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EARLIEST TO THE PRESENT TIME.
BY WILLIAM WHEWELL, D. D.,
MASTER OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
A NEW EDITION, REVISED AND CONTINUED.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
Λαμπάδια έχοντες διαδώσουσιν αλλήλοις.
VOLUME THE FIRST.
It is with no common pleasure that I take up my pen to dedicate these volumes to you. They are the result of trains of thought which have often been the subject of our conversation, and of which the origin goes back to the period of our early companionship at the University. And if I had ever wavered in my purpose of combining such reflections and researches into a whole, I should have derived a renewed impulse and increased animation from your delightful Discourse on a kindred subject. For I could not have read it without finding this portion of philosophy invested with a fresh charm; and though I might be well aware that I could not aspire to that large share of popularity which your work so justly gained, I should still have reflected, that something was due to the subject itself, and should have hoped that my own aim was so far similar to yours, that the present work might have a chance of exciting an interest in some of your readers. That it will interest you, I do not at all hesitate to believe.
If you were now in England I should stop here: but when a friend is removed for years to a far distant land,
we seem to acquire a right to speak openly of his good qualities. I cannot, therefore, prevail upon myself to lay down my pen without alluding to the affectionate admiration of your moral and social, as well as intellectual excellencies, which springs up in the hearts of your friends, whenever you are thought of. They are much delighted to look upon the halo of deserved fame which plays round your head; but still more, to recollect, as one of them said, that your head is far from being the best part about you.
May your sojourn in the southern hemisphere be as happy and successful as its object is noble and worthy of you ; and may your return home be speedy and prosperous, as soon as your purpose is attained.
Ever, my dear Herschel, Yours,
22 March, 1837.
P.S. So I wrote nearly ten years ago, when you were at the Cape of Good Hope, employed in your great task of making a complete standard survey of the nebulæ and double stars visible to man. Now that you are, as I trust, in a few weeks about to put the crowning stone upon your edifice by the publication of your “Observations in the Southern Hemisphere,” I cannot refrain from congratulating you upon having had your life ennobled by the conception and happy execution of so great a design, and once more offering you my wishes that you may long enjoy the glory you have so well won.
Nov. 22, 1846.