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Peacock, George (1791–1858), mathematician and university reformer
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Letter from John Herschel

Slough - WW and George Peacock have 'absolutely turned his [Babbage] brain by your inflammatory conversation'. Babbage has been 'running analysis mad' and so has JH: 'I really have read and written more in the last fortnight than ever I did in twice the time in any other part of my life and I advise you to go and do likewise'. 'The distress of the poor and the pressure of the times forms the subject of conversation here'.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - When will RJ be coming to vote for Cavendish [William Cavendish], could he also bring any of his work on wages so they can concoct an application to the Cambridge press syndicate? WW has had another letter from Mrs Young which appears to authorize him to negotiate with Peacock [George Peacock to work on a biography of Thomas Young].

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW gives his and George Peacock's travel plans for this summer. The latter 'sometimes talks rather wildly of going to Norway'. WW is thinking of printing which will entail him spending much of the vacation in Cambridge. If RJ is not leaving Brighton both WW and Peacock will probably visit him. 'How goes on your political economy? - I hope we are to see and hear something of it before long'.

Richard Jones to William Whewell

Brasted - RJ knows as much as WW regarding John Herschel's movements. However, RJ 'can answer for him as boldly as if I was present to his thoughts - 1st he will not stand if there is a chance that he would be in your way or I think Peacock's [George Peacock] - 2ndly He will not stand if he has to canvass the heads with a chance of an opposition so far I am sure 3rdly I do think he would accept the professorship with the expressed and implied condition of lecturing if you and Peacock were out of the question and it was offered him unanimously'. However this will not happen. Herschel further has an 'aversion to the very thought of a Cambridge professorship - he wrote to me with some surprise and some apparent sorrow when you first talked of the mineralogical chair but promised if you got it, to with hold for the future more of the contempt he had been endulging in against the university professorships'. RJ does not think WW should give up the Mineralogical professorship for the Lucasian since the former is tenable and the latter is not. Hence if WW wants to stay in Cambridge and get married, as he has always maintained, he should stick with it -'If moreover you are ever to give way to Peacock I had rather it were now than on some future occasion, because to say the truth, I am intimately persuaded more you will get it now and that if Newton himself were to come to life as a plain Master of Arts the heads would give it to French without hesitation and perhaps with an additional relish from the mere weakness of the job - I say this without any ill will to Peacock - there are not many men I wish better to - I am supposing you to be sure of the mineralogical'. If Julius Hare is not in Cambridge RJ is willing to come and listen to WW's thoughts. WW should not wait to hear from Herschel and would himself have a better chance than Peacock and King for the Lucasian Chair - 'I do not know why but Peacock is not popular in the University'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA is sorry to hear of the death of George Peacock: 'He was my earliest and best friend in College'. This is a good time to revise the relative positions of the Plumian and Lowndean Professorships - the latter is well endowed and has nothing to do, while the former is insufficiently endowed and is overloaded with too heavy duties: 'Here is an opportunity for removing a scandal'. WW should write to the Vice-Chancellor on the matter.

Letter from William Whewell

The new Arabic Professor knows as many languages as HJR: 'Mr Lee [Samuel Lee] of Queen's who was originally a carpenter but took to learning languages, and was in consequence employed in translating for the Bible Society and sent to Cambridge [assisted by Isaac Milner, Master of Queen's College]'. 'There is a great spirit of reform abroad in the university at present so that though the old professors are not to be molested in their inactivity all those who are hereafter elected are to give lectures...You shall see us deviate into something good by and bye. There is something of truth and not much in what you heard about Peacock's [George Peacock] examination. He had as much analytics in his papers as ever but he took upon himself to be scandalised (not without reason) at the ignorance and superficial knowledge of applications of mathematics which he found and thereupon put a very large portion of low subjects in the viva voce, wh. made monstrous boulevarsements in the order of the tripos. As for his rude speeches I heard of none except his hoping that this examination would teach men for to speculate'. Peacock has also become engrossed in mineralogy. 'Clarke [Edward Clarke] is as edifying as ever with the addition of a fancy which he has taken of late to abuse the Quarterly Review at lectures'. WW's mechanics is at last in the press ['An Elementary Treatise on Mechanics', 1819]: 'I shall be much disappointed if you are not able to read it without any trouble, for I did not intend it for a difficult book'. WW will be interested in HJR's work on inscriptions 'for I still retain some of my zeal for philological pursuits'.

William Whewell to Julius Charles Hare

George Airy wants an additional 20 copies of a paper of his being printed at the University Press: 'This number of 20 copies he wishes to have sent to France for which purpose I want you to send them to Herschel [John Herschel] who is going thither'. WW has been to view the Thames Tunnel with George Peacock and Thomas Worsley.

Letter from Eliza Young

If WW has not got the time to write Thomas Young's biography, has he asked George Peacock whether he would be interested in the task?

William Hepworth Thompson: printed material

Two printed sermons by Thompson: "Old things and new." A sermon, preached in the chapel of Trinity College, on Wednesday, December 15, 1852, being Commemoration Day; and A sermon preached in Ely Cathedral on Sunday, November 14, 1858, being the Sunday next after the funeral of the Very Reverend George Peacock (2 copies).
Five offprints from The Journal of Philology: "On the Word κρουνχυτροληραîος in the Equites of Aristophanes v. 89" and "Platonica" (3 copies) from Vol. V; "Introductory remarks on the Philebus", from Vol. XI; "Babriana" (13 copies) and "On the Nubes of Aristophanes" (12 copies) from Vol. XII.
Accompanied by an MS poem by D. D. H. [Douglas Denon Heath?], written in 1832[?], with note 'returned to D. D. H. 23 June 90' [possibly originally with verses by others in Add.MS.c.158, as described in a folder listing there in William Aldis Wright's hand].

Thompson, William Hepworth (1810–1886), college head

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW is pleased RJ's Statistical Society has started well: 'I should have been sorry if you had not taken it for granted that I wished to be one of you'. WW would be pleased to be on the council if it is clear other people as well as RJ wish it. WW is against the University Whig reformers who want to see unrestricted admission and graduation for Dissenters: 'Their petition appeared to me very wild, except as a mere ministerial move. As to the substance of the petition, it throws down before the Dissenters the College fellowships, which they did not ask for, but which being thus offered to them they will of course claim. I think the fellowships a necessary support to the established church; and I think the church a necessary part of our social system'. WW is disillusioned with the views of Musgrave [Thomas Musgrave?], Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] and Peacock [George Peacock]. WW encourages RJ to get on with his work on wages: 'your book is of more consequence than a cart load of such petitions'.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Norwich - Perhaps WW should have suppressed his pamphlet altogether, 'but there was something which looked like a challenge in a part of Thirlwall's [Connop Thirlwall] which drew me on' [see WW to RJ, 12 June 1834]. WW thinks RJ's suggestion that WW's pamphlet could be seen as a defense of the Master's dismissal of Thirlwall as absurd. On the contrary, WW thought Thirlwall's opinions on chapel going could have been overcome: 'This I told his friends (Sedgwick, Musgrave, Romilly etc) from the first'. WW is clear about his own view: 'The case is the same as that of an officer in any other body publishing an attack upon the system which he has to carry into affect: or a cabinet minister declaring himself against a cabinet measure: the tutors and assistant tutors were understood by most of us to be engaged to further the observance of all college rules by the undergraduates'. This does not mean a tutor cannot hold Thirlwall's opinions about dissenters, as is clear from the case of George Peacock. RJ will find that Julius Hare 'considers that the Master could not do otherwise than he did, and Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] acknowledged that Thirlwall's declarations were inconsistent with his position'.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW had a letter from Spring Rice saying he would support George Peacock for the Lowndean professorship out of personal friendship. WW complained to Lord Fitzwilliam claiming he would have preferred ministers made their decision based on merit rather than personal friendship. Lord Lansdowne also informed WW that he would be voting for Peacock. WW has has a letter from a former pupil of his who 'is just publishing a work On the Distribution of Wealth suggested by living in France and seeing the economical, moral, and political effects of the division of property there. I think I shall write to him to read your book'.

Letter from Francis Baily to George Peacock

37 Tavistock Place - FB has 'for a long time past, had it in contemplation to give a new edition of Flamsteed's [John Flamsteed] British Catalogue [An Account of the Rev. John Flamsteed...to which is added his British Catalogue of Stars, Corrected and Enlarged, 1835]; and this intention is now fully confirmed by the recent & singular discovery of Flamsteed's M.S.S. at the Royal Observatory'. Through JF's original computing book 'I have been enabled to detect the source of most of his errors, & to rectify them accordingly'. In producing this amended and enlarged edition of the British Catalogue, it will not be possible for me (neither would it be fair or just to the memory of Flamsteed) to conceal the various other matters contained in those M.S.S...You will readily see, from the tone of Flamsteed, that he is very sore respecting the part which Newton took in the publication of the "Historia Celestis"...I am anxious, before I publish any thing, to discover (if possible) whether there are any M.S.S. in existence that will throw any light on this subject, & tend to set the character of Newton, in this business, in a fairer point of view'. Could GP check the Newton manuscripts and also inform WW. FB would like to see the whole of the manuscripts of Newton, in the possession of the University, published: 'There never was a time when they would be hailed with so much pleasure & satisfaction'.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

RJ's letter arrived like a 'thunder clap': WW and George Peacock will set off instantly on the course RJ recommends to London. They will go to either Lord Monteagles's at 37 Lower Brook Streeet, or to 42 Upper Grosvernor Street. WW is delighted with the warm friendship of Peacock's letter: 'The knowledge of such feelings on his part is a great good gained whatever comes of the result'.

Letter from C. Kemble to George Peacock

Concerning his son John Mitchell Kemble; thanks Peacock for his interest in his welfare, has said everything to John he could think of "to induce him to adopt a line of conduct more conducive to his own reputation and the satisfaction of his parents and of yourself"; has decided to limit his allowance to £200 a year and to withdraw him from Trinity College if he exceeds it; asks Peacock to inform his son of this decision.

Kemble, Charles (1775–1854) actor, theatre manager, and playwright

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW has had confirmation that Herschel [John Herschel] will not be coming forward for the vacant office of Lucasian Chair of Mathematics. 'Babbage [Charles Babbage] is making application and has written to people here on the subject. He has no chance whatever and it is mere extravagance, at least as appears to me, his taking up the thing. I do undoubtedly believe that he would be a good Professor now, but it is too much to expect that our heads should understand not only his merits, but the varying shape of them as time and circumstances may have modified it'. WW thinks Peacock [George Peacock] the most desirous candidate: 'I suppose Airy [George Airy] will not think of offering him for though he would be a better professor, it would be ungracious in him to fight Peacock - and after all it makes no difference. For French if he be a candidate will undoubtedly be elected'.

William Whewell to Julius Charles Hare

Adam Sedgwick's Commemoration Day sermon was 'as I think you know, a beautiful and profound dissertation as he delivered it; and having been rethought and rewritten since it is much more beautiful and coherent; and along with certain notes which he has appended to it, it forms an essay upon philosophy, morals, and academical education which it will delight you to read' ['A Discourse on the Studies of the University', 1833]. George Peacock preached 'a sort of political essay in the duty of regulating our views and feelings in accordance with the new and reformed state of things, which though by no means devoid of cleverness and dignity sounded rather like an article in the Morning Post than a sermon'. Something much better was given by the Trinity student Birks [Thomas R. Birks, 2nd Wrangler 1834] who gave a dissertation on the subject ''that there is a moral truth which in its own way is as certain as mathematical truth' such as I really do not know any other person who could have written - the philosophy was most profound and consistent, and the views of the nature of morality of the fine and elevated kind which I hope we shall always hear from our best men here...His images often reminded me of Bacon's; - a mighty flash of ornament with a clear thread of poignant analogy sparkling through it'. WW is to concentrate on his own philosophy 'such as shall really give a right and wholesome turn to men's minds'.

Letter from John Herschel

JH and Babbage are 'analysing outrageously'. Could WW ask [George] Peacock whether he is making progress in the printing of a work entitled 'A Supplement to Lacroix' which should have been published some months ago.

Letter from William Whewell

WW has 'spoken with Prickett [Marmaduke Prickett, Chaplain of Trinity College, 1836-38] about his intentions and find as I supposed that he does not hesitate being a candidate for a fellowship next term & so that there will be no obstacle on that head in the way of his belonging in your vineyard. It appears that the Master, who I think mentioned his name to you had not spoken to him of the possibility of such a proposal from you; but it is I think much to the credit of his judgement & principles, as well as a good enquiry for his being a useful & satisfactory assistant to you, that he is particularly delighted with the idea of entering the church under your auspices'. WW is sorry to hear of JHR's asthma. WW has 'only just begun Napier ['Peninsular War']. Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] is delighted with the military views which it contains...but he is not insensible to the faults you mention. He seems to think, & Peacock also that it may change people's opinion of Cintra & Moore. I think it was very bad reading for a man with a weak chest & so you seem to have found it'.

William Whewell to Julius Charles Hare

WW sends R. W. Evans's [Tutor of Trinity College] printed reply to Connop Thirlwall's critique ['A Letter to the Rev. Thomas Turton, on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degrees', 1834]: 'I hold that it has little bearing on the question of the admission of Dissenters'. Evans's lectures were not an imperative issue in the controversy but it will show JCH 'how it may happen that Evans feels very bitterly about what Thirlwall has said'. WW is pleased JCH agrees with most of his reply to Thirlwall ['Remarks on Some Parts of Mr Thirlwall's Letter on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degree', 1834]. As to WW 'making an analogy between religion and knowledge I should not have done it, if I had not known that a dislike of compulsory chapel and compulsory lectures go together in the minds of some of our lecturers here - and being firmly persuaded that such opinions are as destructive of church and college as they are of chapel and lecture room I took the opportunity to say so'. WW did not think Thirlwall's printed reply to him 'very judicious for who can be 'private, reserved, and full in answer to a printed circular from an intimate friend beginning 'gentlemen'?' The seniority met to discuss the issue: 5 persons were in favour of Thirlwall (Adam Sedgwick, Thomas Musgrave, Joseph Romilly, Richard Sheepshanks and George Peacock).

Letter from John Herschel

Slough - Lord Melbourne told JH that the South Polar Expedition will not meet with any opposition on his part. He would be ready to receive a formal application on the 11th or 12th of November - 'but added that there must be a Cabinet Council meeting upon it'. If they agree and the expedition sails next spring will it give enough 'time to order, procure, distribute and get into activity the Gaussian or other instruments'? Since they have to be totally prepared on views such as this - could WW and [George] Peacock draw up a programme of the whole thing. JH will do the same after which they should all 'meet in town compare notes and consult with [Francis] Beaufort and [John] Ross as to the nautical outline of the thing to be recommended'.

Letter from John Herschel

JH to meet Captain Ross and probably [Humphrey?] Lloyd on the 5th November to discuss the South Polar voyage expedition. A statement will 'be handed to Government in our official interview with Lord Melbourne'. WW to tell Peacock of this preliminary meeting, which JH thinks it 'desirable' that at least one of them should attend. 'PS a note just in from Lord Minto is much in the nature of a wet blanket on the whole concern...Are you fully prepared to declare the objects proposed are really worth a great material undertaking involving much expense and to defend the expenditure tooth and nail?'

Letter from John Herschel

WW to read the enclosed and give his opinion whether part of the money granted by the British Association for magnetic research, should be used to purchase one or both of the instruments mentioned for the magnetic observatory at [Breslau?]. WW to get Peacock's opinion. Even if they purchase both it will leave a large surplus for which JH can think of no other use 'at home is likely to occur'. JH wishes WW or Peacock would write a review of the magnetic subject for the next quarterly 'to enlighten the public mind about it'.

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