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Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Can GA borrow the map of Spain that used to be in the apartments of the Cambridge Philosophical Society. GA wants to make a statement concerning the forthcoming total eclipse in Spain.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA will come to Cambridge for the day on Wednesday. Did WW see GA's article on the landing of Plautius in Britain in the Athenaeum? He read 'with infinite advantage' WW's work on Plato: 'What a terrible bore old Socrates must have been (except to the few)'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA is 'never free from Government matters. I have now to look to some little points connected with the Westminster Clock'. Thus could 'the Trinity organist go to St. Mary's, and accurately record the tones of the Quarter Chime Bells? And, which would be still better, could he procure and send to me tuning-forks or other apparatus accurately presenting to our senses in London the tones which you hear in Cambridge?'

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA assumes that Lubbock [John W. Lubbock] 'has sent copies of his letter to each of the Visitors [Board of Visitors]. GA will write to Worthington 'desiring him to make my letter official to Sir B. Brodie'. Immediate action by the Government must be suspended till the Board have considered GA's letter.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA encloses the card of Don Francisco de Paula Marquez, which 'will serve as an official introduction to the Commandant of Marine or the Captain of the Port of WW's debarcation in Spain for observing the eclipse, or to the Chief of any Custom House which you may have occasion to pass'."

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA has just returned from observing lighthouses in France. He cannot tell WW everything about the Board of Visitors meeting since both GA and Adams [John C. Adams] were not informed that the meeting was to be an hour early: 'So I found Lubbock [John W. Lubbock] in full speech, very absurdly as I thought, in the same strain as his printed papers. I endeavoured to explain in reply that there was no notion of preferring numerical to algebraical expressions &c'. A vote was taken before GA left early for his train to Dover. Sir James South was there protesting against any recommendation of grant to any body for any thing. Hansen [Peter Andreas Hansen] has theoretically investigated the variation and evection, and concluded that these rays do not agree perfectly with those observed because of the figure of the moon - 'this is the whole that Lubbock means by empirical'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Miss Sheepshanks has unexpectedly received some money from her late brothers property [Richard Sheepshanks], and would like to put it with the existing Sheepshanks Fund [for background see GA to WW, 30 Sept. 1856]. It could be used toward the purchase of a Transit-Circle. 'The [Sheepshanks] Exhibition was, with my consent, practically limited to Trinity: I think that the College have good right to claim such prerogative as recompense for their trouble. But it would perhaps be more efficient if perfectly open'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA is glad that WW and Everina Affleck saw the total eclipse in Spain: 'it is a merry thing to see the corona so well, and to see the stars so bright, and to see the orange-yellow horizon'. GA gives a description of his party and their experience observing the eclipse.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Further to the Sheepshanks Scholarship: 'I have no wish to make any change. But it seems right to take such questions into consideration when there exist facilities on one side which cannot be expected to last many years longer'. He will ask Miss Sheepshanks how much more money there is [see GA to WW, 28 Aug. 1860]. There is a 'general feeling among us of the Himalaya Expedition', [GA's party which observed the recent total eclipse, see GA to WW, 28 Aug. 1860] that they should collect their accounts and publish them in the Astronomical Society's Memoirs.

Letter from George Airy

Observatory - GA gives a description of his observations of light polarised through glass and a diamond: 'At the first angle of incidence where this takes place (viz. the polarising angle of the glass) the rings go out, evanesce, and disappear: and on increasing the angle they appear in as good proportions at the first instant when visible as when tolerably bright - the white center having the same proportion to the 1st ring did. Of this I am quite certain, having looked carefully. But at the second angle (viz. the polarising angle of the diamond), where the white-centered rings change into black-centered, there is no such thing; the rings do not vanish at all though they become faint; but the first black ring contracts, squeezes out the white center, and itself becomes the black center. This also I have examined carefully. The same thing takes place when, at an angle between the polarizing angles, the tourmaline or prism is turned round'. Amongst other things this proves that the 'diamond does not polarise perfectly at any angle'. Vibrations in the plane of incidence change from + to - on passing through the angle where the polarisation is nearest to perfection. This is 'not by becoming =0 (as certainly they do in glass & all things that polarise perfectly) but by an alteration of the plane.'

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Can WW make it known to the relevant persons, that Miss Sheepshanks anonymously 'is willing to give to the [Cambridge] Observatory any good, handsome, splendid, expensive, instrument that may be useful to it' [see GA to WW, 28 Aug. 1860].

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Have the relevant persons made up their mind as to what instrument they wish to acquire for the Cambridge Observatory (as a gift from Miss Sheepshanks): 'she looks despondingly to the duration of her own life (Her age is above 70). She would be very glad to have any thing of the nature of a gift settled as early as possible' [see GA to WW, 28 Aug. 1860].

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Miss Sheepshanks will give £2000 (and possibly up to £3000) towards a new instrument for the Cambridge Observatory [see GA to WW, 12 Nov. 1860].

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA requested Simms [William Simms, instrument maker] to give an estimate for Transit-Circles of different uses, and he encloses the estimates [no longer attached].

Letter from George Airy

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - GA 'like many other people, am occasionally picking up a crumb from your Plato'. He 'is beginning to see the merit of Socrates, not in what he taught, but in what he led some men to think on...it was very valuable that men should be led to think of mental and verbal philosophy instead of constant materialism. If yankees could so be stirred up, to forget dollars for a moment and think (rightly or wrongly) on mental subjects, they would rise in character'. GA is just preparing to publish a little tract on the errors of observation: 'It is a very pretty subject, very little known in England, and which I actually want for the reference of my own Assistants'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA wants the proceedings of the "Managing Body" [of the Sheepshanks Trust] to be audited by the Trustees: 'I think it is quite proper that the "Managing Body" should exhibit to us a Db. & Cr. statement of what has become of the money since it left our hands'. This 'is partly for our own information, partly to prevent mistake, partly for the verification of balances in what must be (in the nature of things) a running account'. James Challis 'leaves the observatory [Cambridge Observatory] in some weariness and in some disgust' - this could have been avoided if he had listened to the judgments of various persons over the last twenty four years.

Letter from George Airy

GA would be glad to see WW's Republic of Plato [trans. by WW, 1861]: 'The Republic seems to me, however, to be more nonsensical than the dialogues. But good illustrations of that remarkable creation of ethical literature are invaluable'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich- Further to WW's letter concerning the Sheepshanks Exhibition: 'I am entirely disposed to adopt the views of the Seniority on the co-current Exhibition'. If GA is to take part in the examination, October is as good a time as any.

Letter from George Airy

GA has fallen behind in his official observatory work: 'I have to work well in order to bring it to a respectable state'. He has been going through the Horizontal Magnetic Forces from ten years photographic self-registration, and has found that 'twice in every lunar day, the needles N.pole is drawn vertically, and twice returns easterly. But the vertically is not true W. but, as far as our numbers can be trusted, about 20 [degrees] N. of W. It may be, among these small quantities that there is sufficient uncertainty to allow us to take the direction as truly W.'

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Further to the Sheepshanks Exhibition John C. Adams and [Edleston?] 'will be excellent cooperators. But if they will examine without me I shall be well satisfied'. GA has received letters from Carrington [Richard C. Carrington]: 'I cannot conceive how a man could be so stupendously foolish. The notion of taking a position by storm in that manner [Director of Cambridge Observatory]. But in every way you are well to be rid of him...in a short time you would have been compelled to turn him out by force, and to stand a lawsuit and criminal prosecution'.

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

Flamsteed House, Greenwich - GA and family spent six weeks at the Grange in Borrowdale. GA is to preside over Section A of the BAAS and gave a lecture on the Eclipse on the 9th of September.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - The 'grant of £50 to Challis [James Challis] for his computations is evidently right - I wish it had been twice as much'. Presumably 'the "Managing Body" or Observatory Syndicate made the application: that intermediary form is indispensable'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Further to Miss Sheepshanks supplementary grant of £2000 plus [see GA to WW, 15 Nov. 1860], John C. Adams 'considers that his status would be improved by having - a Transit Circle - a Chronographic Galvanic Apparatus - a system of sympathetic clocks - and a Telegraphic communication with the long lines of Telegraph. So I begged him to speak with you...I think the purposes suggested by Adams are all very good'.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Can WW get Grote's [George Grote] Dissertation on the passage in the Timaeus relating to the Earth and its Axis?'

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - Thanks WW for his 'most acceptable Platonic 3d. volume - and in procuring for me Grote's [George Grote] Dissertation [see GA to WW, 19 Feb. 1862]. GA cannot emphasise how valuable WW's translation of Plato's Republic is to those 'who conceive ourselves able to read the original, but who have not the leisure or freedom of thought required for running over a whole book so as to pick up the train of ideas. By virtue of your traduction raisonnée, with occasional references to the original, I really know ten times as much of Plato as I did'. GA does not 'catch the value of the successive harmonic numbers in the Timaeus'. Could WW send GA's enclosed criticisms of George Grote's Dissertation [see GA to WW, 19 Feb. 1862].

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - John C. Adams would be happy 'to have the present from Miss Sheepshanks communicated to the Observatory Syndicate' [see GA to WW, 13 Feb. 1862]. GA has drawn up the letter and if WW approve it, he should hand it to Adams.

Letter from George Airy

Royal Observatory Greenwich - GA will come on October 3 and is 'much obliged to you for assigning an occasion which is definite and will be so agreeable'. GA has told John C. Adams that he cannot attend the whole meeting [probably the Cambridge Observatory Syndicate].

Letter from George Airy

Playford near Ipswich - Further to Miss Sheepshanks £2000 plus donation - intended for a Transit Circle or some large work, it was thought at the time that the new instrument would be wanted immediately and thus it seemed convenient to leave the money in GA's hands [see GA to WW, 15 Nov. 1860]. However, he is growing old and it would be advisable to put the money in somebody elses trust: 'Is there any individual who would act in it nearly as I should? Or would the Master & Seniors of Trinity accept the reversionary trust?'

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