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Letter from George Airy

Playford near Ipswich -- GA and Richarda Airy will not be able to make a trip to Cambridge. GA gives his views regarding 'the objects of university studies and the modes of attaining these objects'. The purpose of a university course is 'to prescribe a course of studies (not necessarily the same for every individual), to assist them by books, lectures, &c, and to stimulate and reward them by honours and pecuniary grants'. It is the responsibility of the college to deal with the first of these requirements. The intention of the college in regard to the college course of studies ought to be built into 'the ordinary subjects prescribed for daily study in the successive years of an undergraduate's college life, and in the examinations relating to them: 'these must practically express the course prescribed by the college'. GA did not approve of the Trinity Commemoration Day prizes: 'The essayists and the youths who have written Alcaics and Elegiacs are called up early, and are addressed in flattering terms, and altogether are made the heroes of the day and of the year, while the first-class-men are dismissed at the end of the ceremony without a single word. The general impression left on me was, that the lectures and the annual examinations are kept up merely for form's sake'. This has injured the educational interests of the college. The changes made since GA was a freshman have given undergraduates too great a share in the selection of their courses of study.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - GA has looked at the letter to the Vice-Chancellor and entirely approves of it: 'The unlimited tenure of Fellowships I think to be most important. There is only one thing which at present is doubtful to me, and that is the continuation of Sizarship gratuities after the election as scholars, middle of page 2. I think that the foundation of the independence of the future Fellows is to be found in the position of the scholars, at that proud table (the only one in Hall) where all are equal and no stranger is ever seen. I would carefully abstain from sowing the seed of division there'. GA thanks WW for his Plurality [Of the Plurality of Worlds: An Essay, 3rd edn., 1854]: 'I think it is right. Specially I agree with the leading idea that we have no right to assume or presume that all matter was necessarily meant to be inhabited or as we say useful, but that we must take things as we find them: and I am glad that you have had the boldness to say so'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA formally communicated Ross's [James C. Ross] scheme to the Admiralty but received no answer: 'It does not consist of my notions of propriety to go to the Treasury for a matter which must be managed by the Admiralty, unless that Admiralty had given an answer in this shape "We are desirous of doing it, but have no funds"'. That was how he gained funds for the Trigonometrical survey via the Royal Society memorial to the Treasury. GA thinks 'it would be best still to operate privately upon the Duke of Northumberland. If any thing is to be done formally, I suppose that Sabine [Edward Sabine] is the right person'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA gives a list of references pertinent to 'the steps which have been made in Astronomy in the last few years. A great deal has been done, and some of the things done have distinct relation to the comparison (as a science) of the two processes of theory and observation (as labours)'. GA places his list under the following titles - 1. Parallaxes and Motions of Stars: 2. Orbits of Double Stars: 3. Sun's Heat: 4. Attractions generally: 5. Lunar Theory: 6. Planetary Theory: 7. Encke's Comet: 8. Cometary Theory generally: 9. Shooting Stars: 10. Miscellaneous.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - GA sends WW a letter from Vignoles [Charles B. Vignoles] 'whom I thought the most likely person of my aquaintance to give me the the verity about Skew Arches'. GA has taken up Plato's Phaedo again after 'I do not know how many years'.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - GA has been laboring on the account of Sheepshanks's [Richard Sheepshanks] work on Standards, which has now passed through its first stage. GA's plan devised for the Correction of the Compass is adopted by most iron ships in the world. However, the Admiralty 'nominally adopt Archibald Smith's mode of resolving observed errors into series &c of multiples and then computing errors generally, but practically, I do not think it is ever used at all'. GA gives a description of 'a very neat way of presenting errors graphically, which was invented by Napier [Robert Napier], iron ship builder, of Glasgow'. GA had a Royal Navy ship sent out with a corrected compass last autumn: 'Scoresby [William Scoresby] had not published any thing specific. Changes were found in the magnetism of the ship. Some of his compass observations came to me through the Liverpool Committee [of the BAAS], and I discussed them. A very valuable report on the subject generally, including these, has been made by the Liverpool Committee to the B. of Trade, which I have urged the Board to publish'. GA does not know anything of the diurnal variations and the magnetic storms, as compared with solar spots.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Could WW dine Professor Gautier of Geneva 'in hall, or lodge him' in Cambridge: 'He is a capital good fellow, and does more to make English science known on the continent, by his writings in the Bibliotheque Universelle, than any other person'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Regarding the eclipse GA will be observing it from Hanowden near Wellingborough: 'My first Assistant and my best assistant (viz my wife) and other aids are to go there'. If WW wants to come he will have to bring his own telescope.

Text of an article by Lord Pethick-Lawrence, entitled ‘The Changing East’

Reviews the changes that have taken place since he attended the Indian National Congress at Gauhati in 1926, and reflects on the current problems facing India.

(Carbon copy of a typed original. The article was written for a Souvenir published in connection with the 63rd Indian National Congress. See 2/102–3.)



By Rt Hon Lord Pethick-Lawrence

In 1926 I attended the meeting of the Indian National Congress in Gauhati. I am most interested therefore to learn that it is being held there again this year.

What changes have taken place in the 31 intervening years! Then, Congress was still fighting an uphill battle for independence. Now, India ranks among the great nations of the world. Then the self-governing members of the Commonwealth consisted solely of peoples of European extraction. Now it includes peoples of Asia and Africa.

When I was a boy, India used to be spoken of as part of the “Unchanging East”. No one says that today. Everyone can see that India is changing very fast.

One of the reasons why I have come to India now in my 86th year is to try to find out how India is responding to the claims of the new age. During the few weeks that I have been here I have kept my eyes and ears open and I have learnt a great deal about your problems. I realise how great they are in number and intensity. Here are just a few of them:— Education, language, caste and custom, races, power, employment, population, finance, riches and poverty, social welfare, democratic institutions, international relationships.

I have stayed long enough to realise what a colossal task you have to tackle. But it has been much too short for me to come to any well-balanced conclusion as to the degree of your success. Indeed I doubt whether anyone even with far better knowledge than I is yet in a position to measure your all-round progress. In my view another ten or fifteen years will have to elapse before this can be done.

What I can tell you is that your efforts are being watched with the deepest and most friendly interest by the people of my country and by other members of the Commonwealth.

We want so much that you should succeed magnificently. We want so much that your people should increase their standard of life and their stature. We want to see India playing a noble part in the world.

May this Congress at Gauhati bring nearer these high ends!

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