. The tin plates
were subsequently shaped in such a manner as to protect the stone as
well as the metal; and the disturbance has entirely ceased.'
--Regarding the large S.E. Equatoreal, the Report states that
'On the character of its object-glass I am now able to speak, first,
from the examination of Mr Otto Struve, made in a favourable state of
atmosphere; secondly, from the examinations of my Assistants (I have
not myself obtained a sight of a test-object on a night of very good
definition). It appears to be of the highest order. The small star of
gamma Andromedae is so far separated as to shew a broad dark space
between its components. Some blue colour is shewn about the bright
planets.'--It is noted in the Report that 'The Equatoreal observations
of the Solar Eclipse are completely reduced; and the results are
valuable. It appears from them that the error in right ascension of
Burckhardt's Lunar Tables at the time of the eclipse amounted to about
38"; while that of Hansen's (ultimately adopted by Mr Hind for the
calculation of the eclipse) did not exceed 3".'--With regard to
Chronometers it is stated that 'By use of the Chronometer Oven, to
which I have formerly alluded, we have been able to give great
attention to the compensation. I have reason to think that we are
producing a most beneficial effect on the manufacture and adjustment
of chronometers in general.'--With regard to the Cape of Good Hope
Observatory and Survey, the Admiralty enquire of me when the Survey
work will be completed, and I enquire of Maclear 'How is the printing
of your Survey Work?' In 1862 I began to press it strongly, and in
1863 very strongly.--I introduced a method (constantly pursued since
that time at the Royal Observatory) for computing interpolations
without changes of sign.--I had correspondence with Herschel and
Faraday, on the possible effect of the Sun's radiant heat on the sea,
as explaining the curve of diurnal magnetic inequality. (That diurnal
inequality was inferred from the magnetic reductions 1848-1857, which
were terminated in 1860.)--Regarding the proposal of hourly
time-signals on the Start Point, I consulted telegraph engineers upon
the practical points, and on Dec. 21st I proposed a formal scheme, in
complete detail. (The matter has been repeatedly brought before the
Admiralty, but has been uniformly rejected.)--I was engaged on the
question of the bad ocular vision of two or three persons.--The
British Association Meeting was held at Manchester: I was President of
Section A. I gave a Lecture on the Eclipse of 1860 to an enormous
attendance in the Free Trade Hall." The following record of the
Lecture is extracted from Dr E.J. Routh's Obituary Notice of Airy
written for the Proceedings of the Royal Society. "At the meeting of
the British Association at Manchester in 1861, Mr Airy delivered a
Lecture on the Solar Eclipse of 1860 to an assembly of perhaps 3000
persons. The writer remembers the great Free Trade Hall crowded to
excess with an immense audience whose attention and interest,
notwithstanding a weak voice, he was able to retain to the very end of
the lecture....The charm of Professor Airy's lectures lay in the
clearness of his explanations. The subjects also of his lectures were
generally those to which his attention had been turned by other
causes, so that he had much that was new to tell. His manner was
slightly hesitating, and he used frequent repetitions, which perhaps
were necessary from the newness of the ideas. As the lecturer
proceeded, his hearers forgot these imperfections and found their
whole attention rivetted to the subject matter."

Of private history: "On Jan. 2nd there was a most remarkable
crystallization of the ice on the flooded meadows at Playford: the
frost was very severe.--From June 20th to Aug. 1st I was at the Grange
near Keswick (where I hired a house) with my wife and most of my
family.--From Nov. 5th to 14th I was on an expedition in the South of
Scotland with my son Wilfrid: we walked with our knapsacks by the
Roman Road across the Cheviots to Jedburgh.--On Dec. 21st I went to


"The Report to the Board of Visitors states that 'A new range of
wooden buildings (the Magnetic Offices) is in progress at the
S.S.E. extremity of the Magnetic Ground. It will include seven
rooms.'--Also 'I took this opportunity (the relaying of the
water-main) of establishing two powerful fire-plugs (one in the Front
Court, and one in the Magnetic Ground); a stock of fire-hose adapted
to the "Brigade-Screw" having been previously secured in the
Observatory.'--'Two wires, intended for the examination of spontaneous
earth-currents, have been carried from the Magnetic Observatory to the
Railway Station in the town of Greenwich. From this point one wire is
to be led to a point in the neighbourhood of Croydon, the other to a
point in the neighbourhood of Dartford. Each wire is to be connected
at its two extremities with the Earth. The angle included between the
general directions of these two lines is nearly a right angle.'--'The
Kew unifilar magnetometer, adapted to the determination of the
horizontal part of terrestrial magnetic force in absolute measure, was
mounted in the summer of 1861; and till 1862 February, occasional
observations (14 in all) were taken simultaneously with the old and
with the new instrument. The comparison of results shewed a steady but
very small difference, not greater probably than may correspond to the
omission of the inverse seventh powers of distance in the theoretical
investigation; proving that the old instrument had been quite
efficient for its purpose.'--Great efforts had been made to deduce a
law from the Diurnal Inequalities in Declination and Horizontal Force,
as shewn by the Magnetic observations; but without success: the Report
states that 'The results are most amazing, for the variation in
magnitude as well as in law. What cosmical change can be indicated by
them is entirely beyond my power of conjecture.'--'I have alluded, in
the two last Reports, to the steps necessary, on the English side, for
completing the great Arc of Parallel from Valencia to the Volga. The
Russian portion of the work is far advanced, and will be finished (it
is understood) in the coming summer. It appeared to me therefore that
the repetition of the measure of astronomical longitude between
Greenwich and Valencia could be no longer delayed. Two Assistants of
the Royal Observatory (Mr Dunkin and Mr Criswick) will at once proceed
to Valencia, for the determination of local time and the management of
galvanic signals.'--'I now ask leave to press the subject of Hourly
Time Signals at the Start Point on the attention of the Board, and to
submit the advantage of their addressing the Board of Admiralty upon
it. The great majority of outward-bound ships pass within sight of the
Start, and, if an hourly signal were exhibited, would have the means
of regulating their chronometers at a most critical part of their
voyage. The plan of the entire system of operations is completely
arranged. The estimated expense of outfit is _£2017_, and the
estimated annual expense is _£326_; both liable to some uncertainty,
but sufficiently exact to shew that the outlay is inconsiderable in
comparison with the advantages which might be expected from it. I know
no direction of the powers of the Observatory which would tend so
energetically to carry out the great object of its establishment,
viz. "the finding out the so much desired Longitude at Sea."'--The
attention of the Visitors is strongly drawn to the pressure on the
strength of the Observatory caused by the observation of the numerous
small planets, and the paragraph concludes thus: 'I shall, however,
again endeavour to effect a partition of this labour with some other
Observatory.'--A small fire having occurred in the Magnetic
Observatory, a new building of zinc, for the operation of
naphthalizing the illuminating gas, is in preparation, external to the
Observatory: and thus one of the possible sources of accidental fire
will be removed.--Miss Sheepshanks added, through me, _£2000_ to her
former gift: I transferred it, I believe, to the Master and Seniors of
Trinity College."--In this year Airy contributed to the Royal Society
two Papers, one "On the Magnetic properties of Hot-Rolled and
Cold-Rolled Malleable Iron," the other "On the Strains in the Interior
of Beams." He gave evidence before the Select Committee on Weights and
Measures, and also before the Public Schools Commission.

In the latter part of 1862 a difference arose between Airy and
Major-General Sabine, in consequence of remarks made by the latter at
a meeting of the Committee of Recommendations of the British
Association. These remarks were to the effect "That it is necessary to
maintain the complete system of self-registration of magnetic
phenomena at the Kew Observatory, because no sufficient system of
magnetic record is maintained elsewhere in England"; implying
pointedly that the system at the Royal Observatory of Greenwich was
insufficient. This matter was taken up very warmly by Airy, and after
a short and acrimonious correspondence with Sabine, he issued a
private Address to the Visitors, enclosing copies of the
correspondence with his remarks, and requesting the Board to take the
matter of this attack into their careful consideration. This Address
is dated November 1862, and it was followed by another dated January
1863, which contains a careful reply to the various points of General
Sabine's attack, and concludes with a distinct statement that he (the
Astronomer Royal) can no longer act in confidence with Sabine as a
Member of the Board of Visitors.

Of private history: There were the usual short visits to Playford at
the beginning and end of the year.--From June 28th to Aug. 5th he was
in Scotland (chiefly in the Western Highlands) with his wife and his
sons Hubert and Osmund. In the course of this journey he visited the
Corryvreckan whirlpool near the island of Scarba, and the following
paragraph relating to this expedition is extracted from his journal:
"Landed in Black Mile Bay, island of Luing, at 10.30. Here by previous
arrangement with Mr A. Brown, agent of the steam-boat company, a
4-oared boat was waiting to take us to Scarba and the Corryvreckan. We
were pulled across to the island of Lunga, and rowed along its length,
till we came to the first channel opening from the main sea, which the
sailors called the Little Gulf. Here the sea was rushing inwards in a
manner of which I had no conception. Streams were running with raving
speed, sometimes in opposite directions side by side, with high
broken-headed billows. Where the streams touched were sometimes great
whirls (one not many yards from our boat) that looked as if they would
suck anything down. Sometimes among all this were great smooth parts
of the sea, still in a whirling trouble, which were surrounded by the
mad currents. We seemed entirely powerless among all these."

In the beginning of this year (1862) the Duke of Manchester, in
writing to the Rev. W. Airy, had said, "I wish your brother, the
Astronomer Royal, could be induced to have investigations made as to
whether the aspects of the Planets have any effect on the weather."
This enquiry produced the following reply:

A subject like that of the occult influences of the planets (using the
word occult in no bad sense but simply as meaning not _thoroughly_
traced) can be approached in two ways--either by the à priori
probability of the existence of such influences, or by the à
posteriori evidence of their effects. If the two can be combined, the
subject may be considered as claiming the dignity of a science. Even
if the effects alone are certain, it may be considered that we have a
science of inferior degree, wanting however that definiteness of law
and that general plausibility which can only be given when true
causes, in accordance with antecedent experience in other cases, can
be suggested.

Now in regard to the à priori probability of the existence of
planetary influences, I am far from saying that such a thing is
impossible. The discoveries of modern philosophy have all tended to
shew that there may be many things about us, unknown even to the
scientific world, but which well-followed accidents reveal with the
most positive certainty. It is known that every beam of light is
accompanied by a beam of chemical agency, totally undiscoverable to
the senses of light or warmth, but admitting of separation from the
luminous and warm rays; and producing photogenic effects. We know
that there are disturbances of magnetism going on about us, affecting
whole continents at a time, unknown to men in general, but traceable
with facility and certainty, and which doubtless affect even our
brains and nerves (which are indisputably subject to the influence of

Now in the face of these things I will not undertake to say that there
is any impossibility, or even any want of plausibility in the
supposition that bodies external to the earth may affect us. It may
well be cited in its favour that it is certain that the sun affects
our magnetism (it is doubtful whether it does so _im_mediately, or
mediately by giving different degrees of warmth to different parts of
the earth), and it is believed on inferior evidence that the moon also
affects it. It may therefore seem not impossible or unplausible that
other celestial bodies may affect perhaps others of the powers of
nature about us. But there I must stop. The denial of the
impossibility is no assertion of the truth or probability, and I
absolutely decline to take either side--either that the influences are
real, or that the influences are unreal--till I see evidence of their

Such evidence it is extremely difficult to extract from ordinary facts
of observation. I have alluded to the sun's daily disturbance of the
magnet as one of the most certain of influences, yet if you were to
observe the magnet for a single day or perhaps for several days, you
might see no evidence of that influence, so completely is it involved
with other disturbances whose causes and laws are totally unknown.

I believe that, in addition to the effects ascribable to Newtonian
gravitation (as general motion of the earth, precession of the
equinoxes, and tides), this magnetic disturbance is the only one yet
established as depending on an external body. Men in general, however,
do not think so. It appears to be a law of the human mind, to love to
trace an effect to a cause, and to be ready to assent to any specious
cause. Thus all practical men of the lower classes, even those whose
pecuniary interests are concerned in it, believe firmly in the
influence of the moon upon the winds and the weather. I believe that
every careful examiner of recorded facts (among whom I place myself as
regards the winds) has come to the conclusion that the influence of
the moon is not discoverable.

I point out these two things (magnetic disturbances and weather) as
tending to shew that notoriety or the assumed consent of practical
men, are of no value. The unnotorious matter may be quite certain, the
notorious matter may have no foundation. Everything must stand on its
own evidence, as completely digested and examined.

Of such evidence the planetary influence has not a particle.

My intended short note has, in the course of writing, grown up into a
discourse of very unreasonable length; and it is possible that a large
portion of it has only increased obscurity. At any rate I can add
nothing, I believe, which can help to explain more fully my views on
this matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this year (1862, June 9th) Airy received the Honorary Degree of
LL.D. in the University of Cambridge. He was nominated by the Duke of
Devonshire, as appears from the following letter:

                                              LISMORE CASTLE, IRELAND,
                                                 _April 19th, 1862_.


It is proposed according to usage to confer a considerable number of
Honorary Degrees on the occasion of my first visit to Cambridge as
Chancellor of the University.

I hope that you will allow me to include your name in that portion of
the list which I have been invited to draw up.

The ceremony is fixed for the 10th of June.

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours very truly,

_The Astronomer Royal_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Airy's reply was as follows:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                           LONDON, S.E.
                                           _1862, April 21_.


I am exceedingly gratified by your communication this day received,
conveying a proposal which I doubt not is suggested by your Grace's
recollection of transactions now many years past.

I have always been desirous of maintaining my connection with my
University, and have in various ways interested myself practically in
its concerns. It would give me great pleasure to have the connection
strengthened in the flattering way which you propose.

I had conceived that alumni of the University were not admissible to
honorary degrees; but upon this point the information possessed by
your Grace, as Chancellor of the University, cannot be disputed.

          I am, my Lord Duke,
        Your Grace's very faithful servant,
              G.B. AIRY.

_His Grace
  The Duke of Devonshire_.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were in all 19 Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Laws conferred on
the 9th of June, including men of such eminence as Armstrong, Faraday,
and Fairbairn.


In this year there were several schemes for a Railway through the
lower part of Greenwich Park, the most important being the scheme of
the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company. In reference to this
scheme the Report to the Visitors states "I may say briefly that I
believe that it would be possible to render such a railway innocuous
to the Observatory; it would however be under restrictions which might
be felt annoying to the authorities of the Railway, but whose
relaxation would almost ensure ruin to the Observatory."--"The
meridional observations of Mars in the Autumn of 1862 have been
compared with those made at the Observatory of Williamstown, near
Melbourne, Australia, and they give for mean solar parallax the value
8.932", exceeding the received value by about 1/24th part. (A value
nearly identical with this 8.93" has also been found by comparing the
Pulkowa and Cape of Good Hope Observations.)"--"The results of the new
Dip-Instrument in 1861 and 1862 appear to give a firm foundation for
speculations on the state and change of the dip. As a general result,
I may state as probable that the value of dip in the middle of 1843
was about 69°1', and in the middle of 1862 about 68°11'. The decrease
of dip appears to be more rapid in the second half of this interval
than in the first; the dip at beginning of 1853 being about
68°44'."--With reference to the re-determination of the longitude of
Valencia, it is stated that "The concluded longitude agrees almost
exactly with that determined by the transmission of chronometers in
1844; and entitles us to believe that the longitudes of Kingstown and
Liverpool, steps in the chronometer conveyance, were determined with
equal accuracy."--"The computations, for inferring the direction and
amount of movement of the Solar System in space from the observed
proper motions of 1167 stars, have been completed. The result is, that
the Sun is moving towards a point, R.A. 264°, N.P.D. 65° (not very
different from Sir W. Herschel's, but depending much in N.P.D. on the
accuracy of Bradley's quadrant observations), and that its annual
motion subtends, at the distance of a star of the first magnitude, the
angle 0.4". But the comparison, of the sum of squares of apparent
proper motions uncorrected, with the sum of squares of apparent proper
motions corrected for motion of Sun, shews so small an advance in the
explanation of the star's apparent movements as to throw great doubt
on the certainty of results; the sum of squares being diminished by
only 1/25th part."--"I had been writing strongly to Maclear on the
delays in publishing both the geodetic work and the Star Catalogue at
the Cape of Good Hope: he resolves to go on with these works. In
December I am still very urgent about the geodesy."

Of private history: There was the usual short visit to Playford at the
beginning and end of the year.--"From June 27th to August 10th I was
travelling in the North and West of Scotland with my wife, my youngest
son Osmund, and my daughter Annot."

       *       *       *       *       *

In this year the offer of Knighthood (for the third time) was made to
Airy through the Rt Hon. Sir George C. Lewis, Bart. The offer was
accepted on Feb. 12th, 1863, but on the same day a second letter was
written as follows:

                                                 _1863, Feb. 12_.


I am extremely ignorant of all matters connected with court
ceremonial, and in reference to the proposed Knighthood would ask

1. I trust that there is no expense of fees. To persons like myself of
small fortune an honour may sometimes be somewhat dear.

2. My highest social rank is that given by my Academical Degree of
D.C.L. which I hold in the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In
regard to costume, would it be proper that I should appear in the
scarlet gown of that degree? or in the ordinary Court Dress?

        I am, Dear Sir,
          Yours very faithfully,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Right Honourable
  Sir George C. Lewis, Bart.,
    &c. &c. &c._

To this letter Sir G.C. Lewis replied that the fees would amount to
about _£30_, an intimation which produced the following letter:

                                    ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH, S.E.
                                                  _1863, Feb. 19th_.


I have to acknowledge your letter of yesterday: and I advert to that
part of it in which it is stated that the Fees on Knighthood amount to
about _£30_.

Twenty-seven years ago the same rank was offered to me by Lord John
Russell and Mr Spring Rice (then Ministers of the Crown), with the
express notice that no fees would be payable. I suppose that the usage
(whatever it be) on which that notice was founded still subsists.

To a person whose annual income little more than suffices to meet the
annual expenses of a very moderate establishment, an unsought honour
may be an incumbrance. It appears, at any rate, opposed to the spirit
of such an honour, that it should be loaded with Court Expenses in its
very creation.

I hope that the principle stated in 1835 may serve as precedent on
this occasion.

        I am, dear Sir,
          Your very faithful servant,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Right Honourable
  Sir G. C. Lewis, Bart.,
    &c. &c. &c._

No intimation however was received that the fees would be remitted on
the present occasion, and after consideration the proposed Knighthood
was declined in the following letter:

                                    ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH, S.E.
                                                   _1863, April 15_.


I have frequently reflected on the proposal made by you of the honour
of Knighthood to myself. I am very grateful to you for the favourable
opinion which you entertain in regard to my supposed claims to notice,
and for the kindness with which you proposed publicly to express
it. But on consideration I am strongly impressed with the feeling that
the conditions attached by established regulation to the conferring of
such an honour would be unacceptable to me, and that the honour itself
would in reality, under the circumstances of my family-establishment
and in my social position, be an incumbrance to me. And finally I have
thought it best most respectfully, and with a full sense of the
kindness of yourself and of the Queen's Government towards me, to ask
that the proposal might be deferred.

There is another direction in which a step might be made, affecting my
personal position in a smaller degree, but not tending to incommode
me, which I would ask leave to submit to your consideration. It is,
the definition of the Rank of the Astronomer Royal. The singular
character of the office removes it from ordinary rules of rank, and
sometimes may produce a disagreeable contest of opinions. The only
offices of similar character corresponding in other conditions to that
of the British Astronomer Royal are those of the Imperial Astronomers
at Pulkowa (St Petersburg) and Paris. In Russia, where every rank is
clearly defined by that of military grade, the Imperial Astronomer has
the rank of Major-General. In France, the definition is less precise,
but the present Imperial Astronomer has been created (as an attachment
of rank to the office) a Senator of the Empire.

        I am, dear Sir,
          Your very faithful servant,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Rt Hon. Sir George C. Lewis, Bart.,
  &c. &c. &c._

Sir G. C. Lewis died before receiving this letter, and the letter was
afterwards forwarded to Lord Palmerston. Some correspondence followed
between Lord Palmerston and Airy on the subject of attaching a
definite rank to the office of Astronomer Royal, as proposed in the
above letter. But the Home Office (for various reasons set forth)
stated that the suggestion could not be complied with, and the whole
subject dropped.


The following remarks are extracted from the Report of the Astronomer
Royal to the Board of Visitors.--"In a very heavy squall which
occurred in the gale of December 2 of last year, the stay of the lofty
iron pillar outside of the Park Rails, which carried our telegraph
wires, gave way, and the pillar and the whole system of wires
fell."--"An important alteration has been made in the Magnetic
Observatory. For several years past, various plans have been under
consideration for preventing large changes of temperature in the room
which contains the magnetic instruments. At length I determined to
excavate a subterraneous room or cellar under the original room. The
work was begun in the last week in January, and in all important
points it is now finished."--"In the late spring, some alarm was
occasioned by the discovery that the Parliamentary Standard of the
Pound Weight had become coated with an extraneous substance produced
by the decomposition of the lining of the case in which it was
preserved. It was decided immediately to compare it with the three
Parliamentary Copies, of which that at the Observatory is one. The
National Standard was found to be entirely uninjured."--"On November
16 of last year, the Transit Instrument narrowly escaped serious
injury from an accident. The plate chain which carries the large
western counterpoise broke. The counterpoise fell upon the pier,
destroying the massive gun-metal wheels of the lifting machinery, but
was prevented from falling further by the iron stay of the gas-burner
flue."--"The Prismatic Spectrum-Apparatus had been completed in
1863. Achromatic object-glasses are placed on both sides of the prism,
so that each pencil of light through the prism consists of parallel
rays; and breadth is given to the spectrum by a cylindrical lens. The
spectral lines are seen straighter than before, and generally it is
believed that their definition is improved."--"For observation of the
small planets, a convention has been made with M. Le Verrier. From
new moon to full moon, all the small planets visible to 13h are
observed at the Royal Observatory of Greenwich. From full moon to new
moon, all are observed at the Imperial Observatory of Paris. The
relief gained in this way is very considerable."--"In determining the
variations in the power of the horizontal-force and vertical-force
magnets depending on temperature, it was found by experiment that this
depended materially on whether the magnet was heated by air or by
water, and 'The result of these experiments (with air) is to give a
coefficient for temperature correction four or five times as great as
that given by the water-heatings,'"--"With regard to the discordances
of the results of observations of dip-needles, experiments had been
made with needles whose breadth was in the plane passing through the
axis of rotation, and it appeared that the means of extreme
discordances were, for an ordinary needle 11' 45", and for a flat
needle 3' 27"," and the Report continues thus: "After this I need not
say that I consider it certain that the small probable errors which
have been attributed to ordinary needles are a pure delusion."--The
Report states that in the various operations connected with the trials
and repairs of chronometers, and the system of time-signals
transmitted to various time-balls and clocks, about one-fourth of the
strength of the Observatory is employed, and it continues thus:
"Viewing the close dependence of Nautical Astronomy upon accurate
knowledge of time, there is perhaps no department of the Observatory
which answers more completely to the original utilitarian intentions
of the Founder of the Royal Observatory."--"With regard to the
proposal of time-signals at the Start Point, it appears that
communications referring to this proposal had passed between the Board
of Admiralty and the Board of Trade, of which the conclusion was, that
the Board of Trade possessed no funds applicable to the defraying of
the expenses attending the execution of the scheme. And the Admiralty
did not at present contemplate the establishment of these time-signals
under their own authority."--Amongst other Papers in this year, Airy's
Paper entitled "First Analysis of 177 Magnetic Storms," &c., was read
before the Royal Society.

Of private history: "There was the usual visit to Playford in the
beginning of the year.--From June 8th to 23rd I made an excursion with
my son Hubert to the Isle of Man, and the Lake District.--From
Sept. 7th to 14th I was on a trip to Cornwall with my two eldest sons,
chiefly in the mining district.--In August of this year my eldest
(surviving) daughter, Hilda, was married to Mr E.J. Routh, Fellow of
St Peter's College, Cambridge, at Greenwich Parish Church. They
afterwards resided at Cambridge."


"Our telegraphic communications of every kind were again destroyed by
a snow-storm and gale of wind which occurred on Jan. 28th, and which
broke down nearly all the posts between the Royal Observatory and the
Greenwich Railway Station.--The Report to the Visitors states that
'The only change of Buildings which I contemplate as at present
required is the erection of a fire-proof Chronometer Room. The
pecuniary value of Chronometers stored in the Observatory is sometimes
perhaps as much as _£8000_.'--The South Eastern and London Chatham and
Dover scheme for a railway through the Park was again brought
forward. There was a meeting of Sir J. Hanmer's Committee at the
Observatory on May 26th. Mr Stone was sent hastily to Dublin to make
observations on Earth-disturbance by railways there. I had been
before the Committee on May 25th. On Sept. 1st I approved of an
amended plan. In reference to this matter the Report states that 'It
is proper to remark that the shake of the Altazimuth felt in the
earthquake of 1863, Oct. 5th, when no such shake was felt with
instruments nearer to the ground (an experience which, as I have heard
on private authority, is supported by observation of artificial
tremors), gives reason to fear that, at distances from a railway which
would sufficiently defend the lower instruments, the loftier
instruments (as the Altazimuth and the Equatoreals) would be sensibly
affected.'--Some of the Magnets had been suspended by steel wires,
instead of silk, of no greater strength than was necessary for safety,
and the Report states that 'Under the pressure of business, the
determination of various constants of adjustment was deferred to the
end of the year. The immediate results of observation, however, began
to excite suspicion; and after a time it was found that, in spite of
the length of the suspending wire (about 8 feet) the
torsion-coefficient was not much less than 1/6. The wires were
promptly dismounted, and silk skeins substituted for them. With these,
the torsion-coefficient is about 1/210.'--The Dip-Instrument, which
had given great trouble by the irregularities of the dip-results, had
been compared with two dip-instruments from Kew Observatory, which
gave very good and accordant results. 'It happened that Mr Simms, by
whom our instruments now in use were prepared, and who had personally
witnessed our former difficulties, was present during some of these
experiments. Our own instrument being placed in his hands (Nov. 10th
to 19th) for another purpose, he spontaneously re-polished the
apparently faultless agate-bearings. To my great astonishment, the
inconsistencies of every kind have nearly or entirely vanished. On
raising and lowering the needles, they return to the same readings,
and the dips with the same needle appear generally consistent.' Some
practical details of the polishing process by which this result had
been secured are then given.--After numerous delays, the apparatus for
the self-registration of Spontaneous Earth Currents was brought into a
working state in the month of March. A description of the arrangement
adopted is given in the Report.--'All Chronometers on trial are rated
every day, by comparison with one of the clocks sympathetic with the
Motor Clock. Every Chronometer, whether on trial or returned from a
chronometer-maker as repaired, is tried at least once in the heat of
the Chronometer-Oven, the temperature being usually limited to 90°
Fahrenheit; and, guided by the results of very long experience, we
have established it as a rule, that every trial in heat be continued
through three weeks.'--'The only employment extraneous to the
Observatory which has occupied any of my time within the last year is
the giving three Lectures on the Magnetism of Iron Ships (at the
request of the Lords of the Committee of Council on Education) in the
Theatre of the South Kensington Museum. The preparations, however,
for these Lectures, to be given in a room ill-adapted to them,
occupied a great deal of my own time, and of the time of an Assistant
of the Observatory.'--'Referring to a matter in which the interests of
Astronomy are deeply concerned, I think it right to report to the
Visitors my late representation to the Government, to the effect that,
in reference to possible observation of the Transit of Venus in 1882,
it will be necessary in no long time to examine the coasts of the
Great Southern Continent.'"

Of private history: "There were the usual visits to Playford at the
beginning and end of the year.--From June 18th to 26th I was on a trip
in Wales with my sons Hubert and Osmund.--From Sept. 6th to Oct. 2nd I
was staying with most of my family at Portinscale near Keswick: we
returned by Barnard Castle, Rokeby, &c."

                            CHAPTER VIII.

               AT GREENWICH OBSERVATORY--1866 TO 1876.


In this year the cube of the Transit Circle was pierced, to permit
reciprocal observations of the Collimators without raising the
instrument. This involved the construction of improved Collimators,
which formed the subject of a special Address to the Members of the
Board of Visitors on Oct. 21st 1865.--From the Report to the Visitors
it appears that "On May 23rd 1865, a thunderstorm of great violence
passed very close to the Observatory. After one flash of lightning, I
was convinced that the principal building was struck. Several
galvanometers in the Magnetic Basement were destroyed. Lately it has
been remarked that one of the old chimneys of the principal building
had been dislocated and slightly twisted, at a place where it was
surrounded by an iron stay-band led from the Telegraph Pole which was
planted upon the leads of the Octagon Room."--"On consideration of the
serious interruptions to which we have several times been exposed from
the destruction of our open-air Park-wires (through snow-storms and
gales), I have made an arrangement for leading the whole of our wires
in underground pipes as far as the Greenwich Railway Station."--"The
Committee of the House of Commons, to whom the Greenwich and Woolwich
Line of the South Eastern Railway was referred, finally assented to
the adoption of a line which I indicated, passing between the
buildings of the Hospital Schools and the public road to
Woolwich."--"The Galvanic Chronometer attached to the S. E. Equatoreal
often gave us a great deal of trouble. At last I determined, on the
proposal of Mr Ellis, to attempt an extension of Mr R. L. Jones's
regulating principle. It is well known that Mr Jones has with great
success introduced the system of applying galvanic currents
originating in the vibrations of a normal pendulum, not to drive the
wheelwork of other clocks, but to regulate to exact agreement the
rates of their pendulums which were, independently, nearly in
agreement; each clock being driven by weight-power as before. The same
principle is now applied to the chronometer.... The construction is
perfectly successful; the chronometer remains in coincidence with the
Transit Clock through any length of time, with a small constant error
as is required by mechanical theory."--"The printed volume of
Observations for 1864 has two Appendixes; one containing the
calculations of the value of the Moon's Semi-diameter deduced from 295
Occultations observed at Cambridge and Greenwich from 1832 to 1860,
and shewing that the Occultation Semi-diameter is less than the
Telescopic Semi-diameter by 2"; the other containing the reduction of
the Planetary Observations made at the Royal Observatory in the years
1831-1835; filling up the gap, between the Planetary Reductions
1750-1830 made several years ago under my superintendence, and the
Reductions contained in the Greenwich Volumes 1836 to the present
time: and conducted on the same general principles."--"Some trouble
had been found in regulating the temperature of the Magnetic Basement,
but it was anticipated that in future there would be no difficulty in
keeping down the annual variation within about 5° and the diurnal
variation within 3°.--Longitudes in America were determined in this
year by way of Valencia and Newfoundland: finished by Nov. 14th."

Of private history: In April he made a short visit to Ventnor in the
Isle of Wight.--From June 15th to July 23rd he was on an expedition in
Norway with his son Osmund and his nephew Gorell Barnes.--There was
probably a short stay at Playford in the winter.

In this and in the previous year (1865) the free-thinking
investigations of Colenso, the Bishop of Natal, had attracted much
notice, and had procured him the virulent hostility of a numerous
section. His income was withheld from him, and in consequence a
subscription fund was raised for his support by his admirers. Airy,
who always took the liberal side in such questions, was a subscriber
to the fund, and wrote the following letter to the Bishop:

                                   ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH, S.E.,
                                                    _1865, July 24_.


With many thanks I have to acknowledge your kind recollection of me in
sending as a presentation copy the work on Joshua, Judges, and
especially on the divided authorship of Genesis; a work whose
investigations, founded in great measure on severe and extensive
verbal criticism, will apparently bear comparison with your Lordship's
most remarkable examination of Deuteronomy. I should however not do
justice to my own appreciation if I did not remark that there are
other points considered which have long been matters of interest to

On several matters, some of them important, my present conclusions do
not absolutely agree with your Lordship's. But I am not the less
grateful for the amount of erudition and thought carefully directed to
definite points, and above all for the noble example of unwearied
research and freedom in stating its consequences, in reference to
subjects which scarcely ever occupy the attention of the clergy in our

        I am, My Lord,
          Yours very faithfully,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Lord Bishop of Natal_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here also is a letter on the same subject, written to Professor
Selwyn, Professor of Divinity at Cambridge:--

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                  LONDON, S.E.,
                                                      _1866, May 5_.


The MS. concerning Colenso duly arrived.

I note your remarks on the merits of Colenso. I do not write to tell
you that I differ from you, but to tell you why I differ.

I think that you do not make the proper distinction between a person
who invents or introduces a tool, and the person who uses it.

The most resolute antigravitationist that ever lived might yet
acknowledge his debt to Newton for the Method of Prime and Ultimate
Ratios and the Principles of Fluxions by which Newton sought to
establish gravitation.

So let it be with Colenso. He has given me a power of tracing out
truth to a certain extent which I never could have obtained without
him. And for this I am very grateful.

As to the further employment of this power, you know that he and I use
it to totally different purposes. But not the less do I say that I owe
to him a new intellectual power.

I quite agree with you, that the sudden disruption of the old
traditional view seems to have unhinged his mind, and to have sent him
too far on the other side. I would not give a pin for his judgment.

Nevertheless, I wish he would go over the three remaining books of the

I know something of Myers, but I should not have thought him likely to
produce anything sound on such things as the Hebrew Scriptures. I
never saw his "Thoughts."

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours very truly,
            G.B. AIRY.

_Professor Selwyn_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following letter has reference to Airy's proposal to introduce
certain Physico-Mathematical subjects into the Senate-House
Examination for B.A. Honors at Cambridge. On various occasions he
sharply criticized the Papers set for the Senate-House Examination and
the Smith's Prize Examination, and greatly lamented the growing
importance of pure mathematics and the comparative exclusion of
physical questions in those examinations. His proposal as finally
submitted in the letter that follows was somewhat modified (as regards
the mode of introducing the subjects) from his original draft, in
deference to the opinions of Whewell, Adams, Routh, and other friends
to whom he had submitted it. His proposal was favourably received by
the Mathematical Board, and recommendations were made in the
direction, though not to the extent, that he desired, and he
subsequently submitted a Memorandum on those recommendations:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                     _1866, May 11_.


You will perceive, from perusal of the enclosed paper, that I have
acted on the permission which you kindly gave me, to transmit to you
my proposal for extension of the mathematical education of the
University in the Physical direction.

It is an unavoidable consequence of the structure of the University
that studies there will have a tendency to take an unpractical form
depending much on the personal tastes of special examiners. I trust
that, as a person whose long separation from the daily business of the
University has enabled him to see in some measure the wants of the
external scientific and practical world, I may be forgiven this
attempt to bring to the notice of the University my ideas on the
points towards which their attention might perhaps be advantageously

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Very faithfully yours,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Rev. Dr Cartmell,
  Master of Christ's College
    and Vice-Chancellor._

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                     _1866, May 11_.


About two years ago, by the kindness of the University, an opportunity
was presented to me of orally stating what I conceived to be
deficiencies in the educational course of the University as regards
mathematical physics. Since that time, the consideration of those
deficiencies, which had long been present to me, has urged itself on
my attention with greater force: and finally I have entertained the
idea that I might without impropriety communicate to you my opinion,
in a less fugitive form than on the occasion to which I have alluded:
with the request that, if you should deem such a course appropriate,
you would bring it before the Board of Mathematical Studies, and
perhaps ultimately make it known to the Resident Members of the

I will first give the list of subjects, which I should wish to see
introduced, and to the prosecution of which the generally admirable
course of the University is remarkably well adapted: and I will then,
without entering into every detail, advert to the process by which I
think it probable the introduction of these subjects could be

In the following list, the first head is purely algebraical, and the
second nearly so: but they are closely related to observational
science, and to the physical subjects which follow. Some of the
subjects which I exhibit on my list are partially, but in my opinion
imperfectly, taught at present. I entirely omit from my list Physical
Optics, Geometrical Astronomy, and Gravitational Astronomy of Points:
because, to the extent to which Academical Education ought to go, I
believe that there is no teaching on these sciences comparable to that
in the University of Cambridge. (It is, of course, still possible that
improvements may be made in the books commonly used.) It might,
however, be a question, whether, as regards the time and manner of
teaching them, some parts of these subjects might ultimately be
associated with the other subjects included in my list.

        I. _List of subjects proposed for consideration_.

(1) Partial Differential Equations to the second order, with their
arbitrary functions: selected principally with reference to the
physical subjects.

(2) The Theory of Probabilities as applied to the combination of

(3) Mechanics (including Hydraulic Powers) in the state which verges
upon practical application, and especially including that part in
which the abstract ideas of _power_ and _duty_ occur.

(4) Attractions. This subject is recognized in the existing course of
the University: but, so far as I can infer from examination-papers, it
appears to be very lightly passed over.

(5) The Figure of the Earth, and its consequences, Precession, &c. I
believe that the proposal is sanctioned, of adopting some part of this
theory in the ordinary course; but perhaps hardly so far as is

(6) The Tides.

(7) Waves of Water.

(8) Sound (beginning with Newton's investigation); Echoes; Pipes and
Vibrating Strings; Acoustics; the Mathematical part of Music.

(9) Magnetism, terrestrial and experimental, and their connection.

(I omit for the present Mineralogy and Mathematical Electricity.)

This list of subjects appears formidable: but they are in reality
easy, and would be mastered in a short time by the higher Wranglers.

  II. _Mode of introducing these subjects into the University_.

After much consideration, and after learning the opinions of several
persons whose judgment claims my deepest respect, I propose the
gradual introduction of these subjects into the Examination for Honors
at admission to the B.A. Degree, as soon as the preparation of Books
and the readiness of Examiners shall enable the University to take
that step. I conceive that, by a judicious pruning of the somewhat
luxuriant growth of Pure Algebra, Analytical Geometry, and Mere
Problems, sufficient leisure may be gained for the studies of the
undergraduates, and sufficient time for the questions of the
examiners. I do not contemplate that the students could advance very
far into the subjects; but I know the importance of beginning them;
and, judging from the train of thoughts, of reading, and of
conversation, among the Bachelors with whom I associated many years
ago, I believe that there is quite a sufficient number who will be
anxious to go deep into the subjects if they have once entered into
them. If six Wranglers annually would take them up, my point would be
gained. The part which these gentlemen might be expected, in a short
time, to take in the government of the University, would enable them
soon to act steadily upon the University course: the efficiency of the
University instruction would be increased; and the external character
of the University would be raised.

The real difficulties, and they are not light ones, would probably be
found in providing Examiners and Books. At present, both are wanting
within the University. Where there is a great and well-founded
objection to intrusting examinations to persons foreign to the
University, and where the books have to be created with labour and
with absolute outlay of money (for their sale could never be
remunerative), the progress must be slow. Still progress would be
certain, if the authorities of the University should think the matter
deserving of their hearty encouragement.

Requesting that you and the Members of the University will accept this
proposal as an indication of my deep attachment to my University,

        I am,
          My dear Mr Vice-Chancellor,
            Your very faithful servant,
              G.B. AIRY.

_The Rev. Dr Cartmell,
  &c. &c.
    Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge_.


"In this year it was arranged that my Treasury accounts were to be
transferred to the Admiralty, making the simplification which I had so
long desired.--From the Report to the Visitors it appears that a relic
of the Geodetic operations commenced in 1787 for connecting the
Observatories of Greenwich and Paris, in the shape of an observing
cabin on the roof of the Octagon Room, was shifted and supported in
such a manner that the pressure on the flat roof was entirely
avoided.--With regard to the Transit Circle, the new Collimators with
telescopes of seven inches aperture had been mounted. When the Transit
Telescope directed vertically is interposed, the interruptions in the
central cube impair the sharpness of definition, still leaving it
abundantly good for general use. It had been regarded as probable that
the astronomical flexure of the telescope, after cutting away small
portions of the central cube, would be found sensibly changed: and
this proved to be the case. The difference of flexures of the two ends
has been altered more than a second of arc.--Referring to a new
Portable Altazimuth which had lately been tested, the Report states as
follows: 'I may mention that a study of defects in the vertical circle
of a small Altazimuth formerly used by me, and an inspection of the
operations in the instrument-maker's work-shop, have convinced me that
the principal error to be feared in instruments of this class is
ovality of the graduated limb; this cannot be eliminated by two
microscopes, and such an instrument should never be fitted with two
only. Our instrument has four.'--'In Osler's Anemometer, a surface of
2 square feet is now exposed to the wind instead of one foot as
formerly; and the plate is supported by weak vertical springs instead
of rods running on rollers. Its indications are much more delicate
than formerly.'--'The Meteors on Nov. 14th were well observed. Eight
thousand and three hundred were registered. The variations of
frequency at different times were very well noted. The points of
divergence were carefully determined.'--Referring to the gradual
improvement in the steadiness of chronometers from 1851 to 1866, it
appears that from 1851 to 1854 the 'trial number' (which is a
combination of changes of weekly rate representing the fault of the
chronometer) varied from 34.8s to 52.5s, while from 1862 to 1866 it
varied from 21.2s to 25.8s.--The following statement will shew the
usual steadiness of the Great Clock on the Westminster Palace: On 38
per cent. of days of observation, the clock's error was below 1s. On
38 per cent, the error was between 1s and 2s. On 21 per cent. it was
between 2s and 3s. On 2 per cent. between 3s and 4s. On 1 per cent.
between 4s and 5s.--The Report contains an account of the
determination of the longitude of Cambridge U.S. by Dr B. A. Gould, by
means of galvanic currents through the Atlantic Cable, in the spring
of 1867: and advantage was taken of this opportunity for
re-determining the longitude of Feagh Main near Valencia in
Ireland. The longitude of Feagh Main, found by different methods is as
follows: By chronometers in 1844, 41m 23.23s; by galvanic
communication with Knight's Town in 1862, 41m 23.37s; by galvanic
communication with Foilhommerum in 1866, 41m 23.19s. The collected
results for longitude of Cambridge U.S. from different sources are: By
moon-culminators (Walker in 1851, and Newcomb in 1862-3), 4h 44m
28.42s and 4h 44m 29.56s respectively; by Eclipses (Walker in 1851),
4h 44m 29.64s; by occultations of Pleiades (Peirce 1838-1842, and
1856-1861), 4h 44m 29.91s and 4h 44m 30.90s respectively; by
chronometers (W. C. Bond in 1851, and G. P. Bond in 1855), 4h 44m
30.66s and 4h 44m 31.89s respectively; by Atlantic Cable 1866, 4h 44m
30.99s.--After noticing that many meteorological observatories had
suddenly sprung up and had commenced printing their observations in
detail, the Report continues thus: 'Whether the effect of this
movement will be that millions of useless observations will be added
to the millions that already exist, or whether something may be
expected to result which will lead to a meteorological theory, I
cannot hazard a conjecture. This only I believe, that it will be
useless, at present, to attempt a process of mechanical theory; and
that all that can be done must be, to connect phenomena by laws of
induction. But the induction must be carried out by numerous and
troublesome trials in different directions, the greater part of which
would probably be failures.'--There was this year an annular eclipse;
I made large preparations at the limits of the annularity; failed
entirely from very bad weather."--In this year Airy contributed a
Paper to the Institution of Civil Engineers 'On the use of the
Suspension Bridge with stiffened roadway for Railway and other Bridges
of Great Span,' for which a Telford Medal was awarded to him by the
Council of the Institution. And he communicated several Papers to the
Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society.

Of private history: There was the usual visit to Playford in
January.--In April there was a short run to Alnwick and the
neighbourhood, in company with Mr and Mrs Routh.--From June 27th to
July 4th he was in Wales with his two eldest sons, visiting Uriconium,
&c. on his return.--From August 8th to Sept. 7th he spent a holiday in
Scotland and the Lake District of Cumberland with his daughter
Christabel, visiting the Langtons at Barrow House, near Keswick, and
Isaac Fletcher at Tarn Bank.

In June of this year (1867) Airy was elected an Honorary Fellow of his
old College of Trinity in company with Connop Thirlwall, the Bishop of
St David's. They were the first Honorary Fellows elected by the
College. The announcement was made in a letter from the Master of
Trinity (W.H. Thompson), and Airy's reply was as follows:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                 LONDON, S.E.
                                                  _1867, June 12th_.


I am very much gratified by your kind note received this morning,
conveying to me the notice that the Master and Sixteen Senior Fellows
had elected me, under their new powers, as Honorary Fellow of the

It has always been my wish to maintain a friendly connection with my
College, and I am delighted to receive this response from the
College. The peculiar form in which the reference to the Statute
enables them to put it renders it doubly pleasing.

As the Statute is new, I should be obliged by a copy of it. And, at
any convenient time, I should be glad to know the name of the person
with whom I am so honorably associated.

        I am, My dear Master,
          Very faithfully yours,
            G.B. AIRY.

       *       *       *       *       *

Consequent on Airy's proposals in 1866 for the introduction of new
physical subjects into the Senate-House Examination and his desire
that the large number of questions set in Pure Mathematics, or as he
termed it "Useless Algebra," should be curtailed, there was a smart
and interesting correspondence between him and Prof. Cayley, who was
the great exponent and advocate of Pure Mathematics at Cambridge. Both
of them were men of the highest mathematical powers, but diametrically
opposed in their views of the use of Mathematics. Airy regarded
mathematics as simply a useful machine for the solution of practical
problems and arriving at practical results. He had a great respect for
Pure Mathematics and all the processes of algebra, so far as they
aided him to solve his problems and to arrive at useful results; but
he had a positive aversion to mathematical investigations, however
skilful and elaborate, for which no immediate practical value could be
claimed. Cayley on the contrary regarded mathematics as a useful
exercise for the mind, apart from any immediate practical object, and
he considered that the general command of mathematics gained by
handling abstruse mathematical investigations (though barren in
themselves) would be valuable for whatever purpose mathematics might
be required: he also thought it likely that his researches and
advances in the field of Pure Mathematics might facilitate the
solution of physical problems and tend to the progress of the
practical sciences. Their different views on this subject will be
seen from the letters that follow:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                 LONDON, S.E.
                                                     _1867, Nov. 8_.


I think it best to put in writing the purport of what I have said, or
have intended to say, in reference to the Mathematical Studies in the

First, I will remark on the study of Partial Differential Equations.
I do not know that one branch of Pure Mathematics can be considered
higher than another, except in the utility of the power which it
gives. Measured thus, the Partial Differential Equations are very
useful and therefore stand very high, as far as the Second Order.
They apply, to that point, in the most important way, to the great
problems of nature concerning _time_, and _infinite division of
matter_, and _space_: and are worthy of the most careful study. Beyond
that Order they apply to nothing. It was for the purpose of limiting
the study to the Second Order, and at the same time working it
carefully, philosophically, and practically, up to that point, that I
drew up my little work.

On the general question of Mathematical Studies, I will first give my
leading ideas on what I may call the moral part. I think that a heavy
responsibility rests on the persons who influence most strongly the
course of education in the University, to direct that course in the
way in which it will be most useful to the students--in the two ways,
of disciplining their powers and habits, and of giving them scientific
knowledge of the highest and most accurate order (applying to the
phenomena of nature) such as will be useful to them through life. I do
not think that the mere personal taste of a teacher is sufficient
justification for a special course, unless it has been adopted under a
consideration of that responsibility. Now I can say for myself that I
have, for some years, inspected the examination papers, and have
considered the bearing of the course which they imply upon the
education of the student, and am firmly convinced that as regards men
below the very few first--say below the ten first--there is a
prodigious loss of time without any permanent good whatever. For the
great majority of men, such subjects as abstract Analytical Geometry
perish at once. With men like Adams and Stokes they remain, and are
advantageous; but probably there is not a single man (beside them) of
their respective years who remembers a bit, or who if he remembers
them has the leisure and other opportunities of applying them.

I believe on the other hand that a careful selection of physical
subjects would enable the University to communicate to its students a
vast amount of information; of accurate kind and requiring the most
logical treatment; but so bearing upon the natural phenomena which are
constantly before us that it would be felt by every student to possess
a real value, that (from that circumstance) it would dwell in his
mind, and that it would enable him to correct a great amount of flimsy
education in the country, and, so far, to raise the national

The consideration of the education of the reasoning habits suggests
ideas far from favourable to the existing course. I am old enough to
remember the time of mere geometrical processes, and I do not hesitate
to say that for the cultivation of accurate mental discipline they
were far superior to the operations in vogue at the present day. There
is no subject in the world more favourable to logical habit than the
Differential Calculus in all its branches _if logically worked in its
elements_: and I think that its applications to various physical
subjects, compelling from time to time an attention to the elementary
grounds of the Calculus, would be far more advantageous to that
logical habit than the simple applications to Pure Equations and Pure
Algebraical Geometry now occupying so much attention.

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours very truly,
            G.B. AIRY.

_Professor Cayley_.

       *       *       *       *       *


I have been intending to answer your letter of the 8th November. So
far as it is (if at all) personal to myself, I would remark that the
statutory duty of the Sadlerian Professor is that he shall explain and
teach the principles of Pure Mathematics and apply himself to the
advancement of the Science.

As to Partial Differential Equations, they are "high" as being an
inverse problem, and perhaps the most difficult inverse problem that
has been dealt with. In regard to the limitation of them to the second
order, whatever other reasons exist for it, there is also the reason
that the theory to this order is as yet so incomplete that there is no
inducement to go beyond it; there could hardly be a more valuable step
than anything which would give a notion of the form of the general
integral of a Partial Differential Equation of the second order.

I cannot but differ from you _in toto_ as to the educational value of
Analytical Geometry, or I would rather say of Modern Geometry
generally. It appears to me that in the Physical Sciences depending on
Partial Differential Equations, there is scarcely anything that a
student can do for himself:--he finds the integral of the ordinary
equation for Sound--if he wishes to go a step further and integrate
the non-linear equation (dy/dx)²(d²y/dt²) = a²(d²y/dx²) he is simply
unable to do so; and so in other cases there is nothing that he can
add to what he finds in his books. Whereas Geometry (of course to an
intelligent student) is a real inductive and deductive science of
inexhaustible extent, in which he can experiment for himself--the very
tracing of a curve from its equation (and still more the consideration
of the cases belonging to different values of the parameters) is the
construction of a theory to bind together the facts--and the selection
of a curve or surface proper for the verification of any general
theorem is the selection of an experiment in proof or disproof of a

I do not quite understand your reference to Stokes and Adams, as types
of the men who alone retain their abstract Analytical Geometry. If a
man when he takes his degree drops mathematics, he drops geometry--but
if not I think for the above reasons that he is more likely to go on
with it than with almost any other subject--and any mathematical
journal will shew that a very great amount of attention is in fact
given to geometry. And the subject is in a very high degree a
progressive one; quite as much as to Physics, one may apply to it the
lines, Yet I doubt not thro' the ages one increasing purpose runs, and
the thoughts of men are widened with the progress of the suns.

        I remain, dear Sir,
          Yours very sincerely,
            A. CAYLEY.

    _6 Dec., 1867_.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                 LONDON, S.E.
                                                 _1867, December 9_.


I have received with much pleasure your letter of December 6. In this
University discussion, I have acted only in public, and have not made
private communication to any person whatever till required to do so by
private letter addressed to me. Your few words in Queens' Hall seemed
to expect a little reply.

Now as to the Modern Geometry. With your praises of this science--as
to the room for extension in induction and deduction, &c.; and with
your facts--as to the amount of space which it occupies in
Mathematical Journals; I entirely agree. And if men, after leaving
Cambridge, were designed to shut themselves up in a cavern, they could
have nothing better for their subjective amusement. They might have
other things as good; enormous complication and probably beautiful
investigation might be found in varying the game of billiards with
novel islands on a newly shaped billiard table. But the persons who
devote themselves to these subjects do thereby separate themselves
from the world. They make no step towards natural science or
utilitarian science, the two subjects which the world specially
desires. The world could go on as well without these separatists.

Now if these persons lived only for themselves, no other person would
have any title to question or remark on their devotion to this barren
subject. But a Cambridge Examiner is not in that position. The
University is a national body, for education of young men: and the
power of a Cambridge Examiner is omnipotent in directing the education
of the young men; and his responsibility to the cause of education is
very distinct and very strong. And the question for him to consider
is--in the sense in which mathematical education is desired by the
best authorities in the nation, is the course taken by this national
institution satisfactory to the nation?

I express my belief that it is _not_ satisfactory. I believe that many
of the best men of the nation consider that a great deal of time is
lost on subjects which they esteem as puerile, and that much of that
time might be employed on noble and useful science.

You may remember that the Commissions which have visited Cambridge
originated in a Memorial addressed to the Government by men of
respected scientific character: Sabine was one, and I may take him as
the representative. He is a man of extensive knowledge of the
application of mathematics as it has been employed for many years in
the science of the world; but he has no profundity of science. He, as
I believe, desired to find persons who could enter accurately into
mathematical science, and naturally looked to the Great Mathematical
University; but he must have been much disappointed. So much time is
swallowed up by the forced study of the Pure Mathematics that it is
not easy to find anybody who can really enter on these subjects in
which men of science want assistance. And so Sabine thought that the
Government ought to interfere, probably without any clear idea of what
they could do.

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours very truly,
            G.B. AIRY.

_Professor Cayley_.

       *       *       *       *       *


I have to thank you for your last letter. I do not think everything
should be subordinated to the educational element: my idea of a
University is that of a place for the cultivation of all
science. Therefore among other sciences Pure Mathematics; including
whatever is interesting as part of this science. I am bound therefore
to admit that your proposed extension of the problem of billiards, _if
it_ were found susceptible of interesting mathematical developments,
would be a fit subject of study. But in this case I do not think the
problem could fairly be objected to as puerile--a more legitimate
objection would I conceive be its extreme speciality. But this is not
an objection that can be brought against Modern Geometry as a whole:
in regard to any particular parts of it which may appear open to such
an objection, the question is whether they are or are not, for their
own sakes, or their bearing upon other parts of the science to which
they belong, worthy of being entered upon and pursued.

But admitting (as I do not) that Pure Mathematics are only to be
studied with a view to Natural and Physical Science, the question
still arises how are they best to be studied in that view. I assume
and admit that as to a large part of Modern Geometry and of the Theory
of Numbers, there is no present probability that these will find any
physical applications. But among the remaining parts of Pure
Mathematics we have the theory of Elliptic Functions and of the
Jacobian and Abelian Functions, and the theory of Differential
Equations, including of course Partial Differential Equations. Now
taking for instance the problem of three bodies--unless this is to be
gone on with by the mere improvement in detail of the present
approximate methods--it is at least conceivable that the future
treatment of it will be in the direction of the problem of two fixed
centres, by means of elliptic functions, &c.; and that the discovery
will be made not by searching for it directly with the mathematical
resources now at our command, but by "prospecting" for it in the field
of these functions. Even improvements in the existing methods are more
likely to arise from a study of differential equations in general than
from a special one of the equations of the particular problem: the
materials for such improvements which exist in the writings of
Hamilton, Jacobi, Bertrand, and Bour, have certainly so arisen. And
the like remarks would apply to the physical problems which depend on
Partial Differential Equations.

I think that the course of mathematical study at the University is
likely to be a better one if regulated with a view to the cultivation
of Science, as if for its own sake, rather than directly upon
considerations of what is educationally best (I mean that the best
educational course will be so obtained), and that we have thus a
justification for a thorough study of Pure Mathematics. In my own
limited experience of examinations, the fault which I find with the
men is a want of analytical power, and that whatever else may have
been in defect Pure Mathematics has certainly not been in excess.

        I remain, dear Sir,
          Yours sincerely,
            A. CAYLEY.

    _10th Dec., 1867_.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                _1867, December 17_.


Since receiving your letter of 9th I positively have not had time to
express the single remark which I proposed to make on it.

You state your idea that the educational element ought not to be the
predominating element in the University. "I do not think that every
thing should be subordinated to the educational element." I cannot
conceal my surprise at this sentiment. Assuredly the founders of the
Colleges intended them for education (so far as they apply to persons
in statu pupillari), the statutes of the University and the Colleges
are framed for education, and fathers send their sons to the
University for education. If I had not had your words before me, I
should have said that it is impossible to doubt this.

It is much to be desired that Professors and others who exercise no
control by force should take every method, not only of promoting
science in themselves, but also of placing the promoted science before
students: and it is much to be desired that students who have passed
the compulsory curriculum should be encouraged to proceed into the
novelties which will be most agreeable to them. But this is a totally
different thing from using the Compulsory Force of Examination to
drive students in paths traced only by the taste of the examiner. For
them, I conceive the obligation to the nation and the duty to follow
the national sense on education (as far as it can be gathered from its
best representatives) to be undoubted; and to be, in the intensity of
the obligation and duty, most serious.

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours very truly,
            G.B. AIRY.

_Professor Cayley_.

       *       *       *       *       *


"In the South-East Dome, the alteration proposed last year for
rendering the building fire-proof had been completely carried out. The
middle room, which was to be appropriated to Chronometers, was being
fitted up accordingly.--From the Report it appears that 'our
subterranean telegraph wires were all broken by one blow, from an
accident in the Metropolitan Drainage Works on Groom's Hill, but were
speedily repaired.'--In my office as Chairman of successive
Commissions on Standards, I had collected a number of Standards, some
of great historical value (as Ramsden's and Roy's Standards of Length,
Kater's Scale-beam for weighing great weights, and others), &c. These
have been transferred to the newly-created Standards Department of the
Board of Trade."--In the Report is given a detailed account of the
system of preserving and arranging the manuscripts and correspondence
of the Observatory, which was always regarded by Airy as a matter of
the first importance.--From a careful discussion of the results of
observation Mr Stone had concluded that the refractions ought to be
diminished. 'Relying on this, we have now computed our mean
refractions by diminishing those of Bessel's Fundamenta in the
proportion of 1 to 0.99797.'--The Magnetometer-Indications for the
period 1858-1863 had been reduced and discussed, with remarkable
results. It is inferred that magnetic disturbances, both solar and
lunar, are produced mediately by the Earth, and that the Earth in
periods of several years undergoes changes which fit it and unfit it
for exercising a powerful mediate action.--The Earth-current records
had been reduced, and the magnetic effect which the currents would
produce had been computed. The result was, that the agreement between
the magnetic effects so computed and the magnetic disturbances really
recorded by the magnetometers was such as to leave no doubt on the
general validity of the explanation of the great storm-disturbances of
the magnets as consequences of the galvanic currents through the
earth.--Referring to the difficulty experienced in making the
meteorological observations practically available the Report states
thus: 'The want of Meteorology, at the present time, is principally in
suggestive theory.'--In this year Airy communicated to the Royal
Astronomical Society a Paper 'On the Preparatory Arrangements for the
Observation of the Transits of Venus 1874 and 1882': this subject was
now well in hand.--The First Report of the Commissioners (of whom he
was Chairman) appointed to enquire into the condition of the Exchequer
Standards was printed: this business took up much time.--He was in
this year much engaged on the Coinage Commission.

Of private history: There was the usual winter visit to Playford, and
a short visit to Cambridge in June.--From about Aug. 1st to Sept. 3rd
he was travelling in Switzerland with his youngest son and his two
youngest daughters. In the course of this journey they visited
Zermatt. There had been much rain, the rivers were greatly flooded,
and much mischief was done to the roads. During the journey from Visp
to Zermatt, near St Nicholas, in a steep part of the gorge, a large
stone rolled from the cliffs and knocked their baggage horse over the
lower precipice, a fall of several hundred feet. The packages were all
burst, and many things were lost, but a good deal was recovered by men
suspended by ropes.

In this year also Airy was busy with the subject of University
Examination, which in previous years had occupied so much of his
attention, as will be seen from the following letters:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                 LONDON, S.E.
                                                   _1868, March 12_.


I have had the pleasure of corresponding with you on matters of
University Examination so frequently that I at once turn to you as the
proper person to whom I may address any remarks on that important

Circumstances have enabled me lately to obtain private information of
a most accurate kind on the late Mathematical Tripos: and among other
things, I have received a statement of every individual question
answered or partly answered by five honour-men. I have collected the
numbers of these in a small table which I enclose.

I am struck with the _almost_ nugatory character of the five days'
honour examination as applied to Senior Optimes, and I do not doubt
that it is _totally_ nugatory as applied to Junior Optimes. It appears
to me that, for all that depends on these days, the rank of the
Optimes is mere matter of chance.

In the examinations of the Civil Service, the whole number of marks is
published, and also the number of marks gained by each candidate. I
have none of their papers at hand, but my impression is that the
lowest candidates make about 1 in 3; and the fair candidates about 2
in 3, instead of 1 in 10 or 1 in 13 as our good Senior Optimes.

        I am, my dear Master,
          Very truly yours,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Rev. Dr Cookson,
  Master of St Peters College,
    &c. &c._

The Table referred to in the above letter is as follows:

Number of Questions, and numbers of Answers to Questions as given by
several Wranglers and Senior Optimes, in the Examination of
Mathematical Tripos for Honours, 1868, January 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.

        Number of Questions and Riders in the Printed Papers.

                               Questions.   Riders.   Aggregate.
In the 10 Papers of the 5 days     123        101        224


                                 Questions.   Riders.   Aggregate.
  By a Wrangler, between the
     1st and 7th                   69-1/2      25-1/2     95       1 in 2.36
  By a Wrangler, between the
     12th and 22nd                 48-1/2      12-1/2     61       1 in 3.68
  By a Wrangler, between the
     22nd and 32nd                 36          12-1/2     48-1/2   1 in 4.62
  By a Sen. Opt. between the
     1st and 10th                  17-1/2      5          22-1/2   1 in 9.95
  By a Sen. Opt. between the
     10th and 20th                 14-1/2      2          16-1/2   1 in 3.60

                                                            G.B. AIRY.

_1868, March 12_.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                  ST PETER'S COLLEGE LODGE, CAMBRIDGE,
                                                 _March 13th, 1868_.


I am much obliged by your letter and enclosed paper.

Anything done in the last five days by a Junior Optime only shews
(generally) that he has been employing some of his time
_mischievously_, for he must have been working at subjects which he is
quite unable to master or cramming them by heart on the chance of
meeting with a stray question which he may answer.

The chief part of the Senior Optimes are in something of the same

I think that the proposed addition of a day to the first part of the
Examination, in which "easy questions in physical subjects" may be
set, is, on this account, a great improvement.

Our new Scheme comes on for discussion on Friday next, March 20, at 2
p.m. in the Arts School. It is much opposed by private tutors,
examiners and others, and may possibly be thrown out in the Senate
this year, though I hope that with a little patience it may be
carried, in an unmutilated form, eventually.

The enclosed Report on the Smith's Prize Examination will be discussed
at the same time.

I will consider what is best to be done on the subject to which your
note refers, without delay. With many thanks,

        I am,
          Very faithfully yours,
            H.W. COOKSON,

_The Astronomer Royal._

       *       *       *       *       *

In this year certain Members of the Senate of the University of
Cambridge petitioned Parliament against the abolition of religious
declarations required of persons admitted to Fellowships or proceeding
to the degree of M.A. The document was sent to Airy for his signature,
and his reply was as follows:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                 LONDON, S.E.
                                                   _1868, March 18_.


Though I sympathize to a great extent with the prayer of the petition
to Parliament which you sent to me yesterday, and assent to most of
the reasons, I do not attach my signature to it, for the following

1. I understand, from the introductory clause, and from the
unqualified character of the phrase "any such measures" in the second
clause, that the petition objects to granting the M.A. degree without
religious declaration. I do not see any adequate necessity for this
objection, and I cannot join in it.

2. It appears to me that the Colleges were intended for two collateral
objects:--instruction by part of the Fellows, on a religious basis;
and support of certain Fellows for scientific purposes, without the
same ostentatious connection with religion. I like this spirit well,
and should be glad to maintain it.

3. I therefore think (as I have publicly stated before) that the
Master of the College ought to be in holy orders; and so ought those
of the Fellows who may be expected to be usually resident and to take
continuous part in the instruction. But there are many who, upon
taking a fellowship, at once lay aside all thoughts of this: and I
think that such persons ought not to be trammelled with declarations.

4. My modification of existing regulations, if it once got into shape,
would I dare say be but a small fraction of that proposed by the
"measures in contemplation." Still I do not like to join in
unqualified resistance to interference in the affairs of the
Established Colleges, with that generality of opposition to
interference which the petition seems to intimate.

I agree with articles 3, 4, and 5; and I am pleased with the graceful
allusion in article 4 to the assistance which has been rendered by the
Colleges, and by none perhaps so honourably as Trinity, to the
parishes connected with it. And I could much wish that the spirit of 3
and 5 could be carried out, with some concession to my ideas in _my_
paragraph 3, above.

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours very truly,
            G.B. AIRY.

_Rev. Dr Lightfoot._

       *       *       *       *       *


From the Report to the Board of Visitors it appears that application
had been made for an extension of the grounds of the Observatory to a
distance of 100 feet south of the Magnetic Ground, and that a Warrant
for the annexation of this space was signed on 1868, Dec. 8. The new
Depôt for the Printed Productions of the Observatory had been
transferred to its position in the new ground, and the foundations for
the Great Shed were completed.--"The courses of our wires for the
registration of spontaneous terrestrial galvanic currents have been
entirely changed. The lines to Croydon and Deptford are abandoned; and
for these are substituted, a line from Angerstein Wharf to Lady Well
Station, and a line from North Kent Junction to Morden College
Tunnel. At each of these points the communication with Earth is made
by a copper plate 2 feet square. The straight line connecting the
extreme points of the first station intersects that connecting the two
points of the second station, nearly at right angles, and at little
distance from the Observatory.--The question of dependence of the
measurable amount of sidereal aberration upon the thickness of glass
or other transparent material in the telescope (a question which
involves, theoretically, one of the most delicate points in the
Undulatory Theory of Light) has lately been agitated on the Continent
with much earnestness. I have calculated the curvatures of the lenses
of crown and flint glass (the flint being exterior) for correcting
spherical and chromatic aberration in a telescope whose tube is filled
with water, and have instructed Mr Simms to proceed with the
preparation of an instrument carrying such a telescope. I have not
finally decided whether to rely on Zenith-distances of gamma Draconis
or on right-ascensions of Polaris. In any form the experiment will
probably be troublesome.--The transit of Mercury on 1868, Nov. 4th,
was observed by six observers. The atmospheric conditions were
favourable; and the singular appearances usually presented in a
planetary transit were well seen.--Mr Stone has attached to the
South-East Equatoreal a thermo-multiplier, with the view of examining
whether heat radiating from the principal stars can be made sensible
in our instruments. The results hitherto obtained are encouraging, but
they shew clearly that it is vain to attempt this enquiry except in
the most superb weather; and there has not been a night deserving that
epithet for some months past.--The preparations for observing the
Transits of Venus were now begun in earnest. I had come to the
conclusion, that after every reliance was placed on foreign and
colonial observatories, it would be necessary for the British
Government to undertake the equipment of five or six temporary
stations. On Feb. 15th I sent a pamphlet on the subject to Mr Childers
(First Lord of Admiralty), and in April I wrote to the Secretary,
asking authority for the purchase of instruments. On June 22nd
authority is given to me for the instruments: the Treasury assent to
_£10,500_. On August 9th I had purchased 3 equatoreals.--I have given
a short course of Lectures in the University of Cambridge on the
subject of Magnetism, with the view of introducing that important
physical science into the studies of the University. The want of books
available to Students, and the novelty of the subject, made the
preparation more laborious than the duration of the lectures would
seem to imply."--In this year there was much work on the Standards
Commission, chiefly regarding the suggested abolition of Troy Weight,
and several Papers on the subject were prepared by Airy.--He also
wrote a long and careful description of the Great Equatoreal at

Of private history: There was the usual visit to Playford in the
winter. Mrs Airy was now becoming feebler, and did not now leave
Greenwich: since April of this year her letters were written in
pencil, and with difficulty, but she still made great efforts to keep
up the accustomed correspondence.--In April Airy went to Cambridge to
deliver his lectures on magnetism to the undergraduates: the following
passage occurs in one of his letters at this time: "I have a mighty
attendance (there were 147 names on my board yesterday), and, though
the room is large with plenty of benches, I have been obliged to bring
in some chairs. The men are exceedingly attentive, and when I look up
I am quite struck to see the number of faces staring into mine. I go
at 12, and find men at the room copying from my big papers: I lecture
from 1 to 2, and stop till after 3, and through the last hour some men
are talking to me and others are copying from the papers; and I
usually leave some men still at work. The men applaud and shew their
respect very gracefully. There are present some two or three persons
who attended my former lectures, and they say that I lecture exactly
as I did formerly. One of my attendants is a man that they say cannot,
from years and infirmity and habit, be induced to go anywhere else: Dr
Archdall, the Master of Emmanuel. I find that some of my old
lecturing habits come again on me. I drink a great deal of cold water,
and am very glad to go to bed early."--From June 10th-30th he was
travelling in Scotland, and staying at Barrow House near Keswick (the
residence of Mr Langton), with his son Hubert.--Subsequently, from
Aug. 17th to 31st, he was again in the Lake District, with his
daughter Christabel, and was joined there by his son Hubert on the
24th. The first part of the time was spent at Tarn Bank, near
Carlisle, the residence of Mr Isaac Fletcher, M.P. From thence he made
several expeditions, especially to Barrow in Furness and Seascale,
where he witnessed with great interest the Bessemer process of making
steel. From Barrow House he made continual excursions among the
Cumberland mountains, which he knew so well.


"In this year Mr Stone, the First Assistant, was appointed to the Cape
of Good Hope Observatory, and resigned his post of First Assistant. Mr
Christie was appointed in his place.--From the Report to the Visitors
it appears that 'A few months since we were annoyed by a failure in
the illumination of the field of view of the Transit Circle. The
reflector was cleaned, but in vain; at last it was discovered that one
of the lenses (the convex lens) of the combination which forms the
object-glass of a Reversed Telescope in the interior of the
Transit-axis, and through which all illuminating light must pass, had
become so corroded as to be almost opaque.'--The South-East Equatoreal
has been partly occupied with the thermo-multiplier employed by Mr
Stone for the measure of heat radiating from the principal stars. Mr
Stone's results for the radiation from Arcturus and alpha Lyrae appear
to be incontrovertible, and to give bases for distinct numerical
estimation of the radiant heat of these stars.--In my last Report I
alluded to a proposed systematic reduction of the meteorological
observations during the whole time of their efficient
self-registration. Having received from the Admiralty the funds
necessary for immediate operations, I have commenced with the
photographic registers of the thermometers, dry-bulb and wet-bulb,
from 1848 to 1868.--Our chronometer-room contains at present 219
chronometers, including 37 chronometers which have been placed here by
chronometer-makers as competing for the honorary reputation and the
pecuniary advantages to be derived from success in the half-year's
trial to which they are subjected. I take this opportunity of stating
that I have uniformly advocated the policy of offering good prices for
the chronometers of great excellence, and that I have given much
attention to the decision on their merits; and I am convinced that
this system has greatly contributed to the remarkably steady
improvement in the performance of chronometers. In the trial which
terminated in August 1869, the best chronometers (taking as usual the
average of the first six) were superior in merit to those of any
preceding year.--With the funds placed at my disposal for the Transit
of Venus 1874 I purchased three 6-inch equatoreals, and have ordered
two: I have also ordered altazimuths (with accurate vertical circles
only), and clocks sufficient, as I expect, to equip five stations. For
methods of observation, I rely generally on the simple
eye-observation, possibly relieved of some of its uncertainty by the
use of my colour-correcting eyepiece. But active discussion has taken
place on the feasibility of using photographic and spectroscopic
methods; and it will not be easy for some time to announce that the
plan of observations is settled.--There can be no doubt, I imagine,
that the first and necessary duty of the Royal Observatory is to
maintain its place well as an Observing Establishment; and that this
must be secured, at whatever sacrifice, if necessary, of other
pursuits. Still the question has not unfrequently presented itself to
me, whether the duties to which I allude have not, by force of
circumstances, become too exclusive; and whether the cause of Science
might not gain if, as in the Imperial Observatory of Paris for
instance, the higher branches of mathematical physics should not take
their place by the side of Observatory routine. I have often felt the
desire practically to refresh my acquaintance with what were once
favourite subjects: Lunar Theory and Physical Optics. But I do not at
present clearly see how I can enter upon them with that degree of
freedom of thought which is necessary for success in abstruse

Of private history: There was a longer visit than usual to Playford,
lasting till Jan. 27th.--In April he made a short excursion (of less
than a week) with his son Hubert to Monmouth, &c.--From June 14th to
July 2nd he was staying at Barrow House, near Keswick, with his son
Hubert: during this time he was much troubled with a painful
skin-irritation of his leg and back, which lasted in some degree for a
long time afterwards.--From Sept. 25th to Oct. 6th he made an
excursion with his daughter Christabel to Scarborough, Whitby, &c.,
and again spent a few days at Barrow House.


"In April 1870 the Assistants had applied for an increase of salary, a
request which I had urged strongly upon the Admiralty. On Jan. 27 of
this year the Admiralty answered that, on account of Mr Childers's
illness, the consideration must be deferred to next year! The
Assistants wrote bitterly to me: and with my sanction they wrote to
the First Lord. On Jan. 31st I requested an interview with Mr Baxter
(secretary of the Admiralty), and saw him on Feb. 3rd, when I obtained
his consent to an addition of _£530_. There was still a difficulty
with the Treasury, but on June 27th the liberal scale was
allowed.--Experiments made by Mr Stone shew clearly that a local
elevation, like that of the Royal Observatory on the hill of Greenwich
Park, has no tendency to diminish the effect of railway tremors.--The
correction for level error in the Transit Circle having become
inconveniently large, a sheet of very thin paper, 1/270 inch in
thickness, was placed under the eastern Y, which was raised from its
bed for the purpose. The mean annual value of the level-error appears
to be now sensibly zero.--As the siege and war operations in Paris
seriously interfered with the observations of small planets made at
the Paris Observatory, observations of them were continued at
Greenwich throughout each entire lunation during the investment of the
city.--The new Water-Telescope has been got into working order, and
performs most satisfactorily. Observations of gamma Draconis have been
made with it, when the star passed between 20h and 17h, with some
observations for adjustment at a still more advanced time. As the
astronomical latitude of the place of observation is not known, the
bearing of these observations on the question of aberration cannot be
certainly pronounced until the autumn observations shall have been
made; but supposing the geodetic latitude to be accordant with the
astronomical latitude, the result for aberration appears to be
sensibly the same as with ordinary telescopes.--Several years since, I
prepared a barometer, by which the barometric fluctuations were
enlarged, for the information of the public; its indications are
exhibited on the wall, near to the entrance gate of the Observatory. A
card is now also exhibited, in a glass case near the public barometer,
giving the highest and lowest readings of the thermometer in the
preceding twenty-four hours.--Those who have given attention to the
history of Terrestrial Magnetism are aware that Halley's Magnetic
Chart is very frequently cited; but I could not learn that any person,
at least in modern times, had seen it. At last I discovered a copy in
the library of the British Museum, and have been allowed to take
copies by photolithography. These are appended to the Magnetical and
Meteorological Volume for 1869.--The trials and certificates of
hand-telescopes for the use of the Royal Navy have lately been so
frequent that they almost become a regular part of the work of the
Observatory. I may state here that by availing myself of a theory of
eyepieces which I published long since in the Cambridge Transactions,
I have been able to effect a considerable improvement in the
telescopes furnished to the Admiralty.--The occurrence of the Total
Eclipse of the Sun in December last has brought much labour upon the
Observatory. As regards the assistants and computers, the actual
observation on a complicated plan with the Great Equatoreal (a plan
for which few equatoreals are sufficiently steady, but which when
properly carried out gives a most complete solution of the geometrical
problem) has required, in observation and in computation, a large
expenditure of time.--My preparations for the Transit of Venus have
respect only to eye-observation of contact of limbs. With all the
liabilities and defects to which it is subject, this method possesses
the inestimable advantage of placing no reliance on instrumental
scales. I hope that the error of observation may not exceed four
seconds of time, corresponding to about 0.13" of arc. I shall be very
glad to see, in a detailed form, a plan for making the proper measures
by heliometric or photographic apparatus; and should take great
interest in combining these with the eye-observations, if my selected
stations can be made available. But my present impression is one of
doubt on the certainty of equality of parts in the scale employed. An
error depending on this cause could not be diminished by any
repetition of observations."--After referring to the desirability of
vigorously prosecuting the Meteorological Reductions (already begun)
and of discussing the Magnetic Observations, the Report concludes
thus: "There is another consideration which very often presents itself
to my mind; the waste of labour in the repetition of observations at
different observatories..... I think that this consideration ought not
to be put out of sight in planning the courses of different
Observatories."--In this year De Launay's Lunar Theory was
published. This valuable work was of great service to Airy in the
preparation of the Numerical Lunar Theory, which he subsequently
undertook.--In the latter part of this year Airy was elected President
of the Royal Society, and held the office during 1872 and 1873. At
this time he was much pressed with work, and could ill afford to take
up additional duties, as the following quotation from a letter to one
of his friends shews: "The election to the Presidency of R.S. is
flattering, and has brought to me the friendly remembrances of many
persons; but in its material and laborious connections, I could well
have dispensed with it, and should have done so but for the respectful
way in which it was pressed on me."

Of private history: There was the usual winter visit to Playford.--In
April he made a short trip to Cornwall with his daughter Annot.--In
June he was appointed a Companion of the Bath, and was presented at
Court on his appointment.--Mrs Airy was staying with her daughter, Mrs
Routh, at Hunstanton, during June, her state of health being somewhat
improved.--From August 1st to 28th he was chiefly in Cumberland, at
Barrow House, and at Grange, Borrowdale, where his son Osmund was
staying for a holiday.


"From the Report to the Board of Visitors it appears that 'The Normal
Siderial Clock for giving sidereal time by galvanic communication to
the Astronomical Observatory was established in the Magnetic Basement
in 1871, June; that locality being adapted for it on account of the
uniformity of temperature, the daily changed of temperature rarely
exceeding 1° Fahrenheit. Its escapement is one which I suggested many
years ago in the Cambridge Transactions; a detached escapement, very
closely analogous to the ordinary chronometer escapement, the pendulum
receiving an impulse only at alternate vibrations.... The steadiness
of rate is very far superior to any that we have previously
attained.'--The aspect of railway enterprise is at present favourable
to the Park and to the Observatory. The South-Eastern Railway Company
has made an arrangement with the Metropolitan Board of Works for
shifting the course of the great Southern Outfall Sewer. This enables
the Company to trace a new line for the railway, passing on the north
side of London Street, at such a distance from the Observatory as to
remove all cause of alarm. I understand that the Bill, which was
unopposed, has passed the Committee of the House of Commons. I trust
that the contest, which has lasted thirty-seven years, is now
terminated.--The observations of 7 Draconis with the Water-Telescope,
made in the autumn of 1871, and the spring of 1872, are reduced, the
latter only in their first steps.... Using the values of the level
scales as determined by Mr Simms (which I have no reason to believe to
be inaccurate) the spring and autumn observations of 1871 absolutely
negative the idea of any effect being produced on the constant of
aberration by the amount of refracting medium traversed by the
light.--The great Aurora of 1872 Feb. 4 was well observed. On this
occasion the term Borealis would have been a misnomer, for the
phenomenon began in the South and was most conspicuous in the
South. Three times in the evening it exhibited that umbrella-like
appearance which has been called (perhaps inaccurately) a corona. I
have very carefully compared its momentary phenomena with the
corresponding movements of the magnetometers. In some of the most
critical times, the comparison fails on account of the violent
movements and consequent faint traces of the magnetometers. I have not
been able to connect the phases of aurora and those of magnetic
disturbance very distinctly.--The Report contains a detailed account
of the heavy preparations for the observation of the Transit of Venus
1874, including the portable buildings for the instruments, the
instruments themselves (being a transit-instrument, an altazimuth, and
an equatoreal, for each station), and first class and second-class
clocks, all sufficient for the equipment of 5 stations, and continues
thus: I was made aware of the assent of the Government to the wish of
the Board of Visitors, as expressed at their last meeting, that
provision should be made for the application of photography to the
observation of the Transit of Venus. It is unnecessary for me to
remark that our hope of success is founded entirely on our confidence
in Mr De La Rue. Under his direction, Mr Dallmeyer has advanced far in
the preparation of five photoheliographs.... The subject is recognized
by many astronomers as not wholly free from difficulties, but it is
generally believed that these difficulties may be overcome, and Mr De
La Rue is giving careful attention to the most important of them.--I
take this opportunity of reporting to the Board that the Observatory
was honoured by a visit of His Majesty the Emperor of Brazil, who
minutely examined every part."--After referring to various subjects
which in his opinion might be usefully pursued systematically at the
Observatory, the Report proceeds thus: "'The character of the
Observatory would be somewhat changed by this innovation, but not, as
I imagine, in a direction to which any objection can be made. It would
become, pro tanto, a physical observatory; and possibly in time its
operations might be extended still further in a physical
direction.'--The consideration of possible changes in the future of
the Observatory leads me to the recollection of actual changes in the
past. In my Annual Reports to the Visitors I have endeavoured to
chronicle these; but still there will be many circumstances which at
present are known only to myself, but which ought not to be beyond the
reach of history. I have therefore lately employed some time in
drawing up a series of skeleton annals of the Observatory (which
unavoidably partakes in some measure of the form of biography), and
have carried it through the critical period, 1836-1851. If I should
command sufficient leisure to bring it down to 1861, I think that I
might then very well stop." (The skeleton annals here referred to are
undoubtedly the manuscript notes which form the basis of the present
biography. Ed.)--"On Feb. 23rd in this year I first (privately) formed
the notion of preparing a numerical Lunar Theory by substituting
Delaunay's numbers in the proper Equations and seeing what would come
of it."

Of private history: There was the usual visit to Playford--in this
year later than usual--from Feb. 4th to Mar. 4th. The letters written
during this visit are, as usual, full of freshness and delight at
finding himself in his favourite country village.--On June 5th he went
to Barrow House, near Keswick, to be present at the marriage of his
second son Hubert to Miss S. C. Langton, daughter of Z. Langton Esq.,
of Barrow House.--After the wedding he made a trip through the
Trossachs district of Scotland with his daughter Annot, and returned
to Greenwich on June 17th.

On the 26th June 1872 Airy was appointed a Knight Commander of the
Most Honourable Order of the Bath: he was knighted by the Queen at
Osborne on the 30th of July. In the course of his official career he
had three times been offered Knighthood, and had each time declined
it: but it seemed now as if his scruples on the subject were removed,
and it is probable that he felt gratified by the public recognition of
his services. Of course the occasion produced many letters of
congratulation from his friends: to one of these he replied as
follows: "The real charm of these public compliments seems to be, that
they excite the sympathies and elicit the kind expressions of private
friends or of official superiors as well as subordinates. In every way
I have derived pleasure from these." From the Assistants of the Royal
Observatory he received a hearty letter of congratulation containing
the following paragraph. "Our position has naturally given us peculiar
opportunities for perceiving the high and broad purposes which have
characterized your many and great undertakings, and of witnessing the
untiring zeal and self-denial with which they have been pursued."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 18th of March 1872 Airy was nominated a Foreign Associate of
the Institut de France, to fill the place vacant by the death of Sir
John Herschel. The following letter of acknowledgment shews how much
he was gratified by this high scientific honour:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                   _1872, March 23_.

_À_ Messieurs
  _et_ J.B. DUMAS,
  _Secrétaires perpetuels de l'Académie
  des Sciences, Institut de France._


I am honoured with your letter of March 18, communicating to me my
nomination by the Academy of Sciences to the place rendered vacant in
the class of Foreign Associates of the Academy by the decease of Sir
John Herschel, and enclosing Copy of the Decree of the President of
the French Republic approving the Election.

It is almost unnecessary for me to attempt to express to you the pride
and gratification with which I receive this announcement. By universal
consent, the title of _Associé Etranger de l'Académie des Sciences_ is
recognised as the highest distinction to which any man of science can
aspire; and I can scarcely imagine that, unless by the flattering
interpretation of my friends in the Academy, I am entitled to bear
it. But in any case, I am delighted to feel that the bands of
friendship are drawn closer between myself and the distinguished body
whom, partly by personal intercourse, partly by correspondence, and in
every instance by reputation, I have known so long.

I beg that you will convey to the Academy my long-felt esteem for that
body in its scientific capacity, and my deep recognition of its
friendship to me and of the honor which it has conferred on me in the
late election.

        I have the honor to be
          Your very faithful servant,
              G.B. AIRY.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 20th November 1872 Airy was nominated a Grand Cross in the
Imperial Order of the Rose of Brazil: the insignia of the Order were
accompanied by an autograph letter from the Emperor of Brazil, of
which the following is a transcript.


Vous êtes un des doyens de la science, et le Président de l'illustre
Société, qui a eu la bienveillance d'inscrire mon nom parmi ceux de
ses associés. La manière, dont vous m'avez fait les honneurs de votre
Observatoire m'a imposé aussi l'agréable devoir d'indiquer votre nom à
l'empereur de Brésil pour un témoignage de haute estime, dont je suis
fort heureux de vous faire part personellement, en vous envoyant les
décorations que vous garderez, an moins, comme un souvenir de ma
visite à Greenwich.

J'espère que vous m'informerez, quand il vous sera aisé, des travaux
de votre observatoire, et surtout de ce que l'on aura fait pour
l'observation du passage de Vénus et la détermination exacte de la

J'ai reçu déjà les _Proceedings de la Royal Society_ lesquels
m'intéressent vivement.

Je voudrais vous écrire dans votre langue, mais, comme je n'en ai pas
l'habitude, j'ai craigné de ne pas vous exprimer tout-à-fait les
sentiments de

        Votre affectionné,

_22 Octobre, 1872_.

       *       *       *       *       *

Airy's reply was as follows:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                _1872, November 26_.


I am honoured with your Imperial Majesty's autograph letter of October
22 informing me that, on considering the attention which the Royal
Society of London had been able to offer to your Majesty, as well as
the explanation of the various parts of the establishment of this
Observatory which I had the honor and the high gratification to
communicate, You had been pleased to place my name in the Imperial
Order of the Rose, and to present to me the Decorations of Grand Cross
of that Order.

With pride I receive this proof of Your Majesty's recollection of your
visit to the scientific institutions of Great Britain.

The Diploma of the appointment to the Order of the Rose, under the
Imperial Sign Manual, together with the Decorations of the Order, have
been transmitted to me by his Excellency Don Pereira de Andrada, Your
Majesty's Representative at the British Court.

Your Majesty has been pleased to advert to the approaching Transit of
Venus, on the preparations for which you found me engaged. It is
unfortunate that the Transit of 1874 will not be visible at Rio de
Janeiro. For that of 1882, Rio will be a favourable position, and we
reckon on the observations to be made there. Your Majesty may be
assured that I shall loyally bear in mind your desire to be informed
of any remarkable enterprise of this Observatory, or of any principal
step in the preparations for the Transit of Venus and of its results.

        I have the honor to be
          Your Imperial Majesty's very faithful servant,
                  G.B. AIRY.

_To His Majesty
  The Emperor of Brazil._

       *       *       *       *       *

Airy's old friend, Adam Sedgwick, was now very aged and infirm, but
his spirit was still vigorous, and he was warm-hearted as ever. The
following letter from him (probably the last of their long
correspondence) was written in this year, and appears characteristic:

                                           TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE,
                                                     _May 10, 1872_.


I have received your card of invitation for the 1st of June, and with
great joy should I count upon that day if I thought that I should be
able to accept your invitation: but alas I have no hope of the kind,
for that humiliating malady which now has fastened upon me for a full
year and a half has not let go its hold, nor is it likely to do so. A
man who is journeying in the 88th year of his pilgrimage is not likely
to throw off such a chronic malady. Indeed were I well enough to come
I am deaf as a post and half blind, and if I were with you I should
only be able to play dummy. Several years have passed away since I was
last at your Visitation and I had great joy in seeing Mrs Airy and
some lady friends at the Observatory, but I could not then attend the
dinner. At that Meeting were many faces that I knew, but strangely
altered by the rude handling of old Time, and there were many new
faces which I had never seen before at a Royal Society Meeting; but
worse than all, all the old faces were away. In vain I looked round
for Wollaston, Davy, Davies Gilbert, Barrow, Troughton, &c. &c.; and
the merry companion Admiral Smyth was also away, so that my last visit
had its sorrowful side. But why should I bother you with these old
man's mopings.

I send an old man's blessing and an old man's love to all the members
of your family; especially to Mrs Airy, the oldest and dearest of my
lady friends.

        I remain, my dear Airy,
          Your true-hearted old friend,
            ADAM   X   SEDGWICK.

P.S. Shall I ever again gaze with wonder and delight from the great
window of your Observatory.

The body of the above letter is in the handwriting of an amanuensis,
but the signature and Postscript are in Sedgwick's handwriting. (Ed.)

       *       *       *       *       *


"Chronographic registration having been established at the Paris
Observatory, Mr Hilgard, principal officer of the American Coast
Survey, has made use of it for determining the longitude of Harvard
from Greenwich, through Paris, Brest, and St Pierre. For this purpose
Mr Hilgard's Transit Instrument was planted in the Magnetic Court. I
understand that the result does not sensibly differ from that obtained
by Mr Gould, through Valentia and Newfoundland.--It was known to the
scientific world that several of the original thermometers,
constructed by Mr Sheepshanks (in the course of his preparation of the
National Standard of Length) by independent calibration of the bores,
and independent determination of the freezing and boiling points on
arbitrary graduations, were still preserved at the Royal Observatory.
It was lately stated to me by M. Tresca, the principal officer of the
International Metrical Commission, that, in the late unhappy war in
Paris, the French original thermometers were destroyed; and M. Tresca
requested that, if possible, some of the original thermometers made by
Mr Sheepshanks might be appropriated to the use of the International
Commission. I have therefore transferred to M. Tresca the three
thermometers A.6, S.1, S.2, with the documentary information relating
to them, which was found in Mr Sheepshanks's papers; retaining six
thermometers of the same class in the Royal Observatory.--The Sidereal
Standard Clock continues to give great satisfaction. I am considering
(with the aid of Mr Buckney, of the firm of E. Dent and Co.) an
arrangement for barometric correction, founded on the principle of
action on the pendulum by means of a magnet which can be raised or
lowered by the agency of a large barometer.--The Altazimuth has
received some important alterations. An examination of the results of
observations had made me dissatisfied with the bearings of the
horizontal pivots in their Y's. Mr Simms, at my request, changed the
bearings in Y's for bearing in segments of circles, a construction
which has worked admirably well in the pivots of the Transit Circle."
(And in various other respects the instrument appears to have received
a thorough overhauling. Ed.)--"With the consent of the Royal Society
and of the Kew Committee, the Kew Heliograph has been planted in the
new dome looking over the South Ground. It is not yet finally
adjusted.--Some magnetic observations in the Britannia and Conway
tubular bridges were made last autumn. For this purpose I detached an
Assistant (Mr Carpenter), who was aided by Capt. Tupman, R.M.A.; in
other respects the enterprise was private and at private expense.--The
rates of the first six chronometers (in the annual trials) are
published, in a form which appears most likely to lead to examination
of the causes that influence their merits or demerits. This report is
extensively distributed to British and Foreign horologists and
instrument-makers. All these artists appear to entertain the
conviction that the careful comparisons made at this Observatory, and
the orderly form of their publication, have contributed powerfully to
the improvement of chronometers.--Very lately, application has been
made to me, through the Board of Trade, for plans and other
information regarding time-signal-balls, to assist in guiding the
authorities of the German Empire in the establishment of time signals
at various ports of that State. In other foreign countries the system
is extending, and is referred to Greenwich as its origin.--The
arrangements and preparations for the observation of the Transit of
Venus occupied much attention. With regard to the photoheliographs it
is proposed to make trial of a plan proposed by M. Janssen, for
numerous photographs of Venus when very near to the Sun's limb. On
Apr. 26th the engaging of photographic teachers was sanctioned.
Observers were selected and engaged. A working model of the
Transit was prepared, and the use of De La Rue's Scale was
practised. There was some hostile criticism of the stations selected
for the observation of the Transit, which necessitated a formal
reply.--Reference is made to the increase of facilities for making
magnetical and meteorological observations. The inevitable result of
it is, that observations are produced in numbers so great that
complete reduction becomes almost impossible. The labour of reduction
is very great, and it is concluded that, of the enormous number of
meteorological observations now made at numerous observatories, very
few can ever possess the smallest utility.--Referring to my Numerical
Lunar Theory: on June 30th, 1873, a theory was formed, nearly but not
perfectly complete. Numerical development of powers of a÷r and
r÷a. Factors of corrections to Delaunay first attempted, but entirely
in numerical form."--In March of this year Airy was consulted by Mr
W.H. Barlow, C.E., and Mr Thomas Bouch (the Engineer of the Tay
Bridge, which was blown down in 1879, and of a proposed scheme for a
Forth Bridge in 1873) on the subject of the wind pressure, &c., that
should be allowed for in the construction of the bridge. Airy's report
on this question is dated 1873, Apr. 9th: it was subsequently much
referred to at the Official Enquiry into the causes of the failure of
the Tay Bridge.--At the end of this year Airy resigned the Presidency
of the Royal Society. In his Address to the Society on Dec. 1st he
stated his reasons in full, as follows: "the severity of official
duties, which seem to increase, while vigour to discharge them does
not increase; and the distance of my residence.... Another cause is a
difficulty of hearing, which unfits me for effective action as
Chairman of Council."

Of private history: There was the usual visit to Playford in January:
also a short visit in May: and a third visit at Christmas.--There was
a short run in June, of about a week, to Coniston, with one of his
daughters.--And there was a trip to Weymouth, &c., for about 10 days,
with one of his daughters, in the beginning of August--On his return
from the last-mentioned trip, Airy found a letter from the Secretary
of the Swedish Legation, enclosing the Warrant under the Royal Sign
Manual of His Majesty (Oscar), the King of Sweden and Norway, by which
he was nominated as a First Class Commander of the Order of the North
Star, and accompanying the Decorations of that Order.


"In this year Mr Glaisher resigned his appointment: I placed his
Department (Magnetical and Meteorological) under Mr Ellis.--A balance
of peculiar construction has been made by Mr Oertling, from my
instructions, and fixed near the public barometer at the Entrance
Gate. This instrument enables the public to test any ordinary pound
weight, shewing on a scale the number of grains by which it is too
heavy or too light.--Fresh counterpoises have been attached to the
Great Equatoreal to balance the additional weight of the new
Spectroscope, which was finally received from Mr Browning's hands on
May 2nd of the present year. The Spectroscope is specifically adapted
to sweeping round the Sun's limb, with a view to mapping out the
prominences, and is also available for work on Stars and Nebulae, the
dispersive power being very readily varied. An induction-coil, capable
of giving a six-inch spark, has been made for this instrument by Mr
Browning.--Some new classes of reductions of the meteorological
observations from 1848 to 1868 have been undertaken and completed in
the past year. The general state of this work is as follows: The
diurnal changes of the dry-bulb thermometer, as depending on the
month, on the temperature waves, on the barometric waves, on the
overcast and cloudless states of the sky, and on the direction of the
wind, have been computed and examined for the whole period; and the
exhibition of the results is ready for press. The similar reductions
for the wet-bulb thermometer are rapidly approaching completion.
--Regarding the preparations for the Transit of Venus Expeditions.
Originally five stations were selected and fully equipped
with equatoreals, transits, altazimuths, photoheliographs, and clocks;
but I have since thought it desirable to supplement these by two
branch stations in the Sandwich Islands and one in Kerguelen's Island;
and the additional instruments thus required have been borrowed from
various sources, so that there is now an abundant supply of
instrumental means.... There will thus be available for observation of
the Transit of Venus 23 telescopes, nine of which will be provided
with double-image-micrometers; and five photoheliographs; and for
determination of local time, and latitude and longitude, there will be
nine transits and six altazimuths.... All the observers have undergone
a course of training in photography; first, under a professional
photographer, Mr Reynolds, and subsequently under Capt. Abney, R.E.,
whose new dry-plate process is to be adopted at all the British
Stations.... A Janssen slide, capable of taking 50 photographs of
Venus and the neighbouring part of the Sun's limb at intervals of one
second, has been made by Mr Dallmeyer for each of the five
photoheliographs."--Attached to the Report to the Visitors is a copy
of the Instructions to Observers engaged in the Transit of Venus
Expeditions, prepared with great care and in remarkable detail.--"In
the past spring I published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal
Astronomical Society a statement of the fundamental points in a new
treatment of the Lunar Theory, by which, availing myself of all that
has been done in the best algebraical investigations of that theory, I
trust to be able by numerical operations only to give greater accuracy
to final results. Considerable progress has been made in the extensive
numerical developments, the work being done, at my private expense,
entirely by a junior computer; and I hope, at any rate, to put it in
such a state that there will be no liability to its entire loss. When
this was reported to the Board of Visitors, it was resolved on the
motion of Prof. Stokes, that this work, as a public expense, ought to
be borne by the Government; and this was forwarded to the
Admiralty. On June 24th I wrote to the Secretary of the Admiralty,
asking for _£100_ for the present year, which after the usual
enquiries and explanations was sanctioned on Aug. 29th."

Of private history: There were short visits to Playford in January,
June, and October, but only for a few days in each case.--In March
there was a run of two or three days to Newnham (on the Severn) to see
the Bore on the Severn, and to Malvern.--In July he went to Newcastle
to observe with Mr Newall's great telescope, but the weather was
unfavourable: he then went on to Barrow House near Keswick, and spent
a few days there, with excursions among the mountains.--On Aug. 13th
he went with his daughter Christabel to the Isle of Arran, and then by
Glasgow to the Trosachs, where he made several excursions to verify
the localities mentioned in the "Lady of the Lake."--While in Scotland
he heard of the death of his brother, the Rev. William Airy, and
travelled to Keysoe in Bedfordshire to attend the funeral; and
returned to Greenwich on Aug. 24th.


"In October of this year I wrote to the Admiralty that I had grounds
for asking for an increase of my salary: because the pension which had
been settled on my wife, and which I had practically recognized as
part of my salary, had been terminated by her death; so that my salary
now stood lower by _£200_ than that of the Director of Studies of the
Royal Naval College. The Admiralty reply favourably, and on Nov. 27th
the Treasury raise my salary to _£1_,200.--For the service of the
Clock Movement of the Great Equatoreal, a water-cistern has been
established in the highest part of the Ball-Turret, the necessity for
which arose from the following circumstance: The Water Clock was
supplied by a small pipe, about 80 feet in length, connected with the
3-inch Observatory main (which passes through the Park), at a distance
of about 250 feet from any other branch pipe. In spite of this
distance I have seen that, on stopping the water-tap in the
Battery-Basement under the North-East Turret, the pressure in the
gauge of the Water Clock has been instantly increased by more than 40
lbs. per square inch. The consequent derangement of the Water Clock in
its now incessant daily use became intolerable. Since the independent
supply was provided, its performance has been most satisfactory.--With
the Spectroscope the solar prominences have been mapped on 28 days
only; but the weather of the past winter was exceptionally
unfavourable for this class of observation. After mapping the
prominences, as seen on the C line, the other lines, especially F and
b, have been regularly examined, whenever practicable. Great care has
been taken in determining the position, angle, and heights of the
prominences in all cases. The spectrum of Coggia's Comet was examined
at every available opportunity last July, and compared directly with
that of carbon dioxide, the bands of the two spectra being sensibly
coincident. Fifty-four measures of the displacement of lines in the
spectra of 10 stars, as compared with the corresponding lines in the
spectra of terrestrial elements (chiefly hydrogen), have been made,
but some of these appear to be affected by a constant error depending
on faulty adjustment of the Spectroscope.--Photographs of the Sun have
been taken with the Kew Photoheliograph on 186 days; and of these 377
have been selected for preservation. The Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and
several stars (including the Pleiades and some double stars) have been
photographed with the Great Equatoreal, with fairly satisfactory
results, though further practice is required in this class of work.--I
would mention a supplemental mechanism which I have myself introduced
into some chronometers. I have long remarked that, in ordinary good
chronometers, the freedom from irregularities depending on mechanical
causes is most remarkable; but that, after all the efforts of the most
judicious makers, there is in nearly every case a perceptible defect
of thermal compensation. There is great difficulty in correcting the
residual fault, not only because an inconceivably small movement of
the weights on the balance-curve is required, but also because it
endangers the equilibrium of the balance. The mechanism adopted to
remedy the defect is described in a Paper in the Horological Journal
of July 1875 by Mr W. Ellis, and has received the approval of some
able chronometer-makers.--With respect to the Transit of Venus
Expeditions: The parties from Egypt and Rodriguez are returned. I am
in continual expectation of the arrival of the other parties. I
believe the eye-observations and the ordinary photographs to be quite
successful; I doubt the advantage of the Janssen; one of the
double-image-micrometers seems to have failed; and the
Zenith-telescope gives some trouble. At three stations at Rodriguez,
and three at Kerguelen, the observations appear to have been most
successful. At the Sandwich Islands, two of the stations appear to
have been perfectly successful (except that I fear that the Janssen
has failed), and a rich series of lunar observations for longitude is
obtained. At New Zealand, I grieve to say, the observations were
totally lost, entirely in consequence of bad weather. There has been
little annoyance from the dreaded 'black drop.' Greater inconvenience
and doubt have been caused by the unexpected luminous ring round
Venus.--With regard to the progress of my proposed New Lunar Theory:
Three computers are now steadily employed on the work. It will be
remembered that the detail and mass of this work are purely numerical;
every numerical coefficient being accompanied with a symbolical
correction whose value will sometimes depend on the time, but in every
case is ultimately to be obtained in a numerical form. Of these
coefficients, extracted (for convenience) from Delaunay's results,
there are 100 for parallax, 182 for longitude, 142 for latitude; the
arguments being preserved in the usual form."--After reviewing the
changes that had taken place at the Observatory during the past forty
years, the Report to the Board of Visitors concludes thus: "I much
desire to see the system of time-signals extended, by clocks or daily
signals, to various parts of our great cities and our dockyards, and
above all by hourly signals on the Start Point, which I believe would
be the greatest of all benefits to nautical chronometry. Should any
extension of our scientific work ever be contemplated, I would remark
that the Observatory is not the place for new physical investigations.
It is well adapted for following out any which, originating
with private investigators, have been reduced to laws susceptible
of verification by daily observation. The National Observatory
will, I trust, always remain on the site where it was first
planted, and which early acquired the name of 'Flamsteed Hill.'
There are some inconveniences in the position, arising principally
from the limited extent of the hill, but they are, in my opinion, very
far overbalanced by its advantages."--In a letter on the subject of
the Smith's Prizes Examination at Cambridge, which was always a matter
of the greatest interest to him, Airy renewed his objections to the
preponderance in the Papers of a class of Pure Mathematics, which he
considered was never likely under any circumstances to give the
slightest assistance to Physics. And, as before, these remarks called
forth a rejoinder from Prof. Cayley, who was responsible for many of
the questions of the class referred to.--In this year Airy completed
his "Notes on the Earlier Hebrew Scriptures," which were shortly
afterwards published as a book by Messrs Longmans, Green, & Co. In his
letter to the publishers introducing the subject, he says, "For many
years past I have at times put together a few sentences explanatory as
I conceive of the geographical and historical circumstances connected
with the principal events recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures. The view
which I take is free, but I trust not irreverent. They terminate with
a brief review of Colenso's great work. The collection now amounts to
a small book." From the references already given in previous years to
his Papers and correspondence on the geography of Exodus, his
correspondence with Colenso, &c. &c., it will be seen that he took a
great interest in the early history of the Israelites.--On August
10th, 1875, Airy celebrated the Bicentenary of the Royal Observatory
by a dinner in the Octagon Room, which was attended by the Presidents
of the Royal Society and the R. Astr. Society, and by a large number
of Scientific gentlemen interested in Astronomy.--In February he was
revising his Treatise on "Probabilities."

Of private history: up to Jan. 16th Airy was at Playford as
usual.--For about a week in April he was in the Isle of Man with his
daughter Christabel.--In June there was a short trip to Salisbury,
Blandford, and Wimborne.--On August 12th he started with his daughter
Annot for a holiday in Cumberland, but on the next day he was recalled
by a telegram with the intelligence that a change for the worse had
come over his wife's health. Lady Airy died on August 13th, 1875. For
the last five years of her life she had been very helpless from the
effects of a paralytic stroke--a very sad ending to a bright and happy
life--and had been continually nursed throughout this time by her two
unmarried daughters with the greatest self-denial and devotion. Her
husband had been unremitting in his care and attention. Nothing was
wanting that the most thoughtful kindness could supply. And in all his
trips and excursions his constant and kind letters shewed how anxious
he was that she should participate in all his interests and
amusements. From the nature of the case it could hardly be said that
her death was unexpected, and he received the shock with the manly
steadiness which belonged to him. Lady Airy was buried in Playford
churchyard.--From Sept. 22nd to Oct. 4 he made a short expedition to
Wales (Capel Curig, &c.).--On Dec. 15th he attended the Commemoration
at Trinity College, Cambridge.--On Dec. 22nd he went as usual to

In this year Airy received the high honour of the Freedom of the City
of London, in the following communication:

STONE, Mayor.--A Common Council holden in the Chamber of the Guildhall
of the City of London, on Thursday the 29th day of April 1875.

Resolved Unanimously

That the Freedom of this City in a Gold Box of the value of One
hundred guineas be presented to Sir George Biddell Airy, K.C.B.,
D.C.L., LL.D. &c., Astronomer Royal, as a recognition of his
indefatigable labours in Astronomy, and of his eminent services in the
advancement of practical science, whereby he has so materially
benefited the cause of Commerce and Civilization.


This Resolution was forwarded with a letter from Benjamin Scott, the
Chamberlain. Airy's reply was as follows:

                                    ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH, S.E.
                                                      _1875, May 1_.


I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of April 30, accompanied
with Copy of the Resolution of the Common Council of the City of
London passed at their Meeting of April 29, under signature of the
Town Clerk, That the Freedom of the City of London in a valuable Box
be presented to me, in recognition of works stated in the
Resolution. And I am requested by you to inform you whether it is my
intention to accept the compliment proposed by the Corporation.

In reply, I beg you to convey to the Right Honorable the Lord Mayor
and the Corporation that I accept with the greatest pride and pleasure
the honour which they propose to offer to me. The Freedom of our Great
City, conferred by the spontaneous act of its Municipal Governors, is
in my estimation the highest honour which it is possible to receive;
and its presentation at this time is peculiarly grateful to me.

        I have the honour to be,
            Your very obedient servant,
              G.B. AIRY.

_Benjamin Scott, Esq.,
  &c. &c. &c.
Chamberlain of the Corporation of the
  City of London._

As it was technically necessary that a Freeman of the City of London
should belong to one or other of the City Companies, the Worshipful
Company of Spectacle Makers through their clerk (with very great
appropriateness) enquired whether it would be agreeable that that
Company should have the privilege of conferring their Honorary Freedom
on him, and added: "In soliciting your acquiescence to the proposal I
am directed to call attention to the fact that this Guild is permitted
to claim all manufacturers of Mathematical and Astronomical
Instruments within the City of London, which is now pleaded as an
apology for the wish that one so distinguished as yourself in the use
of such Instruments should be enrolled as a Member of this Craft."  In
his reply, accepting the Freedom of the Company, Airy wrote thus: "I
shall much value the association with a body whose ostensible title
bears so close a relation to the official engagements which have long
occupied me. I have had extensive experience both in arranging and in
using optical and mathematical instruments, and feel that my own
pursuits are closely connected with the original employments of the
Company." The Freedom of the Company was duly presented, and the
occasion was celebrated by a banquet at the Albion Tavern on Tuesday,
July 6th.

The Freedom of the City of London was conferred at a Court of Common
Council held at the Guildhall on Thursday the 4th of November. In
presenting the gold box containing the Freedom, the Chamberlain, in an
eloquent speech, first referred to the fact that this was the first
occasion on which the Freedom had been conferred on a person whose
name was associated with the sciences other than those of war and
statecraft. He then referred to the solid character of his work, in
that, while others had turned their attention to the more attractive
fields of exploration, the discovery of new worlds or of novel
celestial phenomena, he had incessantly devoted himself to the less
interesting, less obtrusive, but more valuable walks of practical
astronomy. And he instanced as the special grounds of the honour
conferred, the compilation of nautical tables of extraordinary
accuracy, the improvement of chronometers, the correction of the
compasses of iron ships, the restoration of the standards of length
and weight, and the Transit of Venus Expeditions. In his reply Airy
stated that he regarded the honour just conferred upon him as the
greatest and proudest ever received by him. He referred to the fact
that the same honour had been previously conferred on the valued
friend of his youth, Thomas Clarkson, and said that the circumstance
of his succeeding such a man was to himself a great honour and
pleasure. He alluded to his having received a small exhibition from
one of the London Companies, when he was a poor undergraduate at
Cambridge, and acknowledged the great assistance that it had been to
him. With regard to his occupation, he said that he had followed it in
a great measure because of its practical use, and thought it fortunate
that from the first he was connected with an institution in which
utility was combined with science. The occasion of this presentation
was celebrated by a Banquet at the Mansion House on Saturday July 3rd,
1875, to Sir George Airy (Astronomer Royal) and the Representatives of
Learned Societies.

There is no doubt that Airy was extremely gratified by the honour that
he had received. It was to him the crowning honour of his life, and
coming last of all it threw all his other honours into the shade. To
his independent and liberal spirit there was something peculiarly
touching in the unsolicited approbation and act of so powerful and
disinterested a body as the Corporation of the City of London.

                             CHAPTER IX.



"At the door from the Front Court to the staircase of the Octagon Room
(the original entrance to the Observatory as erected by Sir
Christopher Wren), a small porch-shelter has been often desired. I
proposed to fix there a fan-roof of quadrantal form, covering the
upper flat stone of the external steps.--On a critical examination of
the micrometer-screws of the Transit Circle it was found that the
corrections, which range from -1°38" to +0°76", indicate considerable
wear in the screws; and it was found that as much as one-hundreth part
of an inch had been worn away from some of the threads. The old screws
were consequently discarded, and new ones were made by Mr Simms.--The
adjustment of the Spectroscope has occupied a great deal of
attention. There was astigmatism of the prisms; and false light
reflected from the base of the prisms, causing loss both of light and
of definition. The latter defect was corrected by altering the angles,
and then astigmatism was corrected by a cylindrical lens near the
slit. The definition in both planes was then found to be perfect.--The
number of small planets has now become so great, and the interest of
establishing the elements of all their orbits so small,--while at the
same time the light of all those lately discovered is very faint, and
the difficulty and doubt of observation greatly increased,--that I
have begun to think seriously of limiting future observations to a
small number of these objects.--All observations with the Spectroscope
have been completely reduced; the measures of lines in the spectra of
elements being converted into corresponding wave-lengths, and the
observations of displacement of lines in the spectra of stars being
reduced so as to exhibit the concluded motion in miles per second,
after applying a correction for the earth's motion. Sixteen measures
of the F line in the spectrum of the Moon as compared with hydrogen
give a displacement corresponding to a motion of less than two miles a
second, which seems to shew that the method of comparison now adopted
is free from systematic error; and this is supported by the manner in
which motions of approach and recession are distributed among the
stars examined on each night of observation. The results recently
obtained appear to be on the whole as consistent as can be expected in
such delicate observations, and they support in a remarkable manner
the conclusions of Dr Huggins, with regard to the motions of those
stars which he examined.--Photographs of the sun have been taken with
the photoheliograph on 182 days. On one of the photographs, which was
accidentally exposed while the drop slit was being drawn up, there
appears to be a faint image of a cloud-like prominence close to the
sun's limb, though the exposure probably only amounted to a fraction
of a second. A prominence of unusual brilliancy was seen with the
Spectroscope about the same time and in the same position with
reference to the Sun's limb. All groups of Sun-spots and faculae have
been numbered, and the dates of their first and last appearances
entered up to the present time. Areas of spots have been measured, and
the measures have been reduced to millionths of the Sun's visible
hemisphere.--The examination of the readings of the deep-sunk
thermometers from 1846 to 1873 has exhibited some laws which had been
sufficiently established before this time, and some which were less
known. Among the former were the successive retardations of seasons
in successive descents, amounting to about four months at the depth of
25 feet; and the successive diminutions of the annual range of
temperature. Among the latter is the character of the changes from
year to year, which the great length of this series of observations
brings well to light. It is found that from year to year the mean
temperature of the surface for the year, varying by three or four
degrees of Fahrenheit, follows in its changes the mean temperature of
the atmosphere for the year, and that the changes of annual
temperature are propagated downwards, retarded in phase and
diminishing in amount of change, in the same manner (though probably
not following the same law) as the season changes. The inference from
this is, that changes of temperature come entirely from the exterior
and in no discoverable degree from the interior; an inference which
may be important in regard both to solar action and to geology.
--Referring to the Transit of Venus observations: In the
astronomical part of the reductions, there has been great labour and
difficulty in the determination of local sidereal times; some books of
observations required extensive transcription; some instrumental
errors are still uncertain; the latter determinations have perplexed
us so much that we are inclined to believe that, in spite of the great
facilities of reduction given by the transit instrument, it would be
better to rely on the altazimuth for time-determinations.... In the
photographic part, I have confined my attention entirely to measures
of the distance between the centres of the Sun and Planet, a
troublesome and complex operation.--Referring to the progress of the
Numerical Lunar Theory: With a repetition of grant from the Treasury,
I have usually maintained four junior computers on this work. The
progress, though considerable, has not been so great as I had hoped,
by reason of the excessive personal pressure upon me during the whole
year.--I wrote a letter of congratulation to Le Verrier on the
completion of his great work of Planetary Tables.--On May 13th the
Queen was at South Kensington, and I attended to explain the
astronomical instruments, and shewed Her Majesty one of the Transit of
Venus photographs."

Of private history: He returned from his Playford visit on the 18th of
January.--In April there was a two-day trip to Colchester.--From June
13th to July 12th he was travelling in the North of Scotland and the
Orkneys with his daughters, staying for a short time with Mr Webster,
M.P., at Aberdeen, and with Mr Newall at Newcastle.--In September
there was a week's run to Birkenhead and Keswick.--In November a
week's run to Playford.--From the 13th to 15th of December he was at
Cambridge, and on the 28th he went to Playford for the usual winter
stay there.


"In April of this year I was much engaged on the subject of Mr Gill's
expedition to Ascension to observe for the determination of the
parallax of Mars at the approaching opposition of that planet.--A
large Direct-vision Spectroscope has been quite recently made by Mr
Hilger under Mr Christie's direction on a new plan, in which either
great dispersion or great purity of spectrum is obtained by the use of
'Half-prisms,' according as the incident pencil falls first on the
perpendicular or on the oblique face. In this Spectroscope either one
or two half prisms can be used at pleasure, according to the
dispersion required, and there is facility for increasing the train to
three or four half-prisms, though the dispersion with two only is
nearly double of that given by the large ten-prism Spectroscope. The
definition in this form of Spectroscope appears to be very fine.--At
the end of May 1876, spectroscopic determinations of the Sun's
rotation were made by observations of the relative displacement of the
Fraunhofer lines at the east and west limbs respectively. The results
are in close agreement with the value of the rotation found from
observations of Sun-spots. A similar determination has also been made
in the case of Jupiter, with equally satisfactory results.--An
Electrometer on Sir William Thomson's plan, for continuous
photographic registration of atmospheric electricity has been received
from Mr White of Glasgow. It was mounted in December.--The computation
of the photographic records of the barometer from 1854 to 1873 has so
far advanced that we can assert positively that there is no trace of
lunar tide in the atmosphere; but that there is a strongly marked
semi-diurnal solar tide, accompanied with a smaller diurnal tide. We
are at present engaged in comparing the barometric measures with the
directions of the wind.--Regarding the distribution of the printed
observations: There is no extensive wish for separate magnetic
observations, but general magnetic results are in great demand,
especially for mining operations, and to meet this a map of magnetic
declination is furnished in the newspaper called the 'Colliery
Guardian.'--As regards the operations for the Transit of Venus: The
computing staff has by degrees been reduced to two junior computers
within the Observatory; and one or two computers external to the
Observatory, who are employed on large groups of systematic
calculations. The principal part of the calculations remaining at the
date of the last Report was that applying to the determination of the
geographical longitudes of fundamental stations. At the moment of my
writing, the last of these (the longitude of Observatory Bay,
Kerguelen) is not absolutely finished:... The method of determining
the geographical longitude of the principal station in each group by
vertical transits of the Moon has been found very successful at
Honolulu and Rodriguez. For stations in high south latitude,
horizontal transits are preferable.--As regards the Numerical Lunar
Theory: With the view of preserving, against the ordinary chances of
destruction or abandonment, a work which is already one of
considerable magnitude, I have prepared and have printed as Appendix
to the Greenwich Observations (with additional copies as for a
separate work) the ordinary Equations of Lunar Disturbance, the novel
theory of Symbolical Variations, and the Numerical Developments of the
quantities on the first side of the Equations.--At various times from
February to May I was engaged on the reduction of Malta Tides, and on
a Paper concerning the same.--In July I was awarded the Albert Medal
for my Compass corrections, and received the same from the Prince of
Wales.--In February, Campbell's instrument for the registration of
sunshine was introduced: it was mounted in July."

Of private history: "I was at Playford until Jan. 19th, in close
correspondence as usual with Mr Christie at the Observatory, and
attending to my Numerical Lunar Theory.--From Mar. 29th to Apr. 2nd I
went on a short trip to Hereford, Worcester, &c.--From June 8th to
20th I was at Playford.--From Aug. 13th to Sept. 8th Airy was on an
expedition in Ireland, chiefly in the North and West, with his
daughters. When at Dublin he visited Grubb's instrument factory. On
the return journey he stayed for some time in the Lake District of
Cumberland, and took soundings in the neighbourhood of the place of
the 'floating island' in Derwentwater."

Airy took the greatest interest in antiquarian matters, whether
military or ecclesiastical, and his feelings on such matters is well
illustrated by the following letter:

                                    ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH, S.E.
                                                _1877, February 27_.


I venture to ask if you can assist me in the following matter.

In the Parish Church of Playford, near Ipswich, Suffolk, was a
splendid brass tombstone to Sir Thomas Felbrigg. By an act of folly
and barbarism, almost unequalled in the history of the world, the
Incumbent and Curate nearly destroyed the brass inscription
surrounding the image of the Knight.

This tombstone is figured in Gough's Sepulchral Antiquities, which, I
presume, is to be found in the British Museum.

And I take the liberty to ask if you would kindly look at the
engraving, and give me any suggestion as to the way in which some
copies of it could be made, in a fairly durable form. I am connected
with the parish of Playford, and am anxious to preserve for it this
memorial of a family of high rank formerly resident there.

        I am, dear Sir,
          Very faithfully yours,
            G.B. AIRY.

_T. Winter Jones, Esq._

To this request Mr Winter Jones immediately acceded, and the engraving
was duly photographed, and copies were circulated with a historical
notice of Sir George (not Sir Thomas) Felbrigg and a history of the
Monument. Sir George Felbrigg was Esquire-at-Arms to Edward III., and
Lord of the Manor of Playford: he died in 1400, and was buried in the
North wall of Playford Church.


The Report to the Board of Visitors has this paragraph: "I continue to
remark the approaching necessity for Library extension. Without having
absolutely decided on a site, I may suggest that I should wish to
erect a brick building, about 50 feet by 20, consisting of two very
low stories (or rather of one story with a gallery running round its
walls), so low that books can be moved by hand without necessity for a
ladder.--In the month of December, 1877, the azimuthal error of the
Transit Circle had increased to 10". A skilful workman, instructed by
Mr Simms, easily reduced the error to about 2".5 (which would leave
its mean error nearly 0), the western Y being moved to the north so
far as to reduce the reading of the transit micrometer, when pointed
to the south, from 35r.500 to 35r.000. The level error was not
sensibly affected.--The Sidereal Standard Clock preserves a rate
approaching to perfection, so long as it is left without disturbance
of the galvanic-contact springs (touched by its pendulum), which
transmit signals at every second of time to sympathetic clocks and the
chronograph. A readjustment of these springs usually disturbs the
rate.--To facilitate the observations of stars, a new working
catalogue has been prepared, in which are included all stars down to
the third magnitude, stars down to the fifth magnitude which have not
been observed in the last two catalogues, and a list of 258 stars of
about the sixth magnitude of which the places are required for the
United States Coast Survey. The whole number of stars in our new
working list is about 2500. It may be here mentioned that an extensive
series of observations was made, during the autumn, of about 70 stars,
at the request of Mr Gill, for comparison with Mars, Ariadne, and
Melpomene.--On Apr. 10th last, a very heavy fall of rain took
place. Between Apr. 10d. 5h. and Apr. 11d. 2h., 2.824 inch. was
recorded, and 75 per cent. of this, or 2.12 inch., fell in the eight
hours between 13-1/2h. and 21-1/2h.; and on May 7, 1 inch of rain fell
in 50 minutes, of which 1/2 inch fell in 15 minutes.--The
supplementary compensation continues to be applied with success to
Government chronometers which offer facilities for its introduction,
and a marked improvement in the performance of chronometers returned
after repair by the makers appears to have resulted from the increased
attention now given to the compensation. Of the 29 competitive
chronometers, 25 have the supplementary compensation."--With regard to
the reduction of the observations of the Transit of Venus: After
reference to the difficulties arising from the errors and the
interpretation of the language used by some of the observers, the
Report continues thus: "Finally a Report was made to the Government on
July 5th, giving as the mean result for Mean Solar Parallax 8".76; the
results from ingress and from egress, however, differing to the extent
of 0".11.... After further examination and consideration, the result
for parallax has been increased to 8".82 or 8".83. The results from
photography have disappointed me much. The failure has arisen, perhaps
sometimes from irregularity of limb, or from atmospheric distortion,
but more frequently from faintness and from want of clear
definition. Many photographs, which to the eye appeared good, lost all
strength and sharpness when placed under the measuring microscope. A
final result 8".17 was obtained from Mr Burton's measures, and 8".08
from Capt. Tupman's.--With regard to the Numerical Lunar Theory: A
cursory collection of the terms relating to the Areas (in the
Ecliptic) led me to suppose that there might be some error in the
computations of the Annual Equation and related terms. A most jealous
re-examination has however detected nothing, and has confirmed my
belief in the general accuracy of the numerical computations. I dare
not yet venture to assume an error in Delaunay's theory; but I
remember that the Annual Equation gave great trouble to the late Sir
John Lubbock, and that he more than once changed his conclusions as to
its true value.--In February I was engaged on the drawings and
preparations for my intended Lecture at Cockermouth on the probable
condition of the interior of the Earth. The Lecture was delivered in
April.--At different times in the autumn I was engaged on diagrams to
illustrate the passage of rays through eye-pieces and double-image
micrometers.--The miscellaneous scientific correspondence, which was
always going on, was in this year unusually varied and heavy."

Of private history: He was at Playford till Jan. 26th.--In April he
went to Cockermouth to deliver his Lecture above-mentioned: the
journey was by Birmingham, where he stayed for two days (probably with
his son Osmund, who resided there), to Tarn Bank (the residence of
Isaac Fletcher, M.P.): the lecture was delivered on the 22nd: he made
excursions to Thirlmere and Barrow, and to Edward I.'s Monument, and
returned to Greenwich on the 27th.--From June 17th to 28th he was at
Playford.--From Aug. 19th to Sept. 17th he was travelling in Scotland,
visiting the Tay Bridge, the Loch Katrine Waterworks, &c., and spent
the last fortnight of his trip at Portinscale, near Keswick. On
Dec. 23rd he went to Playford.


"The manuscripts of every kind, which are accumulated in the ordinary
transactions of the Observatory, are preserved with the same care and
arranged on the same system as heretofore. The total number of bound
volumes exceeds 4000. Besides these there is the great mass of Transit
of Venus reductions and manuscripts, which when bound may be expected
to form about 200 volumes.--With regard to the numerous group of Minor
Planets, the Berlin authorities have most kindly given attention to my
representation, and we have now a most admirable and comprehensive
Ephemeris. But the extreme faintness of the majority of these bodies
places them practically beyond the reach of our meridian instrument,
and the difficulty of observation is in many cases further increased
by the large errors of the predicted places.--After a fine autumn, the
weather in the past winter and spring has been remarkably bad. More
than an entire lunation was lost with the Transit Circle, no
observation of the Moon on the meridian having been possible between
January 8 and March 1, a period of more than seven weeks. Neither Sun
nor stars were visible for eleven days, during which period the
clock-times were carried on entirely by the preceding rate of the
clock. The accumulated error at the end of this time did not exceed
0s'3.--Some difficulty was at first experienced with the Thomson
Electrometer, which was traced to want of insulation. This has been
mastered by the use of glass supporters, which carry some sulphuric
acid. The instrument is now in excellent order, and the photographic
registers have been perfectly satisfactory since 1879, February, when
the new insulators were applied.--From the annual curves of diurnal
inequality, deduced from the Magnetic Reductions, most important
inferences may be drawn, as to the connection between magnetic
phenomena and sun-spots. These annual curves shew a well-marked
change in close correspondence with the number of sun-spots. About the
epoch of maximum of sun-spots they are large and nearly circular,
having the same character as the curves for the summer months; whilst
about the time of sun-spot minimum they are small and
lemniscate-shaped, with a striking resemblance to the curves for the
winter months. The connection between changes of terrestrial magnetism
and sun-spots is shewn in a still more striking manner by a comparison
which Mr Ellis has made between the monthly means of the diurnal range
of declination and horizontal force, and Dr R. Wolf's 'relative
numbers' for frequency of sun-spots.--The records of sunshine with
Campbell's Registering Sun-dial are preserved in a form easily
accessible for reference, and the results are communicated weekly to
the Agricultural Gazette.--Prof. Oppolzer's results for the
determination of the longitudes of Vienna and Berlin, made in 1877,
have now been made public. They shew a remarkable agreement of the
Chronometric determination formerly made with the Telegraphic. It may
be of interest to recall the fact that a similar agreement was found
between the Chronometric and Telegraphic determinations of the
longitude of Valentia.--For observing the Transit of Venus of 1882,
the general impression appears to be that it will be best to confine
our observations to simple telescopic observations or micrometer
observations at Ingress and Egress, if possible at places whose
longitudes are known. For the first phenomenon (accelerated ingress)
the choice of stations is not good; but for the other phenomena
(retarded ingress, accelerated egress, retarded egress) there appears
to be no difficulty.--With regard to the Numerical Lunar Theory:
Respecting the discordance of Annual Equation, I suspend my
judgment. I have now discussed the theory completely; and in going
into details of secular changes, I am at this time engaged on that
which is the foundation of all, namely, the change of excentricity of
the Solar Orbit, and its result in producing Lunar Acceleration. An
important error in the theoretical formulae for Variations of Radius
Vector, Longitude, and Latitude, was discovered; some calculations
depending on them are cancelled."--Referring to the magnitude of the
printed volume of "Greenwich Observations," and the practicability of
reducing the extent of it, the Report states thus: "The tendency of
external scientific movement is to give great attention to the
phenomena of the Solar disc (in which this Observatory ought
undoubtedly to bear its part). And I personally am most unwilling to
recede from the existing course of magnetical and meteorological
observations....The general tendency of these considerations is to
increase the annual expenses of the Observatory. And so it has been,
almost continuously, for the last 42 years. The annual ordinary
expenses are now between 2-1/2 and 3 times as great as in my first
years at the Royal Observatory.--Mr Gill was appointed to the Cape
Observatory, and I wrote out instructions for him in March: there was
subsequently much correspondence respecting the equipment and repairs
of the Cape Observatory."--In the Monthly Notices of the Royal
Astronomical Society for January an article had appeared headed "Notes
on the late Admiral Smyth's Cycle of Celestial Objects, Vol. II." by
Mr Herbert Sadler. In this article Mr Sadler had criticized the work
of Admiral Smyth in a manner which Airy regarded as imputing bad faith
to Admiral Smyth. He at once took up the defence of his old friend
very warmly, and proposed certain Drafts of Resolutions to the Council
of the Society. These Resolutions were moved, but were amended or
negatived, and Airy immediately resigned his office of
Vice-President. There was considerable negociation on the subject, and
discussion with Lord Lindsay, and on May 9th Airy's Resolutions were
accepted by the Council.--In October Airy inspected the "Faraday"
telegraph ship, then lying in the river near Messrs Siemens' works,
and broke his finger by a fall on board the vessel.--In this year Airy
wrote and circulated a letter to the Members of the Senate of the
University of Cambridge, on the subject of the Papers set in the
Smith's Prizes Examination. In this letter, as on former occasions, he
objected much to the large number of questions in "purely idle
algebra, arbitrary combinations of symbols, applicable to no further
purpose." And in particular he singled out for comment the following
question, which was one of those set, "Using the term circle as
extending to the case where the radius is a pure imaginary, it is
required to construct the common chord of two given circles." This
drew forth as usual a rejoinder from Prof. Cayley, who wrote
enclosing a solution of his problem, but not at all to Airy's
satisfaction, who replied as follows: "I am not so deeply plunged in
the mists of impossibles as to appreciate fully your explanation in
this instance, or to think that it is a good criterion for University

Of private history: On Jan. 21st he returned from Playford.--On March
22nd he attended the funeral of his sister at Little Welnetham near
Bury St Edmunds: Miss Elizabeth Airy had lived with him at the
Observatory from shortly after his appointment.--For about a week at
the end of April he was visiting Matlock, Edensor, and Buxton.--From
June 14th to July 18th he was staying at Portinscale near Keswick.--He
was at Playford for two or three days in October, and went there again
on Dec. 23rd for his usual winter holiday.

The following letter, relating to the life of Thomas Clarkson, was
written to Dr Merivale, Dean of Ely, after reading the account in the
"Times" of October 10th of the unveiling of a statue of Clarkson near

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                 LONDON, S.E.
                                                 _1879, October 11_.


Pardon my intrusion on you, in reference to a transaction which has
greatly interested me--the honour paid by you to the memory of Thomas
Clarkson. With very great pleasure I have heard of this step: and I
have also been much satisfied with the remarks on it in the "Times." I
well remember, in Clarkson's "History of the Abolition," which I read
some 60 years ago, the account of the circumstance, now commemorated
by you, which determined the action of his whole subsequent life.

It is not improbable that, among those who still remember Clarkson, my
acquaintance with him began at the earliest time of all. I knew him,
intimately, from the beginning of 1815 to his death. The family which
he represented must have occupied a very good position in society. I
have heard that he sold two good estates to defray the expenses which
he incurred in his personal labours for Abolition: and his brother was
Governor of Sierra Leone (I know not at what time appointed). Thomas
Clarkson was at St John's College; and, as I gather from circumstances
which I have heard him mention, must have been a rather gay man. He
kept a horse, and at one time kept two. He took Orders in the Church;
and on one occasion, in the course of his Abolition struggle, he
preached in a church. But he afterwards resolutely laid aside all
pretensions to the title of Minister of the Church, and never would
accept any title except as layman. He was, however, a very earnest
reader of theology during my acquaintance with him, and appeared to be
well acquainted with the Early Fathers.

The precise words in which was announced the subject for Prize Essay
in the University were "Anne liceat invitos in servitutem trahere."

After the first great victory on the slave trade question, he
established himself in a house on the bank of Ullswater. I have not
identified the place: from a view which he once shewed me I supposed
it to be near the bottom of the lake: but from an account of the storm
of wind which he encountered when walking with a lady over a pass, it
seemed to be in or near Patterdale. When the remains of a mountaineer,
who perished in Helvellyn (as described in Scott's well-known poem),
were discovered by a shepherd, it was to Mr Clarkson that the
intelligence was first brought.

He then lived at Bury St Edmunds. Mrs Clarkson was a lady of Bury. But
I cannot assign conjecturally any dates to his removals or his
marriage. His only son took his B.A. degree, I think, about 1817.

I think it was in 1814 that he began his occupation of Playford
Hall--a moated mansion near Ipswich, formerly of great importance
--where he lived as Gentleman Farmer, managing a farm leased
from the Marquis of Bristol, and occupying a good position among the
gentry of the county. A relative of mine, with whom I was most
intimately acquainted, lived in the same parish (where in defiance of
school rules I spent nearly half my time, to my great advantage as I
believe, and where I still retain a cottage for occasional residence),
and I enjoyed much of Mr Clarkson's notice. It was by his strong
advice that I was sent to Cambridge, and that Trinity College was
selected: he rode with me to Rev. Mr Rogers of Sproughton for
introductory examination; he introduced me to Rev. C. Musgrave
(subsequently of Halifax), accidentally doing duty at Grundisburgh,
who then introduced me to Sedgwick, Peacock, and T. Musgrave
(subsequently of York). In 1825, when I spent the summer at Keswick,
he introduced me to Southey and Wordsworth.

Mr Clarkson lived about thirty years at Playford Hall, and died there,
and lies interred with his wife, son, and grandson, in Playford
churchyard. I joined several friends in erecting a granite obelisk to
his memory in the same churchyard. His family is extinct: but a
daughter of his brother is living, first married to T. Clarkson's son,
and now Mrs Dickinson, of the Rectory, Wolferton.

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Very faithfully yours,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Very Reverend,
  The Dean of Ely._


"The Admiralty, on final consideration of the estimates, decided not
to proceed with the erection of a new Library near the Magnetic
Observatory in the present year. In the mean time the space has been
cleared for the erection of a building 50 by 20 feet.--I have removed
the Electrometer Mast (a source of some expense and some danger), the
perfect success of Sir William Thomson's Electrometer rendering all
further apparatus for the same purpose unnecessary.--Many years ago a
double-image micrometer, in which the images were formed by the double
refraction of a sphere of quartz, was prepared by Mr Dollond for
Capt. Smyth, R.N. Adopting the same principle on a larger scale, I
have had constructed by Mr Hilger a micrometer with double refraction
of a sphere of Iceland spar. Marks have been prepared for examination
of the scale, but I have not yet had opportunity of trying it.--The
spectroscopic determination of Star-motions has been steadily
pursued. The stars are taken from a working list of 150 stars, which
may eventually be extended to include all stars down to the fourth
magnitude, and it is expected that in the course of time the motions
of about 300 stars may be spectroscopically determined.--A new
pressure-plate with springs has been applied by Mr Browning to Osler's
Anemometer, and it is proposed to make such modification as will give
a scale extending to 50 lbs. pressure on the square foot. Other parts
of the instrument have also been renewed.--As regards the reduction of
the magnetical results since 1863: In the study of the forms of the
individual curves; their relations to the hour, the month, the year;
their connection with solar or meteorological facts; the conjectural
physico-mechanical causes by which they are produced; there is much to
occupy the mind. I regret that, though in contemplation of these
curves I have remarked some singular (but imperfect) laws, I have not
been able to pursue them.--The mean temperature of the year 1879 was
46.1°, being 3.3° below the average of the preceding 38 years. The
highest temperature was 80.6° on July 30, and the lowest 13.7° on
Dec. 7. The mean temperature was below the average in every month of
the year; the months of greatest deviation being January and December,
respectively 6.8° and 7.6° below the average; the months of April,
May, July, and November were each between 4° and 5° below the average.
The number of hours of bright sunshine, recorded with Campbell's
Sunshine Instrument, during 1879, was only 983.--In the summer of 1879
Commander Green, U.S.N., came over to this country for the purpose of
determining telegraphically the longitude of Lisbon, as part of a
chain of longitudes extending from South America to Greenwich. A
successful interchange of signals was made with Commander Green
between Greenwich and Porthcurno on four nights, 1879, June 25 to
29. The results communicated by Commander Green shew that the
longitude of Lisbon Observatory, as adopted in the Nautical Almanac,
requires the large correction of +8.54".--With regard to the coming
Transit of Venus in 1882: From the facility with which the
requirements for geographical position are satisfied, and from the
rapid and accurate communication of time now given by electric
telegraph, the observation of this Transit will be comparatively easy
and inexpensive. I have attached greater importance than I did
formerly to the elevation of the Sun.... I remark that it is highly
desirable that steps be taken now for determining by telegraph the
longitude of some point of Australia. I have stated as the general
opinion that it will be useless to repeat photographic observations.
--In April Mr Barlow called, in reference to the Enquiry on
the Tay Bridge Disaster. (The Bridge had been blown down on
Dec. 28th, 1879.) I prepared a memorandum on the subject for the Tay
Bridge Commission, and gave evidence in a Committee Room of the House
of Lords on Apr. 29th." (Much of the Astronomer Royal's evidence on
this occasion had reference to the opinions which he had expressed
concerning the wind-pressure which might be expected on the projected
Forth Bridge, in 1873.)--In May Airy was consulted by the
Postmaster-General in the matter of a dispute which had arisen between
the Post Office and the Telephone Companies, which latter were alleged
to have infringed the monopoly of the Post Office in commercial
telegraphs: Airy made a declaration on the subject.--In July Mr
Bakhuyzen came to England to determine the longitude of Leyden, on
which he was engaged till Sept. 9th, and carried on his observations
at the Observatory.--In July Airy was much engaged in perusing the
records of Mr Gill's work at the Cape of Good Hope.

Of private history: On Jan. 24th he returned from Playford.--From June
14th to July 4th he was again at Playford.--From September 21st to
October 20th he was staying at Portinscale near Keswick.--On Dec. 23rd
he went again to Playford for his winter holiday.

Respecting the agitation at Cambridge for granting University degrees
to women, the following extract from a letter addressed to a young
lady who had forwarded a Memorial on the subject for his
consideration, and dated Nov. 10th, 1880, contains Airy's views on
this matter.

"I have not signed the Memorial which you sent for my consideration:
and I will endeavour to tell you why. I entirely approve of education
of young women to a higher pitch than they do commonly reach. I think
that they can successfully advance so far as to be able clearly to
understand--with gratification to themselves and with advantage to
those whose education they will superintend--much of the results of
the highest class of science which have been obtained by men whose
lives are in great measure devoted to it. But I do not think that
their nature or their employments will permit of their mastering the
_severe_ steps of beginning (and indeed all through) and the
_complicated_ steps at the end. And I think it well that this their
success should be well known--as it is sure to be--among their
relatives, their friends, their visitors, and all in whom they are
likely to take interest. Their connection with such a place as Girton
College is I think sufficient to lead to this. But I desire above all
that all this be done in entire subservience to what I regard as
_infinitely_ more valuable than any amount of knowledge, namely the
delicacy of woman's character. And here, I think, our views totally
separate. I do not imagine that the University Degree would really
imply, as regards education, anything more than is known to all
persons (socially concerned in the happiness of the young woman) from
the less public testimonial of the able men who have the means of
knowing their merits. And thus it appears to me that the admission to
University Degree would simply mean a more extended publication of
their names. I dread this."


"The new line of underground telegraph wires has been completed by the
officers of the General Post Office. The new route is down Croom's
Hill in Greenwich, and the result of this change, at least as regards
the earth-current wires, and probably as regards the other wires, has
not been satisfactory. It was soon found that the indications of the
earth-current wires were disturbed by a continual series of petty
fluctuations which almost completely masked the proper features of
earth currents.... If this fault cannot be removed, I should propose
to return to our original system of independent wires (formerly to
Croydon and Dartford).--The new Azimuth-mark (for the Altazimuth),
upon the parapet of the Naval College, is found to be perfectly
satisfactory as regards both steadiness and visibility. The
observations of a low star for zero of azimuth have been omitted since
the beginning of 1881; the mark, in combination with a high star,
appearing to give all that is necessary for this purpose.--All the
instruments have suffered from the congealing of the oil during the
severe weather of the past winter, and very thorough cleaning of all
the moving parts has been necessary.--The Solar Eclipse of 1880,
Dec. 31, was well observed. The first contact was observed by four
observers and the last contact by two. The computations for the
observations have been exceptionally heavy, from the circumstance that
the Sun was very low (86° 14' Z.D. at the last observation) and that
it has therefore been necessary to compute the refraction with great
accuracy, involving the calculation of the zenith distance for every
observation. And besides this, eighty-six separate computations of the
tabular R.A. and N.P.D. of cusps have been required.--Amongst other
interesting spectroscopic observations of the Sun, a remarkable
spectrum of a sun-spot shewing 17 strong black lines or bands, each as
broad as b_1, in the solar spectrum, was observed on 1880, Nov. 27 and
29. These bands to which there is nothing corresponding in the Solar
Spectrum (except some very faint lines) have also been subsequently
remarked in the spectrum of several spots.--The Police Ship 'Royalist'
(which was injured by a collision in 1879 and had been laid up in
dock) has not been again moored in the river, and the series of
observations of the temperature of the Thames is thus terminated.
--Part of the month of January 1881 was, as regards cold,
especially severe. The mean temperature of the period January 12 to
26 (15 days) was only 24.2°, or 14.7° below the average; the
temperature fell below 20° on 10 days, and rose above the freezing
point only on 3 days. The highest temperature in this period was
35.3°, the lowest 12.7°. On January 17th (while staying at Playford)
my son Hubert and I noticed an almost imperceptible movement in the
upper clouds from the South-East. On that night began the terrible
easterly gale, accompanied with much snow, which lasted to the night
of the 18th. The limiting pressure of 50 lbs. on the square foot of
Osler's Anemometer was twice exceeded during this storm.--With respect
to the Diurnal Inequalities of Magnetic Horizontal Force: Assuming it
to be certain that they originate from the Sun's power, not
immediately, but mediately through his action on the Earth, it appears
to me (as I suggested long ago) that they are the effects of the
attraction of the red end or north end of the needle by the heated
portions of our globe, especially by the heated sea, whose effect
appears to predominate greatly over that of the land. I do not say
that everything is thus made perfectly clear, but I think that the
leading phenomena may be thus explained. And this is almost
necessarily the way of beginning a science.--In the first few years
after the strict and systematic examination of competitive
chronometers, beginning with 1856, the accuracy of chronometers was
greatly increased. For many years past it has been nearly
stationary. I interpret this as shewing that the effects of bad
workmanship are almost eliminated, and that future improvement must be
sought in change of some points of construction.--Referring to the
Transit of Venus in 1874, the printing of all sections of the
Observations, with specimens of the printed forms employed, and
remarks on the photographic operations, is very nearly completed. An
Introduction is begun in manuscript. I am in correspondence with the
Commission which is entrusted with the arrangements for observation of
the Transit of 1882.--The Numerical Lunar Theory has been much
interrupted by the pressure of the Transit of Venus work and other
business."--In his Report to the Board of Visitors (his 46th and
last), Airy remarks that it would be a fitting opportunity for the
expression of his views on the general objects of the Observatory, and
on the duties which they impose on all who are actively concerned in
its conduct. And this he proceeds to do in very considerable
detail.--On May 5th he wrote to Lord Northbrook (First Lord of the
Admiralty) and to Mr Gladstone to resign his post of Astronomer
Royal. From time to time he was engaged on the subject of a house for
his future residence, and finally took a lease of the White House at
the top of Croom's Hill, just outside one of the gates of Greenwich
Park. On the 15th of August he formally resigned his office to Mr
W.H.M. Christie, who had been appointed to succeed him as Astronomer
Royal, and removed to the White House on the next day, August 16th.

His holiday movements in the portion of the year up to August 16th
consisted in his winter visit to Playford, from which he returned on
Jan. 24th: and a subsequent visit to Playford from June 7th to 18th.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following correspondence relating to Airy's retirement from office
testifies in a remarkable manner to the estimation in which his
services were held, and to the good feeling which subsisted between
him and his official superiors.

                                        10, DOWNING STREET, WHITEHALL,
                                                     _June 6, 1881_.


I cannot receive the announcement of your resignation, which you have
just conveyed to me, without expressing my strong sense of the
distinction you have conferred upon the office of Astronomer Royal,
and of the difficulty of supplying your place with a person of equal
eminence. Let me add the expression of my best wishes for the full
enjoyment of your retirement from responsibility.

        I remain, dear Sir George Airy,
          Faithfully yours,
            W.E. GLADSTONE.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                  _June 10th, 1881_.


I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to
acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 4th instant, intimating
your desire to retire on the 15th August next from the office of
Astronomer Royal.

2. In reply I am to acquaint you that your wishes in this matter have
been communicated to the Prime Minister, and that the further
necessary official intimation will in due course be made to the

3. At the same time I am instructed by their Lordships to convey to
you the expression of their high appreciation of the remarkably able
and gifted manner, combined with unwearied diligence and devotion to
the Public Service (especially as regards the Department of the State
over which they preside), in which you have performed the duties of
Astronomer Royal throughout the long period of forty-five years.

4. I am further to add that their Lordships cannot allow the present
opportunity to pass without giving expression to their sense of the
loss which the Public Service must sustain by your retirement, and to
the hope that you may long enjoy the rest to which you are so justly

        I am, Sir,
          Your obedient Servant,
            ROBERT HALL.

_Sir G. B. Airy, K.C.B.
  &c., &c.,
    Royal Observatory, Greenwich._

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                  _28th June, 1881_.


My Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have much pleasure in
transmitting copy of a resolution passed by the Board of Visitors of
the Royal Observatory on the 4th June last, bearing testimony to the
valuable services you have rendered to Astronomy, to Navigation, and
the allied Sciences throughout the long period during which you have
presided over the Royal Observatory.

        I am, Sir,
          Your obedient Servant,
            ROBERT HALL.

_Sir George Biddell Airy, K.C.B.
  &c., &c., &c.,
    Royal Observatory, Greenwich._

"The Astronomer Royal (Sir George B. Airy) having announced his
intention of shortly retiring from his position at the Royal
Observatory, the following resolution proposed by Professor
J. C. Adams, and seconded by Professor G. G. Stokes, was then
unanimously adopted and ordered to be recorded in the Minutes of the

"The Board having heard from the Astronomer Royal that he proposes to
terminate his connection with the Observatory on the 15th of August
next, desire to record in the most emphatic manner their sense of the
eminent services which he has rendered to Astronomy, to Navigation and
the allied Sciences, throughout the long period of 45 years during
which he has presided over the Royal Observatory.

"They consider that during that time he has not only maintained but
has greatly extended the ancient reputation of the Institution, and
they believe that the Astronomical and other work which has been
carried on in it under his direction will form an enduring monument of
his Scientific insight and his powers of organization.

"Among his many services to Science, the following are a few which
they desire especially to commemorate:

_(a)_ "The complete re-organization of the Equipment of the

_(b)_ "The designing of instruments of exceptional stability and
delicacy suitable for the increased accuracy of observation demanded
by the advance of Astronomy.

_(c)_ "The extension of the means of making observations of the Moon
in such portions of her orbit as are not accessible to the Transit

_(d)_ "The investigation of the effect of the iron of ships upon
compasses and the correction of the errors thence arising.

_(e)_ "The Establishment at the Observatory and elsewhere of a System
of Time Signals since extensively developed by the Government.

"The Board feel it their duty to add that Sir George Airy has at all
times devoted himself in the most unsparing manner to the business of
the Observatory, and has watched over its interests with an assiduity
inspired by the strongest personal attachment to the Institution. He
has availed himself zealously of every scientific discovery and
invention which was in his judgment capable of adaptation to the work
of the Observatory; and the long series of his annual reports to the
Board of Visitors furnish abundant evidence, if such were needed, of
the soundness of his judgment in the appreciation of suggested
changes, and of his readiness to introduce improvements when the
proper time arrived. While maintaining the most remarkable punctuality
in the reduction and publication of the observations made under his
own superintendance, he had reduced, collected, and thus rendered
available for use by astronomers, the Lunar and Planetary Observations
of his predecessors. Nor can it be forgotten that, notwithstanding his
absorbing occupations, his advice and assistance have always been at
the disposal of Astronomers for any work of importance.

"To refer in detail to his labours in departments of Science not
directly connected with the Royal Observatory may seem to lie beyond
the province of the Board. But it cannot be improper to state that its
members are not unacquainted with the high estimation in which his
contributions to the Theory of Tides, to the undulatory theory of
Light, and to various abstract branches of Mathematics are held by men
of Science throughout the world.

"In conclusion the Board would express their earnest hope, that in his
retirement Sir George Airy may enjoy health and strength and that
leisure for which he has often expressed a desire to enable him not
only to complete the numerical Lunar Theory on which he has been
engaged for some years past, but also to advance Astronomical Science
in other directions."

       *       *       *       *       *

                                               _27th October, 1881_.


I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to transmit
to you, herewith, a copy of a Treasury Minute, awarding you a Special
Pension of _£1100_ a year, in consideration of your long and brilliant
services as Astronomer Royal.

        I am, Sir,
          Your obedient Servant,
            ROBERT HALL.

_Sir G.B. Airy, K.C.B., F.R.S., &c., &c.
  The White House, Croom's Hill, Greenwich._

Copy of Treasury Minute, dated 10th October, 1881:

My Lords have before them a statement of the services of Sir George
Biddell Airy, K.C.B., F.R.S., who has resigned the appointment of
Astronomer Royal on the ground of age.

Sir George Airy has held his office since the year 1835, and has also,
during that period, undertaken various laborious works, demanding
scientific qualifications of the highest order, and not always such as
could strictly be said to be included among the duties of his office.

The salary of Sir G. Airy as Astronomer Royal is _£1200_ a year, in
addition to which he enjoys an official residence rent free, and,
under ordinary circumstances he would be entitled to a pension equal
to two-thirds of his salary and emoluments.

My Lords, however, in order to mark their strong sense of the
distinction which, during a long and brilliant career Sir George Airy
has conferred upon his office, and of the great services which, in
connection with, as well as in the discharge of, his duties, he has
rendered to the Crown and the Public, decide to deal with his case
under the IXth Section of the Superannuation Act, 1859, which empowers
them to grant a special pension for special services.

Accordingly my Lords are pleased to award to Sir George Biddell Airy,
K.C.B., F.R.S., a special Retired Allowance of _£1100_ per annum.

       *       *       *       *       *

                                                  THE WHITE HOUSE,
                                              CROOM'S HILL, GREENWICH,
                                                 _1881, October 29_.


I have the honour to acknowledge your letter of October 27,
transmitting to me, by instruction of The Lords Commissioners of
Admiralty, copy of a Treasury Minute dated 1881 October 10, in which
the Lords Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury are pleased to award
to me an annual retired allowance of _£1100_ per annum.

Acknowledging the very liberal award of the Lords Commissioners of
Treasury, and the honourable and acceptable terms in which it is
announced, I take leave at the same time to offer to Their Lordships
of the Admiralty my recognition of Their Lordships' kindness and
courtesy in thus handing to me copy of the Treasury Minute.

        I have the honour to be, Sir,
          Your very obedient Servant,
            G.B. AIRY.

_The Secretary of the Admiralty,_

       *       *       *       *       *

From the Assistants of the Royal Observatory, with whom he was in
daily communication, whose faithful and laborious services he had so
often thankfully recognized in his Annual Reports to the Board of
Visitors, and to whom so much of the credit and success of the
Observatory was due, he received the following address:

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                  _1881, August 11_.


We cannot allow the official relation which has so long existed
between yourself and us to terminate without expressing to you our
sense of the admirable manner in which you have, in our opinion,
upheld the dignity of the office of Astronomer Royal during the many
years that you have occupied that important post.

Your long continued and varied scientific work has received such
universal recognition from astronomers in all lands, that it is
unnecessary for us to do more than assure you how heartily we join in
their appreciation of your labours. We may however add that our
position has given us opportunities of seeing that which others cannot
equally well know, the untiring energy and great industry which have
been therein displayed throughout a long and laborious career, an
energy which leads you in retirement, and at fourscore years of age,
to contemplate further scientific work.

We would ask you to carry with you into private life the best wishes
of each one of us for your future happiness, and that of your family,
expressing the hope that the days of retirement may not be few, and
assuring you that your name will long live in our remembrance.

        We are, dear Sir,
          Yours very faithfully,
              C. NASH, A.M.W. DOWNING, EDWARD W.

_Sir G.B. Airy, K.C.B., &c., &c.,
  Astronomer Royal._

       *       *       *       *       *

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                  _1881, August 13_.

  and Gentlemen of the Royal Observatory,

With very great pleasure I have received your letter of August 11. I
thank you much for your recognition of the general success of the
Observatory, and of a portion of its conduct which--as you remark--can
scarcely be known except to those who are every day engaged in it: but
I thank you still more for the kind tone of your letter, which seems
to shew that the terms on which we have met are such as leaves, after
so many years' intercourse, no shadow of complaint on any side.

Reciprocating your wishes for a happy life, and in your case a
progressive and successful one,

            I am,
        My dear Mr Christie and Gentlemen,
                Yours faithfully,
                  G.B. AIRY.

       *       *       *       *       *

Throughout his tenure of office Airy had cultivated and maintained the
most friendly relations with foreign astronomers, to the great
advantage of the Observatory. Probably all of them, at one time or
another, had visited Greenwich, and to most of them he was well
known. On his retirement from office he received an illuminated
Address from his old friend Otto Struve and the staff of the Pulkowa
Observatory, an illuminated Address from the Vorstand of the
Astronomische Gesellschaft at Berlin signed by Dr Auwers and the
Secretaries, a complimentary letter from the Academy of Sciences at
Amsterdam, and friendly letters of sympathy from Dr Gould,
Prof. Newcombe, Dr Listing, and from many other scientific friends and
societies. His replies to the Russian and German Addresses were as

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                   _1881, August 5_.


I received, with feelings which I will not attempt to describe, the
Address of yourself and the Astronomers of Pulkowa generally, on the
occasion of my retirement from the office of Astronomer Royal. I can
scarcely credit myself with possessing all the varied claims to your
scientific regard which you detail. I must be permitted to attribute
many of them to the long and warm friendship which has subsisted so
long between the Directors of the Pulkowa Observatory and myself, and
which has influenced the feelings of the whole body of Astronomers
attached to that Institution. On one point, however, I willingly
accept your favourable expressions--I have not been sparing of my
personal labour--and to this I must attribute partial success on some
of the subjects to which you allude.

In glancing over the marginal list of scientific pursuits, I remark
with pleasure the reference to _Optics_. I still recur with delight to
the Undulatory Theory, once the branch of science on which I was best
known to the world, and which by calculations, writings, and lectures,
I supported against the Laplacian School. But the close of your
remarks touches me much more--the association of the name of W. Struve
and my own. I respected deeply the whole character of your Father, and
I believe that he had confidence in me. From our first meeting in 1830
(on a Commission for improvement of the Nautical Almanac) I never
ceased to regard him as superior to others. I may be permitted to add
that the delivery of his authority to the hands of his son has not
weakened the connection of myself with the Observatory of Poulkova.

Acknowledging gratefully your kindness, and that of all the
Astronomers of the Observatory of Poulkova, and requesting you to
convey to them this expression,

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours most truly,
            G.B. AIRY.

_To M. Otto von Struve,
  Director of the Observatory of Poulkova
    and the Astronomers of that Observatory._

       *       *       *       *       *

                                         ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH,
                                                   _1881, August 3_.


With very great pleasure I received the Address of the Astronomische
Gesellschaft on occasion of my intended resignation of the Office of
Astronomer Royal: dated July 27, and signed by yourself as President
and Messrs Schoenfeld and Winnecke as Secretaries of the Astronomische
Gesellschaft. I thank you much for the delicacy of your arrangement
for the transmission of this document by the hands of our friend Dr
Huggins. And I think you will be gratified to learn that it arrived at
a moment when I was surrounded by my whole family assembled at my
_jour-de-fête_, and that it added greatly to the happiness of the

I may perhaps permit myself to accept your kind recognition of my
devotion of time and thought to the interests of my Science and my
Office. It is full reward to me that they are so recognized. As to
the success or utility of these efforts, without presuming, myself, to
form an opinion, I acknowledge that the connection made by the
Astronomische Gesellschaft, between my name and the advance of modern
astronomy, is most flattering, and will always be remembered by me
with pride.

It is true, as is suggested in your Address, that one motive for my
resignation of Office was the desire to find myself more free for the
prosecution of further astronomical investigations. Should my health
remain unbroken, I hope to enter shortly upon this undertaking.

Again acknowledging the kindness of yourself and the Vorstand of the
Astronomische Gesellschaft, and offering my best wishes for the
continued success of that honourable institution,

        I am, my dear Sir,
          Yours very truly,
            G.B. AIRY.

_To Dr Aimers
and the Vorstand of the
Astronomische Gesellschaft._

                              CHAPTER X.

                OF OFFICE ON AUGUST 15TH, 1881, TO HIS
                     DEATH ON JANUARY 2ND, 1892.


On the 16th of August 1881 Airy left the Observatory which had been
his residence for nearly 46 years, and removed to the White
House. Whatever his feelings may have been at the severing of his old
associations he carefully kept them to himself, and entered upon his
new life with the cheerful composure and steadiness of temper which he
possessed in a remarkable degree. He was now more than 80 years old,
and the cares of office had begun to weigh heavily upon him: the
long-continued drag of the Transit of Venus work had wearied him, and
he was anxious to carry on and if possible complete his Numerical
Lunar Theory, the great work which for some years had occupied much of
his time and attention. His mental powers were still vigorous, and his
energy but little impaired: his strong constitution, his regular
habits of life, the systematic relief which he obtained by short
holiday expeditions whenever he found himself worn with work, and his
keen interest in history, poetry, classics, antiquities, engineering,
and other subjects not immediately connected with his profession, had
combined to produce this result. And in leaving office, he had no idea
of leaving off work; his resignation of office merely meant for him a
change of work. It is needless to say that his interest in the welfare
and progress of the Observatory was as keen as ever; his advice was
always at the service of his successor, and his appointment as Visitor
a year or two after his resignation gave him an official position with
regard to the Observatory which he much valued. The White House, which
was to be his home for the rest of his life, is just outside one of
the upper gates of the Park, and about a quarter of a mile from the
Observatory. Here he resided with his two unmarried daughters. The
house suited him well and he was very comfortable there: he preferred
to live in the neighbourhood with which he was so familiar and in
which he was so well known, rather than to remove to a distance. His
daily habits of life were but little altered: he worked steadily as
formerly, took his daily walk on Blackheath, made frequent visits to
Playford, and occasional expeditions to the Cumberland Lakes and

The work to which he chiefly devoted himself in his retirement was the
completion of his Numerical Lunar Theory. This was a vast work,
involving the subtlest considerations of principle, very long and
elaborate mathematical investigations of a high order, and an enormous
amount of arithmetical computation. The issue of it was unfortunate:
he concluded that there was an error in some of the early work, which
vitiated the results obtained: and although the whole process was
published, and was left in such a state that it would be a
comparatively simple task for a future astronomer to correct and
complete it, yet it was not permitted to the original author of it to
do this. To avoid the necessity of frequent reference to this work in
the history of Airy's remaining years, it will be convenient to
summarize it here. It was commenced in 1872: "On Feb. 23rd in this
year I first (privately) formed the notion of preparing a Numerical
Lunar Theory by substituting Delaunay's numbers in the proper
Equations and seeing what would come of it." From this time forward
till his power to continue it absolutely failed, he pursued the
subject with his usual tenacity of purpose. During his tenure of
office every available opportunity was seized for making progress with
his Lunar Theory, and in every Report to the Visitors a careful
statement was inserted of the state in which it then stood. And, after
his resignation of office, it formed the bulk of his occupation. In
1873 the Theory was formed, and by 1874 it was so far advanced that he
published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society a
statement of the fundamental points of the Theory. In 1875, the
Theory having advanced to a stage where extensive arithmetical
computation was required, he obtained a small grant from the
Government in aid of the expense of the work, and other grants were
made in subsequent years. By 1878 the calculations were so far
advanced that an opinion could be formed as to the probable accuracy
of the Theory, and the following remark is made: "A cursory collation
of the terms relating to the Areas (in the Ecliptic) led me to suppose
that there might be some error in the computations of the Annual
Equation and related terms;" but no error could be discovered and the
work proceeded. The complex character of the Theory, and the extreme
care required in the mathematical processes, are well illustrated by
the following statement, which occurs in the Report of 1879, "An
important error in the theoretical formulae for Variations of Radius
Vector, Longitude, and Latitude, was discovered; some calculations
depending on them are cancelled."  In 1880 and 1881 the work was
continued, but was "sadly interrupted by the pressure of the Transit
of Venus work and other business." After his resignation of the Office
of Astronomer Royal he had no further public assistance, and did much
of the computations himself, but a sum of _£100_ was contributed by Mr
De La Rue in furtherance of the work, and this sum was spent on
computers. In his retirement the work made good progress, and on
Dec. 31st, 1882, he made the following note: "I finished and put in
general order the final tables of Equations of Variations. This is a
definite point in the Lunar Theory.... I hope shortly to take up
severely the numerical operations of the Lunar Theory from the very
beginning." The work was continued steadily through 1883, and on
Mar. 24th, 1884, he made application through the Board of Visitors to
the Admiralty to print the work: after the usual enquiries as to the
expense this was acceded to, and copy was sent to the printers as soon
as it was ready. The first printed proofs were received on Feb. 5th,
1885, and the whole book was printed by the end of 1886. From the
frequent references in his journal to errors discovered and corrected
during the progress of these calculations, it would seem likely that
his powers were not what they had been, and that there was a
probability that some important errors might escape correction. He
was far too honest to blind himself to this possibility, and in the
Preface to his Numerical Lunar Theory he says thus: "I have explained
above that the principle of operations was, to arrange the fundamental
mechanical equations in a form suited for the investigations of Lunar
Theory; to substitute in the terms of these equations the numerical
values furnished by Delaunay's great work; and to examine whether the
equations are thereby satisfied. With painful alarm, I find that they
are not satisfied; and that the discordance, or failure of satisfying
the equations, is large. The critical trial depends on the great mass
of computations in Section II. These have been made in duplicate, with
all the care for accuracy that anxiety could supply. Still I cannot
but fear that the error which is the source of discordance must be on
my part. I cannot conjecture whether I may be able to examine
sufficiently into this matter." He resolutely took in hand the
revision of his work, and continued it till October 1888. But it is
clear from the entries in his journal that his powers were now unequal
to the task, and although from time to time he suspected that he had
discovered errors, yet it does not appear that he determined anything
with certainty. He never doubted that there were important errors in
the work, and later on he left the following private note on the

                       NUMERICAL LUNAR THEORY.

                                                   _1890, Sept. 29_.

I had made considerable advance (under official difficulties) in
calculations on my favourite Numerical Lunar Theory, when I discovered
that, under the heavy pressure of unusual matters (two Transits of
Venus and some eclipses) I had committed a grievous error in the first
stage of giving numerical value to my Theory.

My spirit in the work was broken, and I have never heartily proceeded
with it since.

                                                            G.B. AIRY.

Probably the error referred to here is the suspected error mentioned
above in his Report of 1878, as to which he subsequently became more

Whatever may be the imperfections of the Numerical Lunar Theory, it is
a wonderful work to have been turned out by a man 85 years old. In its
idea and inception it embodies the experience of a long life actively
spent in practical science. And it may be that it will yet fulfil the
objects of its author, and that some younger astronomer may take it
up, correct its errors (wherever they may be), and fit it for
practical use. And then the labour bestowed upon it will not have
been in vain.

Subject always to the absorbing occupations of the Lunar Theory he
amused himself with reading his favourite subjects of History and
Antiquities. His movements during the remainder of the year 1881 were
as follows: In September he paid a two days' visit to Lady Herschel at
Hawkhurst. From Oct. 4th to 17th he was at the Cumberland Lakes and
engaged in expeditions in the neighbourhood. From Nov. 5th to 8th he
was at Cambridge, inspecting Prof. Stuart's workshops, and other
scientific institutions. On Dec. 13th he went to Playford.--Amongst
miscellaneous matters: in November he wrote to Mr Rothery on the loss
of the 'Teuton' at some length, with suggestions for the safer
construction of such vessels.--In October he was asked for suggestions
regarding the establishment of a "Standard Time" applicable to the
railway traffic in the United States: he replied as follows:

                                                 _1881, Oct. 31_.


I have to acknowledge your letter of October 17, introducing to my
notice the difficulty which appears to be arising in America regarding
a "Standard Time," for extensive use throughout N. America
"applicable to railway traffic only." The subject, as including
considerations of convenience in all the matters to which it applies,
is one of difficulties probably insuperable. The certainty, however,
that objections may be raised to every scheme, renders me less timid
in offering my own remarks; which are much at your service.

I first comment upon your expression of "Standard Time... applicable
to railway traffic only." But do you mean this as affecting the
transactions between one railway and another railway, or as affecting
each railway and the local interests (temporal and others) of the
towns which it touches? The difference is so great that I should be
disposed to adopt it as marking very strongly the difference to be
made between the practices of railways among themselves and the
practices of railways towards the public; and will base a system on
that difference.

As regards the practices of railways among themselves: if the various
railways of America are joined and inosculated as they are in England,
it appears to me indispensable that they have one common standard
_among themselves_: say Washington Observatory time. But this is only
needed for the office-transactions between the railways; it may be
kept perfectly private; never communicated to the public at all. And I
should recommend this as the first step.

There will then be no difficulty in deducing, from these private
Washington times, the accurate local times at those stations (whose
longitude is supposed to be fairly well known, as a sailor with a
sextant can determine one in a few hours) which the railway
authorities may deem worthy of that honour; generally the termini of
railways. Thus we shall have a series of bases of local time, of
authoritative character, through the country.

Of such bases _we_ have two, Greenwich and Dublin: and they are
separated by a sea-voyage. In the U.S. of America there must be a
greater number, and probably not so well separated. Still it is
indispensable to adopt such a system of local centers.

No people in this world can be induced to use a reckoning which does
not depend clearly upon the sun. In all civilized countries it depends
(approximately) on the sun's meridian passage. Even the sailor on
mid-ocean refers to that phenomenon. And the solar passage, with
reasonable allowance, 20m. or 30m. one way or another, must be
recognized in all time-arrangements as giving the fundamental
time. The only practical way of doing this is, to adopt for a whole
region the fundamental time of a center of that region.

And to this fundamental time, the local time of the railway, as now
entering into all the concerns of life, must be adapted. A solicitor
has an appointment to meet a client by railway; a physician to a
consultation. How is this to be kept if the railway uses one time and
every other act of life another?

There is one chain of circumstances which is almost peculiar--that of
the line from New York to San Francisco. Here I would have two clocks
at every station: those on the north side all shewing San Francisco
time, and those on the south all shewing New York time. Every
traveller's watch would then be available to the end of his journey.

A system, fundamentally such as I have sketched, would give little
trouble, and may I think be adopted with advantage.

        I am, Sir,
          Your faithful servant,
            G.B. AIRY.

_Mr Edward Barrington._


He returned from Playford on Jan. 17: his other movements during the
year were as follows: from Apr. 27th to May 11th he was at Playford;
and again from August 1st to 24th. From Oct. 9th to Nov. 1st he was
travelling with his two unmarried daughters in the Lake District of
Cumberland: the journey was by Furness and Coniston to Portinscale
near Keswick; on Oct. 13th he fell and sprained his ankle, and his
excursions for the rest of the time were mainly conducted by
driving. Shortly after his return, on Nov. 11th, while walking alone
on Blackheath, he was seized with a violent attack of illness, and lay
helpless for some time before he was found and brought home: he seems
however to have recovered to a great extent in the course of a day or
two, and continued his Lunar Theory and other work as before. On June
22nd he made the following sad note, "This morning, died after a most
painful illness my much-loved daughter-in-law, Anna Airy, daughter of
Professor Listing of Göttingen, wife of my eldest son Wilfrid." In
February he wrote out his reminiscences of the village of Playford
during his boyhood.

In June he was much disturbed in mind on hearing of some important
alterations made by the Astronomer Royal in the Collimators of the
Transit Circle, and some correspondence ensued on the subject.--During
the year he had much correspondence on the subject of the subsidences
on Blackheath.

The following letter was written in reply to a gentleman who had asked
whether it could be ascertained by calculation how long it is since
the Glacial Period existed:

                                                     _1882, July 4_.


I should have much pleasure in fully answering your questions of July
3 if I were able to do so: but the subject really is very obscure.

(1) Though it is recognized that the glacial period (or periods) is
late, I do not think that any one has ventured to fix upon a rude
number of years since elapsed.

(2) We have no reason to think that the mean distance of the earth
from the sun has sensibly altered. There have been changes in the
eccentricity of the orbit (making the earth's distance from the sun
less in one month and greater in the opposite month), but I do not
perceive that this would explain glaciers.

(3) I consider it to be certain that the whole surface of the earth,
at a very distant period, was very hot, that it has cooled gradually,
and (theoretically and imperceptibly) is cooling still. The glaciers
must be later than these hot times, and later than our last
consolidated strata: but this is nearly all that I can say.

        I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
          G.B. AIRY.

_James Alston, Esq._


From May 2nd to 29th he was at Playford. From July 10th to 20th he was
travelling in South Wales with his daughters.--From Oct. 10th to
Nov. 10th he was at Playford.--Between Nov. 20th of this year and
Jan. 4th of the year 1884, he sat several times to Mr John Collier for
his portrait: the picture was exhibited in the Academy of 1884; it is
a most successful and excellent likeness.

Throughout the year he was very busy with the Numerical Lunar
Theory.--In March he was officially asked to accept the office of
Visitor of the Royal Observatory, which he accepted, and in this
capacity attended at the Annual Visitation on June 2nd, and addressed
a Memorandum to the Visitors on the progress of his Lunar Theory.--On
March 12th he published in several newspapers a statement in
opposition to the proposed Braithwaite and Buttermere Railway, which
he considered would be injurious to the Lake District, in which he
took so deep an interest.--In May he communicated to "The Observatory"
a statement of his objections to a Theory advanced by Mr Stone (then
President of the Royal Astronomical Society) to account for the
recognized inequality in the Mean Motion of the Moon. This Theory, on
a subject to which Airy had given his incessant attention for so many
years, would naturally receive his careful attention and criticism,
and it attracted much general notice at the time.--In December he
wrote to the Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society his opinion
as to the award of the Medal of the Society. In this letter he stated
the principles which guided him as follows: "I have always maintained
that the award of the Medal ought to be guided mainly by the
originality of communications: that one advance in a new direction
ought in our decision to outweigh any mass of work in a routine
already established: and that, in any case, scientific utility as
distinguished from mere elegance is indispensable."--In July
Lieut. Pinheiro of the Brazilian Navy called with an autograph letter
of introduction from the Emperor of Brazil. The Lieutenant desired to
make himself acquainted with the English system of Lighthouses and
Meteorology, and Airy took much trouble in providing him with
introductions through which he received every facility for the
thorough accomplishment of his object.--On Oct. 8th he forwarded to
Prof. Cayley proofs of Euclid's Propositions I. 47 and III. 35 with
the following remarks: "I place on the other side the propositions
which may be substituted (with knowledge of Euclid's VI. book) for the
two celebrated propositions of the geometrical books. They leave on my
mind no doubt whatever that they were invented as proofs by ratios,
and that they were then violently expanded into cumbrous geometrical
proofs."--On June 28th he declined to sign a memorial asking for the
interment of Mr Spottiswoode in Westminster Abbey, stating as his
reason, "I take it, that interment possessing such a public character
is a public recognition of benefits, political, literary, or
philosophical, whose effects will be great and durable. Now I doubt
whether it can be stated that Mr Spottiswoode had conferred such
benefits on Society. "But he adds at length his cordial recognition of
Mr Spottiswoode's scientific services.--Throughout his life Airy was a
regular attendant at church, and took much interest in the conduct of
the Church services. In October of this year he wrote a long letter
to the Vicar of Greenwich on various points, in which occurs the
following paragraph: "But there is one matter in the present form of
the Church Service, on which my feeling is very strong, namely the
(so-called, I believe) Choral Service, in the Confession, the Prayer,
and the Creed. I have long listened with veneration to our noble
Liturgy, and I have always been struck with the deep personally
religious feeling which pervades it, especially those parts of it
which are for 'The People.' And an earnest Priest, earnestly pressing
these parts by his vocal example on the notice of the People, can
scarcely fail to excite a corresponding earnestness in them. All this
is totally lost in the choral system. For a venerable persuasion there
is substituted a rude irreverential confusion of voices; for an
earnest acceptance of the form offered by the Priest there is
substituted--in my feeling at least--a weary waiting for the end of an
unmeaning form." He also objected much to singing the responses to the


From Apr. 29th to May 30th he was at Playford, concluding his Journal
there with the note "So ends a pleasant Vacation."--On June 11th he
went to Cambridge and attended the Trinity College Commemoration
Service, and dined in Hall.--From Aug. 14th to Sept. 11th he was at
Playford.--On Sept. 26th he made an expedition to Guildford and
Farnham.--During this year he was closely engaged on the Numerical
Lunar Theory, and for relaxation was reading theology and sundry books
of the Old Testament.

On June 7th he attended at the Visitation of the Royal
Observatory.--In a letter written in April to Lt.-Col. Marindin, R.A.,
on the subject of wind pressure there occurs the following remark:
"When the heavy gusts come on, the wind is blowing in directions
changing rapidly, but limited in extent. My conclusion is that in
arches of small extent (as in the Tay Bridge) every thing must be
calculated for full pressure; but in arches of large extent (as in the
Forth Bridge) every thing may be calculated for small pressure. And
for a suspension bridge the pressure is far less dangerous than for a
stiff arch."--In January he had some correspondence with Professor
Tyndall on the Theory of the "White Rainbow," and stated that he
thoroughly agreed with Dr Young's explanation of this phaenomenon.
--The following is extracted from a letter on May 1st to
his old friend Otto Struve: "I received from you about 3 or 4 weeks
past a sign of your friendly remembrance, a copy of your paper on the
Annual Parallax of Aldebaran. It pleased me much. Especially I was
delighted with your noble retention of the one equation whose result
differed so sensibly from that of the other equations. It is quite
possible, even probable, that the mean result is improved by it. I
have known such instances. The first, which attracted much attention,
was Capt. Kater's attempt to establish a scale of longitude in England
by reciprocal observations of azimuth between Beachy Head and
Dunnose. The result was evidently erroneous. But Colonel Colby, on
examination of the original papers, found that some observations had
been omitted, as suspicious; and that when these were included the
mean agreed well with the scale of observation inferred from other
methods."--In a letter to the Rev. R.C.M. Rouse, acknowledging the
receipt of a geometrical book, there occurs the following paragraph:
"I do not value Euclid's Elements as a super-excellent book of
instruction--though some important points are better presented in it
than in any other book of geometrical instruction that I have
seen. But I value it as a book of strong and distinct reasoning, and
of orderly succession of reasonings. I do not think that there is any
book in the world which presents so distinctly the 'because......
therefore.......' And this is invaluable for the mental
education of youth."--In May he was in correspondence with Professor
Balfour Stewart regarding a projected movement in Terrestrial
Magnetism to be submitted to the British Association. Airy cordially
approved of this movement, and supported it to the best of his
ability, stating that in his opinion what was mainly wanted was the
collation of existing records.--In January and February he was much
pressed by Prof. Pritchard of Oxford to give his opinion as to the
incorrectness of statements made by Dr Kinns in his Lectures on the
Scientific Accuracy of the Bible. Airy refused absolutely to take part
in the controversy, but he could not escape from the correspondence
which the matter involved: and this led up to other points connected
with the early history of the Israelites, a subject in which he took
much interest.


From May 4th to June 3rd he was at Playford.--From July 2nd to 22nd he
was in the Lake District. The journey was by Windermere to Kentmere,
where he made enquiries concerning the Airy family, as it had been
concluded with much probability from investigations made by his
nephew, the Rev. Basil R. Airy, that the family was settled there at a
very early date. Some persons of the name of Airy were still living
there. He then went on by Coniston and Grasmere to Portinscale, and
spent the rest of his time in expeditions amongst the hills and visits
to friends.--On July 28th he went to Woodbridge in Suffolk and
distributed the prizes to the boys of the Grammar School there.--From
Oct. 9th to Nov. 12th he was again at Playford.--Throughout the year
he was busily engaged on the Numerical Lunar Theory, and found but
little time for miscellaneous reading.

Of printed papers by Airy in this year the most important was one on
the "Results deduced from the Measures of Terrestrial Magnetic Force
in the Horizontal Plane," &c. This was a long Paper, communicated to
the Royal Society, and published in the Phil. Trans., and was the last
Scientific Paper of any importance (except the Volume of the Numerical
Lunar Theory) in the long list of "Papers by G.B. Airy." The
preparation of this Paper took much time.--Of miscellaneous matters:
In May a Committee of the Royal Society had been appointed to advise
the India Office as to the publication of Col. J. Herschel's pendulum
observations in India; and Airy was asked to assist the Committee with
his advice. He gave very careful and anxious consideration to the
subject, and it occupied much time.--In the early part of the year he
was asked by Sir William Thomson to assist him with an affidavit in a
lawsuit concerning an alleged infringement of one of his Patents for
the improvement of the Compass. Airy declined to make an affidavit or
to take sides in the dispute, but he wrote a letter from which the
following is extracted: "I cannot have the least difficulty in
expressing my opinion that you have made a great advance in the
application of my method of correcting the compass in iron ships, by
your introduction of the use of short needles for the compass-cards.
In my original investigations, when the whole subject was in darkness,
I could only use existing means for experiment, namely the long-needle
compasses then existing. But when I applied mechanical theory to
explanation of the results, I felt grievously the deficiency of a
theory and the construction which it suggested (necessarily founded on
assumption that the proportion of the needle-length to the other
elements of measure is small) when the length of the needles was
really so great. I should possibly have used some construction like
yours, but the Government had not then a single iron vessel, and did
not seem disposed to urge the enquiry. You, under happier auspices,
have successfully carried it out, and, I fully believe, with much
advantage to the science."--He wrote a Paper for the Athenaeum and had
various correspondence on the subject of the Badbury Rings in
Dorsetshire, which he (and others) considered as identical with the
"Mons Badonicus" of Gildas, the site of an ancient British battle.--In
February he was in correspondence with the Astronomer Royal on Uniform
Time Reckoning, and on considerations relating to it.--On June 6th he
attended the Annual Visitation of the Observatory, and brought before
the Board his investigations of the Diurnal Magnetic Inequalities, and
the revises of his Lunar Theory.


From June 8th to July 17th he was at Playford.--And again at Playford
from Oct. 5th to Nov. 8th.--On March 27th he had an attack of gout in
his right foot, which continued through April and into May, causing
him much inconvenience.--He was busy with the Numerical Lunar Theory
up to Sept. 25th, when he was reading the last proof-sheet received
from the printers: during this period his powers were evidently
failing, and there are frequent references to errors discovered and
corrected, and to uncertainties connected with points of the
Theory. But his great work on the Numerical Lunar Theory was printed
in this year: and there can be no doubt that he experienced a great
feeling of relief when this was accomplished.--He was in
correspondence with Prof. Adams as to the effect of his reduction of
the Coefficient of Lunar Acceleration on the calculation of the
ancient historical eclipses.--He compiled a Paper "On the
establishment of the Roman dominion in England," which was printed in
1887.--He wrote a notice concerning events in the life of Mr John
Jackson of Rosthwaite near Keswick, a well-known guide and
much-respected authority on matters relating to the Lake District.--He
also wrote a short account of the connection of the history of Mdlle
de Quéroualle with that of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.--On
June 4th he attended at the Annual Visitation of the Observatory.


On May 9th to 11th he made a short visit to Eastbourne and the
neighbourhood.--From June 8th to July 13th he was at Playford.--From
Aug. 29th to Sept. 5th he was travelling in Dorsetshire and Wiltshire:
he went first to Weymouth, a very favourite centre for excursions with
him, and afterwards visited Bridport and Lyme Regis: then by
Dorchester to Blandford, and visited the Hod Hill, Badbury Rings, &c.:
at Wimborne he was much interested in the architecture of the church:
lastly he visited Salisbury, Old Sarum, Stonehenge, &c., and returned
to Greenwich.--From Oct. 11th to Nov. 12th he was at Playford.--During
this year he partly occupied himself with arranging his papers and
drawings, and with miscellaneous reading. But he could not withdraw
his thoughts from his Lunar Theory, and he still continued to struggle
with the difficulties of the subject, and was constantly scheming
improvements. His private accounts also now gave him much
trouble. Throughout his life he had been accustomed to keep his
accounts by double entry in very perfect order. But he now began to
make mistakes and to grow confused, and this distressed him
greatly. It never seemed to occur to him to abandon his elaborate
system of accounts, and to content himself with simple entries of
receipts and expenses. This would have been utterly opposed to his
sense of order, which was now more than ever the ruling principle of
his mind. And so he struggled with his accounts as he did with his
Lunar Theory till his powers absolutely failed. In his Journal for
this year there are various entries of mental attacks of short
duration and other ailments ascribable to his advanced age.

The last printed "Papers by G.B. Airy" belong to this year. One was
the Paper before referred to "On the establishment of the Roman
dominion in England": another was on the solution of a certain
Equation: and there were early reminiscences of the Cambridge Tripos,
&c.--In February he attended a little to a new edition of his Ipswich
Lectures, but soon handed it over to Mr H.H. Turner of the Royal
Observatory.--On May 23rd he was drawing up suggestions for the
arrangement of the Seckford School, &c., at Woodbridge.--On June 4th
he attended the Visitation of the Royal Observatory, when a resolution
was passed in favour of complete photography of the star-sky.


From the 14th to 16th of May he made a short expedition to
Bournemouth, and stopped on the way home to visit Winchester
Cathedral.--From June 27th to Aug. 3rd he was at Playford; and again
from Oct. 13th to Nov. 10th.--During the first half of the year he
continued his examination of his Lunar Theory, but gradually dropped
it. There are several references in his Journal to his feelings of
pain and weakness, both mental and bodily: at the end of March he had
an attack of gout in the fingers of his right hand. During the latter
part of the year he was troubled with his private accounts, as
before.--He does not appear to have been engaged on any miscellaneous
matters calling for special notice in this year. But he kept up his
astronomical correspondence--with Lockyer on the meteorite system of
planetary formation; with Pritchard on the work of the Oxford
University Observatory; with Adams on his Numerical Lunar Theory, &c.,
and with others.--On June 2nd he attended the Visitation of the Royal
Observatory.--He amused himself occasionally with reading his
favourite subjects of history and antiquities, and with looking over
some of his early investigations of scientific questions.


On June 5th he made a one-day's excursion to Colchester.--From July
2nd to 27th he was in the Cumberland Lake District, chiefly at
Portinscale near Keswick. While staying at Portinscale he was seized
with a sudden giddiness and fell upon the floor: he afterwards wrote a
curious account of the visions which oppressed his brain immediately
after the accident. He returned by Solihull, where his son Osmund was
residing.--From Oct. 4th to Nov. 8th he was at Playford. While there
he drew up a short statement of his general state of health, adverting
particularly to the loss of strength in his legs and failure of his
walking powers.--His health seems to have failed a good deal in this
year: on Feb. 4th he had an accidental fall, and there are several
entries in his Journal of mental attacks, pains in his limbs,
affection of his eye-sight, &c.--In the early part of the year he was
much engaged on the history of the Airy family, particularly on that
of his father.--In this year the White House was sold by auction by
its owners, and Airy purchased it on May 24th.--He was still in
difficulties with his private accounts, but was making efforts to
abandon his old and elaborate system.--For his amusement he was
chiefly engaged on Theological Notes which he was compiling: and also
on early optical investigations, &c.

On June 1st he attended the Visitation of the Royal Observatory, and
moved a resolution that a Committee be appointed to consider whether
any reduction can be effected in the amount of matter printed in the
Volume of Observations of the Royal Observatory. During his tenure of
office he had on various occasions brought this subject before the
Board of Visitors, and with his usual tenacity of purpose he now as
Visitor pressed it upon their notice.--In May he zealously joined with
others in an application to get for Dr Huggins a pension on the Civil
List.--In January he prepared a short Paper illustrated with diagrams
to exhibit the Interference of Solar Light, as used by him in his
Lectures at Cambridge in 1836: but it does not appear to have been
published.--In April he received a copy of a Paper by Mr Rundell,
referring to the complete adoption of his system of compass correction
in iron ships, not only in the merchant service, but also in the
Navy. This was a matter of peculiar gratification to Airy, who had
always maintained that the method of Tables of Errors, which had been
so persistently adhered to by the Admiralty, was a mistake, and that
sooner or later they would find it necessary to adopt his method of
mechanical correction. The passage referred to is as follows: "The
name of Sir George Airy, the father of the mechanical compensation of
the compass in iron vessels, having just been mentioned, it may not be
inappropriate to remind you that the present year is the fiftieth
since Sir George Airy presented to the Royal Society his celebrated
paper on this subject with the account of his experiments on the
'Rainbow' and 'Ironsides.' Fifty years is a long period in one man's
history, and Sir George Airy may well be proud in looking back over
this period to see how complete has been the success of his compass
investigation. His mode of compensation has been adopted by all the
civilized world. Sir William Thomson, one of the latest and perhaps
the most successful of modern compass adjusters, when he exhibited his
apparatus in 1878 before a distinguished meeting in London, remarked
that within the last ten years the application of Sir George Airy's
method had become universal, not only in the merchant service, but in
the navies of this and other countries, and added--The compass and the
binnacles before you are designed to thoroughly carry out in practical
navigation the Astronomer Royal's principles."


From May 17th to 24th he was on an expedition to North Wales, stopping
at Chester, Conway, Carnarvon, Barmouth, and Shrewsbury.--From June
18th to July 24th he was at Playford; and again from Oct. 11th to
Nov. 15th.--In this year his powers greatly failed, and he complained
frequently of mental attacks, weakness of limbs, lassitude, and
failure of sleep. He occupied himself as usual with his books, papers,
and accounts; and read Travels, Biblical History, &c., but nothing
very persistently.

On June 7th he attended the Visitation of the Royal Observatory.--From
a letter addressed to him by Mr J. Hartnup, of Liverpool Observatory,
it appears that there had grown up in the mercantile world an
impression that very accurate chronometers were not needed for steam
ships, because they were rarely running many days out of sight of
land: and Airy's opinion was requested on this matter. He replied as
follows on Mar. 3rd: "The question proposed in your letter is purely a
practical one. (1) If a ship is _likely_ ever to be two days out of
sight of land, I think that she ought to be furnished with two _good_
chronometers, properly tested. (2) For the proper testing of the rates
of the chronometers, a rating of the chronometers for three or four
days in a meridional observatory is necessary. A longer testing is
desirable."--In March he was in correspondence, as one of the Trustees
of the Sheepshanks Fund, with the Master of Trinity relative to grants
from the Fund for Cambridge Observatory.


From June 16th to July 15th he was at Playford. And again from
Oct. 12th to Dec. 2nd (his last visit). Throughout the year his
weakness, both of brain power and muscular power, had been gradually
increasing, and during this stay at Playford, on Nov. 11th, he fell
down in his bed-room (probably from failure of nerve action) and was
much prostrated by the shock. For several days he remained in a
semi-unconscious condition, and although he rallied, yet he continued
very weak, and it was not until Dec. 2nd that he could be removed to
the White House. Up to the time of his fall he had been able to take
frequent drives and even short walks in the neighbourhood that he was
so fond of, but he could take but little exercise afterwards, and on
or about Nov. 18th he made the following note: "The saddest expedition
that I have ever made. We have not left home for several days."

The rapid failure of his powers during this year is well exemplified
by his handwriting in his Journal entries, which, with occasional
rallies, becomes broken and in places almost illegible. He makes
frequent reference to his decline in strength and brain-power, and to
his failing memory, but he continued his ordinary occupations, made
frequent drives around Blackheath, and amused himself with his family
history researches, arrangement of papers, and miscellaneous reading:
and he persisted to the last with his private accounts. His interest
in matters around him was still keen. On June 13th he was driving
along the Greenwich Marshes in order to track the course of the great
sewer; and on August 5th he visited the Crossness Sewage Works and
took great interest in the details of the treatment of the sewage.--In
March he contributed, with great satisfaction, to the Fund for the
Portrait of his old friend Sir G.G. Stokes, with whom he had had so
much scientific correspondence.--On July 25th an afternoon party was
arranged to celebrate the 90th anniversary of his birthday (the actual
anniversary was on July 27th). None of his early friends were there:
he had survived them all. But invitations were sent to all his
scientific and private friends who could be expected to come, and a
large party assembled. The afternoon was very fine, and he sat in the
garden and received his friends (many of whom had come from long
distances) in good strength and spirits. It was a most successful
gathering and was not without its meaning; for it was felt that, under
the circumstances of his failing powers, it was in all probability a
final leave-taking.--On July 27th he went down to the Greenwich Parish
Church at 9 p.m., to be present at the illumination of the church
clock face for the first time--a matter of local interest which had
necessitated a good deal of time and money. On this occasion at the
request of the company assembled in and around the Vestry he spoke for
about a quarter of an hour on Time--the value of accurate time, the
dissemination of Greenwich time throughout the country by time-signals
from the Observatory, and the exhibition of it by time-balls, &c.,
&c.,--the subject to which so large a part of his life had been
devoted. It was a pleasant and able speech and gave great satisfaction
to the parishioners, amongst whom he had lived for so many years.--He
received two illuminated addresses--one from the Astronomer Royal and
Staff of the Royal Observatory; the other from the Vorstand of the
Astronomische Gesellschaft at Berlin--and various private letters of
congratulation. The address from the Staff of the Observatory was
worded thus: "We, the present members of the Staff of the Royal
Observatory, Greenwich, beg to offer you our most sincere
congratulations on the occasion of your 90th birthday. We cannot but
feel how closely associated we are with you, in that our whole
energies are directed to the maintenance and development of that
practical astronomical work, of which you essentially laid the
foundation. It affords us great pleasure to think that after the
conclusion of your life's work, you have been spared to live so long
under the shadow of the noble Observatory with which your name was
identified for half a century, and with which it must ever remain

After his return from Playford he seemed to rally a little: but he
soon fell ill and was found to be suffering from hernia. This
necessitated a surgical operation, which was successfully performed on
Dec. 17th. This gave him effectual relief, and after recovering from
the immediate effects of the operation, he lay for several days
quietly and without active pain reciting the English poetry with which
his memory was stored. But the shock was too great for his enfeebled
condition, and he died peacefully in the presence of his six surviving
children on Jan. 2nd, 1892. He was buried in Playford churchyard on
Jan. 7th. The funeral procession was attended at Greenwich by the
whole staff of the Royal Observatory, and by other friends, and at his
burial there were present two former Fellows of the College to which
he had been so deeply attached.



                 LIST OF BOOKS WRITTEN BY G.B. AIRY.

                     PRINTED PAPERS BY G.B. AIRY.

With the instinct of order which formed one of his chief
characteristics Airy carefully preserved a copy of every printed Paper
of his own composition. These were regularly bound in large quarto
volumes, and they are in themselves a striking proof of his wonderful
diligence. The bound volumes are 14 in number, and they occupy a space
of 2 ft. 6 in. on a shelf. They contain 518 Papers, a list of which is
appended, and they form such an important part of his life's work,
that his biography would be very incomplete without a reference to

He was very careful in selecting the channels for the publication of
his Papers. Most of the early Papers were published in the
Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, but several of
the most important, such as his Paper "On an inequality of long period
in the motions of the Earth and Venus," were published in the
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, and others, such as
the articles on "The Figure of the Earth," "Gravitation," "Tides and
Waves," &c., were published in Encyclopaedias. After his removal to
Greenwich nearly all his Papers on scientific subjects (except
astronomy), such as Tides, Magnetism, Correction of the Compass, &c.,
&c., were communicated to the Royal Society, and were published in the
Philosophical Transactions. But everything astronomical was reserved
for the Royal Astronomical Society. His connection with that Society
was very close: he had joined it in its earliest days (the date of his
election was May 9th, 1828), and regarded it as the proper medium for
the discussion of current astronomical questions, and for recording
astronomical progress. He was unremitting in his attendance at the
Monthly Meetings of the Society, and was several times President. In
the Memoirs of the Society 35 of his Papers are printed, and in
addition 129 Papers in the Monthly Notices. In fact a meeting of the
Society rarely passed without some communication from him, and such
was his wealth of matter that sometimes he would communicate as many
as 3 Papers on a single evening. For the publication of several short
mathematical Papers, and especially for correspondence on disputed
points of mathematical investigation, he chose as his vehicle the
Philosophical Magazine, to which he contributed 32 Papers.
Investigations of a more popular character he published in the
Athenaeum, which he also used as a vehicle for his replies to attacks
on his work, or on the Establishment which he conducted: in all he
made 55 communications to that Newspaper. To various Societies, such
as the Institution of Civil Engineers, the British Association, the
Royal Institution, &c., he presented Papers or made communications on
subjects specially suited to each; and in like manner to various
Newspapers: there were 58 Papers in this category. In so long an
official life there would naturally be a great number of Official
Reports, Parliamentary Returns, &c., and these, with other
miscellaneous Papers printed for particular objects and for a limited
circulation, amounted in all to 141. Under this head come his Annual
Reports to the Board of Visitors, which in themselves contain an
extremely full and accurate history of the Observatory during his
tenure of office. There are 46 of these Reports, and they would of
themselves form a large volume of about 740 pages.

The following summary of his Printed Papers shews the manner in which
they were distributed:


                                                        Number of

 In the Transactions of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 30
 In the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society     29
 In the Proceedings of the Royal Society                     9
 In the Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society           35
 In the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society  129
 In the Philosophical Magazine and Journal                  32
 In the Athenaeum                                           55
 In Encyclopedias, and in various Newspapers
      and Transactions                                      58
 In Official Reports, Addresses, Parliamentary Returns,
      Evidence before Committees, Lectures, Letters,
      Sundry Treatises, and Papers                         141
                          Total                            518

                     PRINTED PAPERS BY G.B. AIRY.

Date when read
or published.               Title of Paper.                  Where published.

1822 Nov. 25  On the use of Silvered Glass for the Mirrors   Camb. Phil. Soc.
                of Reflecting Telescopes.

1824 Mar. 15  On the Figure assumed by a Fluid Homogeneous   Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Mass, whose Particles are acted
                on by their mutual Attraction, and by
                small extraneous Forces.

1824 May 17   On the Principles and Construction of the      Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Achromatic Eye-Pieces of Telescopes,
                and on the Achromatism of Microscopes.

1824          Trigonometry.                                  Encycl. Metrop.

1825 Feb. 21  On a peculiar Defect in the Eye, and a         Camb. Phil. Soc.
                mode of correcting it.

1825 May 2    On the Forms of the Teeth of Wheels.           Camb. Phil. Soc.

1826 May 8    On Laplace's Investigation of the Attraction   Camb. Phil. Soc.
                of Spheroids differing little from a Sphere.

1826 June 15  On the Figure of the Earth.                    Phil. Trans.

1826 Nov. 26  On the Disturbances of Pendulums and           Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Balances, and on the Theory of

1827 Feb. 15  Remarks on a Correction of the Solar           Phil. Trans.
                Tables, required by Mr South's

1827 May 9    On some Passages in Mr Ivory's Remarks         Phil. Mag.
                on a Memoir by M. Poisson relating to
                the Attraction of Spheroids.

1827 May 14   On the Spherical Aberration of the             Camb. Phil. Soc.
     May 21     Eyepieces of Telescopes.

1827 Dec. 6   On the corrections in the elements of          Phil. Trans.
                Delambre's Solar Tables required by the
                observations made at the Royal
                Observatory, Greenwich.

1828 Feb. 26  Address to the Members of the Senate, on
                an Improvement in the Position of the
                Plumian Professor.

1828 Nov. 24  On the Longitude of the Cambridge
                Observatory.                                 Camb. Phil. Soc.

1829 Nov. 13  On a method of determining the Mass of         Astr. Soc.
                the Moon from Transit Observations of          (Memoirs)
                Venus near her inferior conjunction.

1829 Nov. 16  On a Correction requisite to be applied        Camb. Phil. Soc.
                to the Length of a Pendulum consisting
                of a Ball suspended by a fine Wire.

1829 Dec. 14  On certain Conditions under which a            Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Perpetual Motion is possible.

1830 Aug. 17  Figure of the Earth.                           Encycl. Metrop.

1831 Feb. 21  On the Nature of the Light in the Two          Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Rays produced by the Double Refraction
                of Quartz.

1831 Apr. 18  Addition to the above Paper.                   Camb. Phil. Soc.

1831 Nov. 14  On a remarkable Modification of Newton's       Camb. Phil. Soc.

1831 Nov. 24  On an inequality of long period in the         Phil. Trans.
                motions of the Earth and Venus.

1832 Jan. 2   Translation of Encke's Dissertation (on
                Encke's Comet) contained in Nos. 210
                and 211 of the Astronomische Nachrichten.

1833 Mar. 5   On a new Analyzer, and its use in              Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Experiments of Polarization.

1832 Mar. 19  On the Phenomena of Newton's Rings
                when formed between two transparent
                Substances of different refractive Powers.

1832 May 2    Report on the Progress of Astronomy            Trans Brit. Ass.
                during the present century.

1832 Oct.     Report of the Syndicate of the Cambridge

1833 Feb. 2   Remarks on Mr Potter's Experiment on           Phil. Mag.

1833 Apr. 12  On the Mass of Jupiter, as determined          R. Astr. Soc.
                from the Observation of Elongations of         (Memoirs)
                the Fourth Satellite.

1833          Syllabus of a Course of Experimental

1833 May 7    On the Calculation of Newton's                 Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Experiments on Diffraction.

1833 May 7    Remarks on Sir David Brewster's Paper          Phil. Mag.
                "On the Absorption of Specific Rays" &c.

1833 May 16   Results of the Repetition of Mr Potter's       Phil. Mag.
                Experiment of interposing a Prism in
                the Path of Interfering Light.

1833 May      On a supposed black bar formed by              Phil. Mag.

1833 June 20  Report on Mr Barlow's Fluid-Lens               R. Soc. (Proc.)

1834 Mar. 14  Continuation of Researches into the Value      R. Astr. Soc.
                of the Mass of Jupiter, by observation of      (Memoirs.)
                the Elongations of the Fourth Satellite.

1834 Apr. 14  On the Latitude of Cambridge Observatory       Camb. Phil. Soc.

1834 June     Report of the Syndicate of the Cambridge

1834 June 13  On the Position of the Ecliptic, as inferred   R. Astr. Soc.
                inferred from Transit and Circle               (Memoirs.)
                Observations made at Cambridge Observatory
                in the year 1833.

1834 June 13  Observations of the Solar Eclipse of July      R. Astr. Soc.
              16th, 1833, made at Cambridge Observatory,       (Memoirs.)
              and Calculations of the Observations.

1834 Nov. 24  On the Diffraction of an Object-Glass          Camb. Phil. Soc.
                with Circular Aperture.

1834 Dec. 3   On the Calculation of the Perturbations        Naut. Alm.
                of the Small Planets and the Comets of         (1837, App.)
                short period.

1835 May 8    Continuation of Researches into the Value      R. Astr, Soc.
                of Jupiter's Mass.                             (Memoirs.)

1835 June     Report of the Syndicate of the Cambridge

1835 June 12  On the Position of the Ecliptic, as            R. Astr. Soc.
                inferred from Observations with the            (Memoirs.)
                Cambridge Transit and Mural Circle,
                made in the year 1834.

1835 June 12  On the Time of Rotation of Jupiter.            R. Astr. Soc.

1836 Feb. 12  Speech on delivering the Medal of the          R. Astr. Soc.
                R. Astr. Soc. to Sir John Herschel.            (Proc.)

1836 June 4   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1836 June 9   Report upon a Letter (on a Systematic          R. Soc.
                Course of Magnetic Observations) addressed     (Proc.)
                by M. le Baron de Humboldt to
                His Royal Highness the President of
                the Royal Society (by S. Hunter Christie
                and G.B. Airy).

1837 Jan. 13  Continuation of Researches into the Value      R. Astr. Soc.
                of Jupiter's Mass.                             (Memoirs.)

1837 Feb. 10  Speech on delivering the Medal of the          R. Astr. Soc.
                R. Astr. Soc. to Professor Rosenberger.        (Proc)

1837 Mar. 10  Results of the Observations of the Sun,        R. Astr. Soc.
                Moon, and Planets, made at Cambridge           (Memoirs)
                Observatory in the years 1833, 1834, and

1837 May 12   On the Position of the Ecliptic, as            R. Astr. Soc.
                inferred from Observations with the            (Memoirs)
                Cambridge Transit and Mural Circle, made
                in the year 1835.

1837 June 3   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1837 Sept. 9  Address delivered in the Town Hall of

1837 Nov. 10  On the Parallax of alpha Lyrae.                R. Astr. Soc.

1838 Feb. 10  Address to the Earl of Burlington on
                Religious Examination in the University
                of London.

1838 Mar. 26  On the Intensity of Light in the               Camb. Phil. Soc.
                neighbourhood of a Caustic.

1838 June 2   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1838 Dec. 14  A Catalogue of 726 Stars, deduced from         R. Astr. Soc.
                the Observations made at the Cambridge         (Memoirs.)
                Observatory, from 1828 to 1835; reduced
                to January 1, 1830.

1839 Apr. 25  Account of Experiments on Iron-built           Phil. Trans.
                Ships, instituted for the purpose of
                discovering a correction for the deviation
                of the Compass produced by the iron of
                the Ships.

1839 June 1   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1839 Nov. 8   On the Determination of the Orbits of          R. Astr. Soc.
                Comets, from Observations.                     (Memoirs.)

1839          Article "Gravitation."                         Penny Cyclop.

1839          Article "Greenwich Observatory."               Penny Cyclop.

1840 Mar. 2   On a New Construction of the                   Camb. Phil. Soc.

1840 Mar. 13  On the Regulator of the Clock-work for         R. Astr. Soc.
                effecting uniform Movement of

1840 May 15   On the Correction of the Compass in            Un. Serv. Journ.
                Iron-built Ships.                              (Proc.)

1840          Results of Experiments on the Disturbance      J. Weale.
                of the Compass in Iron-built Ships.

1840 June 6   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1840 June 18  On the Theoretical Explanation of an           Phil. Trans.
                apparent new Polarity in Light.

1840 Nov. 19  Supplement to the above Paper.                 Phil. Trans.

1840 Dec. 4   On the Diffraction of an Annular Aperture.     Phil. Mag.

1840 Dec. 9   Remarks on Professor Challis's Investigation   Phil. Mag.
                of the Motion of a Small Sphere
                vibrating in a Resisting Medium.

1841 Jan. 20  Correction to the above Paper "On the          Phil. Mag.
                Diffraction," &c.

1841 Mar. 22  Remarks on Professor Challis's Reply to        Phil. Mag.
                Mr Airy's Objections to the Investigation
                of the Resistance of the Atmosphere
                to an Oscillating Sphere.

1841 June 5   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1841 July 10  Reply to Professor Challis, on the             Phil. Mag.
                Investigation of the Resistance of the
                Air to an Oscillating Sphere.

1841 Oct. 26  Extraordinary Disturbance of the Magnets.

1841 Nov. 25  On the Laws of the Rise and Fall of the        Phil. Trans.
                Tide in the River Thames.

1841 Dec. 21  Report of the Commissioners appointed to
                consider the steps to be taken for
                Restoration of the Standards of Weight and

1842 Apr. 16  On the [Greek: Ichtis] of Diodorus             Athenaeum.

1842 May 13   Account of the Ordnance Zenith Sector.         R. Astr. Soc.

1842 June 4   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1842 Nov. 11  Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse of     R. Astr. Soc.
                1842 July 7.                                   (Memoirs.)

1842 Dec. 1   Remarks on the Present State of Hatcliff's     Private
                Charity (Greenwich).

1842          Article on Tides and Waves.                    Encyc. Metrop.

1843 Mar. 2   On the Laws of Individual Tides at             Phil. Trans.
                Southampton and at Ipswich.

1843 Apr. 29  On Monetary and Metrical Systems.              Athenaeum.

1843 June 3   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1843 Sept. 25 Address to the Individual Members of the
                Board of Visitors of the Royal
                Observatory (proposing the Altazimuth).

1843 Oct. 6   Account of the Northumberland Equatoreal
                and Dome, attached to the Cambridge

1843 Nov. 10  Address and Explanation of the proposed
                Altitude and Azimuth Instrument to the
                Board of Visitors of the Royal

1844 June 1   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1844 Dec. 12  On the Laws of the Tides on the Coasts of      Phil. Trans.
                Ireland, as inferred from an extensive
                series of observations made in connection
                with the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.

1845 Jan. 10  On the Flexure of a Uniform Bar                R. Astr. Soc.
                supported by a number of equal Pressures       (Memoirs.)
                applied at equidistant points, &c.

1845 Feb. 14  Speech on delivering the Medal of the          R. Astr. Soc.
                R. Astr. Soc. to Capt. Smyth                   (Proc.)

1845 May 9    On a New Construction of the Divided           R. Astr. Soc.
                Eye-Glass Double-Image Micrometer.             (Memoirs.)

1845 June 7   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1845 July 21  On Wexford Harbour.

1846          Report of the Gauge Commissioners. And
                letter to Sir E. Ryan.

1846 May 7    On the Equations applying to Light under       Phil. Mag.
                the action of Magnetism.

1846 May 12   Remarks on Dr Faraday's Paper on               Phil. Mag.

1846 May 25   On a Change in the State of an Eye             Camb. Phil. Soc.
                affected with a Mal-formation.

1846 June 6   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1846 June     Account of the Measurement of an Arc of        R. Astr. Soc.
                Longitude between the Royal Observatory        (Month. Not.)
                of Greenwich and the Trigonometrical
                Station of Feagh Main, in the Island
                of Valentia.

1846 July 25  Letter to Sir Robert Harry Inglis, Bart.,      Athenaeum.
                M.P., in answer to Sir James South's
                attack on the Observations at the
                Greenwich Observatory.

1846 Nov.     On the Bands formed by the partial             Phil. Mag.
                Interception of the Prismatic Spectrum.

1846 Nov. 13  Account of some circumstances historically     R. Astr. Soc.
                connected with the Discovery of the            (Memoirs.)
                Planet exterior to Uranus.

1847 Jan. 8   Reduction of the Observations of Halley's      R. Astr. Soc.
                Comet made at the Cambridge Observatory in     (Memoirs.)
                the years 1835 and 1836.

1847 Jan. 8   On a proposed Alteration of Bessel's Method    R. Astr. Soc.
                for the Computation of the Corrections by      (Memoirs.)
                which the Apparent Places of
                Stars are derived from the Mean Places.

1847 Feb.     On Sir David Brewster's New Analysis of        Phil. Mag.
                Solar Light.

1847 Feb. 20  On the Name of the New Planet.                 Athenaeum.

1847 Feb. 27  Mr Adams and the New Planet.                   Athenaeum.

1847          Plan of the Buildings and Grounds of the
                Royal Observatory, Greenwich, with
                Explanation and History.

1847 May 14   Explanation of Hansen's Perturbations of       R. Astr. Soc.
                the Moon by Venus.                             (Month. Not.)

1847 June 5   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1847 Nov. 30  Address to the Individual Members of the
                Board of Visitors of the Royal Observatory.
                (Zenith Tube.)

1847 Dec. 10  Results deduced from the Occultations of       R. Astr. Soc.
                Stars and Planets by the Moon, observed        (Memoirs.)
                at Cambridge Observatory from 1830 to 1835.

1848 Feb. 11  Abstract of Struve's "Études d'Astronomie      R. Astr. Soc.
                Stellaire."                                    (Month. Not.)

1848 Mar. 13  Syllabus of Lectures on Astronomy to be
                delivered at the Temperance Hall,

1848 Apr. 10  Remarks on Prof. Challis's Theoretical         Phil. Mag.
                Determination of the Velocity of Sound

1848 May 8    Supplement to a Paper on the Intensity of      Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Light in the neighbourhood of a Caustic.

1848 May 12   Address to Individual members of the
                Board of Visitors. (New Transit Circle,
                Reflex Zenith Tube, &c.)

1848 June 3   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1848 June 9   Corrections of the Elements of the Moon's      R. Astr. Soc.
                Orbit, deduced from the Lunar                  (Memoirs.)
                Observations made at the Royal Observatory,
                of Greenwich from 1750 to 1830.

1848 Aug. 9   Explanation of a proposed construction of
                Zenith Sector: addressed to the Board
                of Visitors of the Royal Observatory,

1848 Oct. 14  On the Construction of Chinese Balls           Athenaeum.

1849          Description of the Instruments of Process
                used in the Photographic self-registration
                of the Magnetical and Meteorological
                Instruments at the Royal Observatory,

1849          Description of the Altitude and Azimuth
                Instrument erected at the Royal
                Observatory, Greenwich, in the year 1847.

1849          Astronomy. (Tract written for the
                Scientific Manual.)

1849 Mar. 9   Substance of the Lecture delivered by the      R. Astr. Soc.
                Astronomer Royal on the large Reflecting       (Month. Not.)
                Telescopes of the Earl of Rosse and Mr

1849 June     On a difficulty in the problem of Sound.       Phil. Mag.

1849 June 2   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1849 June 8   On Instruments adapted to the Measure of       R. Astr. Soc.
                small Meridional Zenith Distances.             (Month. Not.)

1849 Nov. 9   Results of the Observations made by the        R. Astr. Soc.
                Rev. Fearon Fallows at the Royal               (Memoirs.)
                Observatory, Cape of Good Hope, in the
                years 1829, 1830, 1831.

1849 Nov. 9   On Bell's Calculating machine, and on          R. Astr. Soc.
                Lord Rosse's Telescope.                        (Month. Not.)

1849 Nov. 10  On the Exodus of the Israelites.               Athenaeum.

1849 Dec. 14  On the Method of observing and recording       R. Astr. Soc.
                Transits, lately introduced in America, &c.    (Month. Not.)

1850 Jan. 10  On a problem of Geodesy.                       Phil. Mag.

1850 Feb. 8   Address on presenting the Medal of the         R. Astr. Soc.
                R. Astr. Soc. to M. Otto von Struve.           (Month. Not.)

1850 Mar. 15  On the Present State and Prospects of the      R. Inst.
                Science of Terrestrial Magnetism.

1850 Mar. 16  On the Exodus of the Israelites                Athenaeum.

1850 Mar. 30  On the Exodus of the Israelites.               Athenaeum.

1850 May 10   Statement concerning Assistance granted        R. Astr. Soc.
                by the Admiralty to Hansen--Also on            (Month. Not.)
                Henderson's numbers for the teeth of

1850 May 10   On the Weights to be given to the separate     R. Astr. Soc.
                Results for Terrestrial Longitudes,            (Memoirs.)
                determined by the observation of Transits
                of the Moon and Fixed Stars.

1850 June 1   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1850 June 14  Letter from Hansen on his Lunar Tables.--Valz  R. Astr. Soc.
                on an arrangement of double-image              (Month. Not.)
                micrometer.--On the Computation of
                Longitude from Lunar Transits

1850 Dec. 13  On a Method of regulating the Clock-work       R. Astr. Soc.
                for Equatoreals.                               (Month. Not.)

1850 Dec. 13  Supplement to a Paper "On the Regulation       R. Astr. Soc.
                of the Clock-work for effecting Uniform        (Memoirs.)
                Movement of Equatoreals."

1850 Dec. 27  On the Relation of the Direction of the        Phil. Trans.
                Wind to the Age of the Moon, as inferred
                from Observations made at the Royal
                Observatory, Greenwich, from 1840 Nov.
                to 1847 Dec.

1851 Jan. 14  Remarks on Mr Wyatt's Paper on the             Inst. C.E.
                Construction of the Building for the           (Minutes.)
                Exhibition of the Works of Industry of
                all Nations in 1851.

1851 Feb. 15  Address on presenting the medal of the         R. Astr. Soc.
                R. Astr. Soc. to Dr Annibale de                (Month. Not.)

1851 Mar. 28  Letter to Professor Challis regarding the
                Adams Prize.

1851 Mar. 29  On Caesar's place of landing in Britain.       Athenaeum.

1851          Suggestions to Astronomers for the             Brit. Assoc.
                Observation of the Total Eclipse of the
                Sun on July 28, 1851.

1851 Apr. 11  On the Determination of the probable           R. Astr. Soc.
                Stability of an Azimuthal Circle by            (Month. Not.)
                Observations of Star and a permanent

1851 May 2    On the Total Solar Eclipse of 1851, July 28.   R. Inst.

1851 May 9    On the Vibration of a Free Pendulum in an      R. Astr. Soc.
                Oval differing little from a Straight Line     (Memoirs)

1851 June 7   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1851 July 2   The President's Address to the Twenty-first    Athenaeum.
                Meeting of the British Association for
                the Advancement of Science, Ipswich.

1851 Oct. 17  On Julius Caesar's Expedition against          Naut. Mag.
                England, in relation to his places of
                departure and landing.

1851 Nov. 14  Account of the Total Eclipse of the Sun on     R. Astr. Soc.
                1851, July 28, as observed at Göttenburg,      (Memoirs.)
                at Christiania, and at Christianstadt.

1851 Dec. 13  On the Geography of the Exodus.                Athenaeum.

1852 Jan. 9   On the Solar Eclipse of July 28, 1851.         R. Astr. Soc.
                                                               (Month. Not.)

1852          On the place of Caesar's Departure from        Soc. of Antiq.
                Gaul for the Invasion of Britain, and          (Memoirs.)
                the Place of his Landing in Britain,
                with an Appendix on the Battle of

1852          On a New Method of computing the               Naut. Alm. 1856,
                Perturbations of planets, by J.F.              App.
                Encke--translated and illustrated with
                notes by G.B. Airy.

1852 June 5   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1853 Feb. 3   On the Eclipses of Agathocles, Thales,         Phil. Trans.
                and Xerxes.

1853 Feb. 4   Lecture on the results of recent               R. Inst.
                calculations on the Eclipse of Thales
                and Eclipses connected with it.

1853 May 3    Address to the Individual Members of the
                Board of Visitors of the Royal Observatory,
                Greenwich. (Lunar Reductions.)

1853 May 14   On Decimal Coinage.                            Athenaeum.

1853 June 4   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1853 June     Lecture on the Determination of the            R. Astr. Soc.
                Longitude of the Observatory of                (Month. Not.)
                Cambridge by means of Galvanic Signals.

1853 Sept. 10 On Decimal Coinage.                            Athenaeum.

1853 Dec. 14  Description of the Transit Circle of the
                Royal Observatory, Greenwich. (App.
                Gr. Observ. 1852.)

1853 Dec. 14  Regulations of the Royal Observatory,
                Greenwich. (App. Gr. Observ. 1852.)

1854 Jan. 14  On the Telegraphic Longitude of Brussels.      Athenaeum.

1854 Feb. 10  Address on presenting the Gold Medal of        R. Astr. Soc.
                the R. Astr. Soc. to Mr Charles Rümker.        (Month. Not.)

1854 Feb. 25  On Reforms in the University of Cambridge.     Athenaeum.

1854 Apr. 15  Letters relating to "The Late M. Mauvais."     Liter. Gaz.

1854 June 3   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1854 Sept.    The Deluge.                                    Private.

1854 Oct. 28  On the Correction of the Compass in Iron       Athenaeum.
                Ships. (Scoresby's Experiments.)

1854 Nov. 10  On the Difference of Longitude between         R. Astr. Soc.
                the Observatories of Brussels and Greenwich,   (Memoirs.)
                as determined by Galvanic Signals.

1855 Jan. 1   Lecture at S. Shields on the Pendulum
                Experiments in the Harton Pit, and
                Letter on the Results.

1855 Feb. 2   Lecture on the Pendulum Experiments            R. Inst.
                lately made in the Harton Colliery for
                ascertaining the mean Density of the

1855 Feb. 3   On the Correction of the Compass in Iron       Athenaeum.
               Ships. (Remarks on Dr Scoresby's

1855          Address on presenting the Medal of the         R. Astr. Soc.
                R. Astr. Soc. to the Rev. William Rutter       (Month. Not.)

1855 Feb. 15  On the Computation of the Effect of the        Phil. Trans.
                Attraction of Mountain Masses, as
                disturbing the Apparent Astronomical
                Latitude of Stations in Geodetic Surveys.

1855 June 2   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1855 Oct. 18  Address to the Individual Members of the
                Board of Visitors of the Royal Observatory,
                Greenwich. (Equatoreal.)

1855 Nov. 21  Remarks upon certain Cases of Personal         R. Astr. Soc.
                Equation which appear to have hitherto         (Memoirs.)
                escaped notice, accompanied with a Table
                of Results.

1855 Nov. 22  Discussion of the Observed Deviations of       Phil. Trans.
                the Compass in several Ships, Wood-built
                and Iron-built: with a General
                Table for facilitating the examination of

1855          Description of the Reflex Zenith Tube of
                the Royal Observatory, Greenwich. (App.
                to the Greenwich Obs. for 1854.)

1856  Jan. 9  On Professor Peirce's Criterion for            Astr. Journ.
                discordant observations.                       (Cambr.)

1856 Jan. 24  Account of Pendulum Experiments undertaken     Phil. Trans.
                in the Harton Colliery, for the
                purpose of determining the Mean Density
                of the Earth.

1856 June 7   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1856 Aug. 25  On Scheutz's Calculating Machine.              Phil. Mag.

1856 Aug. 30  Science and the Government. (Reply to          Athenaeum.
                statements in the Morning Chronicle
                about the instrumental equipment of the
                Royal Observatory.)

1857  May 8   On the Means which will be available for       R. Astr. Soc.
                correcting the Measure of the Sun's            (Month. Not.)
                Distance in the next twenty-five years.

1857 May 12   Knowledge expected in Computers and
                Assistants in the Royal Observatory.

1857 June 6   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1857 June 12  On the Eclipse of Agathocles, the Eclipse      R. Astr. Soc.
                at Larissa, and the Eclipse of Thales.         (Memoirs.)
                With an Appendix on the Eclipse of

1857 June 18  Account of the Construction of the New         Phil. Trans.
                National Standard of Length, and of its
                principal copies.

1857 Dec. 5   Letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge
                University regarding Smith's Prizes.

1857 Dec. 7   On the Substitution of Methods founded         Camb. Phil. Soc.
                on Ordinary Geometry for Methods
                based on the General Doctrine of
                Proportions, in the treatment of some
                Geometrical Problems

1857          Description of the Galvanic Chronographic      Gr. Obs. 1856,
                Apparatus of the Royal Observatory,            App.

1858 Mar. 8   Suggestions for Observation of the Annular
                Eclipse of the Sun on 1858, March 14-15.

1858 Mar. 12  Note on Oltmann's Calculation of the           R. Astr. Soc.
                Eclipse of Thales. Also On a Method            (Month. Not.)
                of very approximately representing the
                Projection of a Great Circle upon
                Mercator's Chart.

1858 May      The Atlantic Cable Problem.                    Naut. Mag.

1858 May 20   Report of the Ordnance Survey
                Commission; together with Minutes of
                Evidence and Appendix.

1858 June 5   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1858 June 16  On the Mechanical Conditions of the            Phil. Mag.
                Deposit of a Submarine Cable.

1858 July     Instructions and Chart for Observations        R. Astr. Soc.
                of Mars in right ascension at the              (Special.)
                Opposition of 1860 for obtaining the
                Measure of the Sun's Distance.

1858 Aug. 20  On the Advantageous Employment of              Photog. Notes.
                Stereoscopic Photographs for the
                representation of Scenery.

1858 Nov. 6   On the "Draft of Proposed New Statutes         Athenaeum.
                for Trinity College, Cambridge."

1858 Nov. 20  Letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the
                University of Cambridge, offering the
                Sheepshanks Endowment.

1858  Dec. 6  Suggestion of a Proof of the Theorem           Camb. Phil. Soc.
                that Every Algebraic Equation has a

1859          Manual of Astronomy--for the Admiralty.        Parly. Paper.

1859 Feb. 1   Letter to Lord Monteagle relating to the
                Standards of Weights and Measures.

1859 Feb. 4   Remarks on Mr Cayley's Trigonometrical         Phil. Mag.
                Theorem, and on Prof. Challis's Proof
                that Equations have Roots.

1859 Mar. 11  On the Movement of the Solar System in         R. Astr. Soc.
                Space.                                         (Memoirs.)

1859 Apr. 8   On the Apparent Projection of Stars upon       R. Astr. Soc.
                the Moon's Disc in Occultations. Also          (Month. Not.)
                Comparison of the Lunar Tables of
                Burckhardt and Hansen with Observations
                of the Moon made at the Royal
                Observatory, Greenwich.

1859 Apr. 8   On the Apparent Projection of Stars upon       R. Astr. Soc.
                the Moon's Disc in Occultations.               (Memoirs.)

1859 June 4   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1859 June 10  Abstract of Maxwell's Paper "On the            R. Astr. Soc.
                Stability of the Motion of Saturn's Rings."    (Month. Not.)

1859 July 8   Corrections of the Elements of the Moon's      R. Astr. Soc.
                Orbit, deduced from the Lunar Observations     (Memoirs.)
                made at the Royal Observatory of Greenwich
                from 1750 to 1851.

1859 Sept. 10 On the Invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar.   Athenaeum.
                (Answer to Mr Lewin.)

1859 Nov. 12  On Iron Ships--The Royal Charter.              Athenaeum.
                (Answer to Archibald Smith's Remarks.)

1859 Nov.     Circular requesting observations of small

1859 Dec. 9   Notice of the approaching Total Eclipse of     R. Astr. Soc.
                the Sun of July 18,1860, and suggestions       (Month. Not.)
                for observation.

1859 Dec. 12  Supplement to A Proof of the Theorem           Camb. Phil. Soc.
                that Every Algebraic Equation has a Root.

1860 Jan. 13  Description of the New Equatoreal at the       R. Astr. Soc.
                Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Also             (Month. Not.)
                Abstract of an Essay by Gen. T.F. de
                Schubert on the Figure of the Earth.

1860 Jan. 28  On the Claudian or Plautian Invasion of        Athenaeum

1860 Feb. 2   Examination of Navy 2-foot Telescopes at
                the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, 1860,
                Jan. 31 to Feb. 2.

1860 Feb. 11  Report on the Instrumental Equipments          Ho. of Commons.
                of the Exchequer Office of Weights and         (Parly. Paper.)
                Measures, as regards the means for
                preventing Fraud in the Sale of Gas to
                the Public; and on the Amendments which
                may be required to the existing Legislation
                on that subject.

1860 Mar. 9   Address on the approaching Solar Eclipse       R. Astr. Soc.
                of July 18, 1860, &c.                          (Month. Not.)

1860 May 10   Correspondence between the Lords               Ho. of Commons.
                Commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury,       (Parly. Paper.)
                &c., and the Astronomer Royal, relating
                to Gas Measurement, and the Sale of
                Gas Act.

1860 June 2   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors. And Address to the
                Members of the Board in reference to
                Struve's Geodetic suggestions.

1860 June 7   Correspondence regarding the Grant of
                _£1000_ to Prof. Hansen for his Lunar

1860 Sept. 13 Remarks on a Paper entitled "On the
                Polar Distances of the Greenwich Transit
                Circle, by A. Marth." Addressed to
                the Members of the Board of Visitors.

1860 Sept. 22 On Change of Climate, in answer to             Athenaeum.
                certain speculations by Sir Henry James.

1860 Oct. 20  Circular relating to the distribution of
                Greenwich Observations and other
                publications of the Royal Observatory.

1860 Nov. 9   Account of Observations of the Total           R. Astr. Soc.
                Solar Eclipse of 1860, July 18, made           (Month. Not.)
                at Hereña, near Miranda de Ebro; &c. &c.

1860 Nov. 17  On Change of Climate: further discussion.      Athenaeum.

1860          Letters on Lighthouses, to the Commission
                on Lighthouses.

1860 Dec. 14  Note on the translation of a passage in a      R. Astr. Soc.
                letter of Hansen's relating to                 (Month. Not.)

1861 Feb. 9   On the Temperature-correction of Syphon        Athenaeum.

1861 March    Results of Observations of the Solar           R. Astr. Soc.
                Eclipse of 1860 July 18 made at the Royal      (Month. Not.)
                Observatory, Greenwich, for determination
                of the Errors of the Tabular Elements of
                the Eclipse. Also Suggestion of a new
                Astronomical Instrument, for which the
                name "Orbit-Sweeper" is proposed. Also
                Theory of the Regulation of a Clock by
                Galvanic Currents acting on the Pendulum.

1861 June 1   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1861 June 5   On a supposed Failure of the Calculus of       Phil. Mag.

1861 July     Report of a Committee of the R. Soc. on        R. Soc.(Proc.)
                the advisability of re-measuring the
                Indian Arc of Meridian.

1861 Sept. 21 Lecture at Manchester on the Great Solar       Athenaeum.
                Eclipse of July 18, 1860.

1861 Sept. 21 The same Lecture.                              London Review.

1861 Oct.     Examination Paper for the Sheepshanks

1861 Nov. 1   Translation of Dr Lamont's Paper "On the       Phil. Mag.
                most Advantageous Form of Magnets."

1861 Nov. 8   Note on a Letter received from Hansen on       R. Astr. Soc.
                the Lunar Theory. Also Discussion of           (Month. Not.)
                a Result deduced by Mr D'Abbadie from
                Observations of the Total Solar Eclipse
                of 1860, July 18.

1861 Nov. 16  Instructions for observing the Total Eclipse
                of the Sun on December 31.

1861 Dec.     On a Projection by Balance of Errors for       Phil. Mag.

1861 Dec. 28  On the Circularity of the Sun's Disk.          R. Astr. Soc.
                Also Table of Comparative Number of            (Month. Not.)
                Observations of Small Planets.

1862 Jan.     On the Direction of the Joints in the          Phil. Mag.
                Faces of Oblique Arches.

1862 Mar. 15  Review of "An Historical Survey of the         Athenaeum.
                Astronomy of the Ancients" by the Rt
                Hon. Sir G. Cornewall Lewis.

1862 Apr. 24  Notes for the Committee on Weights and
                Measures, 1862.

1862 May 15   On the Magnetic Properties of Hot-Rolled       Phil. Trans.
                and Cold-Rolled Malleable Iron.

1862 June 7   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1862 June 24  Evidence given before the Select
                Committee on Weights and Measures.

1862 Oct. 4   Biography of G.B. Airy (probably in part       London Review.
                based upon data supplied by himself).

1862 Oct. 11  Abstract of Paper "On the Strains in the       Athenaeum.
                Interior of Beams and Tubular Bridges."

1862 Oct. 11  Translation of a Letter from Prof. Lament      Phil. Mag.
                on Dalton's Theory of Vapour, &c.

1862 Nov. 6   On the Strains in the Interior of Beams.       Phil. Trans.

1862 Nov.     Correspondence with Sabine concerning
                his attack on the Greenwich Magnetic
                Observations. (Confidentially
                communicated to the Board of Visitors.)

1862 Nov. 21  Evidence given before the Public Schools

1862 Nov.     Abstract of M. Auwers's Paper on the           R. Astr. Soc.
                proper motion of Procyon, and Note on          (Month. Not.)

1862  Dec.    Abstract of Mr Safford's Paper on the          R. Astr. Soc.
                Proper Motion of Sirius. Also on the           (Month. Not.)
                Forms of Lenses proper for the Negative
                Eye-pieces of Telescopes. Also on the
                measurements of the Earth, and the
                dimensions of the Solar System. Also
                on Fringes of Light in Solar Eclipses.

1863 Jan.     Address to the Board of Visitors on a
                further attack by Sabine on the Greenwich
                Magnetic Observations (confidential).

1863 Jan. 9   On the Observations of Saturn made at          R. Astr. Soc.
                Pulkowa and Greenwich.                         (Month. Not.)

1863 Feb. 24  Report to the Board of Trade on the
                Proposed Lines of Railway through
                Greenwich Park.

1863 Mar. 2   Determination of the Longitude of Valencia
                in Ireland by Galvanic Signals in the
                summer of 1862 (App. III. to the Gr.
                Astr. Obsns. 1862).

1863 Mar. 13  On the Movement of the Solar System in         R. Astr. Soc.
                Space, deduced from the Proper Motions         (Memoirs.)
                of 1167 Stars. By Edwin Dunkin (for

1863 Mar. 13  On the Visibility of Stars in the Pleiades     R. Astr. Soc.
                to the unarmed eye.                            (Month. Not.)

1863 Mar. 21  On Marriage Odes.                              Athenaeum.

1863 Apr. 9   Further Report as to the Probable Effects
                of the London, Chatham and Dover
                Railway on the Royal Observatory in
                Greenwich Park.

1863 Apr. 10  Determination of the Sun's Parallax from       R. Astr. Soc.
                observations of Mars during the                (Month. Not.)
                Opposition of 1862. By E.J. Stone (for
                G.B.A.). Also Remarks on Struve's
                account of a Local deviation in the
                direction of Gravity, near Moscow. Also
                an Account of an apparatus for the
                observation of the spectra of stars, and
                results obtained.

1863 Apr. 23  On the Diurnal Inequalities of                 Phil. Trans.
                Terrestrial Magnetism, as deduced from
                observations made at the Royal
                Observatory, Greenwich, from 1841
                to 1857.

1863 May 8    On the Discordance between the Results         R. Astr. Soc.
                for Zenith-Distances obtained by Direct        (Memoirs.)
                Observation, and those obtained by
                Observation by Reflection from the
                Surface of Quicksilver.

1863 June 6   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1863 July 2   On the Amount of Light given by the            R. Astr. Soc.
                Moon at the greatest stage in the              (Month. Not.)
                Excentrically-total Eclipse, 1863,
                June 1.

1863 Aug.     Plan of the Buildings and Grounds of the
                Royal Observatory, Greenwich, with
                Explanation and History.

1863 Sept. 5  On the origin of the apparent luminous         R. Astr. Soc.
                band which, in partial eclipses of the         (Month. Not.)
                Sun, has been seen to surround the
                visible portion of the Moon's limb.

1863 Sept. 5  On the Invasions of Britain by Julius          Athenaeum.
1863 Oct. 3   Caesar.

1863 Oct. 17  The Earthquake as observed from Greenwich.     Athenaeum.

1863 Nov.     On the Numerical Expression of the             Phil. Mag.
                Destructive Energy in the Explosions
                of Steam-Boilers, &c.

1863 Nov. 13  Convention arranged between M. Le Verrier      R. Astr. Soc.
                and the Astronomer Royal for meridional        (Month. Not.)
                observations of the small Planets, &c.

1863 Nov. 13  Translation of Hansen's Paper                  R. Astr. Soc.
                "Calculation of the Sun's Parallax             (Month. Not.)
                from the Lunar Theory," with Notes by

1863 Dec. 17  First Analysis of 177 Magnetic Storms,         Phil. Trans.
                registered by the Magnetic Instruments
                in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich,
                from 1841 to 1857.

1864 Jan. 8   Pontécoulant's Paper "Sur le Coefficiant       R. Astr. Soc.
                de l'Équation Parallactique déduit de la       (Month. Not.)
                Théorie," with Notes by G.B.A.

1864 Jan. 26  Remarks on Redman's Paper on the East          Inst. C. E.
                Coast (Chesil Bank, &c.).                      (Minutes.)

1864 Mar. 10  Note on a Passage in Capt.                     R. Astr. Soc.
                Jacob's "Measures of Jupiter," &c.             (Month. Not.)

1864 Mar. 11  Notes for the Committee on Weights and         Ho. of Comm.
                Measures, 1862.                                (Parly. Paper.)

1864 Mar. 17  On a Method of Slewing a Ship without          Inst. Nav. Arch.
                the aid of the Rudder.

1864 Apr. 5   Comparison of the Chinese Record of Solar      R. Astr. Soc.
                Eclipses in the Chun Tsew with the             (Month. Not.)
                Computations of Modern Theory.

1864 June 4   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1864 June 10  On the Transit of Venus, 1882, Dec. 6.         R. Astr. Soc.
                                                               (Month. Not.)

1864 June 10  On the bright band bordering the Moon's        R. Astr. Soc.
                Limb in Photographs of Eclipses.               (Month. Not.)

1864          Notes on Methods of Reduction
                applicable to the Indian Survey.

1864 Sept. 3  A Visit to the Corryvreckan.                   Athenaeum.

1864 Sept. 29 Examination Paper for the Sheepshanks

1865 Jan. 13  Comparison of the Transit-Instrument in        R. Astr. Soc.
                its ordinary or reversible form with the       (Month. Not.)
                Transit-Instrument in its
                non-reversible form, as adopted at
                Greenwich, the Cape of Good Hope, and
                other Observatories.

1865 Mar. 9   Syllabus of a course of three Lectures
                on "Magnetical Errors, &c., with special
                reference to Iron Ships and their
                Compasses," delivered at the South
                Kensington Museum.

1865 Apr. 1   Remarks on Mr Ellis's Lecture on the           Horolog. Journ.
                Greenwich System of Time Signals.

1865 Apr. 1   Free Translation of some lines of Virgil,      Athenaeum.
                "Citharâ crinitus Iopas," &c.

1865 June 3   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1865 June 17  Note on my Recommendation (in 1839)            Athenaeum.
                of Government Superintendence of the
                Compasses of Iron Ships. Also Note on
                the birthplace of Thomas Clarkson.

1865 July     On Hemiopsy.                                   Phil. Mag.

1865 Aug. 22  On the Value of the Moon's Semidiameter        R. Astr. Soc.
                as obtained by the Investigations of           (Month. Not.)
                Hugh Breen, Esq., from Occultations
                observed at Cambridge and Greenwich.

1865 Sept. 16 On "The Land of Goshen"--Reply to "A           Athenaeum.
                Suffolk Incumbent."

1865 Oct. 21  Address of the Astronomer Royal to the
                individual members of the Board of
                Visitors. (On improved Collimators.)

1865 Oct. 23  Note on an Error of Expression in two          R. Astr. Soc.
                previous Memoirs. Also Description and         (Month. Not.)
                History of a Quadrant made by Abraham

1865 Nov. 11  On the Possible Derivation of the National     Athenaeum.
                Name "Welsh."

1865          Essays on the Invasion of Britain by Julius    Private.
                Caesar; The Invasion of Britain by
                Plautius, and by Claudius Caesar; The Early
                Military Policy of the Romans in Britain;
                The Battle of Hastings. (With corr.)

1866 Mar. 10  On "The Compass in Iron Ships." Objections     Athenaeum.
                to passages in a Lecture by Archibald

1866 Apr. 13  On the Supposed Possible Effect of             R. Astr. Soc.
                Friction in the Tides, in influencing the      (Month. Not.)
                Apparent Acceleration of the Moon's Mean
                Motion in Longitude. Also on a Method
                of Computing Interpolations to the
                Second Order without Changes of
                Algebraic Sign.

1866 June 2   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1866 July 17  Papers relating to Time Signals on the         Ho. of Comm.
                Start Point.                                   (Parly. Paper.)

1866 Sept. 1  On the Campaign of Aulus Plautius in           Athenaeum.
                Britain. (Reply to Dr Guest.)

1866 Nov. 19  On the Continued Change in an Eye              Camb. Phil. Soc.
                affected with a peculiar malformation.

1866 Dec.     On the Simultaneous Disappearance of           R. Astr. Soc.
                Jupiter's Satellites in the year 1867.         (Month. Not.)
                Also Inference from the observed Movement
                of the Meteors in the appearance of 1866,
                Nov. 13-14.

1867 Jan. 1   Memorandum for the consideration of the
                Commission on Standards. (Policy of
                introducing Metrical Standards.)

1867 Jan. 12  On Decimal Weights and Measures.               Athenaeum.

1867 Feb. 19  On the use of the Suspension Bridge with       Inst. C.E.
                Stiffened Roadway for Railway and other        (Minutes.)
                Bridges of Great Span.

1867 Mar. 21  Computation of the Lengths of the Waves        Phil. Trans.
                of Light corresponding to the Lines in
                the Dispersion Spectrum measured by

1867 Mar.     Corresponding Numbers of Elevation in          R. Obs. (Also
                English Feet, and of Readings of Aneroid       Meteor. Soc.
                or Corrected Barometer in English              Apr. 17, 1867.)

1867 Apr. 16  Remarks on Sir W. Denison's Paper on           Inst. C.E.
                "The Suez Canal."                              (Minutes.)

1867 May 3    Statement of the History and Position of       Private.
                the Blue-coat Girls' School, Greenwich.

1867 June 1   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1867 June 14  On Certain Appearances of the Telescopic       R. Astr. Soc.
                Images of Stars described by the Rev.          (Month. Not.)
                W.R. Dawes.

1867 Dec. 13  Note on the Total Solar Eclipse of 1868,       R. Astr. Soc.
                Aug. 17-18.                                    (Month. Not.)

1868          Biography of G.B. Airy. (Probably corrected
                by himself.)

1868 Jan. 4   Biography (with portrait) of G.B. Airy.        Ill. Lond. News.
                (Probably corrected by himself.)

1868 Feb. 6   Comparison of Magnetic Disturbances            Phil. Trans.
                recorded by the Self-registering
                Magnetometers at the Royal Observatory,
                Greenwich, with Magnetic Disturbances
                deduced from the corresponding Terrestrial
                Galvanic Currents recorded by the
                Self-registering Galvanometers of the Royal

1868 Mar. 13  Address of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Individual Members of the Board of Visitors.
                (Number of Copies of Observations.)

1868 June 6   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1868 July 24  First Report of the Commissioners appointed    Parly. Paper.
                to enquire into The Condition of
                the Exchequer Standards.

1868 Sept. 19 The Inundation at Visp.                        Athenaeum.

1868 Nov. 9   On the Factorial Resolution of the Trinomial   Camb. Phil. Soc.
                x^n - 2cos n. a. + 1/x^n.

1868 Dec. 10  On the Diurnal and Annual Inequalities         Phil. Trans.
                of Terrestrial Magnetism, as deduced
                from Observations made at the Royal
                Observatory from 1858 to 1863, &c.

1868 Dec.11   On the Preparatory Arrangements for the        R. Astr. Soc.
                Observation of The Transits of Venus           (Month. Not.)
                1874 and 1882.

1868 Dec. 12  On the Migrations of the Welsh Nations.        Athenaeum.

1869 Mar. 8   Memorandum by the Chairman (on the
                use of the Troy Weight) for the
                consideration of the Members of the
                Standards Commission.

1869 Apr. 3   Second Report of the Commissioners appointed   Parly. Paper.
                to enquire into the condition of
                the Exchequer (now Board of Trade)
                Standards.--The Metric System.

1869 April    Syllabus of Lectures on Magnetism to be
                delivered in the University of Cambridge.

1869 Apr. 27  Remarks on Shelford's Paper "On the            Inst. C.E.
                Outfall of the River Humber."                  (Minutes.)

1869 June 1   Memorandum for the consideration of the
                Standards Commission, on the state of
                the Question now before them regarding
                the suggested Abolition of Troy Weight.

1869 June 5   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1869          Supplementary Memorandum by the Astronomer
                Royal on the proposed Abolition
                of Troy Weight.

1869 July 6   Correspondence between the Treasury, the       Ho. of Comm.
                Admiralty, and the Astronomer Royal,           (Parly. Paper.)
                respecting the arrangements to be made
                for Observing the Transits of Venus,
                which will take place in the years 1874
                and 1882.

1869 Aug. 7   Note on Atmospheric Chromatic Dispersion       R. Astr. Soc.
                as affecting Telescopic Observation, and       (Month. Not.)
                on the Mode of Correcting it.

1869 Oct. 19  Description of the Great Equatoreal of
                the Royal Observatory, Greenwich.
                Greenwich Observations, 1868. App.

1870 Feb. 3   Note on an Extension of the Comparison         Phil. Trans.
                of Magnetic Disturbances with Magnetic
                Effects inferred from observed Terrestrial
                Galvanic Currents; &c. &c.

1870 Apr. 8   On the question of a Royal Commission          Journ. Soc. Arts.
                for Science.

1870 May 2    Letters to the First Lord of the Admiralty
                enclosing Application of the Assistants
                for an increase of Salaries.

1870 May 13   On Decimal and Metrical Systems.               Journ. Soc. Arts.

1870 June 4   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1870 Aug. 27  On the meaning of the word "Whippultree."      Athenaeum.

1870 Oct. 22  On the Locality of "Paradise."                 Athenaeum.

1870 Nov. 12  On the Locality of the Roman Gesoriacum.       Athenaeum.

1870 Nov. 30  Recommendation of Prof. Miller for a           R. Soc.(Proc.)
                Royal Medal of the Royal Society.
                (Quoted by the President.)

1870          Revised Edition of "Astronomy."                Man. Naut. Sci.

1871 Jan. 21  The Burial of Sir John Moore.                  Athenaeum.

1871 Mar. 14  Letter to the Hydrographer of the
                Admiralty on the qualifications and
                claims of the Assistants of the Royal

1871 Apr. 5   Remarks on the Determination of a Ship's       R. Soc. (Proc.)
                Place at Sea.

1871 May 2    Remarks on Samuelson's Paper "Description      Inst. C.E.
                of two Blast Furnaces," &c.                    (Minutes.)

1871 May 3    Note on Barometric Compensation of the         Phil. Mag.

1871 June 3   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1871 June 9   Remarks on Mr Abbott's observations on         R. Astr. Soc.
                eta Argûs. Also on A.S. Herschel's and         (Month. Not.)
                J. Herschel's Mechanism for measuring
                Time automatically in taking Transits.

1871          Erratum in Results of Greenwich                R. Astr. Soc.
                Observations of the Solar Eclipse of 1860,     (Month. Not.)
                July 18. Also Observations of the Solar
                Eclipse of 1870, Dec. 21-22, made at the
                Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

1871 Aug.     Investigation of the Law of the Progress       Phil. Mag.
                of Accuracy in the usual process for
                Forming a Plane Surface.

1871 Nov.16   Corrections to the Computed Lengths of         Phil. Trans.
                Waves of Light for Kirchhoff's Spectral

1871          On a supposed alteration in the amount         R. Soc. (Proc.)
                of Astronomical Aberration of Light,
                produced by the passage of the Light
                through a considerable thickness of
                Refracting Medium.

1871 Nov. 29  Biography of G.B. Airy. (Probably              Daily Telegraph.
                corrected by himself.)

1871 Dec. 8   Note on a special point in the                 R. Astr. Soc.
                determination of the Elements of the           (Month. Not.)
                Moon's Orbit from Meridional Observations
                of the Moon.

1871 Dec. 26  Proposed devotion of an Observatory to         R. Astr. Soc.
                observation of the phenomena of Jupiter's      (Month. Not.)

1872 Jan.     Address to the Council of the Royal Society
                on the propriety of continuing the Grant
                to the Kew Observatory for meteorological

1872 Feb. 8   Experiments on the Directive Power of          Phil. Trans.
                large Steel Magnets, of Bars of
                magnetized Soft Iron, and of Galvanic
                Coils, in their Action on external small
                Magnets--with Appendix by James Stuart.

1872 Feb. 12  Further Observations on the state of an        Camb. Phil. Soc.
                Eye affected with a peculiar malformation.

1872 Mar. 20  Notes on Scientific Education, submitted
                to the Royal Commission on Scientific
                Instruction and the Advancement of

1872 May 9    On a Supposed Periodicity in the               R. Soc. (Proc.)
                Elements of Terrestrial Magnetism, with a
                period of 26-1/4 days.

1872 Nov. 30  Address (as President) delivered at the
                Anniversary Meeting of the Royal Society.

1872 Dec. 19  Magnetical Observations in the                 Phil. Trans.
                Britannia and Conway Tubular Iron

1873 Feb. 25  Remarks on Mr Thornton's Paper on              Inst. C.E.
                "The State Railways of                         (Minutes.)
                India"--chiefly in reference to the
                proposed break of gauge.

1873 Mar. 12  Note on the want of Observations of            R. Astr. Soc.
                Eclipses of Jupiter's First Satellite          (Month. Not.)
                from 1868 to 1872.

1873 Mar. 14  Letter to the Secretary of the                 R. Astr. Soc.
                Admiralty on certain Articles which            (Month. Not.)
                had appeared in the Public Newspapers
                in regard to the approaching Transit
                of Venus.

1873          Additional Note to the Paper on a              R. Soc. (Proc.)
                supposed Alteration in the Amount of
                Astronomical Aberration of Light
                produced by the passage of the Light
                through a considerable thickness of
                Refracting Medium.

1873 Apr. 10  List of Candidates for election into the
                Royal Society--classified.

1873          On the Topography of the "Lady of              Private.
                the Lake."

1873 June 7   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1873 Nov. 14  On the rejection, in the Lunar                R. Astr. Soc.
                Theory, of the term of Longitude              (Month. Not.)
                depending for argument on eight times
                the mean longitude of Venus minus
                thirteen times the mean longitude of
                the Earth, introduced by Prof.
                Hansen; &c.

1873  Dec. 1  Address (as President) delivered at
                the Anniversary Meeting of the Royal

1874  Jan.    On a Proposed New Method of treating          R. Astr. Soc.
                the Lunar Theory.                             (Month. Not.)

1874 May 4    British Expeditions for the
                Observation of the Transit of Venus,
                1874, December 8. Instructions to

1874 June 6   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1874 Aug. 6   Regulations of the Royal Observatory,
                Greenwich. Appendix to the Greenwich
                Observations, 1873.

1874 Oct. 3   Science and Art. The Moon as carved           Athenaeum.
                on Lee church.

1874 Nov. 13  Preparations for the Observation of the       R. Astr. Soc.
                Transit of Venus 1874, December 8-9.          (Month. Not.)

1874 Nov. 17  Remarks on the Paper "On the Nagpur           Inst. C.E.
                Waterworks."                                  (Minutes.)

1874 Dec.     Telegrams relating to the Observations        R. Astr. Soc.
                of the Transit of Venus 1874, Dec. 9.         (Month. Not.)

1875 Feb. 2   Remarks on Mr Prestwich's Paper on the        Inst. C.E.
                Origin of the Chesil Bank.                    (Minutes.)

1875 Feb  25  Letter to the Rev. N. M. Ferrers, on the
                subject of the Smith's Prizes.

1875 Mar. 12  On the Method to be used in Reducing           R. Astr. Soc.
                the Observations of the Transit of             (Month. Not.)
                Venus 1874, Dec. 8.

1875 Mar.     Report on the Progress made in the             R. Astr. Soc.
                Calculations for a New Method of               (Month. Not.)
                treating the Lunar Theory.

1875 June 5   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1875 June 7   Apparatus for Final Adjustment of the          Horolog. Journ.
                Thermal Compensation of Chronometers,
                by the Astronomer Royal.

1875  Nov.    Chart of the Apparent Path of Mars, 1877,      R. Astr. Soc.
                with neighbouring Stars. Also                  (Month. Not.)
                Spectroscopic Observations made at the
                Royal Observatory, Greenwich. Also
                Observations of the Solar Eclipse of
                1875, September 28-29, made at the Royal
                Observatory, Greenwich.

1876  Jan.    Report by the Astronomer Royal on the          R. Astr. Soc.
                present state of the Calculations in his       (Month. Not.)
                New Lunar Theory.

1876 Jan. 27  Note on a point in the life of Sir William     Athenaeum.

1876 Mar. 15  Evidence given before the Government
                Committee on the Meteorological

1876 May 20   On Toasting at Public Dinners.                 Public Opinion.

1876 June 3   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors,

1876 Aug. 7   On a Speech attributed to Nelson.              Athenaeum.

1876 Dec.     Spectroscopic Results for the Rotation of      R. Astr. Soc.
                Jupiter and of the Sun, obtained at the        (Month. Not.)
                Royal Observatory, Greenwich.

1877 Jan.     Stars to be compared in R.A. with Mars,        R. Astr. Soc.
                1877, for Determination of the Parallax        (Month. Not.)
                of Mars.

1877 Mar.     Note by the Astronomer Royal on the            R. Astr. Soc.
                Numerical Lunar Theory. Also Remarks           (Month. Not.)
                on Le Verrier's intra-Mercurial Planet.
                Also on Observations for the Parallax of

1877 Mar. 27  Remarks on a Paper on "The River               Inst. C.E.
                Thames."                                       (Minutes.)

1877 Apr.     On observing for Le Verrier's intra-Mercurial  R. Astr. Soc.
                Planet. Also on the Parallax of                (Month. Not.)
                Mars, and Mr Gill's proposed expedition.

1877 May      On the vulgar notion that the Sun or Moon      The Observatory
                is smallest when overhead.                     (No. 2).

1877 June 2   Report of the Astronomer Royal to the
                Board of Visitors.

1877 July 16  Report on the Telescopic Observations of       Ho. of Commons
                the Transit of Venus 1874, made in the         Parly. Paper.
                Expedition of the British Government,
                and on the Conclusion derived from
                those Observations.

1877 Sept. 13 On Spurious Discs of Stars produced by         The Observatory
                oval object-glasses.                           (No. 7).

1877 Sept. 24 Obituary Notice of the work of Le              Daily News.
                Verrier--died Sept. 23, 1877.

1877 Nov. 20  On the Value of the Mean Solar Parallax        The Observatory
                &c. from the British telescopic Observations   (No. 8).
                of the Transit of Venus 1874.
                Also Remarks on Prof. Adams's Lunar

1877 Nov.     On the Inferences for the Value of Mean        R. Astr. Soc.
                Solar Parallax &c. from the Telescopic         (Month. Not.)
                Observations of the Transit of Venus
                1874, which were made in the British
                Expedition for the Observation of that

1877          Numerical Lunar Theory: Appendix to
                Greenwich Astronomical Observations

1877  Dec. 6  On the Tides at Malta.                         Phil. Trans.

1878          Correspondence with Le Verrier on his          The Observatory
                Planetary Tables in 1876.                      (No. 10).

1878          On the Proposal of the French Committee        The Observatory
                to erect a Statue to Le Verrier. Also          (No. 13).
                on the Observation of the approaching
                Transit of Mercury.

1878 Mar. 11  On the Correction of the Compass in            Phil. Mag.
                Iron Ships without use of a Fixed

1878 Mar. 30  On the Standards of Length in the              The Times.
                Guildhall, London.

1878 Apr. 27  Report of Lecture on "The probable             W. Cumberland
                condition of the Interior of the               Times.
              On the probable condition of the               Trans. of the
                Interior of the Earth--Revised                 Cumberland
                Edition of above Lecture.                      Assoc., &c.

1878 June 1   Discussion of the Observations of              The Observatory
                the Transit of Mercury on May 6.               (No. 14).

1878          Abstract of Lecture delivered at               The Observatory
                Cockermouth on "The Interior of the            (No. 14).

1978 June 1   Report of the Astronomer Royal to
                the Board of Visitors.

1878 July 1   Remarks on the measurement of the              The Observatory
                photographs taken in the Transit of            (No. 15).
                Venus Observations.

1878 July 13  On the Variable Star R. Scuti:                 The Observatory
                distortion in the Photo-heliograph.            (No. 16).

1878          Remarks on Mr Gill's Heliometric               The Observatory
                Observations of Mars.                          (No. 20).

1878 Dec.     Note on a Determination of the Mass            R. Astr. Soc.
                of Mars, and reference to his own              (Month. Not.)
                determination in 1828. Also Note on
                the Conjunction of Mars and Saturn,
                1879, June 30.

1879 Jan. 1   On the remarkable conjunction of               The Observatory
                the Planets Mars and Saturn which              (No. 21).
                will occur on 1879, June 30.

1879 Feb. 15  On the names "Cabul" and "Malek."              Athenaeum

1879 Feb. 25  On Faggot Votes in Cornwall in 1828.           Athenaeum

1879 Mar. 13  Letter on the Examination Papers for
                the Smith's Prizes.

1879 Apr. 7   Drafts of Resolutions proposed
                concerning Sadler's Notes on the
                late Admiral Smyth's "Cycle of
                Celestial Objects."

1879 June 1   Letter to Le Verrier, dated 1875,              The Observatory
                Feb. 5, in support of the Method               (No. 26).
                of Least Squares.

1879 June 1   Remarks in debate on Sadler's                  The Observatory
                "Notes" above-mentioned.                       (No. 26).

1879 June 7   Report of the Astronomer Royal to
                the Board of Visitors.

1879 July 29  Index to the Records of occasional             R. Astr. Soc.
                Observations and Calculations made             (Month. Not.
                at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich,           supplementary.)
                and to other miscellaneous Papers
                connected with that Institution.

1879          Biography of G. B. Airy (perhaps
                corrected by himself) in French,
                published at Geneva.

1879 Sept.    On the Construction and Use of a               Phil. Mag.
                Scale for Gauging Cylindrical
                Measures of Capacity.

1880          On the Theoretical Value of the                The Observatory
                Acceleration of the Moon's Mean                (No. 37).

1880          On the Secular Acceleration of                 The Observatory
                the Moon--additional note.                     (No. 37).

1880 Apr. 27  Memoranda for the Commission appointed
                to consider the Tay Bridge casualty.

1880 Apr.     On the Theoretical Value of the                R. Astr. Soc.
                Acceleration of the Moon's Mean                (Month. Not.)
                Motion in Longitude produced by
                the Change of Eccentricity of the
                Earth's Orbit.

1880 May      On the Preparations to be made for             R. Astr. Soc.
                Observation of the Transit of Venus            (Month. Not.)
                1882, Dec. 6.

1880          On the present Proximity of Jupiter            The Observatory
                to the Earth, and on the Intervals of          (No. 42).
                Recurrence of the same Phaenomena.

1880 June 5   Report of the Astronomer Royal to
                the Board of Visitors.

1880 Sept. 4  On the _e muet_ in French.                     Athenaeum.

1880 Sept. 4  Excursions in the Keswick                      Keswick
                District.                                      Guardian.

1880 Dec. 1   Description of Flamsteed's                     The Observatory
                Equatoreal Sextant, and Remarks on             (No. 44).

1880          Addition to a Paper entitled "On               R. Astr. Soc.
                the Theoretical Value of the Moon's            (Month. Not.
                Mean Motion in Longitude," &c.                 supplementary.)

1881 Mar.     Effect on the Moon's Movement in               R. Astr. Soc.
                Latitude, produced by the slow                 (Month. Not.)
                change of Position of the Plane of
                the Ecliptic.

1881 June 4   Report of the Astronomer Royal to
                the Board of Visitors.

1881          Logarithms of the Values of all                Inst. C. E.
                Vulgar Fractions with Numerator and            (Minutes.)
                Denominator not exceeding 100: arranged in
                order of magnitude.

1881 July 6   A New Method of Clearing the Lunar

1881 Aug. 4   On a Systematic Interruption in the order      Phil. Mag.
                of numerical values of Vulgar Fractions,
                when arranged in a series of consecutive

1882 Sept. 15 Monthly Means of the Highest and               R. Soc. (Proc.)
                Lowest Diurnal Temperatures of the
                Water of the Thames, and Comparison
                with the corresponding Temperatures of
                the Air at the Royal Observatory,

1882 Oct. 19  On the Proposed Forth Bridge.                  Nature.

1882 Dec. 7   On the Proposed Forth Bridge.                  Nature.

1883 Jan. 21  On the Ossianic Poems.                         Athenaeum.

1883 Mar. 12  On the proposed Braithwaite and                Daily News.
                Buttermere Railway.                          Times.

1883 Apr. 28  Memorandum on the progress of the
                Numerical Lunar Theory, addressed to the
                Board of Visitors of the Royal
                Observatory, Greenwich.

1883          Letter on The Apparent Inequality in the       The Observatory
                Mean Motion of the Moon.                       (No. 74).

1883 Aug. 18  On a Singular Morning Dream.                   Nature.

1883 Sept. 10 Power of organization of the common            Nature.

1883 Nov. 17  On Chepstow Railway Bridge, with general       Nature.
                remarks suggested by that Structure.

1884 Mar. 8   On the Erroneous Usage of the term             Athenaeum.
                "arterial drainage."

1884          On the Comparison of Reversible and            The Observatory
                Non-reversible Transit Instruments.            (No. 85).

1884 Nov. 10  On an obscure passage in the Koran.            Nature. (?)

1885 May 28   An Incident in the History of Trinity          Athenaeum.
                College, Cambridge.

1885 June 8   Incident No. 2 in the History of Trinity       Athenaeum.
                College, Cambridge.

1885 Nov. 26  Results deduced from the Measure of            Phil. Trans.
                Terrestrial Magnetic Force in the Horizontal
                Plane, at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich,
                from 1841 to 1876.

1886 Apr. 6   Integer Members of the First Centenary         Nature.
                satisfying the Equation
                A² = B² + C².

1887 Feb. 12  On the earlier Tripos of the University of     Nature. (?)
                Cambridge: in MSS.

1887 Apr. 14  On the Establishment of the Roman Dominion     Nature.
                in South-East Britain.

1887 July 23  On a special Algebraic function, and its       Camb. Phil. Soc.
                application to the solution of                 (?)
                some Equations: in MSS.

                     BOOKS WRITTEN BY G. B. AIRY.

Mathematical Tracts on Physical Astronomy, the Figure of the Earth,
Precession and Nutation, and The Calculus of Variations. This was
published in 1826. In a 2nd Edition published in 1831 the Undulatory
Theory of Optics was added to the above list.  Four Editions of this
work have been published, the last in 1858.  The Undulatory Theory of
Optics was published separately in 1877.

Gravitation: an Elementary Explanation of the Principal Perturbations
in the Solar System. Written for the Penny Cyclopaedia, and published
previously as a book in 1834. There was a 2nd Edition in 1884.

Trigonometry. This was written for the Encyclopaedia Metropolitana
about 1825, and was published as a separate book in 1855 under the
Title of "A Treatise on Trigonometry."

Six Lectures on Astronomy delivered at the meetings of the friends of
the Ipswich Museum at the Temperance Hall, Ipswich, in the month of
March 1848. These Lectures under the above Title, and that of "Popular
Astronomy, a series of Lectures," have run through twelve editions.

On the Algebraical and Numerical Theory of Errors of Observations and
the Combination of Observations, 1st Edition in 1861, 2nd in 1875, 3rd
in 1879.

Essays on the Invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar; The Invasion of
Britain by Plautius, and by Claudius Caesar; The Early Military Policy
of the Romans in Britain; The Battle of Hastings, with Correspondence.
Collected and printed for private distribution in 1865.

An Elementary Treatise on Partial Differential Equations. 1866.

On Sound and Atmospheric Vibrations, with the Mathematical Elements of
Music. The 1st Edition in 1868, the 2nd in 1871.

A Treatise on Magnetism, published in 1870.

Notes on the Earlier Hebrew Scriptures, published in 1876.

Numerical Lunar Theory, published in 1886.


Accidents (see also Illnesses)
Acts and Opponencies
Adams, Prof. J.C.
Adams, John Quincey
Agrarian fires
Airy, William, father of G.B.A.
Airy, Ann, mother of G.B.A.
Airy, William, brother of G.B.A., and Basil R. Airy, his son
Airy, Arthur, brother of G.B.A.
Airy, Elizabeth, sister of G.B.A.
Airy, Richarda, wife of G.B.A.
Airy, children of G.B.A.
  George Richard
Altazimuth instrument
Althorp, Lord
American Observatories
American method of recording Observations (see Galvanic Registration)
Ancient eclipses
Anderson, lessee of Harton Colliery
Anemometer (see Meteorology)
Anniversary parties
Antiquarian researches and notes
Architecture (see Cathedrals, &c.)
Astronomical Society (see Royal Astr. Soc.)
Astronomische Gesellschaft
Athenaeum newspaper
Athenaeum Club
Atkinson, Senior Wrangler 1821
Atlantic cable
Atmospheric railway (see Railways)
Auckland, Lord
Aurora Borealis
Australian Observatories (see also Observatories)
Auwers, Dr
Babbage, Charles
Baily, Francis
Bakhuysen, of Leyden
Balance (Public Balance)
Baldock, Commander
Baldrey, assistant
Banks, optician
Baring, Sir T.
Barlow, Prof.
Barlow, W.H.
Barnard, Proctor
Barnes, Miss
Barnes, Gorell
Barry, Sir C.
Barton, Bernard
Baxter, secretary to the Admiralty
Beacons, floating
Beaufort, Captain
Beaumont's Observatory
Bedingfield, pupil
Bell Scholarships (see Examinations)
Bessell, astronomer
Biddell, Arthur, uncle of G.B.A.
Biddell, George, uncle of G.B.A.
Biddell, William, uncle of G.B.A.
Biddell, George Arthur, son of Arthur Biddell
Biographical notes
Bissett, pupil
Blackwood, Captain
Blakesley, Canon
Bliss's observations
Blomfield, G.B., pupil
Bloomfield, Lord
Board of Longitude
Bond, G.P.
Books, written by G.B.A., Appendix
Book Society, Cambr.
Bouch, T. Civ. Eng.
Boundary of Canada (see Canada)
Bouvard, E.
Bradley's observations
Brazil, Emperor of
Breakwaters (see Harbours)
Breen, assistant
Brewster, Sir D.
Brinkley, Dr
Bristow, Miss
Britannia Bridge (see Bridges)
Brooke, Charles
British Association
Brougham, Lord
Browne, G.A.
Brunel, Civ. Eng.
Buckland, Dr
Buckle, pupil
Burgoyne, Sir J.
Burlington, Lord
Busts (see Portraits)
Calculating machines
Cambridge Observatory:
  Printed observations
Cambridge University
Cambridge Observatory, U.S.A.
Canada boundary
Cankrein, pupil
Canning, Lord
Cape of Good Hope, Observatory and Survey
Carpenter, assistant
Cartmell, Dr
Catalogues of stars (see Stars)
Cathedrals and churches
Cavendish experiment
Cayley, Prof.
Challis, Prof.
Chalmers, Dr
Cherbourg (see Harbours)
Chesil Bank
Childers, First Lord of Admiralty
Christie, Prof.
Christie, Astronomer Royal
Chronographic barrel (see Galvanic Registration)
Churches (see Cathedrals)
Church service
Cincinnati Observatory
Clarendon, Lord
Clark, Latimer
Clarkson, Thomas, and Mrs Clarkson
Cleasby, pupil
Clinton, pupil
Cockburn, Sir G.
Coinage (see Decimal Coinage)
Colby, Col.
Colenso, Bishop
College Hall
Collorado, Count
Colonial Observatories (see Observatories)
Compass corrections
Cookson, Dr
Cooper, pupil
Cooper's telescope (see Telescopes)
Copying press
Corbaux, Miss
Corryvreckan whirlpool
Courtney, Rev. J.
Cowper, First Commissioner of Works
Crawford, pupil
Criswick, assistant
Crosse, Rev. E.
Cubitt, Sir W.
Dalhousie, Lord
Davy, Sir Humphrey
Davy, Dr
Daynou, Lieut.
Deal time ball
De Berg
Decimal coinage and decimal subdividing
Dee navigation (see Rivers)
Degrees (see also Orders and Elections to Societies)
Deighton, publisher
De La Rive
De La Rue
De Launay
Deluge, The
De Morgan, A.
Denison, E.B.
Denison, Sir W.
Denison, H.
Denmark, King of
Dent, clockmaker
Devonshire, Duke of
Dobbs, pupil
Dobree, lecturer
Docks (see Harbours)
Dolcoath experiments
Dollond, instrument maker
Drinkwater, Bethune
Double-image micrometer
Douglas, Sir H.
Dover (see Harbours)
Dublin professorship (see Professorships)
Dublin Observatory (see Observatories)
Duë, Baron
Dundas, Admiral
Dundonald, Lord
Dunkin, assistant
Dunlop, astronomer
Durham observatory
Earth currents
Eastons, manufacturers
Eclipses (see also Ancient Eclipses)
Edinburgh Observatory
Edmonston, Dr
Education (see University Education)
Egyptian Astronomical Tablets
Elections to societies, &c. (see also Degrees and Orders)
Electricity, atmospheric
Ellenborough, Lord
Ellis, W., assistant
Encke and Encke's Comet
Encyclopaedia Metropolitana
Engines (see Steam-engines)
Equatoreal, large
Estcourt, Col.
Evans, lecturer
Exhibitions and prizes
Exodus of the Israelites
Eye, defects of
Eye, estate at
Fallows, astronomer
Fishmongers' Company
Fletcher, Isaac, M.P.
Floating Island, Derwentwater
Fluid telescope, Barlow's
Forbes, Prof. J.D.
Foster, Messrs
Fox, Alfred
Freedom of the City of London
Freemantle, Sir T.
French, Dr
Friends, Personal friends at Cambridge
Fries, Prof.
Galvanic communication, Time-signals, Clocks, and Registration
  (see also Earth currents)
Gas Act
Geological Society
Gibson, pupil
Gilbert, Messrs
Gilbert, Davies
Gill, astronomer
Gladstone, W.E.
Glaisher, assistant
Glasgow Observatory
Goulburn, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Gould, Dr B.A.
Graduation of circles
Grant, of Glenmoriston
Great Circle sailing (see Navigation)
Great Eastern (see Ships)
Great Exhibition
Great Gable
Green, Commander U.S.N.
Greenwich Observatory, before his appointment as Astronomer Royal
Greenwich Observatory:
  Appointment as Astronomer Royal, and subsequently as Visitor
  Buildings and grounds in,
  Papers and manuscripts (arrangement of)
  Printed Observations
  Visitations  and  Reports
Groombridge's Catalogue (see Stars)
Guest, Caius College
Hall, Col.
Halley and Halley's Comet
Hamilton, Sir W.R.
Hamilton, Admiral
Hansen, Prof.
Harcourt, Rev. W. Vernon
Hartnup, astronomer
Harton Colliery experiments
Haviland, Dr
Hawkes, Trinity College
Hebrew Scriptures
Henderson, astronomer
Henslow, Prof.
Herbert, G.
Herschel, Sir John
Herschel, Miss Caroline
Herschel, Col. J.
Hervey, pupil
Higman, Tutor, Trinity College
Hilgard, U.S.A.
Himalaya Expedition
Hind, Moderator
Hind, Superintendent Nautical Almanac
Hovenden, pupil
Huggins, Dr
Humboldt, Baron A.
Hussey, Dr
Hustler, Tutor, Trinity College
Hyde Parker, Admiral
Ibbotson, pupil
Inequality, Venus and Earth
Inglis, Sir R.
Institut de France
Institution of Civil Engineers
Inverness, Northern Institution of
Ipswich Lectures
Ireland, notes of
Jackson, John
James, Sir H.
Janus (see Steam-engines)
Jarrow (see Harbours)
Jerrard, Dr
Jervis, Major
Jeune, Dr, V.C. of Oxford
Johnson, Capt.
Johnson, astronomer
Jones, instrument-makers
Jones, R.
  Scotland and Cumberland; Swansea;
  Derbyshire, &c.; Wales; Keswick, &c.; Cornwall,
  &c.; Orléans; Lake District, &c.; Continent,
  Observatories, &c.; Cornwall, &c.; Derbyshire; Oxford
  &c.; Cumberland; Ireland; Scotland; Derbyshire, &c.;
  Cumberland, &c.; Ireland; Kent; S. Wales;
  Luddington and Yorkshire; Border of Scotland;
  S. Wales; Cumberland and Yorkshire; South of Ireland;
  Ireland; France; Cornwall; Germany; Petersburg, &c.;
  Ireland; Shetland; Scotland;
  Sweden; Madeira; Cumberland; Cumberland; Oban, &c.; Italy and
  Sicily; West Highlands; Switzerland; Central France; Spain
  (eclipse); Cumberland; West Highlands;
  West Highlands; Cumberland; Norway; Cumberland; Switzerland;
  Cumberland; Cumberland; Cumberland; Scotland; Scotland; N.
  of Scotland; Ireland; Scotland, &c.;
  Cumberland; Cumberland;
  Cumberland; Cumberland; S. Wales; Cumberland 358; Cumberland
Julius Caesar, landing of
Jupiter (see Planets)
King, Joshua
Knight, publisher
Knighthood, offers of
Landman, Engineer
Lardner, Dr
Lassell, and Lassell's telescope
Latitude determinations
Lax, Prof.
Lefevre, J.G.S.
Leitch, Dr
Le Verrier
Lewis, H.
Lewis, Sir G.C.
Lightfoot, Rev. Dr
Lindsay, Lord
Listing, Prof.
Liverpool Observatory
Livingstone, Dr
Lloyd, Dr
Lloyd, Prof.
London University
London, Freedom of the City
Long vacations, with pupils
Longitude determinations
Longitude, Board of (see Board of Longitude)
Lowe, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Lubbock, Sir John
Lucas (computer)
Lucasian Professorship (see Professorships)
Lunar Reductions
Lunar Theory and Tables (see also Numerical Lunar Theory)
Lyndhurst, Lord
Lyons, Sir E.
Macaulay, T.B.
Macdonnell, Dr
Maclean, of Loch Buy
Maclear, Astronomer
Madras Observatory 101
Magnetic Observatory and Magnetism
  (see also Meteorology, Compass corrections, and Earth currents)
Main, Robert
Maine Boundary (see Canada)
Maiden, Prof.
Man-Engines (see Mines)
Manuscripts (see Papers)
Mars (see Planets)
Marshman, pupil
Marth, A.
Martin, Trin. Coll.
Maskelyne, astronomer
Mathematical Investigations (see also Appendix "Printed Papers")
Mathematical Tracts
Mathematical subjects in
Maudslays and Field
May, Ransomes and May
Melbourne University
Melville, Lord
Mercury (see Planets)
Merivale, Dr
Middleton, Sir W.
Military researches
Miller, Prof.
Minto, Lord
Mitchell, astronomer
Mitchell Miss
Molesworth, Sir W.
Monteagle, Lord
Monument in Playford church
  Observations of
  Theory and Tables of (see Lunar Theory and Tables)
  Reductions of Observations of (see Lunar Reductions)
  Mass of
Morpeth, Lord
Morton, Pierce, pupil
Murchison, Sir R.
Murray, publisher
Musgrave, Charles
Musgrave, T. Archbishop
Nautical Almanac
Neate, pupil
Neptune and Uranus
Newcombe, Prof.
New Forest
Northampton, Lord
Northumberland Telescope
Numerical Lunar Theory
Observatories: see American, Australian, Beaumont's,
  Cambridge, Cambridge U.S.A.,
  Cape of Good Hope, Cincinnati,
  Colonial, Dublin, Durham,
  Edinburgh, Glasgow, Greenwich,
  Liverpool, Madras, Oxford, Paris,
  Paramatta, Pulkowa, St Helena,
Ogilby, pupil
Oppolzer, Prof.
Opponencies (see Acts and Opponencies)
Orders (see also Degrees and Elections to Societies)
Ouvaroff, Count
Oxford Observatory
Oxford, Miscellaneous
Packington, Sir J.
Palmerston, Lord
Papers (see Appendix "Printed Papers")
Papers, Arrangement of
Parachute, Fall of
Parallax (see Sun)
Paramatta Observatory
Parker, Charles
Parker, Vice-Chancellor
Paris, Dr
Paris Observatory
Paris Exhibition
Parliamentary Elections
Peacock, George
Pearson, Dr
Peel, Sir Robert
Pendulum Investigations and Experiments
Penny Cyclopaedia
Percy, Bishop
Personal sketch
Philosophical Society, Cambridge
Philpott, Dr
Piers (see Harbours)
Pinheiro, Lieut.
Pipon, Lieut.
Plana, astronomer
Planetary influences
Planetary Reductions
Planets (see also Transits of Venus)
Plumian Professorship (see Professorships)
Pocket-books for Observations
Pogson, astronomer
Pond, astronomer
Portlock, Capt.
Portraits, busts, &c.
Post Office, (clocks, &c.)
Post Office, stamps and envelopes
Prince Albert
Pritchard, Rev. C.
Prizes (see Exhibitions)
Probable errors
  Dublin; Lucasian; Plumian
Public Schools Commission
Pulkowa Observatory
  Bedingfield; Bissett; Blomfield;
  Buckle; Cankrein; Cleasby;
  Clinton; Cooper; Crawford; Dobbs;
  Gibson; Guest; Hervey;
  Hovenden; Ibbotson; Lewis;
  Marshman; Morton; Neate;
  Ogilby; Parker; Rosser;
  Smith; Tinkler; Tottenham;
  Turner; Wigram; Williamson
Pym, Engineer
Queen, H.M. the Queen,
Quéroualle, Mdlle de
Railways, near Observatory
Railway Gauge Commission
Railways, miscellaneous
Rain (see Meteorology)
Ransomes, also Ransomes and May 17,
Reflex zenith tube
Religious tests and views
Richardson, assistant
Rigaud, Prof.
Robinson, Dr
Robinson, Capt.
Rogers, Rev.
Rogers, school assistant
Romilly, Lord
Rose, Rev. H.J.
Rosse, Lord, and Rosse's Telescope
Rosser, pupil
Round Down Cliff, blasting of
Rouse, Rev. R.C. M.
Routh, Dr E.J.
Royal Astronomical Society (see also
Appendix "Printed Papers")
Royal Exchange clock
Royal Institution
Royal Society (see also Appendix "Printed Papers")
Royal Society of Edinburgh
Rüncker, Paramatta
Russell, Lord John
Sabine, Col.
Sadler, H.
Saint Helena Observatory
Saturn (see Planets)
Saunders, G.W. By
Saw-mills (see Ship timbers)
Schehallien, mountain
Scientific Manual
Scoresby, Dr
Scriptural Researches (see Hebrew Scriptures)
Sedgwick, Adam
Selwyn, Prof.
Senate House Examination (see also University Education)
Sewers Commission
Sheepshanks, Rev. Richard, and Miss
Sheepshanks Fund and Scholarship
Shepherd, clock-maker
Ship-timbers, Machinery for sawing,
Shirreff, Capt.
Simms, F.W.
Simms (see Troughton and Simms)
Skeleton forms
Sly, draughtsman
Smith, Rev. R. Smith, father-in-law of G.B.A., and Mrs Smith,
Smith, the Misses Smith, sisters of
  Richarda Airy, Susanna;
  Elizabeth; Georgiana;
  Florence; Caroline
Smith, Archibald
Smith, M., pupil
Smith's Prizes
Smyth, Capt. W.H.
Smyth, Piazzi
Societies, &c., Elections to (see Elections)
Solar Eclipses (see Eclipses)
Solar Inequality (see Sun)
Solar System (see Sun)
Solar Tables (see Sun)
South, Sir James
South's Telescope
South-Eastern Railway
Southey (Poet)
Spring-Rice, Lord Monteagle
Standards of Length and Weight, and
Standards Commission
Start Point
Stephenson, George
Stephenson, Robert
Stewart, Prof. Balfour
Stjerneld, Baron
Stokes, Prof.
Stone, Astronomer
Stratford, Lieut.
Stroganoff, Count
Strutt, Lord Belper
Strutt, Jedediah
Struve, Otto
Stuart, Prof. J.
  Parallax of (see also Transits of Venus)
  Eclipses of (see Eclipses)
  Inequality, Venus and Earth
  Tables of
Surveys (see Trigonometrical Surveys)
Sussex, Duke of,
Sutcliffe, Miss
Sydney University
Sweden, King of
Taylor, architect
Taylor, First Assistant to Pond,
Taylor, H.
Telegraphs (see Galvanic communications)
Telescopes (see also Cambridge Observatory Instruments,
  and Greenwich Observatory Instruments)
Teneriffe Experiment
Thames, the River,
Theology (see also Hebrew Scriptures and Colenso)
Thirlwall, Bishop
Thomas, assistant
Thompson, Master Trin. Coll.
Thomson, Sir W.
Tidal Harbour Commission
Time-signals and Time (see also Galvanic communication, &c.)
Time balls (see Time signals)
Tinkler, pupil
Tottenham, pupil
Traill, Dr
Transit Circle,
Transits of Venus
Trigonometrical Survey
Trinity College, Cambridge
Trinity House Tripos Examination (see Senate-House Examination)
Troughton and Simms
Tulley, optician
Tupman, Capt
Turner, pupil
Turton, Prof.
Ulrich, J.G.
Universities (see Cambridge, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Melbourne,
  Oxford, Sydney)
University Education (see also Smith's Prizes and Senate-House Examination)
University Press,
Uranus (see Neptune)
Valencia (see also Longitude Determinations)
Venus (see Planets, and Transits of Venus)
Venus and Earth inequality (see Inequality)
Vernon Harcourt (see Harcourt)
Vetch, Capt.
Vibrations of ground
Vignoles, C.B., engineer
Vulliamy, clockmaker
Wales, Prince of
Walker, Byatt
Walker, James, engineer
Walker, Sydney,
Warburton, H.
Washington, Capt.
Water telescope (see also Fluid telescope)
Waves (see Tides)
Webster, M.P. for Aberdeen
Westminster clock (see also Clocks)
Wexford harbour (see Harbours)
Whewell, William
White House, the,
Wigram, pupil
Williams, John
Williamson, pupil
Williamstown Observatory
Wilson, Prof.
Winds (see Meteorology)
Wood, Sir Charles
Wood, Dr
Woodbridge, Suffolk
Woodhouse, Prof.
Woolwich Academy (see Examinations)
Wordsworth, Dr, Master of Trin. Coll.
Wordsworth, poet
Wrede, Baron
Wynter, Vice-Chancellor, Oxford
Yolland, Col.
York Cathedral
Young, Dr

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