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Letter from Robert Erskine Childers to Ivor Lloyd-Jones, with provenance letter

A farewell letter written immediately before his death: 'Dearest Ivor, It doesn't matter what you think of me. I know you love me -- the first friendship in my life & indestructable. So in lieu of goodbye & from my heart & soul God bless you & Gwladys & her daughter & give you great happiness. Erskine'.

Accompanied by a letter from Ivor Lloyd-Jones to Norman de Bruyne dated 27 June 1935 donating this letter and [his copy of 'The Riddle of the Sands'] to Trinity College Library, Cambridge.

Childers, Robert Erskine (1870–1922), author and politician

Letter from George Airy

Swansea - GA will be 'extremely glad' to have Neale as a pupil. However, further to his correspondence with Myers, he does not know whether Mr Hare had or had not already engaged a tutor for Neale. Could WW answer some questions further to the fellowship examination - 'In the first place must I sit at all? In the next place supposing that I sit, by what time must I be at Cambridge?'"

Letter from George Airy

Observatory - Gives a note on perturbations intended for John W. Lubbock: 'If perturbations are applied to x y & z, there is no practicability of dividing the time of an apposition into different parts, as the calculation does not give the means of correcting the elements for the beginning of each part. Consequently the series used must be such as will apply from the beginning of an apposition to the end. It seems to me very probable that 5th or higher powers may be wanted'.

Letter from George Airy

Observatory - Henderson [Thomas Henderson] is with GA: 'I intend to bring him to hall; pray dine there if you have nothing better to do'. GA gives the two things which need correcting in his Venus paper.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - Thanks WW for the ale [see GA to WW, 10 October 1839]: 'we shall consume it I believe before time has done it justice'. GA has not seen WW's lecture to the Philosophical Society on tides: 'I should much like to see it; and shall be glad if you can send it to me. I have not duly consulted Herschel, but I remember his general notions about forced oscillations and so far in application to tides they must agree with mine. By the bye, my correlative terms are forced tide wave and free tide wave. In the simplest cases which can be conceived, the two are mixed together so as to produce phenomena that, viewed as observations from which empirical laws are to be deduced must appear inextricably confused. In one case only, namely when a limited space is very small, the tide becomes a simple tilt, like that of water in a basin. This cannot be the case in a sea so large and (comparatively) shallow as the Pacific, but upon one supposition one of the waves there may predominate, and there may be phenomena something like Fitzroy's. But I should like to see what you have said'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has looked at the account of [John Scott] Russell's Forth tides in the Athenaeum and 'think you will find that Russell's notion of the southern and northern waves exhibiting themselves separately is wholly untenable, both from theory, and from the consideration that they ought to shew themselves as well in the coast tides; but in fact if there are two they become one inseparable tide. The real explanation I have no doubt is in the theory of deep waves in shallow canals'. GA gives the formula and coefficient (for the rise of tide / depth of channel) showing the height of the water after running over a shallow bottom for a certain distance. GA has looked over WW's tide paper and has a problem with the figures and arrangement of the data given in the tables of Plymouth observations.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - Could WW send him a tracing of the Kamschatham waves? - preferably the whole course of the water in rising and falling.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - It was GA who brought the tide disturbance of January 3 to the attention of the Admiralty: 'The tide in the Thames was 6 feet lower than it ought to have been. I have received several of the Admiralty observations: the tide at Leith seems to have been scarcely affected' [see GA to WW, 21 January 1841]. GA gives a long descriptive and mathematical answer to WW's query regarding oblique arches.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - GA returns 'Hewett's papers (letter, table, and picture) for which I am much obliged'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has put [Pierre-Simon] Laplace's theory of tides 'in a shape in which other people can read it, and a very beautiful theory it is. But as Laplace left it is so atrociously repulsive that I do not think that any person ever mastered it (for no body refers to it) and I imagine that no person living but myself has fairly attempted it. In this I think I have done good service to the literature of mathematics'. GA gives a solution to the age of the tide: 'The time of high water is accelerated, but more for the moon than for the sun. Consequently (referring to solar time) the moon's high tide on any day, happening earlier than corresponds to the moon's position, does happen at s solar time corresponding to the day when the moon's transit was earlier - that is to a preceding day; the solar tide corresponds equally (in solar time) to all days; and therefore their combination corresponds to an earlier day. Thus we have age of the tide'. Can WW give any accounts on the height of waves, experiments on waves generally and a notion of the changes which WW's 'researches will make in your old cotidal lines?'

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Thanks WW for his History of Induction [The History of the Inductive Sciences, from the Earliest to the Present Time', 3 vols., 1837]. The next time WW is in London he should come and see them.

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 George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - GA is taking a vacation in France: 'my nervous system seems I think more than usually shaken'. Regarding high academical instruction in mathematics: 'I have no doubt of the want of a Code. Yet it will not do to make this exclusive or suppressive of novelties - not because it would not be best if it could be maintained, but because it cannot be maintained for an unlimited time, and the more pestiferously it is kept up for a time, the more sudden and complete and anarchical will be its fall at some period... Therefore my general notion would be, to define subjects which ought to be kept, leaving a fair space for others which may be introduced as new tastes or the influence of individuals may prevail, and not to risk the chance of such a treatise as Babbage proposed "On the principles of d-ism, in opposition to the dot-age of the University"'. As to particular authors, GA recommends Newton, Lagrange and Monge, and reluctantly Laplace's Mechanique Celeste - though 'this is by no means so systematic a work as those above'. Regarding the works of [Leonhard] Euler GA is not very familiar: 'But to some of these which I did read, there is this objection, that Euler gives the whole course of his ideas, dilating upon his crude notions in a way which requires great labour for following him, and then quietly informing you that it is all useless and that he can give you something much better'. GA agrees with WW in emphasising 'the great standard works of all times rather than to the last steps made'.

Letter from Charles Babbage

Devonshire Rd, Portland Place - Babbage received WW's thirty guineas and has paid 31 for his fees at the Royal Society. Three members of the Astronomical Society have donated 100 guineas toward the Cambridge Observatory (50 came from William Pearson). 'Sir J. B [Joseph Banks] is about to resign and has recommended Davies Gilbert. But all sorts of plans speculations and schemes are afloat, and all sorts of people proper and improper are penetrated with the desire of wielding the sceptre of science. Whether this elective throne shall be filled by a philosopher or peer a priest or prince is a problem pendent on the fortuitous course of events. The Society is in a position of unstable equilibrium or rather it is like a comet which has not made up its mind whether it shall soberly circulate round the light of truth or traverse boundless space through endless time frying and damning the predestined infidels of other systems until some starry giant shall fascinate to its destruction this erring ball which has "run a muck" through creation'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA now remembers that he has heard something of one of the Oxford candidates [see GA to WW, 27 March 1842]: on referring to a letter he finds 'that Donkin has written 4 articles' in Gregory's mathematical journal on the subject of analytical geometry, signed M.N.N (1839, vol. 1 and 1841, vol. II). He has also written a paper on Greek music in 'Taylor & Walton's Dictionary of Antiquities': 'The mathematical papers are doubtless within your reach & you can therefore judge'.

Letter from George Airy

Weymouth - Is in Weymouth on part of his journey of tide observation: 'I have found more than once that a great deal of good is done by going to see with one's own eyes things which other people's words have made mysterious... And it has answered well. The tides appear to be all shallow-water-tides'. Although GA's theory of tides is in an unfinished state - 'it is in a state which any body else can complete who will take the trouble'. GA went to observe the surf at the Chesil Bank at Weymouth: 'The surf is the most majestic thing that I have seen'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has persuaded Lamont of Munich [Johann von Lamont] - an astronomer and magnetician - to stay a few days more and come with him to Cambridge: 'I have known Lamont some years, and have a high opinion of his acuteness and originality and singular good sense'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - If WW is in London can he come and dine 'at our visitation dinner on Saturday next'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Adams [John C. Adams?] has invited GA to the Johnian dinner on Monday. Due to a long standing agreement GA has written to Sedgwick [Adam Sedgwick] to dine with him on the Tuesday, hence he has not put in an application for WW's hospitality.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA thanks WW for WW's paper on Hegel ['On Hegel's Criticism of Newton', 1849] and on the Curve equation (intrinsic): 'Truly the German organ of "Pure Reason" must have altered its shape since the time of Kant. - As to the latter subject you ought, I think, to bear the title of high-priest of rigmarole. This method of representing a curve is on the face of it almost necessarily unfit for Forces, but it is conceivable that it might come in in Kinetics'. GA is putting together some early details of the Cape Observatory and needs some information concerning Fallows [Fearon Fallows].

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - All that WW says about the diurnal tide at Plymouth is quite accurate. The gale from the North on Friday 28th was 'the wind which commonly raises the tide'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA corrects a common misinterpretation of a Greek word (the sense of which is 'reverence' and not 'modesty') - 'a favourite language with me'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA is 'in the agony of mounting the great transit circle... I fully expect that it will do well'.

Letter from George Airy

Playford near Ipswich - Edward Sabine has told GA that there should be a meeting of the BAAS in mid-January: 'The connexion of this with your Tidal proposal is not extremely close, but it suggests to me to ask you how far you have got the whole affair into shape. I do not think it right towards the Government or politic towards ourselves to make application till we know pretty exactly what is to be done, and can thus put them in a state to judge well of the magnitude, duration, and expense of the expedition'. GA agrees that the character of the expedition should be exclusively tidal.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - The installation of a Photographic Magnetic Observatory at Cambridge 'would be a matter of serious expence and of great trouble'. The Magnetic Observatory at Greenwich 'cost about £500 without instruments. Its use is very good for its purpose'. GA gives a break-down of the personnel costs at Greenwich. He does not think that a magnetic observatory at Cambridge 'would very probably give a single leading idea on this mysterious subject...As regards the results obtained at one isolated place, it is not likely that any could be obtained differing generally in character from those obtained at Greenwich, and there, as you correctly remark, have led to nothing yet. And I cannot conceive that there would be any advantage in adding to the accumulation of existing unproductive observations'. Besides which Cambridge is too near to Greenwich to compare observations, if the proposed observatory was somewhere like Rio Janeiro, GA would look upon the project favourably. Further if there was a Cambridge mathematician deeply engaged in theories of terrestrial magnetism, with the physico-mathematical power of Professor Stokes, 'it might be a sufficient justification of the expence of an observatory that he would have its results ready to his hand'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA's 'people have brought up the pendulum-calculations to the final stage, and the result is - 1. The pendulums have stood so well as to give very great confidence in the accuracy of result. 2. The gravity at the bottom of the mine (reputed 1260 feet) is greater than at the top by 1/19190 part...This gives density nearly = 2.7 x density of coal measures, which is more than I expected'.

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - The vibratory result for the pendulum experiments is 'very certain' [see GA to WW, 1 Nov. 1854]. GA and Richarda Airy accept WW's invitation to Commemoration Day at Cambridge.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA had WW's 'Tide scheme' copied and sent to Francis Beaufort 'to ask if it required nautical corrections'. GA has just heard from Beaufort: 'I inclose it. Therefore I send the suggestions to the Secretary of the Admiralty today; and I refer him to you for further correspondence'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Further to his last letter and the approval of WW's memorial on tides, GA subsequently sent a paper copy to Lord Rosse at the Royal Society for his approval; 'but I have heard nothing more about it (A non-resident President is a great evil). However, it will come I should think before long'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA fears that 'this little affair of the letter concerning Challis [James Challis] must have annoyed you much'. WW should show GA's letter again to Challis: 'His dire anger arises entirely from mistake of phrases. There is not a word derogatory to him. There is disapproval of his conduct of the Observatory, but he has known that for twenty years'. JC has on the one hand got 'the Observatory into an improper condition, and on the other hand he still hankers after the idle attempt of doing more than the Observatory can do or is wanted to do'. An application should be made to the Observatory Syndicate for funds to bring up the Observatory reductions.

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