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Sedgwick, Adam (1785-1873) geologist
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Letter from Mary Sidgwick to Henry Sidgwick

Refers to her recent visit to Cambridge, which she fully appreciated and very much enjoyed. Describes having been received by Dr Lightfoot after Henry was gone on the Saturday, and their meeting with Mr [Robert] Burn and Mr [Ralph] Somerset. Describes how they were entertained by 'Professor Sedgewick' [sic], who was 'as merry as ever, full of kindness....' Refers also to their visits to Mrs Prescott, Mrs Millar, and to Mr Somerset's rooms.

Reports that after they left Cambridge Annie [Sidgwick?] and she parted at King's Cross, and presumes that the former is now at Hastings. States that the 'London Expedition' with Henry's Aunt Henrietta was a failure because the heat caused Mary Sidgwick to be ill, and she came home to Rugby the previous day, while Henrietta went to Wellington College. Wonders if Henry is angry with her for having brought away 'the manuscripts', and assures him that they are safe and that she will send them back if he desires to have them. Reports on her rose tree, and claims that Arthur looks well. Admits that she does not feel up to going to 'the Schoolhouse Lunch and speeches that day' and has decided to stay at home. Reports that she met Henry's old friend Edmund T[ ] at the station some days previously, who asked after Henry. Explains tht the books 'were all taken back with the bag and the key the man at the Porter's Lodge took.'

Sidgwick, Mary (d 1879) mother of Henry Sidgwick

Letter from Henry Sidgwick to his mother

[Sent from Haileybury]:- Remarks on the unfairness of the fact that because Arthur does not write to her, she does not write to him: Henry arrived at this conclusion from a message he got from [J. M.?] Wilson when he saw him at Trevelyan's dinner. Reports that he is 'pretty well' and 'tolerably busy'. Has been examining a school lately, and has made good progress with his Arabic. Adds that his eyes are pretty well. Reports that Trevelyan has gone down for good; his father has been appointed financial member of the Indian Council and his son is to be his private secretary. Observes that Trevelyan is the last of the friends that he made as an undergraduate, but declares that there are lots of nice men still at the university, and that he has not lost the power of making friends. States, however, that he feels that he is growing old, and 'probably appear[s] a great Don to freshmen'.

Is anxious to hear the result of the Great Ladkin case; asks 'is the monster subdued or have [they] had to "eat the [Leck]". Reports that Mrs Kingsley enquired after his mother; Mrs Kingsley has had quite a long illness, from which she is now recovered, and he has not seen anything of the Kingsleys this term. Declares Miss [Rose?] Kingsley to be 'a very nice girl.' Asks whether his mother has seen Kingsley's letters in the Times, and comments that most people at Cambridge think that he has done good by them, but observes that he has been 'as usual hasty and one-sided.' Believes that the Manchester people ought to have spoken before. States that he saw Temple's letter, which was 'very good as always', and comments on his testimony as to conduct of manufacturers.

Reports that Arthur is very well, and that he himself is staying with [A. G.] Butler in Hertfordshire. He saw Miss Mulock, who was staying with [Alexander?] Macmillan, some days previously; she 'looks pleasant and sympathetic, yet hardly capable of the powerful delineation of passion one meets with in her books'; she is said to be 'odd' and to 'come to evening parties in her morning dress'.

Attributes his mother's epistolary silence to dissipation, and asks if everybody on the Bilton Road asked her out to dinner, and whether they shall 'entertain "all manner of Dukes" as Arthur says' when they return. Asks if any family catastrophe has occurred. Tells her if she meets any Trinity man she may tell them that [J. L.] Hammond is going to be Bursar. Declares that Mr Martin is looking better every week; that Professor Sedgwick is flourishing, and is expected to lecture the following year 'for "positively the last time" as he has said any time the last ten years.'

James David Forbes to William Whewell

Edinburgh - JDF is 'surprised with your astronomers [James Challis] speculations about the comet'. JDF is convinced it is a comet - especially since so many astronomers independently around Europe saw it more-or-less in the same orbit: 'But it is like Challis's old crotchet on the undulatory theory'. JDF is going to write up his European travels [Travels through the Alps of Savoy and other parts of the Pennine Chain with Observations on the Phenomena of Glaciers, 1843]. Adam Sedgwick expressed himself favourably to JDF regarding the glacier priority dispute between JDF and Louis Agassiz [see JDF to WW, 23 May 1842]. JDF thinks Hopkins [William Hopkins] comments may be interesting, but no more than the idea 'that the heat of the earth keeps the ice constantly detached from the sides and bottom except at the surface in winter'. All this will not move glaciers: 'it is essentially plastic and semi fluid, and this semifluidity is I am persuaded the main and almost the sole cause of its motion as I shall attempt to demonstrate in my book'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA acknowledges a letter WW recently sent concerning the Smith's Prize paper: 'As regards the paper and your comments on it, first I was glad to find that you think lightly of [William?] Hopkins's attempt to force in mathematics where [they?] have no business. In my opinion, Hopkins has done more to injure the credit of mathematics than any person that I know. This is the fault of the geologists (who would praise without attempting to understand), and I think, primarily the fault of Sedgwick.. In the next place , I was glad to see a question concerning the mathematical theory of waves. This is a subject which ought, I think, to be in some way brought into the curriculum of the university'. Although he has not yet settled the longitude of Valentia [see GA to WW, 2 Nov. 1844], 'I expect it will turn out an excellent work of its kind. We are much more puzzled in making the geodetic computations to compare with it (in large triangles upon a spheroid of assumed dimensions) than in the astronomical and chronometrical part: but after repeated trials I think we have managed to compute round the three sides of a triangle nearly or more than 100 miles each and to return within two or three feet to our starting point. This was to be the criterion of our method'. GA's paper on Irish tides is being printed. Similarly the printing of the Reduction of the Greenwich Planetary Observations 1750 to 1830 is finished. The reduction of the Greenwich Lunar Observations (1750 to 1830) is in the main finished: 'I am preparing to correct the elements of the Tables: and this I think upon the whole one of the greatest works that has ever been done in Astronomy'.

Letter from William Daniel Conybeare

WDC is sorry that he wasted any of WW's time. He had thought both WW and Sedgwick had attributed to him an unfounded degree of ignorance which made him annoyed. WDC is now flattered with the attention WW has paid him over his query, which accept for 'some differences rather metaphysical than physical between us' has been settled. When he first made it he only had Faraday's papers before him and had forgot to look at 'earlier writers and see if they had not determined the law of the tangential electro magnetic force, which of course would give me the result I sought as to the Time of revolution by the simplest process'. Barlow [Peter Barlow?] has found the tangential force of galvanic particles on magnetic to be inversely as the squares of the distances and therefore the Times will be directly as the squares of the distances. WW corrects him on his notion of force; 'its strict definition as the cause of change of motion'. WDC accepts this as long as one agrees that motion exists in the first place: 'but here physics seems to me to pass into metaphysics and I cannot conceive but that, recurring to the origin of things a state of rest is more natural than a state of motion - Hence I have a lurking fancy to understand by force not only the cause of a change of existing motion but the original cause of the motion whatsoever...if a tangential force had not been impressed in them at their creation, they would all have huddled together in an heap'.

Letter from Julius Charles Hare

Herstmonceux, Hailsham - JCH would be delighted if WW could come and visit. Has WW any news regarding the Malcolm family since their house, Warfield, was to be sold about this time. What do Trinity men and especially Adam Sedgwick say about the attack made upon him: 'The Reviewer seems to me to be often unfair, though not unintentionally so: but he is a man of no common powers'.

Letter from John William Lubbock

Naples, Italy - JWL has been taking singing lessons in counterpoint from a top Italian teacher. Gives news of his travels to various places including the summit of Vesuvius. JWL sends his best to Mr Hamilton and Mr Sedgwick if they are in Cambridge, and hopes 'Mr Hamilton's book will do something towards introducing algebraical analysis at Cambridge'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

16 Hart Street, Bloomsbury - Further to their conversation concerning CL's doctrine of 'uniformity' in his 'Principles of Geology', certain passages from the first edition have been unfairly seized upon by his critics and not fairly considered. CL believes that any reader of Adam Sedgwick's anniversary address to the Geological Society 'would suppose that I had contended for 'an indefinite succession of similar phenomena' [Address, p. 25]. And the suggestion by AS that he had not made due allowance for the creation of man. However, CL did claim in the first edition that this 'innovation' was 'a new cause differing in kind and energy from any operation' and mentioned it as an unanswerable objection against any one who was contending for absolute uniformity. p. 156'. CL's 'notion of uniformity in the existing causes of change always implied that they must forever produce an endless variety of effects, both in the animate and inanimate world'. He 'did not lay it down as an axiom that there cannot have been a succession of paroxysms and crises on which 'a priori reasoning' I was accused of proceeding, but I argued that other geologists have usually proceeded on an arbitrary hypothesis of paroxysms and the intensity of geological forces, without feeling that by this assumption they pledged themselves to the opinion that ordinary forces and time could never explain geological phenomena'. There is a traditional prejudicial emphasis in geology 'that in attempting to interpret geological phenomena the bias has always been on the wrong side, there has always been a disposition to reason a priori on the extraordinary violence and suddenness of changes both in the inorganic crust of the earth and in organic types, instead of attempting strenuously to frame theories in accordance with the ordinary operations of nature'. WW should read what AS has to say on the two different methods of theorising in Geology and what he says in his address for 1831 of De Beaumont's system of parallel elevations and CL's chapter on the same subject: 'De Beaumont's system was properly selected by him as directly opposed to my fundamental principles...It was a theory invented not only without any respect to the reconciling geological events with the ordinary course of changes now in progress but it evinced at every step that partial leaning to a belief in the difference of the ancient causes and operations which characterises the system of my opponents'. AS was 'prompted by the same theoretical bias which assumes the discordance between the former and existing course of terrestrial change...I know not how much of De Beaumont's theory Sedgwick now believes, probably but a small part of it'. AS 'considered that my mode of explaining geological phenomena, or my bias towards a leading doctrine of the Huttonian hypothesis, had served like a false horizon in astronomy - to vitiate the results of my observations - But has he not himself been unconsciously warped by his own method of philosophizing which he has truly stated to be directly at variance with mine!' CL gives a detailed answer to AS's critique of his work. If CL had plainly stated as Herschel had done in his letter to CL regarding the 'possibility of the introduction - or origination of fresh species being a natural in contradistinction to a miraculous process I should have raised a host of prejudices against me which are unfortunately opposed at every step to any philosopher who attempts to address the public on these mysterious subjects'. CL attempts to distinguish between a Uniformitarian and the Catastrophist by an imaginary case by appealing to WW's work in tides and a hypothetical case. 'The difficulty which men have of conceiving the aggregate effects of causes which have operated throughout millions of years far exceeds all other sources of prejudice in Geology and is yet the most unphilosophical of all'.

Letter from Charles Lyell

London - CL has written to Adam Sedgwick to tell him that he will be dining with WW and the two ladies, and will not be turning out for the Field Lecture 'as the ladies could not enjoy the sport and it would cut up our short stay'. CL has no criticisms to make of WW's speech - which he enjoyed even though he missed a great deal through interruptions.

Letter from John Herschel

JH sends a certificate in favour of Ritchie who wants to become a fellow of the Royal Society. Would WW also sign it and if [Adam] Sedgwick is around get him to add his name.

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).

William Whewell to Julius Charles Hare

WW sends JCH his second pamphlet on the Connop Thirlwall controversy ['Additional Remarks on...Mr Thirlwall', 1834. For the controversy see WW to JCH, 28 May 1834]: 'You will see that I have ventured a little further into politics than I did before'. WW would like to send him two Cambridge newspapers which contain another branch of the controversy between Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] and Selwyn [William Selwyn]: 'I fear you will think that Sedgwick has been rather overbearing'. In Thirwall's second letter ['A Second Letter to the Rev. T. Turton Containing a Vindication of Some Passages in a Former Letter on the Admission of Dissenters to Academical Degrees', 1834] he says of WW 'that I am a friend who has spoken in the tone and language of friendship'.

William Whewell to Julius Charles Hare

The Rev. G. Kent wants John Brown to give him a reference for a position at a public school in Truro. WW has supplied the relevant information to Brown except Kent's address (enclosed). Can JCH get from Mr Edward a 'cutting of myself' - WW needs one to send to his sister [Ann Whewell]. He would also like one of Adam Sedgwick to send to Lady Malcolm. WW and Lady Malcolm parted yesterday: 'I can by no means persuade myself that she and I parted yesterday for years'. He did not get to see the children but he did see a 'representation of them' by Mrs Robinson - 'I was not satisfied'.

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'.

William Whewell to Julius Charles Hare

If Ma-Man is still with JCH on the 6th, WW will try to come to them for a day. He gave Mrs Augustus Hare a copy of his short critique of Hegel's vagaries to pass to JCH [On Hegel's Criticism of Newton's Principia, 1849]: 'There is nothing which so entirely deprives men of all respect for German heads in the matter of reasoning as the way in which they have allowed Hegel to dominate over them. It appears to me that on every subject he is equally fanciful and shallow though he may not be so demonstratively wrong as in the matter of Newton. Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] is mightily delighted and entertained with my paper'.

Letter from Henry Sidgwick to his mother

Thanks her for sending him 'the news' and is sorry 'that it is not more completely satisfactory.' Reports that Mr [J.F.?] Wickenden called on him on Sunday and inquired after her, Mary and Edward. Explains that Wickenden came up for Sedgwick's funeral.

Discusses Sedgwick's death: he was 'knocked up by a meeting which the Chapter of Norwich took it into their heads to come up and hold in his rooms.' Claims that his death 'is a great severance of [the college's] ties with the past', and that he is 'the last "historical character" of Trinity'; he must have been the oldest man in College 'by nearly thirty years' Reports that the Master 'was much affected in reading the service.' Tells her to tell Mary that 'she may as well send [him] a Post Card presently'. Relates that Sedgwick has reportedly 'left very little property', and that his family 'have been a sad trial to him in various ways and a great drain on his resources.'

Informs her that in relation to Rugby he can only tell her that 'there are mysterious rumours', and that '[t]hey do mean to keep the secret this time'. Is sorry to hear of Edward's rheumatism, and reports that he himself has been attacked by 'something indicating disorganisation of the M[ucous] M[embrane]', but that he is taking great care of his 'M.' Reports that he had a letter from Miss Green [their old governess?] 'with much affectionate anxiety about Mary.'

Letter from Thomas Woolner to William G. Clark

27 Rutland St., Hampstead Road - Woolner 'rejoices' that Adam Sedgwick has consented to allowing him to do 'his head in sculpture'. The modelling will probably take a fortnight. Glad Clark likes his photographs and frame.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW is preparing the sermons he is to give at St. Mary's in February. He is shortly departing with Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] on an expedition to Paris. He is behind in writing the sermons: 'with time enough I should not fear the greater part of the work - all the argument about the activity and omnipresence of the Deity, but when I come to the indications of benevolent design in the moral frame of society I have not such an habitual familiarity with the view of the subject in its details as merits with the confidence and vehemence which would be becoming. I have no doubt I should get on better if I had you at my elbow'. Babbage is in Cambridge canvassing for the Lucasian Chair - John Herschel is here to support him - 'but all in vain'. George Airy has been elected. WW thinks this a good choice - he 'will reside and give lectures - practical and painstaking ones - who is par eminence a mathematician - and whose reputation will all go to the account of the university'.

William Whewell to Richard Jones

Trinity College - WW is sorry RJ has been ill. However, he is annoyed that RJ did not send his manuscript and get on with the printing of his book ['An Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, and on the Sources of Taxation: Part 1. - Rent', 1831]. RJ should think about coming to hear Adam Sedgwick's lectures - 'the first 3 days of each week at 1 o'clock'.

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 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'.

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